Jul 272016
 
When it Comes to GMOs, the Devil is in the Details

by Paul Koberstein (Earth Island Journal) Unresolved safety questions about gene-editing technologies underscore need for caution While expressing support for the watered-down GMO labeling bill, which was passed by Congress last week and is now awaiting President Obama’s signature, White House spokeswoman Katie Hill told Bloomberg News: “While there is broad consensus that foods from genetically engineered crops are safe, (emphasis added) we appreciate the bipartisan effort to address consumers’ interest in knowing more about [More]

Jul 192016
 
Do CRISPR enthusiasts have their head in the sand about the safety of gene editing?

By Sharon Begley (STAT) WASHINGTON — At scientific meetings on genome-editing, you’d expect researchers to show pretty slides of the ribbony 3-D structure of the CRISPR-Cas9 molecules neatly snipping out disease-causing genes in order to, everyone hopes, cure illnesses from cancer to muscular dystrophy. Less expected: slides of someone kneeling on a beach with his head in the sand. Yet that is what Dr. J. Keith Joung of Massachusetts General Hospital showed at the American Society of [More]

Jul 192016
 
Why Kickstarter’s Glowing Plant Left Backers in the Dark

by Antonio Regalado (MIT Technology Review) In any discussion of biohacking, Exhibit A is likely to be the “glowing plant,” the wildly successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign that raised $484,013 to create bioluminescent plants visible at night. Just one problem, though. There is still no glowing plant. The Glowing Plant project, since renamed Taxa Biotechnologies, has not made any plants able to emit light unassisted. The seeds it promised to its backers are already two years [More]

Jul 122016
 
Don’t Eat the Yellow Rice: The Danger of Deploying Vitamin A Golden Rice

by  Ted Greiner, PhD (Independent Science News) What better way to discredit your critics than to rope in 107 naive Nobel Prize winners (all without relevant expertise) to criticize your opposition? But such tactics are not new. Long ago, the GMO industry spent well over $50 million to promote “Golden Rice” as the solution to vitamin A deficiency in low income countries. They did so well before the technology was completely worked out, let alone [More]

Jul 062016
 
107 Nobel Laureate Attack on Greenpeace Traced Back to Biotech PR Operators

by Jonathan Latham, PhD (Independent Science News) Greenpeace was denied entrance yesterday (June 30) to a National Press Club Event in Washington, DC of 107 Nobel Laureates. The event was ostensibly organised by a scientific group calling itself Support Precision Agriculture to publicise a letter signed by 107 Nobel Laureates demanding that Greenpeace cease its opposition to “golden rice” and GMO technology in general. Greenpeace was attempting to attend the event. However, senior research specialist [More]

Jul 012016
 
Webinar: Outsmarting Nature?

Movements & Emerging Technologies Webinars present: Outsmarting Nature? A webinar on Synthetic Biology for Crops and Agriculture What’s the role of synthetic biology in our food system and how does it relate to “climate-smart” agriculture? What are the costs and risks? Host: Tom Philpott Food & Agriculture Journalist with Mother Jones Expert: Pat Mooney Executive Director ETC Group Commentators: Theresa Anderson Policy Officer, Climate & Resilience International, ActionAid. Ramona Duminicioi Eco-Ruralis Romania, La Via Campesina [More]

Jun 292016
 
This scientist is trying to stop a lab-created global disaster

Disclaimer: This article is interesting as it expresses the concerns of a scientist deeply involved in the synbio and in particular gene-drive fields (his team figured out how to make dene-drives work!), and highlights just how under-regulated current experiments are.  We don’t condone the research described in the article, or necessarily agree with the alternative regulation proposed. Please see Friends of the Earth US’s blog post on why gene-drives should not be used outside of [More]

Jun 152016
 
Meet the New Stevia! GMOs 2.0 Get Dressed for Success

by Stacy Malkan (The Huffington Post) Our culture is smitten with the notion that technology can save us – or at least create great business opportunities! Cargill, for example, is working on a new food technology that mimics stevia, a sugar substitute derived from plant leaves, for the “exploding sports nutrition market.” Cargill’s new product, EverSweet, uses genetically engineered yeast to convert sugar molecules to mimic the properties of stevia, with no need for the [More]

Jun 102016
 
The National Academies’ Gene Drive study has ignored important and obvious issues

by Jim Thomas (The Guardian): ‘Gene drives’ seem to be the ultimate high-leverage technology. Yesterday’s report from the US National Academies begun the job of describing what is at stake, but it missed some important questions. If there is a prize for the fastest emerging tech controversy of the century the ‘gene drive’ may have just won it. In under eighteen months the sci-fi concept of a ‘mutagenic chain reaction’ that can drive a genetic [More]

Jun 092016
 
Permanently changing a species: What could go wrong?

by Dana Perls, Food and Technology campaigner (Friends of the Earth US) No commercial or environmental release of gene drives, says Friends of the Earth The National Academies of Sciences released a new report today, which calls for robust safety assessments for “gene drive modified organisms.” The NAS says the controversial new genetic engineering technology is not ready for release into the environment. These genetic engineering technologies under development go far beyond genetic engineering as [More]