Corporate Wheeling & Dealing

Sep 162016
The Monsanto–Bayer tie-up is just one of seven; Mega-Mergers and Big Data Domination Threaten Seeds, Food Security

by ETC Group Policymakers could still block the agribiz mergers; peasants and farmers will continue the fight for seeds and rights Wednesday’s confirmation that Monsanto and Bayer have agreed to a $66 billion merger is just the latest of four M&A announcements, but at least three more game-changing mergers are in play (and flying under the radar).  The acquisition activity is no longer just about seeds and pesticides but about global control of agricultural inputs [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]

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]

May 252016
Mascoma: The biggest misspending of public funds for cellulosic biofuels ever?

This is an investigation of Mascoma Corporation, a start-up biofuels company which may have misspent more public funds intended for building advanced biofuels refineries than any other company in North America. Download the investigation Summary: Mascoma took at least $100m and possibly over $155m in public funding intended for building integrated biorefineries. Their biggest donor was the US Department of Energy (DoE), including the DoE funded BioenergyScience Center. They also received $14.8 million from New [More]

May 052016
U.S. tries to export its biotech deregulatory regime

by Dr. Steve Suppan (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy) A long standing claim by the U.S. government and agribusiness lobby is that U.S. regulations on genetically engineered (GE) crops are science-based while European regulations are not.  For example, an April 8 letter from the American Soybean Association to the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, states that “approval of these events [three GE soy crops] is [More]

Apr 222016
New GMOs are 'not GM' - EU folds under US pressure

by Oliver Tickell (the Ecologist) The EU Commission has caved in to US pressure in TTIP trade talks by deciding to consider organisms modified by new ‘gene editing’ techniques as non-GM – in violation of the EU’s own laws. The move could make the ‘new GMOs’ exempt from labeling and from health and environmental testing. The TTIP negotiations are seen by industry and the US government as the perfect opportunity to block EU processes that [More]

Mar 152016
Biofuel or Biofraud? The Vast Taxpayer Cost of Failed Cellulosic and Algal Biofuels

by Almuth Ernsting (Independent Science News) Biofuels consumed today are usually ethanol made from the sugar in sugar cane (or sugar beet) or they may be made from starch in grains. In the US this is mostly corn starch. Alternatively, biodiesel may be made from plant oils such as soybean or canola oil. Cellulosic biofuels, on the other hand, are biofuels made from crop residues (e.g. corn stover), wood, or whole plants, especially grasses (e.g. [More]

Feb 262016
Not cheap and not plentiful: Hyped-up synthetic biology claims take another blow as malaria drug production plant shuts down

by Almuth Ernsting Synthetic biology is being heavily promoted and funded as a way to produce large quantities of cheap industrial products, including biofuels. But so far affordable, large-scale manufacture with synbio organisms has proven elusive. Synbio start-up companies that set out to produce high volumes of low-cost biofuels have switched to low volumes of expensive chemicals, cosmetics and food additives instead. Many are still struggling to stay afloat. Sanofi’s synthetic artemisinin, an anti-malaria drug, [More]