Regulation & Oversight

Dec 202016
 
Four Steps Forward, One Leap Back on Global Governance of Synthetic Biology

UN Biodiversity Convention grapples with threats posed by extreme biotech industry CANCUN, MEXICO — This week, 196 countries meeting at the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) Conference of the Parties made progress on the global governance and oversight of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology (syn bio) has become one of the most fiercely debated topics at the Biodiversity Convention, almost 7 years after civil society first brought the need for precaution and regulation of the [More]

Dec 152016
 
Greater regulation needed on synthetic biology at the COP 13

by Friends of the Earth International Friends of the Earth International and allies call for greater regulation on synthetic biology at the COP 13 Mariann Bassey Orovwuje (Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria) and member of the Friends of the Earth International delegation at the thirteenth Convention of the Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 13) in Cancun, Mexico, presented a statement on behalf of the Civil Society Working Group on Synthetic Biology during [More]

Dec 082016
 
Victory! GE mosquitoes will not be let loose on Florida community

by Friends of the Earth US Citizens/environment will not be impacted by novel experiment releasing millions of GE mosquitoes WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Food and Drug Administration announced that it will not move forward with the controversial release of millions of genetically engineered mosquitoes in the community of Key Haven in Monroe County, Florida. The release of the GE mosquitoes would have been the first-ever in the United States, but the FDA failed to conduct [More]

Nov 212016
 
SynBio, Gene Editing and Other New Stuff: Same Concerns, Supersized

by Mary Lou McDonald (Safe Food Matters) New words like “synthetic biology”, “GMOs 2.0”, “CRISPR”, and “new biology” are being heard.  And new compounds are in our fragrances, flavourings, cosmetics and foods. The new words are for new techniques of genetic engineering. What are the techniques and their products, and should we be concerned? New Techniques­ The old techniques of genetic engineering (GMOs 1.0) dealt with organisms, and inserted genes by either blasting them into [More]

Oct 202016
 
Gene Editing and Seed Stealing

by Chee Yoke Ling and Edward Hammond (Project Syndicate) AUSTIN, TEXAS – Four hundred years ago, John Rolfe used tobacco seeds pilfered from the West Indies to develop Virginia’s first profitable export, undermining the tobacco trade of Spain’s Caribbean colonies. More than 200 years later, another Briton, Henry Wickham, took seeds for a rubber-bearing tree from Brazil to Asia – via that great colonialist institution, London’s Royal Botanic Gardens – thereby setting the stage for [More]

Oct 102016
 
A Collision Course with Unintended Consequences

by Melody Meyer (Organic Matters) In an early morning jaunt to Sacramento last week my car was rear ended.  I serve on the California Organic Products Advisory Committee (who by the way are looking for new members), and was on my way to attend a subcommittee meeting when boom—a fine young man rammed me in the rear. As I recuperate from the trauma, I wax philosophical and wonder why this happened and what the long [More]

Sep 292016
 
GMO 2.0 Foods Coming Your Way: Will They Be Labeled?

by Stacy Malkan (HuffPost) Silenced genes, edited genes, algae engineered to produce compounds that taste like food: new genetically modified organisms (GMOs) made with these experimental techniques are making their way to your dinner plate. It’s the next wave of genetic engineering, or GMOs 2.0. Will we know if they’re in our food? The new GMO labeling law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama has been widely panned by consumer groups because it [More]

Aug 292016
 
Biohacking ban needed

by Louise Sales Last week US biohacker Ellen Jorgensen toured Australia encouraging members of the public to genetically modify microbes prompting the GM Free Australia Alliance to call for a ban on the genetic engineering of microbes outside contained and certified laboratory facilities. Biohacking generally means genetically modifying a bacteria, yeast, plant or animal to change its function or physical characteristics. Whilst such tinkering currently appears to be legal in Australia, the development of new [More]

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]

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]