Glyphosate attack by stealth

February 2020

As pointed out before, there's a huge scope for current GM foods to impact on the microbes inside our gut and, along with that, our health [1].

Besides the novel nature of the foods themselves, there's the glyphosate-based herbicides sprayed on and accumulated by most commercial GM crops. Glyphosate blocks a vital biochemical pathway in green plants, but the pathway is also present in many bacteria. This suggests a very real possibility that the herbicide in GM foods could be devastating our health by stealth.

What is the science telling us about this?

Scientific mindsets clash over GM mozzies

February 2020

At the end of last year, GM-free Scotland reported a study which found a significant presence of offspring of Oxitec's GM 'sterile' male mosquitoes flying around in areas of Brazil where a trial release had been carried out [1]. The object of the trial was to prevent dengue virus by eradicating its mosquito vector. The predicted "barrage of attempts to discredit the scientists and their science which seem to have become routine in response to any biotech-unfriendly research results" duly unfolded.

No surprise there, except that the attack on the study, including a demand for retraction, was led by one of the paper's own co-authors and supported by five of the others.

What happened to taking back control?

February 2020

  • Democracy - government by the people, direct or indirect
  • Tyranny - government by an absolute ruler

The huge and complex task of 'taking back control' of our regulations preparatory to Brexit seems to be ensuring that current and future rules will not be subject to proper political or public scrutiny [1].

US to eliminate animal testing

January 2020

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving to eliminate all animal testing of new chemicals by 2035. In its place will be cheap, quick and easy computer modelling, cultured cells and tiny invertebrates.

To achieve the shift only requires that the Agency cuts its funding for animal-based trials.

Mozzies ride the wind

January 2020

Efforts to control mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue virus, have focused on eliminating the vector. Long-standing mosquito control methods have involved insecticides and removing the open bodies of water necessary for breeding. More recently, releases of GM sterile males [1], GM fungal pathogens [2], and self-destruct gene-drives mozzies [3] have been trialled.

Yet, paradoxically, even in areas where extreme reductions in the mosquito population have been successfully maintained, and even in areas where the surface water, vital for breeding, is absent for three to eight months of the year, malaria persists.

Edible GM cottonseed

January 2020

In October 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the green light for GM cottonseed to be sold as food.

Cottonseed isn't a familiar food item. This is because cotton plants contain 'gossypol', a rather nasty toxin.

The plight of the honeybee

January 2020

"New evidence is revealing we are teetering on the edge of an era of massive extinction, propelled in large part by the very pesticides and practices used with genetically engineered crops ... In a groundbreaking new study, researchers estimate that 40 percent of insect species face extinction - and we could be looking down the barrel of total insect population collapse by century's end, primarily as the result of the agricultural pesticides and mega-monocultures of industrial agriculture. Designed specifically for intensive chemical use, genetically engineered crops are key drivers of this impact" (Lappé) .

A huge proportion of our food supply is dependent on insects for pollination. In agricultural settings, one of the most abundant pollinators is the honey bee: in fact, one estimate reckons that one in every three bites of food we eat is from a crop pollinated by honeybees; and according to the United Nations Environment Programme, of the 100 crops that provide 90% of the world's food supply, 71 are pollinated by bees. Across America, commercial beekeepers are suffering astronomical hive losses averaging 40-50% annually, with some as high as 100%. This severely cripples their ability to meet pollination needs. At least one source of the disaster isn't difficult to find: honeybees are one of the non-target organisms impacted by the use of agrichemicals, and the impact is growing.