Missed molecular scars

January 2018

In October last year, the Wall Street Journal's Global Food Forum provided a platform for the biotech industry to promote its latest GM escapade. This is, of course, 'gene editing' which can be done using a variety of different techniques [1] all of which are fancy versions of GM.

Executives are busy strategising on how to 'sell' edited-GMOs to a suspicious and sceptical public.

The elusive 'GM for yield' question

January 2018

A refreshingly sensible 'Opinion' on the possibility of creating a resilient crop genetically transformed to increase yield has been published. The authors are biotech scientists from Rothamstead Research (Britain's leading GM research facility) and Syngenta (originally a Swiss biotech company, now Chinese).

Juggling with glyphosate

January 2018

Not, perhaps, the best way to start a new year is the announcement that the European Commission has re-approved the use of glyphosate herbicide for five years.

This means that responsibility for the consequences of this highly controversial weedkiller is off-loaded onto Member States: France and Italy immediately announced their intention to phase out glyphosate over the next three years, and Austria is set to join them.

Cosmetic editing

January 2018

Question: What do you do when a meticulously constructed scientific review concludes your bread-and-butter product is a "probable carcinogen"?

Answer: You meticulously construct a whole set of 'scientific' counter-reviews and meticulously cover-up their source.

The link between blood-cell cancer, 'non-Hodgkin lymphoma', and Monsanto's Roundup herbicide used on most GM crops has sparked over 1,000 lawsuits against the weedkiller's manufacturer. Preparation for all these court cases has led to the disclosure of huge numbers of company e-mails which Monsanto would rather have kept to itself.

When the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, is "probably carcinogenic" with epidemiological links to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Monsanto rushed to commission its own reviews of the scientific evidence which effectively rubbished the IARC findings.

Knowledge is power

January 2018

Your second New Year's resolution (after you've joined the GM Freeze campaign on 'Brexit and GM' [1]) is to support the providers-extraordinaire of information on all things GM, GM Watch.

Like GM-free Scotland, GM Watch formed in the mid-1990s at the dawn of GM, and its principle is that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

Brexit, imports and GMOs

January 2018

The big issue for Scotland in 2018 is going to be Brexit, especially the associated risk that it could usher in GM crops to our fields and to our food.

Without the carefully crafted EU Directives controlling the cultivation, import and sale of GMOs in force, major safeguards will disappear. Gone will be the precautionary principle, the recognition of the irrevocable nature of any harm caused to the environment, the right not to grow GM crops, the respect for ethical concerns, traceability and labelling.

Our biggest threat is from uncontrolled imports of GMOs from America.