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.

Impossible, incredible, awesome, beyond...

January 2020

'... common sense?

The 'Impossible' bleeding plant burger started out back in 2017 as textured wheat protein with fake soyabean 'blood' from GM yeast and some other stuff collectively described by its manufacturer, Impossible Foods, as "simple, all-natural ingredients" [1]. By 2019, Impossible Foods had realised their Impossible burgers weren't sufficiently beef-like and were unpopular with the gluten-intolerant sector of the population. The non-meat burgers were accordingly re-formulated with soya protein.

It seems, however, that sourcing sufficient quantities of affordable non-GM soya to suit its clean, green image and marketing aspirations proved impossible: Impossible Foods' answer was to switch to cheap and plentiful GM soya and hype its way out of the image problem [2].

The Brexit race to the bottom

January 2020

By the time this article pops up on the net, who knows what Brexit chaos might be unfolding. It is, however, worth being forewarned about what's been sneaked into place at the time of writing. As GM Watch points out, there's so much political upheaval in the UK and Europe, we risk "being so overwhelmed by the noise and sense of urgency that we miss what's really going on".

For example ...