Friday, 18 April 2008

GMO Consequences

New Website Lays Bare the Unintended Consequences of Genetic Engineering

Research reports from the mainstream technical literature may change
the tenor of the public conversation about biotechnology.

Ghent, New York (April 14, 2008)

The Nature Institute has unveiled a new website designed to set the public debate about genetic engineering upon a more accessible scientific foundation. Distilling a voluminous technical literature, the website gathers together -- often in the researchers' own words -- information about both the intended and unintended consequences of transgenic experiments. The emerging picture tells a dramatic story -- one that has scarcely begun to inform the public conversation to date. The website, available here , is part of The Nature Institute's ongoing project on "The Nontarget Effects of Genetic Manipulation."

Nontarget effects have proven both extensive and unpredictable. The evidence for their occurrence, while mostly buried in the technical literature, is not disputable or even particularly controversial. It's simply not widely known. Once it is known, the frequently heard claim that genetic manipulation of organisms is a "precise science" without dramatic risks will either be voiced no more or will be recognized as dishonest.

As project director, Craig Holdrege, describes, "if you manipulate one or more genes in an organism using the techniques of biotechnology, the so-called side-effects -- which are not side-effects at all, but include direct responses by the organism to the invasive actions of the engineer -- can occur anywhere and everywhere in the organism. They are not predictable, are little understood, and have mostly unknown consequences for health and the environment. The intended result may or may not be achieved in any given case, but the one almost sure thing is that unintended results -- nontarget effects -- will be achieved."

Holdrege, whose most recent book, Beyond Biotechnology, deals with the practical and philosophical implications of genetic engineering, maintains that a great deal of the discussion of genetic engineering practices can become calmer and more focused once the basic facts revealed by the extensive research to date are more widely known. Holdrege believes that "we can hardly fail to acknowledge a need for caution when we are dealing with a powerful technology that is changing organisms and environments around the globe -- organisms and environments that cannot simply be restored to their previous state when we discover the unpredicted results of transgenic experiments."

French Senate Approve GMO Law

France's upper house of parliament has passed a bill laying down conditions for the growth of crops using genetically modified organisms (GMO) after changing a key amendment aimed at limiting their cultivation.

The measure, passed by the upper house, or Senate, late on Wednesday, is a response to European Union demands that member states formulate laws on GMO use.

The bill has the backing of the ruling centre-right government and the main farmers' union, but has been fiercely criticised by campaigners opposed to the use of the technology.

It will return to the lower house of parliament, or National Assembly, in the second half of May before becoming law.

Under an amendment proposed by Communist deputy Andre Chassaigne to guard against contamination by GMO crops, the law makes it compulsory for farmers to "respect agricultural structures, local ecosystems and non-GMO commercial and production industries."

But a modification introduced in the Senate would leave it to a government-appointed High Council on Biotechnology to fix limits on what would constitute "non-GMO" production for crop varieties, pending a ruling on the issue by the European Union.

Critics said the change would weaken the amendment but Greenpeace campaigner Arnaud Apoteker, an opponent of the bill, said the fact it had not been scrapped entirely was positive.

"We may have avoided the worst because ... the amendment was in danger and that was what we feared," he said.

He said there was concern it could be further watered down when it returned to the National Assembly for a second reading.

As well as attracting condemnation from the left wing opposition, the GMO bill has caused deep divisions within the ranks of President Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right government.

Junior Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who favoured tighter restrictions, accused members of her own party and her own senior minister Jean-Louis Borloo of "cowardice" over the issue.

Full story here.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Truth Number Two

Here's another vid in my Truth series. Feel free to comment on it or any of the others that I've made. I'd appreciate any suggestions, thanks.

Truth Number Two

Monday, 14 April 2008

Truth Number One

Here's a vid that I made, called Truth Number One. I'm going to make a series of these.

Feel free to spread it around.