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January 2016 - Talk - Social and ecological impacts

The impacts of GM crops in Argentina

Helena Paul

Presentation at the Oxford Real Farming Conference, Jan. 2016

with pictures from Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil

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December 2015 - Briefing - Genetic Engineering, Risk assessment

Inherent risks and the need to regulate

Dr. Ricarda A. Steinbrecher

Over the last 5-10 years there have been rapid developments in genetic engineering techniques (genetic modification). Along with these has come the increasing ability to make deeper and more complex changes in the genetic makeup and metabolic pathways of living organisms. This has led to the emergence of two new fields of genetic engineering that overlap with each other: synthetic biology and the so-called New Breeding Techniques (NBTs).

November 2015 - Article - Climate COP21 - Climate change & Agriculture, Food Security, Food Sovereignity & Sustainable Farming
Helena Paul

This article gives a brief history of ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’, and shows how currently the term can equally be applied to both industrial monocultures and agroecology. The level of corporate interest is high, including Monsanto, Walmart, Danone, and the big fertiliser companies. France, a keen member of the Global Alliance for ‘Climate-Smart Agriculture’ (GACSA), and the host for December 2015 climate conference in Paris (COP21), has developed a proposal that risks defining the soil as a giant carbon sink to offset continued emissions.

September 2015 - Briefing - Bioenergy / Biomass
NOAH (Friends of the Earth Denmark), Biofuelwatch, Econexus, Global Forest Coalition, World Rainforest Movement, Rettet den Regenwald e.V., and Corporate Europe Observatory

Renewable energy legislation such as the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) aims to significantly scale up forms of energy classed as renewable, with the stated aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There has been a lack of critical debate about the definition of renewable energy to date. According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy is "energy derived from natural processes (e.g. sunlight and wind) that are replenished at a faster rate than they are consumed".

Large-scale industrial bioenergy does not meet this definition because it relies on a major expansion of industrial agriculture,
monoculture tree plantations, and industrial logging, which deplete and pollute soils and water, destroy natural ecosystems and biodiversity, and destroy the livelihoods of many millions of people, particularly in the global South.
Furthermore, large-scale industrial bioenergy cannot meet the EU’s stated aim of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) because it leads to emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases that are commonly greater than those from the use of fossil fuels.
Nevertheless, within the EU's overall renewable energy target, bioenergy competes with more sustainable and climate-friendly renewable energy rather than with fossil fuels.
This briefing makes the case for taking bioenergy out the new EU Renewable Energy Directive for 2020-230.

August 2015 - Article - Risk assessment
Helena Paul & Philip Bereano

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Dr Frances Kelsey, write Helena Paul & Philip Bereano. In 1960, she defied her bosses at the FDA to prevent the licensing of thalidomide in the USA, saving thousands from being born with serious deformities. Her tough approach to minimising the risk from new drugs contains lessons we ignore at our peril.

Read the full article

January 2015 - Open Letter - Risk assessment

Open letter to the Commission on new genetic engineering methods

Francesco Panella, Nina Holland, Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, Andrea Ferrante, Mute Schimpf, Dr Helen Wallace, Saskia Richartz, Christoph Then

In the interest of protecting the environment and public health, genetically modified crops are subject to risk assessment, an authorisation process and labelling rules under EU law. All non-traditional breeding processes that change the structure of DNA using genetic engineering technologies or interfere with gene regulation fall within the scope of these GM regulations. Some are now calling on the European Commission to exempt new genetic engineering techniques from GM rules. The undersigned groups argue that such an exception could threaten the environment and our health, and would violate EU law.

September 2013 - Report - Climate change & Agriculture, Food Security, Food Sovereignity & Sustainable Farming
EcoNexus & Berne Declaration

In just 18 pages, Agropoly shows how a handful of companies have come to dominate the agro-industries for:

  • animal feed production: one third of agricultural land goes to produce animal feed;
  • livestock breeding: in chicken breeding, for example, the top 4 companies have 99% market share of the genetics;
  • seed production: the top 10 seed corporations have a 75% market share of the commercial market;
  • commodity production, processing, trade and retail: the revenues of the three biggest supermarket corporations are larger than the GNP of many states;
  • fertiliser and pesticide manufacture: the latter also controlled by seed corporations.
October 2011 - Submission - SBSTTA 16 - Synthetic biology
The International Civil Society Working Group on Synthetic BiologyConsisting of: Action Group On Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group), Center for Food Safety Center for Food Safety, Econexus, Friends of the Earth USA, International Center for Technology Assessment, and The Sustainability Council of New Zealand

The new and emerging issue of synthetic biology is relevant to the attainment of the objectives of the CBD, its thematic programmes of work and cross-cutting issues.
We recommend that SBSTTA, in the development of options and advice on the new and emerging issue of synthetic biology for the consideration of COP11, consider the following actions/recommendations under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress, and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.

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