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UK agricultural research: a different approach is urgently needed

The article argues that the dominant assumptions in UK agricultural research need to be challenged, opening it up to a wide range of voices and disciplines.

This article has been published in the special edition magazine - For whom? Questioning the food and farming research agenda (follow link to access the full magazine and a fully referenced version of the article).

New Genetic Engineering Techniques: Precaution, Risk, and the Need to Develop Prior Societal Technology Assessment

'New Breeding Techniques' and synthetic biology - genetic engineering by another name

Advocates claim that synthetic biology and the so-called New Breeding Techniques (NBTs) are distinct from genetic engineering (GE), write Helena Paul, Elisabeth Bücking & Ricarda Steinbrecher. In fact synthetic biology and NBTs carry similar risks to old-style GE, and even create novel hazards. The 'new GE' techniques - as they should be named - and their products deserve regulation at least as strict as those applying to GMOs. Read the full article on the Ecologist website.

'Climate-Smart Agriculture' - preparing for a corporate soil and climate-grab in Paris?

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.
Read the full article at The Ecologist

Dr Frances Kelsey: thalidomide and the precautionary principle

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

Swords and Ploughshares

Coming to your table?

The US looks set to approve GM crops that resist the 'Agent Orange' pesticide 2,4-D as well as glyphosate, writes Helena Paul. If it does, the toxic chemical - created in WW2 to destroy enemy food supplies - will soon end up in animal feeds, and the food we eat.

Read the full article

GM crops are driving genocide and ecocide - keep them out of the EU!

The unfolding human and ecological disaster of GM agriculture in the Americas must send the EU a powerful message, writes Helena Paul. We don't want it here, and we should stop buying the products of GM-driven genocide and ecocide abroad.

Read the full article

Large-scale bioenergy must be excluded from the renewable energy definition

We, the signatories of this declaration, are calling on the European Union (EU) to exclude bioenergy from its next Renewable Energy Directive (RED), and thereby stop direct and indirect subsidies for renewable energy from biofuels and wood-burning.

Bioenergy Out: Why bioenergy should not be included in the next EU Renewable Energy Directive

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.

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