Argentina: A Case Study on the Impact of Genetically Engineered Soya

This case study explains why Argentina began to grow genetically engineered RR soya and why its cultivation has spread so rapidly to more than 14 million hectares (ha) in 2003-4. It looks at the role that Argentina adopted in the 19th Century as an exporter of raw materials and a target for foreign investment. Other factors touched on include the massive accumulation of debt, economic collapse, financial speculation, capital flight and structural adjustment imposed by the Menem government (1989-99) according to instructions from international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

V-GURTs (Terminator)

Any biological containment system setting out to prevent gene flow of transgenes via pollen and seed must be 100% reliable and effective. At present there are a number of molecular containment strategies that aim to restrict gene flow either via pollen, seed or sprouting of vegetative organs (e.g. tubers). Such strategies include male sterility, maternal inheritance, seed sterility, prevention of sprouting, apomixis and temporal and tissue specific control.

Genetically Engineered Trees: No Solution to Global Warming

Genetically engineered trees do not offer a solution to global warming, rather they are a global distraction from finding real solutions to the problems of global warming. In addition, they threaten the world’s forests through gene flow and other hazards. This is why people on all continents are raising the call for a global moratorium on the release of genetically modified trees into the environment.

GURTs: No Case for Field Trials

No peer-reviewed scientific data has been published on GURTs since 2000 that would alter the assessment and implications of CBD decision V/5-III, recommending that field trials not take place before ”appropriate scientific data can justify such testing”. In particular, there is an absence of:

  • Evidence that the components of GURTs (individually and in combination) perform with the degree of reliability and accuracy required for a stable and reliable GURT;
  • Evidence concerning impacts on the environment, biodiversity, and human health;
  • Evidence that v-GURTs applications to be used for bio-confinement will not allow gene flow to occur, via seed or pollen.

Unless reliable data from greenhouse trials, published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, can show the existence of a complete GURT and its reliable and stable performance, and address outstanding issues, there is no reason for Parties to the CBD to consider field trials or case-by-case risk assessment.

Briefing Paper on Transgenic Trees

The damaging effects of conventional industrial mono-culture tree plantations is already well-documented. The addition of transgenic tree plantations can only worsen these existing problems. Add to this the utter lack of credible risk assessment of transgenic tree release, especially on a global scale, and it becomes a matter of common sense that there must not be any further forward motion in the commercial development of transgenic tree plantations. The UN CBD must impose a moratorium on the technology and launch a thorough and global examination of the risks of this technology.

V-GURTs (Terminator Technology)

This paper describes in brief the concepts and design behind Terminator technology or Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURTs) in language accessible to non-scientists. It details the different elements that are theoretically required to assemble gene sequences designed to prevent the germination of seeds.

The Mutational Consequences of Plant Transformation

Plant transformation is a genetic engineering tool for introducing transgenes into plant genomes. It is now being used for the breeding of commercial crops. A central feature of transformation is insertion of the transgene into plant chromosomal DNA. Transgene insertion is infrequently, if ever, a precise event. Mutations found at transgene insertion sites include deletions and rearrangements of host chromosomal DNA and introduction of superfluous DNA. Insertion sites introduced using Agrobacterium tumefaciens tend to have simpler structures but can be associated with extensive chromosomal rearrangements, while those of particle bombardment appear invariably to be associated with deletion and extensive scrambling of inserted and chromosomal DNA. Ancillary procedures associated with plant transformation, including tissue culture and infection with A. tumefaciens, can also introduce mutations. These genome-wide mutations can number from hundreds to many thousands per diploid genome. Despite the fact that confidence in the safety and dependability of crop species rests significantly on their genetic integrity, the frequency of transformation-induced mutations and their importance as potential biosafety hazards are poorly understood.

GE Rice

"Rice is the world's most consumed staple food grain, with half the world's people depending on it. It is harvested on about 146 million hectares, representing 10 per cent of global arable land. The yield is reported as 535 million tons per year and 91 per cent is produced by Asian farmers, especially in China and India (55 per cent of the total)." Rice is not just a daily source of calories - it is intrinsically linked to Asian lifestyles and heritage.

Agrofuels: Towards a Reality Check in Nine Key Areas

This document focuses on particular types of ‘biofuel’ which we prefer to call agrofuel because of the intensive, industrial way it is produced, generally as monocultures, often covering thousands of hectares, most often in the global South.

Genome Scrambling – Myth or Reality?

Internationally, safety regulations of transgenic (genetically modified or GM) crop plants focus primarily on the potential hazards of specific transgenes and their products (e.g. allergenicity of the B. thuringiensis cry3A protein). This emphasis on the transgene and its product is a feature of the case-by-case approach to risk assessment. The case-by-case approach effectively assumes that plant transformation methods (the techniques used to introduce recombinant DNA into a plant) carry no inherent risk. Nevertheless, current crop plant transformation methods typically require tissue culture (i.e. regeneration of an intact plant from a single cell that has been treated with hormones and antibiotics and forced to undergo abnormal developmental changes) and either infection with a pathogenic organism (A. tumefaciens) or bombardment with tungsten particles. It would therefore not be surprising if plant transformation resulted in significant genetic consequences which were unrelated to the nature of the specific transgene. Indeed, both tissue culture and transgene insertion have been used as mutagenic agents (Jain 2001, Krysan et al. 1999).

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