U.S. GMO crops show mix of benefits, concerns - USDA report

GE Failures & Contaminations

Feb 24 (Reuters) - After more than 15 years of using genetically modified crops, U.S. farmers are continuing to see an array of benefits, but the impacts on the environmental and on food production are mixed, and high farmer use of a popular herbicide on GMO crops is a cause for ongoing concern, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Organic farms support more species

Sustainable Agriculture

On average, organic farms support 34% more plant, insect and animal species than conventional farms, say Oxford University scientists.

Researchers looked at data going back 30 years and found that this effect has remained stable over time and shows no signs of decreasing.

FRENCH PARLIAMENT BANS CULTIVATION OF GM MAIZE

Winning against genetic engineering

SUMMARY: "France's lower house of parliament adopted a law on Tuesday prohibiting the cultivation of any variety of genetically modified maize, saying it posed a risk to the environment."

France's lower house of parliament adopted a law on Tuesday prohibiting the cultivation of any variety of genetically modified maize, saying it posed a risk to the environment.

France adopted a decree last month to halt the planting of Monsanto's insect-resistant MON810 maize, the only GM crop allowed for cultivation in the European Union.

USA: VERMONT SENATE PASSES MANDATORY GMO FOOD-LABELING LAW

Winning against genetic engineering

SUMMARY: "The Vermont Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would make the state the first in the United States to enact mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically modified crops."

The Vermont Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would make the state the first in the United States to enact mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically modified crops.

"We are really excited that Vermont is going to be leading on this," said Falko Schilling, a spokesman for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, which backed the bill.

HAWAII: MAUI GATHERS SIGNATURES TO TEMPORARILY BAN GROWING GMOS

Actions/Protests in the News

SUMMARY: "A Maui group says it has submitted more than 9,500 signatures in support of a temporary ban on growing or testing genetically modified organisms in Maui County."

A Maui group says it has submitted more than 9,500 signatures in support of a temporary ban on growing or testing genetically modified organisms in Maui County.

The measure will be heard by the Maui County Council if the group, the Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina Movement, has been found to have gathered at least 8,500 valid signatures.

Plant Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds'

Sustainable Agriculture

Backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including broccoli, carrots and kale, on Thursday.

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They're releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new "open source pledge" that's intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely.

Now They're Selling Synthetic Biology as Food?

Genetically Engineered Food

Synthetic biology is a fascinating area of research, but its practitioners really seem to be flailing when it comes to commercial justification. The most highly publicized product has been synthetic artemisinin, a malaria treatment, which reached the market last year but seems to be of little commercial value and is probably socially harmful — all in all, a mistake, for various reasons described below. Right behind that has been the on-again, off-again, now on-again, attention given to biofuels, which have long been "the fuel of the future, and always will be."

Slowing the Rush to Genetically Modified Babies

GE & People

We are heading toward a slippery slope. The United Kingdom is moving closer to allowing scientists to create genetically modified children – something no country in the world currently authorizes.

I posted in December about how the United States and the U.K. were going down a dangerous road. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the key U.K. regulator on these matters, recently issued (on very short notice), a “Call for evidence” on issues of safety and efficacy, with a deadline of today, March 21, 2014.

Discriminatory “DNA Sweeps”

GE & People

A “DNA sweep” or “DNA dragnet” refers to the practice of police officers asking large numbers of people to voluntarily give DNA samples in order to help solve a crime. It is a controversial practice that is infrequently used because it can easily impose on what the New York Times has called “constitutional protections against compelled self-incrimination and unreasonable search and seizure.”

Scientists find multiple problems with GMOs

GE Failures & Contaminations

“GMO seeds have not been shown to definitively increase yield potentials”
and “in fact, the yields of herbicide-tolerant or insect-resistant seeds
may be occasionally lower than the yields of conventional varieties.”
A February 2014 U.S. Department of Agriculture report declared what many
scientists already knew: There are no significant differences in yields of
GMO and non-GMO crops. When asked about the USDA report, the chief
technology officer for Monsanto declared, “American farmers are smart and
wouldn’t adapt a technology that didn’t have tangible benefits.”

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