Syngenta found guilty of murder

December 2015

Swiss biotech giant, Syngenta, has been found  guilty of murder and attempted murder by a Brazilian court.

The judge described the incident, which was a direct result of a bad outsourcing choice of security services by Syngenta, as a "massacre".

Long-term followers of GM-free Scotland may remember the original shocking report of deaths and serious injury to peasant GM-protesters in Brazil (MURDER IN BRAZIL - December 2007).

The violence erupted in a Syngenta-owned GM experimental field centre, which had been the scene of anti-GM activism for over a year, and which the State Governor had unsuccessfully tried to turn into an agro-ecological research centre to benefit poor farmers.

Cultivating PR

December 2015

A BBC documentary aired on 8th June 2015, covered the initiative to introduce GM brinjal (aubergine) into Bangladesh.  Viewers were told that "After a false start last year, this season more than 90%of the GM trial plots have been successful".  The source of the '90%' claim for the 'Bt' insecticidal brinjal which flashed on the screen  was "Cornell University".

Also featured on the programme was pro-GM crusader, Mark Lynas [1], showcasing one brinjal farmer's GM crop which, it was claimed, reduced insecticide sprays and pesticide poisoning of farm-workers. Interestingly, two months earlier, Lynas had published an article in the New York Times about the same farmer.  In this it was claimed that Bt brinjal had nearly doubled productivity, that the crop had been sold with an insecticide-free label, and  that it would lift the farmer's family out of poverty.

A request to the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) for the data underlying the '90%' claim elicited the confirmation that "Performance of Bt brinjal during 2015 ... are quite good and satisfactory.  Farmers got a good yield and also a handsome profit by selling their product", plus some photographs of brinjal.

However, journalist for the United News of Bangladesh, Faisal Rahman, and GM Watch smelled a rat in the GM brinjal, and made a few enquiries.

RNAi - lite GM bug busters

December 2015

By 2020, Monsanto plans to have the first two 'RNAi' insecticidal products on the market: one is an 'RNAi' spray to  kill potato beetles, the other is an 'RNAi'-enhanced corn to kill corn rootworm.

RNA is produced by DNA and has chemical similarities.  It's role is to regulate all aspects of gene function and protein formation.  The 'i' in RNAi stands for 'interference, because the synthetic RNA molecules being developed by Monsanto  are designed to prevent the creation of proteins.  In pests, Monsanto's RNAi kills by interfering with the activity of one of the target pest's vital genes.  RNAi is also referred to as 'dsRNA' where 'ds' means 'double-stranded' and is a biotech trick used to confer stability on the normally short-lived, single-stranded RNA.  All such RNA is collectively referred to as regulatory RNA.

Monsanto's RNAi spray will be formulated to enable the pesticide to penetrate into the plant tissue, while RNAi-enhanced GM maize will produce its own RNAi pesticide.  Either way, the bugs will eat the plant plus the toxic RNAi, and get killed.

RNAi - Lite GM superweed control?

December 2015

In 2013, Monsanto succeeded in taking out a patent for the next trend in biotechnology.  This is based on interfering with gene expression rather than trying to put artificial genes into the plant.

The prime focus of the patent is a clever method for undoing all the problems caused Monsanto's herbicide-tolerant GM crops  in the first place.

Germany shows the way to GM-free soya

December 2015

We're at last beginning to face up to the reality that the world's natural resources are finite and that we're choking to death in waste of our own creation. The buzz-word du jour is 'sustainability', because without it, we're doomed.

Sustainability of our food crop production is of course a multi-dimensional issue.