NK603 maize is not equivalent

January 2017
Photo: Creative Commons

It has long been a refrain in GM-free Scotland articles that the 'safety testing' of GM foods is too crude, too limited and too old-fashioned to tell us anything except that eating it won't make anyone drop dead. Science has many more sophisticated and more meaningful testing techniques at its disposal, if only there was the will to develop them for routine use.

At the end of 2016, however, the ball finally got rolling.

Pakistan cotton crisis

January 2017

Photo credit  Håkan Löndahl on Flickr
Pakistan's economy is in trouble, mainly due to a major setback in its agriculture and textile industry. At the heart of the problem is a massive 27.8% drop in cotton production.

A multitude of factors has been implicated this decline.

February 2016 saw international cotton prices touch a six-year low.

GMO MON810 maize gut rot

January 2017
Image © Greenpeace
In the late 1990s, Scotland sparked an anti-GM storm when scientists Arpad Pusztai and Stanley Ewen at Aberdeen University reported adverse effects on laboratory rats fed GM potatoes.

It's not to the credit of scientists that these preliminary, short term (10-day), small-scale (6 animals per treatment) findings were not followed up.  Instead, Pusztai was silenced, and the science of GM safety-testing was effectively stifled for years. 

Florida GM mosquitoes will not be released

January 2017
Photo Creative commons
The first ever mass release of GM mosquitoes in the U.S. will NOT go ahead.

Not wanting to be used as lab rats forced to swallow, breath and be bitten by biotech mozzies in their own homes, the Florida community chosen to be the subjects of this reckless, real-life experiment complained very loudly.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which had fast-tracked approval of the trial release of Oxitec's self-destruct GM mosquitoes, simply hadn't done its homework.  There have been no impact assessments on people, nor on threatened and endangered species, nor on the environment, nor even on the Zika virus and Dengue virus the high-tech decimation of the mosquito population is supposed to achieve [1].

Any future applications for GM mosquito release will require an 'Environmental Assessment' and a 'Finding of No Significant Impact'.

US court notes GMO concerns

January 2017
Photo: Creative Commons
A US court has ruled that Federal law doesn't prevent States and Counties from passing their own local laws to regulate or ban commercial growing of GM crops.

Most importantly, the court acknowledged that growing GM raises "several well-documented concerns", including economic impacts due to gene pollution, and environmental impacts from increased use of pesticides, superweeeds, pest-resistance, and reduced biodiversity.

This is significant because GM crops and life-destroying chemicals are inseparable. 

NFU admits farmers must grow what consumers want

January 2017
Photo: Creative Commons
The Vice President of the National Farmers Union (NFU), who "thinks GM is the way forward" and that science, not "popular appeal", should be directing what farmers can and can't grow, has finally admitted he has to be "mindful of markets". He's noticed that he has to "grow what consumers want to eat" or what he grows won't sell.

Attendees at a meeting of United Oilseeds (co-operative specialist oilseeds merchant) were warned:
"If the UK takes a pro-GM attitude, where are our exports going to go? If we start to develop a different policy to the rest of the EU, those issues (product marketability) will raise their heads and we need to be very, very careful".
Add to this that there is a need for regulators "to recognise that agriculture is not just like any other industry" and that "some level of self sufficiency, some level of food security, is a political objective. Our home agriculture needs to thrive".