LABB News Archive 2008-2009

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This archive includes some of the more significant news items which have previously appeared on the What's New page. These web-links are not regularly updated now and may well be out of date, so if you find a later link, please let us know. Some items (particularly those marked +) may be described in our Learning Links or Hot Topics pages.
11/1/08  + The European Food Safety Authority drafts opinion that milk and meat from cloned animals should be allowed to be sold since "it is very unlikely that any difference exists in terms of food safety ... compared with conventionally bred animals." This is now open to public consultation - closed on 25 February 2008.
11/1/08  The University of Leeds is seeking permission to plant GM potatoes, engineered with a synthetic (non-organic) gene to resist cyst-nematodes (eelworms), on a farm near Tadcaster. The public can submit comments to DEFRA on risks until 3 March 2008. GM Freeze provides a briefing setting out grounds for objection. [136K]
15/1/08  + Scottish Government launches "National Food Discussion" by publishing a discussion paper and opening a public consultation on all aspects of the food chain.
8/2/08  US research finds that a significant pest, the bollworm moth, has evolved resistance to the toxin in GM Bt cotton.
13/2/08  New report shows GM crops have led to greater use of pesticides and do not have increased yields, as claimed.
14/2/08  + The European Commission has decided on "emergency measures" to stop unauthorised Bt63 GM rice from China entering the food supply.
6/3/08  + Two calves of a cloned cow which were to be auctioned in Bristol are now expected to be sold privately.
26/3/08  Food Standards Agency confirms that Chinese rice contaminated with the illegal GM variety Bt63 is unsafe for human consumption, and issues recall order. (see 8/6/07, 14/2/08)
2/4/08  Swedish research shows GM oilseed rape seeds survive in soil for at least 10 years, despite best efforts to remove them. (see also 22/9/05)
2/4/08  + Scientists at Newcastle University claim to have created Britain's first human-animal hybrid embryos, intended for stem cell research. The embryos were formed by substituting the nucleus of a human cell for the nucleus in a cow's ovum (egg). (see also 20/11/07 and 'Human GE')
7/4/08  Norfolk Trading Standards warns caterers that they face six months in jail and fines up to £5,000 if they fail to inform customers when products contain GM ingredients. Spot checks revealed 42 per cent of outlets surveyed were breaking the law. (see also 6/9/07)
10/4/08  Research analysis shows yields from all major GM crops are no greater than from non-GM varieties. (See 13/2/08)
15/4/08  International report by over 400 scientists urges radical changes in food production, and is sceptical about the potential of GM to avert shortages and environmental problems. Full report.
24/4/08  Debenhams chain announces ban on "unhealthy ingredients", including GM food, in its restaurants.
6/5/08  Earth First! protestors shut down UK headquarters of BASF to focus attention on its forthcoming GM potato trial. (See 6/7/07 etc)
10/5/08  Leeds University gets permission to grow GM potatoes in open field test site. (See 11/1/08) Consent document. [129K]
11/5/08  + After learning that the first GM human embryo has been created in the US, Human Genetics Alert calls on the UK Government to halt its plans to legalise this. An international group also calls for a world-wide moratorium.
13/5/08  Report from Canada reveals that the major agribusiness corporations are claiming patents on genes relevant to climate change adaptation.
29/5/08  Swiss Government extends its moratorium on commercial growing of GM plants for another three years, until 2013, to allow completion of essential research.
5/6/08  GM potato trial near Tadcaster is destroyed by anonymous objectors. (See 10/5/08)
6/6/08  + Daily Mail reveals six more calves have been born in the UK from the embryos of a cloned US cow. At present no regulations apply to the consumption of their milk or meat. (See 11/1/07, 21/3/07, 6/3/08.)
19/6/08  Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, announces new measures following analysis of Scottish Food Discussion. (See 15/1/08) Some of these potentially relate to GM and the Scottish Government still maintains a moratorium on growing GM crops.
23/6/08  The government agency Natural England warns Prime Minister Gordon Brown against using GM crops to offset rising food prices.
23/6/08  Environmental coalition warns governments not to fall for the current "biotech industry propaganda" on the rising costs of food and animal feed. The industry is keen to remove the EU's 'zero tolerance' rule on unauthorised GM products. The National Farmers Union too is attempting to influence supermarkets' policies. (See above, 23/6/08)
7/7/08  UK Cabinet Office report on food strategy for the 21st century published, and criticised as "seriously lacking in-depth analysis" on GM crops and their impacts.
16/7/08  Food Standards Agency publishes list of Chinese rice products contaminated with the unauthorised GM variety Bt63. (See 26/3/08)
25/7/08  Austria bans the import of Monsanto's GM maize MON863 on health and safety grounds.
28/7/08  A group of scientists involved in GM testing call for location of test sites to be kept secret.
9/8/08  Scientists at the University of Southampton have asked the Forestry Commission for permission to plant GM trees.
13/8/08  The Prince of Wales expresses concern about industrial farming and genetic engineering. John Vidal has analysed the Prince's grounds for concern. Scottish Environment Minister also backs the Prince (later).
5/9/08  The two Irish governments confirm plans for a GM free Ireland. NOTE: expired links to GM Free Ireland.
7/9/08  The Labour peer, Lord Winston, is to start breeding GM pigs to supply organs for human transplants.
8/9/08  European Commission authorises the import of Bayer's GM soybean A2704-12 for use in food and feed.
9/9/08  A new association of Brazilian producers are to guarantee a supply of GM free soy products for Europe.
12/9/08  Scottish Government orders destruction of oilseed rape plants and seeds, undergoing a quality trial, found to be contaminated with unauthorised GM material. Scottish Ministers subsequently call on the UK Government to end its support for GM crops.
27/9/08  A Bill is passed in California to offer farmers legal protection from lawsuits arising from GM contamination of their land.
6/10/08  The Union of Concerned Scientists denounces the proposed USDA rules that would not protect the food supply from drug contamination by GM 'pharma' crops.
9/10/08  + New survey of European consumers shows a majority against farming cloned animals and their offspring for food. (see 6/6/08)
22/10/08  UN study shows organic farming offers the best chance of tackling poverty and malnutrition in Africa.
26/10/08  Confidential documents obtained by the Independent on Sunday disclose secret government plans to expedite the introduction of GM food and crops and counter public opposition. (see 28/10/07)
11/11/08  Austrian government study shows the fertility of mice is impaired by the consumption of GM maize (NK603xMON810). Dr Mae Wan Ho explains the research.
16/11/08  Italian government study shows significant disturbances in the immune system of mice fed on GM maize (MON810).
17/11/08  The UK government is said to be preparing plans for secret GM crop trials. This would contravene European law.
4/12/08  Meeting of EU environment ministers calls for significant improvements in assessing GMO impacts. But efforts by the UK government to block new safeguards (against GM contamination of seeds) appear to have fudged the issue. Read the Minutes of meeting [160K].
16/12/08  + A survey carried out by GM Freeze shows the UK food industry is not adequately addressing consumers' concerns over cloned farm animals. (See 9/10/08)
19/12/08  It is revealed that a crop of oilseed rape (canola) harvested on a Somerset farm was contaminated by a GM variety, Monsanto GT73, not authorised for cultivation. The same seed was involved in the Scottish contamination incident (see 12/9/08) but DEFRA has refused to divulge the Somerset location. GM Freeze is still trying to obtain this information (see 10/3/11).
13/1/09  Glufosinate herbicide ('Liberty'[tm]) ban approved by European Parliament. But UK agri-lobby disapproves.
11/2/09  Chief Executive Terry Leahy indicates Tesco is willing to back GM foods. GM products seen in Tesco: cooking oils, chocolate bars.
11/2/09  Industry-sponsored data on GM cultivation worldwide are criticised as "inflated and massaged". ISAAA myths.
17/2/09  Scientists condemn tests of GM 'Golden Rice' on children as breaching Nuremberg ethics code.
17/2/09  European Court of Justice rules that under Directive 2001/18/EC key information on deliberate GMO releases, such as location, must not be withheld from the public. (See 17/11/08)
24/2/09   Welsh Assembly Government minister announces plans for tough 'GM coexistence' regulations in Wales.
2/3/09  Bans by Austria and Hungary on certain types of GM maize (Monsanto's MON810 and Bayer's T25) are upheld by EU environment ministers. The UK minister, Hilary Benn, votes to lift the ban - see FoE analysis. (See also 25/7/08)
25/3/09  + European Parliament approves first stage of a new Regulation on Novel Foods, to include labelling of food from animals fed on GM feed; and calls for a ban on food products from cloned animals. See draft of Regulation.
1/4/09  + Scottish Parliament debate supports conventional plant breeding while setting out extensive arguments against GM crops.
3/4/09  French National Consumer Council (CNC) supports the use of a label "Fed without GMOs" (Nourri sans OGM) for animal products. More references here.
14/4/09  Germany bans cultivation of MON810 GM maize (corn) amid environmental and economic concerns. (See 2/3/09 etc)
15/4/09  Genetic fingerprinting pioneer Prof Sir Alec Jeffreys criticises UK Government for retaining DNA records on thousands of innocent people.
24/4/09  At a European conference of GM free regions, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham re-affirms and explains the Scottish Government's opposition to GM crops.
18/5/09  Irish health officials have destroyed unauthorised Bt63 GM rice imports from China. (See 16/7/08)
12/6/09  Irish Doctors Environmental Association states support for immediate moratorium on GM foods.
22/6/09  + Decision by EU farm ministers to allow meat from cloned animals to enter the "novel food" regulatory process - but this will need the approval of the European Parliament. (See 25/3/09 & 16/12/08.)
24/6/09  New Scottish Environmental Liability Regulations come into force, implementing the principle that "polluter pays" for damage caused. Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham points out that our laws on GM contamination are now significantly stronger than those in England.
26/6/09  Scottish Government publishes "Recipe for Success" a new Food and Drink Policy for Scotland, but GM is not mentioned. See 'Hot Topics'.
30/6/09  Welsh Assembly Government opens public consultation on strict proposals for coexistence of GM and conventional crops.
20/7/09  Report by GM Freeze criticises over-emphasis by UK Government on GM technology for poorer countries and for pledging £140 million of DFID support.
27/7/09  It is revealed that a trial of GM potatoes near Tadcaster, Yorkshire, has been surreptitiously restarted. (See 5/6/08)
28/7/09  Launch of petition opposing approval of GM carnations in Europe.
29/7/09  Scientific analysis reveals "serious mistakes and omissions" in the assessment of MON810 GM maize prepared by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). The ten year licence for the maize is up for renewal. (See 16/11/08, 14/4/09 etc)
6/8/09  Imports to the European Union of US soy rejected due to contamination by prohibited GM corn.
13/8/09  A UK Government report (by DEFRA and FSA), on supply of non-GM animal feed, is strongly criticised for pro-GM bias.
8/9/09  Canadian flax (linseed) exports to Europe found to be contaminated with an illegal GM variety FP967 known as Triffid, barred from sale in 2001.
16/9/09  UK Food Standards Agency sets up an "independent" group to advise them in discussing GM with consumers. (See 23/9/09, 13/8/09 etc)
23/9/09  Following earlier letters of concern, GM Freeze again criticises the Food Standards Agency for failing to alert the UK on the flax contamination, now believed to affect ten EU countries. (See 8/9/09)
5/10/09  Canadian flax contaminated with the unapproved GM variety Triffid has now affected 28 countries worldwide. (See 23/9/09)
10/10/09  In Ireland, new government programme specifies a ban on GM plant cultivation and a voluntary 'GM-free' logo [354K] to endorse products from animals fed GM-free. GM-free Ireland comments. (See also 5/9/08)
15/10/09  France's supreme court rules Monsanto falsely advertised its Roundup(tm) weedkiller as "biodegradable", and imposes a fine of 15,000 euros.
15/10/09  Petition with 180,000 signatures against the introduction of GM rice handed to EU Commissioner for Health in Brussels.
21/10/09  UK Royal Society report [1911K] calls for £2 billion research programme "to help feed the world". Commenting, Genewatch cautions on the use of biotechnology, warning against a "clique of scientists who have failed to deliver".
3/11/09  Three new varieties of GM maize are approved by the European Commission, for import and use in food and feed:  Monsanto's MON88017 and MON89034, and Pioneer's 59122xNK603. The decision was made by default, since agriculture ministers failed to reach a 'qualified majority' decision. The French research group CRIIGEN denounces the "scandalous approval" [51K] of the Pioneer maize.
5/11/09  Unauthorised GM flax discovered in bread in UK, but Food Standards Agency still refuses to alert the public. (See 5/10/09)
9/11/09  It is revealed that an application to market high-lysine GM maizes (LY038) in Europe was secretly withdrawn 6 months earlier - after EFSA raised safety concerns. GM Free Cymru provides further insight.
10/11/09  Food Standards Agency estimates its public "GM Dialogue" will cost £750,000. [86K] (See 16/9/09)
10/11/09  Academy of Medical Sciences launches study on the use of non-human embryos and animals containing human material in research, including ethical and safety aspects.
18/11/09  New Zealand poultry producer Inghams is warned that it risked breaching Fair Trading law with its claim that its GM-fed chickens had "No GM content". The "Report on animals exposed to GM ingredients in animal feed" [2508K] by Prof Jack Heinemann was a key factor in the investigation by the Commerce Commission.
25/11/09  Study of US government data shows GM crops were responsible for a substantial overall increase in herbicide use over 13 years, the main cause being herbicide-resistant weeds. (See also 25/7/05)
25/11/09  Food Standards Agency publishes report on project to explore public attitudes to GM. The report's findings justify Soil Association's subsequent call for labelling on "all products which involve GM processes", including products from animals fed on GM feed.
3/12/09  New report shows GM seed prices in America have rocketed relative to non-GM.
11/12/09  French study of rats fed on GM corn varieties MON810, MON863 and NK603 reveals signs of toxicity to kidney and liver. These GM varieties are currently approved for consumption. (See 14/6/07, 11/11/08, 3/11/09 etc)
18/12/09  Stuttgart Peace Prize awarded to Dr Arpad Pusztai and his wife Dr Susan Bardocz, for their work in informing the public about the dangers of GM.

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