LABB News Archive 2012-2013

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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 These web-links are not regularly updated now and may well be out of date, so if you find a later link, please let us know.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.
3/1/12  Media reports suggest Sainsbury's brand director is in favour of GM in farming.
10/1/12  Article by US scientist makes the connection between GM Bt (pesticidal) corn and neonicotinoid seed treatments now being associated with bee population collapse.
12/1/12  A confidential company document shows the offspring of GM mosquitoes described as "sterile" have a significant survival rate in the presence of common antibiotic pollution. Despite this, millions of these potential disease carriers were released experimentally in the Cayman Islands, Malaysia and Brazil, while GM moths are now proposed for the UK.
13/1/12  French government announces its intention to continue its ban on cultivating GM maize MON810, despite two court rulings. (See also 11/12/09)
2/2/12  Following the creation of a genetically engineered form of bird flu virus that is much more infectious, experts call for permanent restrictions on research.
8/2/12  + An application by Monsanto to raise permitted residue levels of glyphosate weedkiller by 100-150 times in lentils is condemned by GM Freeze on safety grounds. (See 9/12/11)
15/2/12  + Swiss research confirms earlier findings that a toxin in GM Bt maize increases mortality in ladybird larvae. The research also exposes shortcomings in methodology of a concerted attempt to discredit their earlier findings. (See also 13/12/11, 10/1/12)
15/2/12  + European research shows Bt toxins and glyphosate residues, common in GM plants, can have a toxic effect on human cells. (See 20/5/11, 9/12/11, 8/2/12)
24/2/12  US judge dismisses a lawsuit, brought by organic farmers and others, seeking protection against Monsanto lawsuits that claim patent infringement.
1/3/12  GM Freeze launches a new campaign "GM Wheat No Thanks" opposing field trials now permitted in Hertfordshire. (See 16/9/11)
12/3/12  "Let's Liberate Diversity", the European farming conference, firmly rejects GMOs [113K] and welcomes the Scottish Government's ongoing opposition to GM food and feed. Delegates to the conference, hosted this year by the Scottish Crofting Federation, outlined the threats posed by GMOs to biodiversity and farmers' rights.
21/3/12  A complaint is filed with the European Ombudsman, questioning the independence of the chairman of the GM risk assessment panel of the European Food Safety Authority. (See also 11/4/11)
22/3/12  Morrisons supermarket has authorised the use of GM feed by its poultry farmers - a significant policy switch. GM Watch offers more information on Morrisons' use of "sustainable soy", plus suggestions for consumer action.
11/4/12  Food manufacturers are warned that basmati rice from India and Pakistan may have been deliberately contaminated with cheaper GM rice, unauthorised in the EU. (See also 15/11/11)
19/4/12  Significant new forms of DNA called XNAs (xeno-nucleic acids) have been synthesised, but one scientist warns of possible dangers.
2/5/12  German farmer files a criminal case against Syngenta, alleging it withheld details of a feeding test with Bt176 GM maize, during which 4 cows died. Further detail from ISIS.
10/5/12  The chair of the management board of the European Food Safety Authority has been fired over her links to the GM food industry and ILSI. MEPs remain critical of how conflicts of interest are handled. (See also 21/3/12)
14/5/12  A 'Sustainable Food' report by the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee calls on the UK Government not to license GM crops until their benefits are proven.
21/5/12  A farmer has been charged with damaging the Rothamsted GM wheat trial. This follows a recent TV discussion between opponents and proponents of the trial. (See also 1/3/12)
27/5/12  A protest organised by Take the Flour Back against the Rothamsted GM wheat trial is met by an overwhelming police presence, backing up an anti-trepass order. (See also 21/5/12)
15/6/12  After investigating Bt corn extensively damaged by unusually early rootworms, a University of Illinois scientist expresses concern that they could have developed immunity to the GE insecticide (Bt). (See also 29/7/11, 10/11/11)
15/6/12  An analysis of US government data contradicts industry claims that GM crops reduce pesticide use. (See also 10/11/11)
17/6/12  + A new report "GMO Myths and Truths" is published by two genetic engineers, with extensive evidence of hazards to health and the environment from GM crops.
19/6/12  + The Russian National Association for Genetic Security has issued a press statement outlining serious health risks for animals given GM feed, including harm to their reproductive systems. (See 16/4/10)
21/6/12  The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opens a public consultation on the risks of GM animals and safety guidelines - a precursor to approving these products for release and sale throughout Europe. This consultation closed on 31/8/12 and Genewatch has published a guide and suggestions for action by the public.
27/6/12  GM Freeze and Friends of the Earth write Secretary of State Caroline Spelman urging her to reject EC proposals that would allow food contamination by unapproved GMOs. (See 22/2/11)
27/7/12  The approval of Irish field trials of a GM potato designed to resist blight has been widely and strongly criticised.
31/7/12  GM Freeze points out that the Food Standards Agency is providing outdated information on GM content in food to the public, and says the FSA information "does not reflect the scientific findings of whole genes, proteins or antibodies in the blood and flesh of animals fed GM." (See also 18/11/09, 22/2/11)
1/8/12  + Writing in 'BioScience' journal, two scientists outline the possible risks of GE algae and indicate an urgent need for "transparent and formal risk assessments" in biofuel development.
13/8/12  The campaign in California calling for labelling of GM products is being opposed by major biotech companies and food manufacturers, to the tune of almost $10 million to date.
22/8/12  Monsanto is fined $250,000 in Brazil for what the judge said was misleading advertising concerning GM soy.
5/9/12  Research just published shows 'junk DNA' does have a function in regulating the activity of genes. "Researchers had predicted that only a few percent of the human genome sequence encoded proteins ... the rest was junk. We now know that this conclusion was wrong" (But see also 14/6/07)
10/9/12  Scientists warn that GM wheat may cause Glycogen Storage Disease, that affects the liver and can be fatal, particularly in young children.
19/9/12  + Long term research results published showing rats exposed to Monsanto's Roundup™ herbicide or NK603 GM maize suffered severe organ damage and tumours. The research paper was subsequently welcomed by European scientists. Several scientists also took a stand against the harassment of the researcher (Seralini) and his like. Read the full research paper [2239K]. (See also 11/12/09, 15/2/12)
28/9/12  US research shows pesticide use there has increased overall over a 16 year period - despite industry claiming a decrease due to GM crops. (See also 15/6/12)
2/10/12  + New Zealand scientists announce the creation of a GE cow, designed to produce milk with low allergenic content. Unexpectedly, the cow has no tail, and its milk has twice the normal casein content. (See 1/5/10)
4/10/12  GM Watch, a major source of news and information, has its website attacked by DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service, i.e. where a widespread group of computers, secretly commandeered, receive a remote command to overload a target website, by means of a flood of simultaneous requests). GM Watch describes how its news reports are also accessible on Twitter, in the event of future attacks.
11/10/12  The European Court of Auditors criticises the European Food Safety Authority over its failure to manage conflicts of interest. (See also 10/5/12)
22/10/12  Greenpeace report, based on US experiences, warns of irreparable damage to European agriculture if GM herbicide-tolerant crops are cultivated, as planned. (See also 28/9/12)
6/11/12  The campaign to label GM products in California ends with a "No" vote. A public health lawyer blames a massive counter-campaign, including incorrect statements, funded mostly by "the leading biotech, pesticide, and junk food companies". (See 13/8/12)
7/11/12   + New scientific study suggests the EU approval of glyphosate herbicide (cf. Roundup™) was flawed and ignored evidence of birth defects in lab animals. (See 7/6/11, 19/9/12)
26/11/12  The Indian state of Maharashtra acknowledges a drop of 40 per cent in the yield of Bt cotton this year - the third successive year of GM Bt cotton failure in this state.
6/12/12  + Chinese research discovers antibiotic resistance genes (from GM plants) present in microbes in all six rivers tested.
9/12/12  + New research on poultry intestines discovers that beneficial bacteria are likely to be reduced by glyphosate herbicide residues*, while dangerous bacteria are more resistant and therefore tend to predominate. ( * associated with RoundupReady™ GM crops)
10/12/12  A statement by UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson favouring increased use of GM crops is shown to be inaccurate and "ignores the Government's own data that showed GM crops harm wildlife." See other criticisms.
7/1/13  + A new website GMOSeralini.org is set up to provide information on the research by Prof G-E Seralini on GM foods and Roundup™ herbicide. (See 19/9/12)
9/1/13  + Research sponsored by the Food Standards Agency finds strong public support for labelling all GMOs in the food chain - including products from animals reared on GM feed.
23/1/13  Research on genetic modification of the bird flu virus is set to resume, after a voluntary moratorium is abandoned. (See 2/2/12)
25/1/13  + Survey of US farms shows dramatic increase in weeds resistant to glyphosate* herbicide. (*glyphosate is ...) (See Archive 19/10/11)
10/2/13  + Research paper predicts GM Bt maize would cause an increase in butterfly deaths in Europe. (See 15/2/12)
21/2/13  + Research shows glyphosate based herbicides* are more toxic than glyphosate alone. [* e.g. Roundup™] However, regulatory approval was based on glyphosate alone. (See 7/11/12)
27/2/13  + A new European regulation specifying risk assessment for GM food and feed comes in for criticism.
8/3/13  + UK medical journal publishes article: "Conflicts of interest at the European Food Safety Authority erode public confidence". (See 11/10/12)
11/3/13  Following the discovery of an unsuspected viral gene in most EU approved GM plants, a new paper explains the significance of this for human and animal safety.
11/3/13  Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is to call for the sale of more GM crops in Europe. (See 10/12/12)
12/3/13  Approval of Cert ID, as a non-GM certification body in the UK, means that the German label "without genetic engineering" ("ohne GenTechnik") may now be used on British animal products that comply. Details of "Ohne GenTechnik" label here.
18/3/13  + New campaign is launched by environmental and agricultural organisations "to prevent the further spread of GM crops in Europe" - "Stop the Crop".
22/3/13  Research by an international team of scientists finds that government regulators fail to consider important risks of new kinds of GM plant, i.e. those utilising double-stranded RNA (dsRNA).
25/3/13  Rothamsted Research seeks permission for open-air trial of autumn-sown GM winter wheat at Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Objections by the public to be submitted by 17th May 2013. (See also 27/5/12, 10/9/12)
26/3/13  + The European Ombudsman is to investigate a complaint by Genewatch UK on conflicts of interest within the European Food Safety Authority, relevant to the release of GM animals. (See also 8/3/13)
12/4/13  + Major UK supermarkets - M&S, Sainsbury's, Co-operative and Tesco - simultaneously announce they will no longer require their suppliers to feed their animals non-GM feed. Some of them make claims subsequently described as "misleading". Claims that non-GM feed was no longer readily obtainable are also refuted by both suppliers and certifiers of non-GM soy.
12/4/13  + Canadian medical journal publishes review article summarising extensive evidence of health hazards of GM food.
15/4/13  + Scientists announce the creation of GM "Pig 26" at the Roslin laboratory - where Dolly the cloned sheep was produced. It is claimed the new "gene-editing" technique omits extraneous DNA markers, and hence could avoid regulatory controls.
18/4/13  + Scientific review points to insidious effects of glyphosate herbicide in the human gut that could be contributing to a range of health issues. A separate study looks into the influence of glyphosate on cattle gut disease. (See also 9/12/12, 21/2/13)
2/5/13  Research on mice blood suggests that Bt toxins (in many GM plants) could be harmful to animals and humans, contrary to some earlier opinion. Closer look reveals a risk of leukaemia. (See 20/5/11, 2/5/12, 10/2/13)
25/5/13  Around two million protestors against GM food take part in "March against Monsanto" rallies around the world.
29/5/13  + Unauthorised GM wheat is discovered growing on an Oregon (US) farm. An official investigation is launched to discover the source of contamination, while farmers are seriously concerned about exports being rejected.
7/6/13  The US Glowing Plant Project has raised about $500,000 and aims to reward its public backers with seeds, created by synthetic biology, that they can plant at home. The prospect of this extensive unregulated release has resulted in widespread concern and an opposing fundraiser.
7/6/13  + New internet database 'GMO Evidence' launched, providing worldwide evidence of harm associated with GM organisms and the glyphosate/Roundup™ herbicide often used with them. (See 18/4/13)
8/6/13  + Research paper shows glyphosate* induces growth of human breast cancer cells. (*Glyphosate (as in Roundup™) is associated with the growing of many GM crops.) (See also 13/6/13)
13/6/13  + Tests for Friends of the Earth find traces of the weedkiller glyphosate* in city dwellers' urine in 18 European countries. (*Glyphosate (as in Roundup™) is associated with the growing of many GM crops.) (See also 7/6/13, 8/6/13)
13/6/13  US Supreme Court rules that natural human genes can not be patented, while synthetic genetic material can.
14/6/13  + Research published showing North American agriculture compares poorly with European practices, in respect of yield, pesticide use and seed diversity. The researchers suggest this is largely due to the use of GM crops. (See 22/10/12)
20/6/13  Pro-GM speech by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is heavily criticised as inaccurate and for ignoring significant well-known problems. GM Watch suggests action points. (See 11/3/13)
16/7/13  + Home Office data for 2012 shows UK experiments on animals rose by 8 percent, largely due to GM animals that accounted for over half the total - a particular concern for the RSPCA. (See also 15/4/13)
2/8/13  UK company Oxitec has applied for a licence to release GM olive flies in Spain and Italy.
7/8/13  Scientists unveil plans to genetically engineer the H7N9 bird flu virus, making it more virulent and easier to spread between humans. (See also 23/1/13)
29/8/13  US Center for Food Safety warns new GE soybean will increase use of a toxic pesticide (IFT), probably carcinogenic.
17/9/13  + Global survey published, showing countries with an uncontrolled spread of GM oilseed rape (canola), including Canada, US, Japan, Australia and Europe. (See also 5/10/11)
25/9/13  + Monsanto and the UK Government are joining forces to oppose a NGO lawsuit against the EU Commission's approval of the GM soybean 'Intacta', imported for food and animal feed. The lawsuit claims that the European Food Safety Authority did not carry out the risk assessments as required by law.
2/10/13  + Open letter signed by 13 organisations denounces the secrecy surrounding GM safety studies by the European Food Safety Authority. The case is made that such secrecy is illegal and prevents proper scientific scrutiny.
14/10/13  UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson describes critics of GM 'Golden Rice' as "wicked". Golden Rice is touted as a solution to vitamin A deficiency in developing countries, but critics suggest traditional solutions are less problematic. (See also 20/6/13, 17/2/09)
16/10/13  The attorney general of Washington State files a lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, claiming it illegally collected and spent over $7 million in its campaign against the labelling of GM foods. An analysis of the voting suggests the $22 million campaign by food corporations served to defeat the labelling initiative, by means of misleading advertising. (See also 6/11/12)
21/10/13  An international group of scientists releases a statement that there is no scientific consensus that GM organisms are safe. The fact that this statement was subsequently endorsed by hundreds of signatories demolishes the claim, by the GM industry, of a consensus on safety.
24/10/13  The African Centre for Biosafety publishes a report: "Africa bullied to grow defective Bt maize - the failure of Monsanto's MON810 maize in South Africa."
25/10/13  'Grow your own' exhibition opens at the Dublin Science Gallery, apparently offering D.I.Y. synthetic biology in a 'Community Biolab', "where synthetic biologists and biohackers invite you to become implicated in the redesign of life." The Biolab was installed by Genspace of New York, associated with the 'DIYbio' movement. (See 7/6/13)
12/11/13  + First global overview published shows uncontrollable spread of GM plants such as maize, rice, cotton, oilseed rape, bentgrass and poplar trees. (See also 17/9/13)
25/11/13  Canada has granted permission to US firm AquaBounty Technologies for the commercial production and export of GM salmon eggs.
27/11/13  + The 'Food and Chemical Toxicology' journal retracts Prof Seralini's paper on rats fed on GM maize. (See 19/9/12) Critics point out that the journal's action violates accepted guidelines, and a scientists' network describes it as a "travesty of science".
28/11/13  + Report by 'The Ecologist' magazine examines a Danish farmer's claims that GM feed has severely affected his pigs' health. (See also 19/6/12)
2/12/13  The European Commission is accused of lying about a secret trade deal between the EU and the US, that would allow corporations to sue governments and could weaken public safeguards.
12/12/13  US scientists announce the discovery that the genetic code incorporates two separate languages - for the control of genes, as well as for the production of proteins.
13/12/13  The European Commission's decisions to allow the marketing of the Amflora GM potato have been annulled by the EU General Court, "because the Commission significantly failed to fulfil its procedural obligations". (See 2/3/10, 25/9/13)

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