LABB News Archive 2014-2015

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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 These web-links are not regularly updated now and may well be out of date, so if you find a later link, please let us know.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.
9/1/14  Tasmania announces its ban on GM organisms will continue indefinitely.
15/1/14  The European Parliament votes against labelling the presence of GM pollen in honey. (See 6/9/11)
20/1/14  + The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment claims its review negates toxicity concerns over glyphosate* herbicide (*glyphosate is ...). This is likely to lead to a much higher level of Acceptable Daily Intake. An Avaaz petition is calling for relevant secret studies to be made public. (See also 8/6/13, 2/10/13)
20/1/14  Rothamsted Research requests permission for a field trial of False Flax, genetically modified to produce omega-3 oils - primarily as feed for farmed fish.
26/1/14  Scientists have expressed concerns over plans to test GM purple tomato juice on UK hospital patients. See also detailed comment by GM Watch.
28/1/14  Article in New Scientist outlines a new genome editing technique - the CRISPR system - that might support faster, more accurate and powerful genetic engineering.
6/2/14  The US Coalition for Safe Affordable Food is launched, aiming to introduce a Federal law, that would prevent individual States from introducing GMO labels. The Coalition is "one of the largest ever food and biotech industry coalitions" and includes the Grocery Manufacturers Association. (See 16/10/13)
11/2/14  In a letter to the EU Health Commissioner, twelve ministers ask that the Commission withdraw its proposal to approve Pioneer 1507 GM maize - a majority of states voted against approval. A recent analysis cast doubt on the safety of the maize due to uncertainties in the risk assessment.
14/2/14  A major US grain exporter, Cargill says it will reject Syngenta's new GM corn trait for export.
24/2/14  A statement issued by non-GM grain producers and others shows non-GM soybeans are increasing in availability. Claims by poultry producers of a supply shortage are thus shown to be false and reflect a drive to buy the cheapest (GM) feed. (See 12/4/13)
28/2/14  The case in an Australian Supreme Court brought by organic farmer Steve Marsh has now ended. Marsh is seeking compensation for losses due to contamination by GM canola, allegedly caused by a neighbouring farmer. A daily blog and official transcripts of the case are available online.
3/3/14  + New survey shows a third of US organic farmers had problems due to GM crops nearby, including rejection of grain as a result of contamination. (See also 28/2/14)
10/3/14  Five environmental concern groups issue joint statement to UK Prime Minister, condemning the Environment Minister's support for growing GM crops in Britain.
12/3/14  + European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opens public consultation on the risk assessment for the re-approval of glyphosate* herbicide planned for 2015. (*glyphosate is ...) The consultation closed on 11 May 2014. Recent studies on glyphosate residues in urine, in animal organs, and in breast milk suggest a build-up of residues could pose a danger to health. Other research has examined levels of glyphosate residues in food (See also 13/6/13, 20/1/14)
27/3/14  An international team of scientists has used synthetic biology methods to rebuild one of the chromosomes in brewer's yeast, a eukaryotic organism (i.e. having a nucleus within each cell).
28/3/14  The government of Karnataka, India, has banned the sale of Mahyco Bt cotton seeds, following widespread crop failure. (See also 26/11/12)
6/4/14  Russia's prime minister announces an import ban on GM products, while the parliament has requested a moratorium on all GM products in Russia. This statement has been further clarified.
10/4/14  A case study into industry influence on regulatory risk assessment concludes no decisions can properly be made on the safety of GM maize 1507 due to a lack of reliable data. The maize should therefore not be authorised. (See 11/2/14)
16/4/14  DEFRA has given permission to Rothamsted Research for a field trial of False Flax, genetically modified to produce omega-3 oils - primarily as feed for farmed fish.(See 20/1/14)
23/4/14  The US state of Vermont approves a bill requiring labels on GM food, to take effect in July 2016. (See also 6/2/14)
23/4/14  UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson admits breaching an agreement to make clear the Scottish Government's anti-GM policy during EU negotiations. The transcript of the Scottish committee meeting [373K] suggests an abuse of protocol. (See also 10/3/14)
24/4/14  A regional court has upheld Italy's ban on planting MON810, Monsanto's GM maize. (See also 13/1/12)
6/5/14  Documents obtained under Freedom of Information law expose extensive collusion between UK government and the GM industry, with ministers and officials "not acting in the public interest". (See also 20/6/13, 10/3/14 etc)
14/5/14  The Chinese army has banned all GM grain and oil from its supply chain due to safety concerns.
16/5/14  A coalition of international organisations issues a call for strict regulations to prevent genetic pollution of the environment.
20/5/14  Two counties in Oregon, USA, pass measures to ban GM crops, despite stiff opposition generously funded by six biotech firms. (See also 23/4/14)
20/5/14  + Launch of Global GMO Free Coalition to provide independent information, free from biotech industry bias, and leading to responsible regulation.
2/6/14  Seventeen international groups send an open letter to Ecover and Method, urging them to reconsider a decision to use products produced using synthetic biology in their "natural" detergents. Subsequently a public petition was raised. Find petition here.
11/6/14  Scientists have criticised as dangerous and irresponsible US research that created a virus almost identical to the 1918 Spanish Flu strain that killed around 50 million. (See also 7/8/13)
12/6/14  The European Environment Council votes to devolve the power to grow GM crops to individual member states. Many have criticised the proposal, the power given to GM corporations and the lack of legal safeguards. The ruling has yet to be ratified by the European Parliament and a public petitition to MEPs has been started. (See also 6/5/14)
24/6/14  + Republication of Prof Seralini's paper, showing rats exposed to Monsanto's Roundup™ herbicide or NK603 GM maize suffered severe organ damage and tumours. The paper was retracted by the original publisher in 2013 after a vitriolic campaign by pro-GM scientists. (See 27/11/13)
10/7/14  + Government annual figures show a continuing rise in experiments on animals, including a 6 per cent rise relating to genetically modified and mutated animals. (See also 16/7/13)
16/7/14  + The public is invited to contribute to the discussion on the Scottish Government document "Becoming a Good Food Nation". Closing date for responses is 17 October 2014. (For context see Hot Topic: 'Scotland's Food & Drink Policy'.)
27/8/14  + Genewatch calls on UK supermarkets to "wake up to the environmental harm caused by GM animal feed", and links the decline in Monarch butterflies in the US to Roundup™ weedkiller spraying. (Monsanto's Roundup™ weedkiller is intimately associated with RoundupReady™ GM crops.) (See also 12/4/13)
28/8/14  German supermarkets demand that the German Poultry Association stop using GM feed in egg and poultry meat production, from 1st January 2015. The Association has now retracted its claim there was insufficient non-GM soya available. (See 24/2/14)
16/9/14  + Article published in 'Nature' shows GM lags well behind conventional breeding in producing drought-resistant maize. (See also 'Do we need GM?')
26/9/14  An analysis published by Friends of the Earth shows European GM regulations are under threat of being weakened by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is currently being negotiated between the EU and the US. Details are being withheld from the public, and several NGOs (including WDM/Global Justice and Greenpeace) are opposing what they see as an open door for business interests. (See also 2/12/13)
26/9/14  US Department of Agriculture closes investigation into unauthorised GM wheat found growing in Oregon - "after exhausting all leads" no source was established. (See 29/5/13)
1/10/14  + Canadian action network publishes report "Will GM crops feed the world?" that suggests GM technology is more likely to increase the world's problems.
10/10/14  Report highlights shortcomings in the risk assessment of glyphosate* herbicide, particularly by the German authorities responsible for its re-evaluation in the EU. A separate report by two investigative journalists has exposed inadequate regulation of glyphosate mixtures, and secrecy surrounding toxic synergistic effects. (*glyphosate is ...) (See 12/3/14)
17/10/14  + Following a unanimous decision, the United Nations Conference on Biological Diversity calls on all countries to take a precautionary approach to threats posed by synthetic biology, and to establish effective risk control procedures for these new organisms, and with particular regard to developing countries. Read the UN Report.
25/10/14  + Analysis published of 396 incidents recorded in the GM Contamination Register from 1997-2013, with rice a significant contributor.
7/11/14  + Publicly funded Euro project GRACE is criticised by German watchdog NGO, which alleges conflicts of interest and manipulation of results from GM feeding trials on rats. (See also 24/6/14)
10/11/14  Several items of confectionery containing GM ingredients have been seen on sale in Marks and Spencer and Tesco stores.
11/11/14  + The Russian National Association for Genetic Safety unveils its plan for an independent 3 year health study on rats fed on Monsanto GM maize. The 'Factor GMO' study is to start in 2015 and funding is invited from all non-industry sources. (See also 7/11/14)
12/11/14  Argentinian research suggests there is a risk that the herbicide glyphosate* could wipe out earthworms locally. (*glyphosate is ...) (See also 10/10/14)
12/11/14  + An Open Letter from "concerned American citizens" to Europeans is published, warning of significant problems associated with GM crops in the US.
13/11/14  The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has stopped approving GM fish feed that contains genes coding for antibiotic resistance (like many GM products). (See also Archive 6/12/12)
17/11/14  US research study shows how in some areas armyworms have developed resistance to GM maize that produces Bt insecticide. Access research paper here. (See also 15/6/12)
26/11/14  US Army researchers have used GM cows that incorporate human chromosomes to produce human antibodies against hantavirus.
2/12/14  Study published showing GM oilseed rape growing wild in Switzerland despite a country-wide ban on import and cultivation.
3/12/14  Agreement in principle is reached on new laws allowing EU states to restrict or ban GM cultivation. (See 12/6/14)
8/12/14  Germany's largest poultry producer is soon to revert to GM-free feed, and predicts other German producers will follow suit. (See 28/8/14)
17/12/14  In a joint statement a coalition of 15 NGOs calls for extensive changes to a draft European Directive on trade secrets over the threat to health and environment from withholding risk studies.
10/1/15  At the Oxford Farming Conference the Scottish farm minister has emphasised his Government's opposition to GM crops, alongside the Welsh - Westminster remains strongly pro-GM. Read more and about the 'Real Farming Conference'.
13/1/15  The European Parliament approves an important Directive 'Renationalisation of GMO authorisation procedures'. Critics such as CRIIGEN say it will facilitate GM authorisation and downplay the risks, while a German ministry wants a complete ban. (See also 3/12/14)
17/1/15  Almost 50,000 marchers in Berlin protest against GMOs and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - "We are fed up". (See also 26/9/14)
27/1/15  In a joint open letter eight organisations call on the European Commission to ensure that the newest GM techniques are regulated properly - the industry argues they should not be subject to GM laws.
24/2/15  The UK becomes the only country in the world to allow human germline modification, by legalising the clinical procedure 'mitochondrial donation' (aka 'mitochondrial replacement' or '3-person IVF'), which is seen by some as a "historic mistake".
2/3/15  Chinese scientists have created GM cattle that are more difficult to infect with tuberculosis, by inserting a mouse gene. (See also 26/11/14)
4/3/15  + At the London launch of his book 'Altered Genes, Twisted Truth', US lawyer Steven Druker issues a formal challenge to the Royal Society over "misleading statements".
18/3/15  A detailed analysis by GM Watch extensively criticises the recent Select Committee report on GM crops as "an insult to science and a danger to the public".
20/3/15  + The World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies glyphosate* herbicide as "probably carcinogenic to humans". (*glyphosate is ...) Read IARC statement in full. (See also 10/10/14)
21/3/15  Press report reveals that Domino's is selling GM pizza bases and Waitrose is stocking GM Hershey's bars. Domino's say that theirs is a "temporary measure". The law states that these GM products must be clearly labelled. (See also 10/11/14)
1/4/15  + The new European Directive (EU) 2015/412 amends Directive 2001/18/EC (on deliberate release/cultivation of GMOs):  a member state can now prohibit the cultivation of a GM crop, albeit with some difficulty. But the International Law Office questions its effectiveness in relation to World Trade Organisation rules. (See 13/1/15)
1/4/15  + Report published giving overview of current national coexistence measures in Europe - for preventing GM contamination. It finds that the most effective and cheapest option is a ban, and the organic agriculture federation IFOAM is calling for this in all EU states. (See also 3/3/14)
8/4/15  European scientists' research published, showing that the amount of Bt insecticide present within MON810 GM maize varies unexpectedly when the plant is stressed.
22/4/15  + European Commission publishes proposal to change the rules for importing GMOs for food or animal feed:  while a state could now (with difficulty) impose a ban on the import of a GMO, the existing system of deciding approvals is to remain, although widely regarded as undemocratic. Only an outline of the draft is available officially, but FoE offer a leaked copy. (c.f. 1/4/15 Directive on GMO cultivation)
22/4/15  'Nature' magazine reports that Chinese scientists have genetically modified human embryos, finding serious obstacles to medical application. (See also 24/2/15)
24/4/15  + European Commission approves for import 10 new GM crops and 2 GM flowers, and renews authorisation for another 7 GM crops. Critics however point out significant shortcomings in the risk assessment process and a formal complaint is planned. (See also 11/3/13)
28/5/15  A hitherto secret report by the Canadian government has revealed that GM salmon are more disease-prone and of uncertain value relative to wild salmon. This clashes with an ongoing assessment by the US Government (FDA).
9/6/15  A BBC TV programme 'GM Food - cultivating fear' (on Panorama) is criticised extensively for misleading viewers, by GM Watch, GM Freeze and others.
9/6/15  The German Beekeepers Association calls for a nationwide ban on cultivating GM plants, which will likely put the new opt-out law to the test. (See 1/4/15)
23/6/15  An inquiry has been launched in France after a GM lamb with jellyfish protein was sold as food illegally.
25/6/15  Scientists at Rothamsted Research concede that a trial of GM wheat intended to repel aphids using a 'distress' pheromone has failed to perform.
26/6/15  + A German study has found significant traces of glyphosate* weedkiller in human breast milk. (*glyphosate is ...) (See also 12/3/14, 20/3/15, 8/6/13, etc)
26/6/15  The European Commission has blocked an earlier decision by the German regulator that would have allowed a new type* of GM oilseed rape to avoid regulation as a GM product. (*produced by oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis (ODM), using short synthetic DNA sequences) (See also 27/1/15)
2/7/15  Emails released under Freedom of Information law have shed light on secret trade talks about weakening GM safety regulations. These discussions were part of the ongoing TTIP negotiations between Europe and the US. (See also 17/1/15)
16/7/15  The European Court confirms that protection of health and the environment is more important than confidentiality for consultants. This follows a court action against EFSA because it withheld the names of chemicals advisors.
7/8/15  A new GE technique, 'gene drive', has raised concerns, since it allows a genetic change to spread through a population at unprecedented speed. A group of leading geneticists are calling for new safeguards on gene drive.
7/8/15  The UK company Oxitec has withdrawn its application to release genetically modified olive flies in Spain, following protests.
9/8/15  The Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, confirms the Scottish Government will use new EU rules to allow Scotland to opt out of growing GM crops. (See 1/4/15) The announcement resulted in widespread comment and, predictably, several bodies close to the GM industry were quick to accuse Lochhead in an open letter of ignoring "informed scientific assessment of risk". In turn, Lochhead's proposal received significant support in open letters from civil society representatives, the Institute of Science in Society, and a joint letter signed by 30 individual scientists and specialists.
25/8/15  A study analysing gene expression in the tissues of laboratory rats concludes that liver and kidney damage can result from ingestion of very low amounts of Roundup™ herbicide, well below the EU limits allowed for drinking water. (Monsanto's Roundup™ herbicide is intimately associated with RoundupReady™ GM crops.) Read report. (See also 26/6/15, 19/9/12)
27/8/15  Latvia and Greece are confirmed as opting out of growing MON810, Monsanto's GM maize, under the new EU rules. Also Germany is progressing its own ban on GM growing, as Scotland has done (See 9/6/15, 9/8/15).
8/9/15  + The European Parliament votes for a ban on cloned farm animals, their descendants and derived products, to include imports to the EU.
8/9/15  UK scientists have genetically modified chickens that "show promise" for warding off bird flu.
10/9/15  + Review by Norwegian scientist suggests there are no studies published by the GM industry on glyphosate* weedkiller residues in RoundupReady™ crops. (*glyphosate is ...) (See also 26/6/15)
15/9/15  + In China a cloned GM cow has given birth to a calf, said to be healthy.
24/9/15  + EU law expert publishes dossier showing that certain new GM techniques such as 'genome editing' should be subject to existing regulations. (The GM industry argues that the latest methods should escape regulation.) Read background context. (See also 26/6/15 and Science Reference)
4/10/15  At the expiry of the deadline, application has been made by 19 of 28 EU countries to ban GM cultivation on their territory, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. (See 27/8/15)
5/10/15  A petition calling on the European Commission to scrap the TTIP has now collected over 3 million signatures. (See 2/7/15 and Things to Do)
5/10/15  An article in the Los Angeles Times describes plans by a Chinese firm to market miniature GM pigs as pets, created by 'gene editing'.
23/10/15  + Report published by GE Free NZ summarises GM animal research in New Zealand over 15 years as "a sad and profoundly disturbing story".
28/10/15  Vote in the European Parliament rejects an EC proposal on a law to allow member states to ban GM food and animal feed. Greenpeace has submitted a related complaint over EC secrecy to the European Ombudsman. (See 22/4/15)
30/10/15  DEFRA has ordered the destruction of oilseed rape contaminated with GM seed from France, planted by mistake at sites in Scotland and England.
5/11/15  + "Twenty years of failure", published by Greenpeace, analyses evidence of the past 20 years to dispel the 'myths' of the GM industry.
6/11/15  Reviewing a scientific paper, GM Watch says it shows Monsanto was aware of *glyphosate's link to cancer nearly 40 years ago. (*glyphosate is ...) (See also 20/3/15, 25/8/15, 10/9/15)
9/11/15  Scientific review shows hazards of 'stacked-trait' GM Bt crops are ignored in current risk assessments. Read the review paper. (See also Archive 2/5/13)
12/11/15  EFSA publishes its conclusion on glyphosate*: "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans". This contradicts an earlier finding by IARC: that it is a "probable carcinogen". The conflicting assessments are discussed further here. (See also 6/11/15)
19/11/15  US regulators approve AquaBounty's GM salmon for human consumption. (See also 28/5/15, 25/11/13)
25/11/15  Prof Seralini wins his court case in Paris, against a GM lobbyist, for libel. This follows an earlier case where he successfully sued a journalist for defamation. (Both cases relate to Seralini's studies on GM maize - see 24/6/14)
3/12/15  A briefing published by EcoNexus outlines the risks inherent in the latest techniques for GM - "New (plant) breeding techniques". (The GM industry argues that these latest methods should not be subject to GM regulations, although the European Commission has yet to make a decision on this.) Already, the US company, CIBUS, is said to have secretly reached agreement with the German Food Safety Office, that its RTDS oilseed rape will not be subject to GM regulation. (See also 24/9/15)
3/12/15  A steering committee, backed by several NGOs, is seeking crowd-funding to finance a "Tribunal" that will assess "allegations made against Monsanto, and evaluate the damages caused by this transnational company" - to be held in The Hague in October 2016.
9/12/15  GM Watch publishes findings of a report by the government of the Aragon region of Spain. It shows the MON810 GM construct brings no significant increase in yield for maize, and questions the continued use of GM crops on farms.
10/12/15  A review of press reports shows how this year's GM Bt cotton crop in India has been devastated by pest attacks that the crop was designed to resist.(See also 28/3/14, 17/11/14)
17/12/15  A House of Lords committee calls on the Government to launch a field trial of GM insects, and is criticised for ignoring the uncertainties raised by expert witnesses. Read the committee's report. (See also 7/8/15)

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