GM In-Depth

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Find below:   General Information ... Science Reference ... World View ... Human GE ... Related Innovations
       Government, UK ... Government, Scottish ... Government, European ... Pro-GM organisations
       News & Archives ... # Hints

General Information

GM crops: limitations, risks, alternatives; research   recommended for general readers   [212K] (2009)
GeneWatch UK   extensive and authoritative resource base
Herbicide tolerance & GM crops   report: glyphosate products can have adverse health impacts [2458K]
GM crops - the health effects   Important review of latest research, 2008 [169K]
Long term toxicity of Roundup & -tolerant GM maize  Seralini's two year study 2012 [2239K]
The problem with nutritionally enhanced plants  Potential risks to human health (Schubert, 2008) [78K]
GMO Evidence  database of worldwide evidence of harm associated with GM & glyphosate
Unintended changes in GM rice & maize  Research (2008, 2010) refutes 'substantial equivalence'
DNA from GM plants found in milk & animal tissue  Survey (2010) rebuts bio-industry claims
Roundup and birth defects  shows industry & regulators kept quiet on risks of glyphosate herbicide
GMOSeralini   Significant GM food hazards research by Prof G-E Seralini (CRIIGEN)
Dr.Árpád Pusztai   industry scientist sacked for voicing concerns (attacks on him documented)
GM Potato Controversy   Dr Pusztai's own account of his research and subsequent events
GM Food/Feed: gaps in research   Important 2003 lecture by Dr Pusztai, with review paper
Distinct properties of natural & GM Cry proteins  Bt insecticides in GM crops, more toxic, hit non-target species (2017)
Genetically engineered animals - From Lab to Factory Farm  Friends of the Earth U.S. 2019  [10.5 MB]
Bioscience Resource Project  US website with high quality scientific info & analysis
TWN Biotechnology & Biosafety   Series of important papers on problems of GM   [to find title no.]
Science as a smokescreen?  Critique of UK Farm Scale GM Crop Trials methodology (+ glossary), FoE  [793K]
GM Free Cymru Crucial Papers   significant research on health effects of GM food [scroll down]
Terminator & Traitor Technology  GM plants (under test) that render sterile seeds
EcoNexus   research organisation provides valuable scientific critiques of GE
Biotechnology reports   (Institute of Science In Society)
Synthetic Biology: creating artificial life-forms   several introductory papers
New weapons of GE   Introduction to artificial chromosomes & transformed organelles
Scientists for Global Responsibility   UK group promotes ethical science & technology
Insulin Dependent Diabetes Trust  advice on potential dangers of prescription 'human' insulin (GE)

Science Reference  #

{NEW} GMO Research database  studies of risks or harms from GMOs & related chemicals (2012)
New plant breeding techniques & risks associated  report by Austrian Environment Agency (2014)   [1.45M]
New techniques for the alteration of the living  Biotech advances explained (2012)
Plant & Soil Sciences eLibrary  Nebraska University teaching materials
On-line Biology Book  US textbook, by Michael J. Farabee, includes genetics
Biosafety First  Holistic approaches to risk & uncertainty in genetic engineering & GMOs (online book, 2009)

World View

Global GMO Free Coalition   offers independent, unbiased information for better regulation
Biosafety Information Centre  Important source on GE practice & developing world issues
Escape of GE organisms & transboundary movements   Review of cases & synbio risks  [3.7M]
Trends in glyphosate herbicide use   Research shows huge hike in use due to GMHT crops (2016)
GM Cotton in Africa   Foreign capital and impact on small farms in east & south (2017) [2.9MB]
Failed promises   The rise and fall of GM cotton in India (and elsewhere)(2017) [765K]
Transgenic Crops: hazards & uncertainties   Studies disregarded by GMO regulators (2015) [1.5M]
Who benefits from GM crops? 2014  Reports more countries suspending GM crops
Who benefits from GM crops?  Earlier yearly reports: business practices, agricultural outcomes
The GMO Emperor has no clothes   detailed 2011 report on failed promises worldwide
GM Crops - a decade of failure   Friends of the Earth International report 23/2/04
Global status of GE crops 2006  report shows exaggerated claims & widespread rejection [archived]
GRAIN  International NGO promotes sustainable & equitable agriculture, studies biotech impacts
Focus on Asia  Important review exposes how the GM crop industry targets developing countries
GM crops in developing countries  Christian Aid's concerns
Bilateral free trade agreements  - seen by industry as important for spreading GM worldwide
The world trade system   how it works and what's wrong with it, FoEI, 2003 [579K]
FAO Organic Agriculture Programme  UN Food & Agriculture Organisation: studies, links
Land of the GM-Free?  New US developments, Oct. 2008: labelling, crops, milk [986K]
L-tryptophan tragedy investigated   37 deaths & 1500 disabled by GE food supplement (USA)     (see also GM Basics)
Center for Food Safety (USA)  involved in legal actions; published "Monsanto vs US farmers"
Food Safety/Label GMOs  reports by Consumers Union, campaign for GMO labels (USA)
Union of Concerned Scientists (USA) several important reports
US lawsuit  includes US regulator (FDA) documents 1991-3 revealing GM food risks
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network  campaign on main issues of GM concern
ETC  (formerly Rural Advancement Foundation Int)  (Canada)

Human Genetic Engineering

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990) was updated in 2008. Human Genetics Alert (below) has concerns over the creation of GM embryos and human/animal hybrid embryos, and their website has introductory information and links relevant to the Act. The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) narrowly avoided being axed in 2010.
Why clone humans?   Introduction, also compares embryonic with adult stem cell research
How we regulate   The HFEA regulates clinics and research projects involving human embryos
Human Genetics Alert   Independent watchdog, opposed to certain developments
Human Genetics Commission   UK Government's advisors ( defunct 2012
For comment, refer to   (US)
US pro sports asked to ban gene doping   Gene therapy methods abused in sport (18/11/08)

Related Innovations

Smart Breeding  'Marker assisted selection', non-invasive alternative to GE, 2014 [1.7M]
Future of Rice: sustainable solutions for production  covers 'marker assisted selection' (2006)[936K]
Biofuelwatch   EU campaign, highlights environmental impacts of global biofuel market
Microalgae Biofuels: Myths and Risks   introductory look at hype, risks & misplaced investment (2017)
Tiny Ingredients, big risks   reports on the prevalence and risks of nanomaterials
Nanotechnology   Latest developments & problems, seen from a US perspective
Nanotoxicity in regulatory vacuum   ISIS analyses nanotech toxicity & recent deaths
Nanotechnologies & Food   House of Lords report criticises industry research on dangers
Nanotechnology   Recent articles from 'The Guardian', mostly upbeat

Government, UK  #

Bioengineering  Government response (2011) to Science & Technology Committee report
AEBC   Agriculture & Environment Biotechnology Commission (quasi-independent, ended 4/05)
ACRE   Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (advises UK govt)
ACRE report on Farm Scale Evaluations   UK trials of GM crops, Jan 2004  [120K]
DEFRA   Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (responsible for GM releases)
Farm Scale Trials of GM crops   (DEFRA/Govt briefing)
Results of Farm Scale Trials of GM crops Oct 2003   (Royal Society journal papers)
Evaluating the Farm Scale Trials of GM crops  Environmental Audit Committee report March 2004 [272K]
Evaluating the Farm Scale Trials of GM crops  Government response to Audit Committee report above [698K]
House of Commons debate Farm Scale Trials of GM crops  3 hour debate 5/5/04
Food Standards Agency  (UK Government department)
Animal cloning for food production  Food Standards Agency report, UK govt & EC policies (archived 2015) [319K]
Dean Review of Food Standards Agency  notes criticism of pro-GM, anti-organics bias (2005)  [573K](archived 2014)
Newcastle Human Feeding Trial  Risks associated with GMOs in human foods 2003 (archived 2012) [543K]
GM crops: Costs & Benefits  Prime Minister's Strategy Unit report 11/7/03
GM Nation?  UK Public Debate July 2003
follow link above for details & archive
GM Planting Regime  Good report to Parliament on coexistence of GM & non-GM crops 7/04  [903K]
GM Planting Regime Government reply to above report, paves way for GM contamination 10/04  [90K]
GM Science Review  GM Science Review Panel report to Govt 21/7/03
Comments on GM Science Review  Important critique by Econexus and others 14/10/03
House of Commons debate GM Science Review  Contentious points discussed 11/11/03
Persistence of oilseed rape seeds  Research shows GM seeds survive up to 15 years 8/05
Government Information & Search  Particularly good for UK functions, includes Scottish links
HANSARD   record of Westminster Parliamentary proceedings
The UK Parliament  Parliament at Westminster
UK Food Law   Reading University guide
Trading Standards Institute   consumer protection advice and information

Government, Scottish  #

All aspects of GM - health, environment and agriculture - are 'devolved' issues.  In practice however the influences of Westminster and Whitehall (UK Civil Service) are still crucial.  A fair amount of discussion has now taken place in the Scottish Parliament, much of it at a fairly elementary level. There is a significant industry influence evident (e.g. in presentations to the Committees). Access to Official Reports and Minutes can be gained by the links below.

Two public petitions were submitted in late 1999 / early 2000: PE51 by Friends of the Earth and PE60 by the Scottish Green Party. Consequently, the Transport and the Environment Committee was involved from 29/3/00 until its final report in early 2001. The Rural Affairs Committee was also involved (4/7/00) as well as the Health and Community Care Committee. A debate took place in the Scottish Parliament on 23/3/00. Another petition PE470 was submitted by the Munlochy Vigil and dealt with initially by the Transport and the Environment Committee (12/3/02 to 15/5/02 ) and then by the Health and Community Care Committee (19/6/02) until its final report on 14/1/03 (subsequently dismissed by the Scottish Executive/Government). A second debate was held in the Parliament on 29/5/02, where voting was again strictly along party lines.

Mark Ruskell, Green Party MSP, prepared the groundwork for a GM Liability Bill in November 2003, but progress was halted in late 2005, due to restrictions on drafting resources.

In March 2004, Scottish Ministers approved Chardon GM maize for planting but asked farmers not to grow it. The subsequent debates (on 18th March and on 25th March) in the Parliament rubber stamped that decision despite opposition by the Greens. (The Chardon application was later withdrawn by the manufacturer Bayer.)

In July 2007 the new Scottish Government (Scottish National Party) confirmed that it would maintain a moratorium on the planting of GM crops in Scotland - "This respects the consumers who demand locally-produced conventional and organic food."

A debate in the Parliament on 1st April 2009 supported conventional plant breeding while setting out extensive arguments against GM crops.

Environmental Liability Regulations were approved in June 2009, encompassing GM pollution of the environment. But it is now seems unlikely the mooted public consultation on the 'coexistence' of GM and conventional crops will occur. (See 'Hot Topic: Coexistence')

Since 2009 the Scottish Government has published several discussion papers on the food chain: "Recipe for Success", "Becoming a Good Food Nation" and "The Future of Scottish Agriculture". While setting out broadly sensible goals, these have all been fairly bland - See 'Hot Topic - Scotland's Food and Drink Policy'.

In 2015, the Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, confirmed the Scottish Government would use newly introduced EU rules to allow Scotland to opt out of growing GM crops. (See also Archive 9/8/15)
Scottish Parliament - homepage
Scottish Government GM page  The Scottish Govt.(formerly 'Executive') controls 'devolved' issues
Scotland's Legislation   browse any type of Scotland-related legislation

Government, European  #

Prior to 'Brexit' in 2020, GM food and animal feed regulations generated within the European Union were of crucial importance since these translated more or less directly into UK law.  But while the UK Government argued that its powers to control GM were limited by European law, in fact its representatives in Brussels generally voted in favour of the industry.  Some of the more important regulations at present are listed below, but these will quickly become irrelevant, at least in English law, since the UK Conservative Government has made clear its intention to minimise biotech regulation. The official memos following provide a background and GeneWatch have also prepared additional guidance.
Regulation of GMOs in the EU  Questions and Answers Mar. 2007 (MEMO/07/117)
EC 2014 audit of GM controls  careful analysis shows significant gaps in enforcement
European Commission - Biotechnology  important site, unfriendly (use Javascript)
Too close for comfort   FoE analysis of biotech lobby's influence on the Commission 10/07  [610K]
Risks & side effects   examines flawed EU risk assessment of GM food & feed (6/16)
EFSA guidance on risk assessment of GM plants  useful critique by Testbiotech 12/10 [149K]
Conflicts of interest at EFSA   failings of food safety regulator due to links with industry 2013  [87K]
Critique of European Food Safety Authority   exposes regulatory bias favouring GM 11/04  [118K]
Risk assessment of genetically engineered organisms in EU & Switzerland   4 year study on food plants, 2020
Submission by European Commission to WTO   reveals safety concerns (leaked to FOE 2/05)  [337K]
Hidden uncertainties  EC papers to WTO reveal questionable safety of GM food & crops 4/06  [147K]
Plant Gene Risk   Useful database on the authorisation of GM plants in the EU
Euginius unified database   German/Dutch reference database of GMOs
Community register of GM food & feed  with useful authorisation details
Coexistence of GM crops with conventional & organic  European Commission's view
Europa search tool  European Parliament search engine, powerful if used carefully
European Parliament UK Office  'local perspective', generally helpful
Europa - European Parliament  A vast amount of information - use the Site Map (below)
European Parliament Site Map  Useful information index (c.f. Searches are tricky)

Pro-GM organisations (a selection)  #

The Royal Society  the UK National Academy of Science
ABC - Agricultural Biotechnology Council  six biotech companies provide UK information & education
Genetic Literacy Project  US outreach, with educational material and official briefings
National Centre for Biotechnology Education  University of Reading services to schools
GM Watch Portal  exposes people & groups that push GM technology. Recommended.

News & Archives  #

GM World News cuttings archive, research  Impressive archive 1998-2005
GM Watch  Highly recommended, indispensable for current news & archive
Rob Edwards  - former Environment Editor, Sunday Herald, now with The Ferret
GM-Free Ireland  Current news and archive
New Scientist  - popular UK science weekly
UK National Archives   Current official UK archive
Internet Archive Wayback Machine   global archive - US daytime load may be heavy
Guardian/Observer news archive  searching requires subscription (but see Hints)

# Hints

Some information sources are distinctly selective in their presentation, or omission, of factual information - many GM-concern groups now regard the UK government, the European Commission and other organisations such as the Royal Society as "pro-GM". Also, mainstream and 'science' media often repackage industry statements without much critical analysis. Therefore when evaluating any particular report, it makes sense to consider whether the picture presented might in fact be skewed in favour of business interests, as distinct from offering "just the plain facts". Likewise, it is important to differentiate between opinion and speculation on the one hand, and published research, or the lack of it.   Back to: Science Reference  Govt UK  Govt Scottish  Govt European  Pro-GM organisations  News & Archives

To search the Internet there are many different search engines available and it is best to be aware of any preference or bias by the engine in use (e.g. towards commercial interests). Note the display of "Sponsored Ads" and whether they are at all relevant to your query. Personal privacy may also be compromised when a user's search data is collated and shared with third parties for targeted advertising. You may wish to consider Startpage, an advanced search tool, that claims to respect the privacy of searches, or Everyclick (which raises money for charity).

Take care to use appropriate search terms - some search engines handle plurals badly (e.g. "GMO" may not find "GMOs"). Some websites provide their own 'search' facility, but this may prove ineffectual - for example, the europa (European Parliament) website allows a keyword search on "OGM" (French) but not "GMO". However, any website can be searched by means of DuckDuckGo, another discreet search engine, as follows: Into its search box type your query text, then a space, then site:  then the website address (URL), e.g.
       "GM crops"

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