Cocoa butter, the main ingredient in chocolate, is produced by 30 tropical countries, and is sold for an estimated $6 billion annually. One synthetic biology company has engineered synthetically modified microbes to produce a cocoa butter substitute, which could threaten the livelihoods of millions of farmers.
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Start of an international call to stop genetically engineered organisms
spreading into the environment! Coalition calls for the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to take action.
Last week’s negotiating session resulted in the UN’s climate expert body giving a reluctant nod of support to a controversial – and largely theoretical – geoengineering technique known as BECCS (Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage). Geoengineering refers to extreme technological fixes that aim to alter the climate on a large scale. In its report approved Saturday April 12, Working Group III (WGIII) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) largely – and wisely – bypassed geoengineering, but did suggest that BECCS is a bitter pill that a warming world could find itself having to swallow. BECCS and other Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies will be especially needed, according to the IPCC, in “overshoot” scenarios, where mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions is delayed or inadequate, necessitating faster, deeper emissions cuts in the long run to limit temperature rise. The IPCC notes that “overshoot,” in general, makes it less likely that any given temperature goal will be met.
The latest instalment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Assessment Report (AR5), released today, contains no reference to geoengineering in its Summary for Policymakers, though it attributes a slew of negative effects to so-called planet hacking in its full report. Released after a week-long negotiating session of Working Group II (WGII, which assesses the human and ecological vulnerabilities to climate change and options to adapt), today’s report represents a precarious victory over ongoing pressure within the IPCC – by geoengineering proponents and some governments (e.g., Russia, the USA, Canada and the UK) – to legitimize geoengineering as a solution to climate change.
Push to Pass Suicide Seeds Legislation Could Come While Deputies Dance
Sign the petition to stop it!
Brazilian civil society organizations warned yesterday that a 2007 bill to end Brazil’s ban on Terminator seeds could soon be on the move (again) in the Brazilian Congress. While two bills have been on the congressional agenda for several years, a 2007 bill (PL 268/2007, filed by Rep. Eduardo Sciarra – PSD party) began moving through the Congress last July and came to a head last October. The legalizing of Terminator in Brazil would have global implications, including as a violation of the United Nations moratorium on Terminator technologies, in place since 2000 at the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Unlucky 13: Our 2012 year-end review, “193 Shades of Gray,” stumbled into the surreal, post-Rio+20 “Hunger Games” as FAO admitted that it has been underestimating the number of hungry people and overestimating future food requirements and, in a cowardly act of conspicuous consumption, the UN Committee on World Food Security failed to condemn biofuels; Warsaw withered the way of every climate conference since Kyoto; the USA, UK, China and Russia significantly underestimated GHG emissions while the UK, Japan, New Zealand and Australia concluded that they just don’t give a dam
Confronted with 35,000 institutional and individual signatures on a petition growing by several hundred an hour, Brazil’s Judiciary Commission agreed to take the Pro-Terminator Bill off the agenda this week leaving open the possibility that the bill will not be passed until Congress reconvenes in early February. However, the Judiciary Commission also determined to sit again next Tuesday and could continue meeting even Wednesday and Thursday before adjourning for Christmas. The Chair of the Commission has reiterated his commitment to block the contentious bill but CSO observers understand that a majority of Commission members are in favor of the suicide seed legislation and could, regardless of a formal agenda, call for a vote at any meeting. Brazilian allies both in the Commission and among the civil society organizations attending the negotiations say that representatives and government officials have been shocked by the scale in ferocity of global opposition to the proposed legislation.