Quick Reads

The Five Gene Giants are Becoming Four

DuPont and Monsanto - "Living in Sinergy"?

Rather than enter into a marriage that even the U.S. Government would find unpalpable, the world's two most powerful Gene Giants have decided to live in sync by sharing their proprietary agricultural biotechnologies with one another. Unless the two titans are committing to long-term monogamy, such a tech-swap is the corporate equivalent of "unprotected sex". It seems the risks in this particular union will be offloaded on farmers with fewer choices and higher prices - the corporate notion of "Fee Love"?

Captain Hook Awards 2002

For Outstanding Achievements in Biopiracy

The Coalition Against BioPiracy (CAB)* will present its highly un-coveted Captain Hook Awards -for infamous and outstanding achievements in biopiracy - at the Biodiversity Convention in The Hague, April 8-19 2002. The previous Captain Hook Awards ceremony was held almost two years ago at the Fifth meeting of the Biodiversity Convention in Nairobi. The Coalition emphasizes that the Captain Hook awards are made possible by the work and activities of many civil society and peoples' organizations around the globe that actively monitor and resist biopiracy. The cases cited and the analysis used in selecting the award winners are by no means limited to the work of the Coalition Against Biopiracy.

Ban Terminator before it's too late

A UNITED NATIONS conference in the Hague next week (April 02) offers the UN a critical opportunity to ban 'Terminator' seeds before they are commercialised in farmers' fields, warns an alliance of campaign groups.

The ETC group, Berne Declaration and ActionAid are among many groups urging delegates at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 'COP6' conference to heed global opinion and ban the commercialisation of crops modified to produce sterile seeds - known as 'suicide seeds' or 'Terminator technology'.

Conquering Nature ...and Sidestepping the Debate over Biotech and Biodiversity

Still More on the Mexican GM Maize Scandal

Nature magazine’s flip-flop today (April 2002) over the testing protocols involved in determining GM maize contamination in Mexico - the Centre of Genetic Diversity for the vital food crop - is just the latest in a string of absurdities as the scientific community struggles over what to do as genetically-modified germplasm invades the genetic homelands of the world’s food supply.

La vuelta de Nature... o cómo evitar el debate sobre biotecnología y biodiversidad

Aún más sobre el escándalo del maíz en México

La nota que la revista Nature escribe hoy (2002) retractándose de anteriores publicaciones sobre las metodologías usadas para determinar la contaminación del maíz transgénico en México —centro de diversidad genética de este vital cultivo— es el último eslabón de una cadena de absurdos, en la que mientras la comunidad científica está enfrascada en luchas internas, el germoplasma genéticamente modificado invade los centros de origen de los cultivos alimentarios del mundo.

Nanotech Takes a Giant Step Down!

MIT says an army of NanoWalkers (microbots) will be performing sub-atomic operations within three months. The development signals a new era in technology as industry prepares to move "down" from genomes to atoms.

Thumbelina with an attitude: Hundreds of three-legged robots the size of a thumb, complete with onboard computers, powerful microscopes, and biosensors will be ready to manufacture nano-scale materials by mid-2002, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Bioinstrumentation Laboratory. A 'nano' is a measurement of one-billionth of a meter. Only 32 millimeters in diameter, the microbots are designed to manipulate atoms. Responding to infrared signals allowing each microbot to act independently or collectively on myriad tasks, the little machines (dubbed "NanoWalkers") are capable of executing 48 million instructions and making 4,000 nano-maneuvers per second. MIT expects to have at least 300 microbots hard at work in an enclosed card-table sized chromium chamber by June. The chromium surface provides an energy source for the robots which will receive their marching orders from a master computer in the box's ceiling.

Nanotecnología: un pequeño gran paso

El MIT afirma que dentro de tres meses un ejército de Nano Caminantes (microrobots) manipulará partículas subatómicas. Este avance anuncia una nueva era tecnológica, mientras la industria se prepara para dar el “pequeño gran paso” de los genomas a los átomos.

Pulgarcito con actitud: De acuerdo con los investigadores del Laboratorio de Bioinstrumentación del Instituto Tecnológico de Massachusetts (MIT, por sus siglas en inglés), cientos de robots de tres patas del tamaño de un dedo, equipados con tablero de controles, poderosos microscopios y biosensores, estarán listos para manufacturar materiales a nano-escala a mediados del año 2002, Un ‘nano’ mide un milésimo de un millonésimo de metro. Con sólo 32 milímetros de diámetro, los microrobots están diseñados para ensamblar partículas atómicas y subatómicas. Respondiendo a señales infrarrojas que permiten a cada robot actuar independiente o colectivamente en millares de tareas, las pequeñas máquinas (apodadas “Nano Caminantes”) son capaces de ejecutar 48 millones de instrucciones y hacer 4,000 nano maniobras por segundo. El MIT espera tener al menos 300 microrobots trabajando arduamente en una cámara cerrada de cromo del tamaño de una mesa de juegos para junio de este año. La superficie de cromo provee de una fuente de energía para los robots, los cuales recibirán órdenes de trabajo de una computadora maestra en la parte superior de la cámara.

Ciencia Silenciosa

Ni advierten a tiempo ni escuchan a tiempo. Lo que el CGIAR no esta haciendo.

Si no tiene nada bonito que decir, ¿mejor quedarse callado?

El comité de políticas del CGIAR, la red de científicos agrícolas más grande del mundo, reunido la semana pasada, evadió todas las preguntas difíciles relacionadas con el maíz transgénico en México, centro de diversidad genética de ese cultivo, pese a que el año pasado(2001) y reiteradamente el mes pasado (01/2002), la Secretaría de Medio Ambiente de México confirmó que las variedades nativas de maíz en por lo menos dos estados están contaminadas con ADN de maíz genéticamente modificado.

Silent Science

Neither Early Warning nor Early Listening - What the CGIAR is Not Doing

If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all? When the policy committee of the world's most important agricultural science network met last week, they evaded all the tough questions related to transgenic maize in Mexico - the crop's center of genetic diversity. Last year, and again last month, the Mexican Environment Ministry confirmed that farmers' maize varieties in at least two states had been contaminated with DNA from genetically modified maize.

Unnatural Rejection?

More on the Mexican GM Maize Scandal

Unnatural Rejection? The academic squabble over Nature magazine's peer-reviewed article is anything but academic:

More than 144 farmer and other Civil Society Organizations from 40 countries have signed a Joint Statement being released today on the Mexican GM Maize Scandal. The Statement comes on the eve of an international science policy meeting in Los Banos, Philippines where a global response to the scandal will be discussed. The 144 organizations are demanding that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) work together with the Convention on Biological Diversity to halt the contamination of the Mesoamerican Centre of Genetic Diversity for maize - one of the world's most important food crops. News that genetically modified (GM) maize was turning up in farmers' varieties first appeared in Nature Biotechnology magazine last September and was confirmed in November by a peer-reviewed article in Nature. According to the 170 signatories to today's Joint Statement, the academic and industry attacks on the findings of the Mexican Government and U.S. university researchers has been orchestrated to keep the scandal from embarrassing the biotech industry as it tries to lift the European, Brazilian, and Mexican moratoria (de facto or otherwise) on genetically modified seeds or foods. If the Philippine meeting of the Genetic Resources Policy Committee of the CGIAR does not act decisively and immediately to protect farmers in Mesoamerica, civil society will take the issue directly to the April meeting of the Biodiversity Convention in the Hague, and the World Food Summit in Rome in June. The text of the Joint Statement follows.