On September 12 just days before Mexico celebrates its Independence Day ETC Group and several Mexican organizations held a press conference in Mexico City and declared the traditional Cry of Independence, but this time for the genetic independence of Mexican maize. It has been over five years since DNA from genetically modified maize contaminated native maize varieties in Mexico.
The Economist this week has a Special Report on Synthetic Biology , the new field of building artificial life forms from scratch. As is to be expected from the Economist, this is a fairly upbeat assesment of the technology that fails to mention the growing opposition to Synthetic Biology, signalled a few months ago when almost forty civil society groups, trade unions and scientific associations signed an open letter calling for caution.
Here at ETC we have been busy writing our own special report on Synthetic Biology (which we are calling 'Extreme Genetic Engineering' - watch this space!). You can expect it to be a bit more critical than the Economist.
The biotech company Ventria Biosciences sponsored tests, on babies and children hospitalized at two pediatric institutes in Peru, of two new experimental drugs derived from transgenic rice that was genetically engineered with synthetic human genes to produce artificial human milk proteins.
Ventria, a California biotech company, is growing rice that is genetically engineered to produce two pharmaceutical compounds derived from human genes. It was revealed in May that the company had tested its controversial "pharmed" compounds on 140 patients at a pediatric hospital in Peru. The article below by Silvia Ribeiro appeared in the July 1 edition of Mexico's "La Jornada."
We've just read the article, "Lessons on Ethical Decision Making from the Bioscience Industry" - this is not a joke - which appeared in the May issue of PLoS Medicine and is available on the Internet. The authors are Jocelyn E. Mackie, Andrew D. Taylor, David L. Finegold, Abdallah S. Daar and Peter A. Singer. Four of the five authors are at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics.
At 9:30 pm in Brazil, the 8th Conference of the Parties confirmed its decision on Terminator. It is now official.
We see a moratorium on Terminator that is now strengthened.
The protests of Via Campesina and Brazils Landless Workers Movement (Movimento Sem Terra - MST) have been critical to the outcomes of this meeting. The protests continue this morning as 6000 peasant farmers are outside greeting buses of delegates as they come in. The protests have been so important in maintaining momentum and reminding delegates what was said last week against Terminator, reminding them how interventions from peasant farmers and Indigenous peoples made them understand the real impacts Terminator would have.
by Lucy Sharratt
Today Terminator was discussed again at COP8 - and the moratorium still holds! No country dared to challenge the consensus of last week.
Some governments made slight changes to a specific part of the text but this did not relate to the moratorium it was just enough to make us nervous!
by Lucy Sharratt
The debate over Terminator came and went in a flash. Well, sort of. The flash followed a week of intensive protest and lobbying after 8 years of consistent pressure and the most recent pressure of the Ban Terminator Campaign.
However, there is another week left to the UN meeting and there could still be trouble ahead. Ministers of the Environment from across the world will now also gather in Brazil (though many Ministers will be missing) and government delegations may look for ways out of what was agreed to on Friday.
by Lucy Sharratt
Discussions on Terminator at the UN COP started this afternoon - actually they started this morning as governments kept intervening to make statements on Terminator, even though the discussions were on another agenda item.
With a Chair who demonstrated great understanding and facilitation skills yesterday when he recognized and thanked the Via Campesina for thier protest in the negotiation hall, Indigenous Peoples were given time to fully express their stance on Terminator.