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Articles

Nobel laureates serving Monsanto and Syngenta

By Silvia Ribeiro*

It is not often that so many prominent scientists reveal their ignorance on a topic in such a short space. This was the case for the public letter that a hundred Nobel laureates published on June 30th defending genetically modified organisms (GMOs), particularly the so-called “Golden Rice,” and attacking Greenpeace for its critical stance on these crops. The letter is so full of high-sounding adjectives and epithets, false claims and poor arguments that it seems more like a propaganda tirade from transgenic companies than scientists presenting a position.

A Bad Bet on Synthetic Biology

Cargill's Eversweet is competing with farmers and misleading consumers

Las Vegas seems to be an apt place to launch a risky corporate gamble that could destroy the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers. Earlier this month, the international food conglomerate Cargill chose the city’s famous Strip to introduce what it hopes will be its next blockbuster product: EverSweet, a sweetener made of “the same sweet components in the stevia plant.”
And yet, despite Cargill’s heavy reliance on stevia in its promotional material, EverSweet does not contain a single leaf of the plant. Cargill’s new product is an example of synthetic biology, a form of genetic engineering that uses modified organisms to manufacture compounds that would never be produced naturally. What makes EverSweet taste sweet is not stevia; it is a compound produced by a bioengineered yeast.

Briefings

Trump Administration – A Geoengineering Administration?

Geoengineer David Keith first made his intention to launch a geoengineering trial public back in 2012 – saying then that it would take place “within a year” and naming Fort Sumner in New Mexico as the likely location.[1] All indications were that he was ready to move forward, but was first waiting to get a signal of public support from the US government, ideally in the form of funding. Tellingly, the experiment never came.

Why SRM experiments are a bad idea

Solar Radiation Management (SRM) describes a set of geoengineering techniques that aim to counter human-made climate change by artificially increasing the reflection of heat from sunlight (solar radiation) back into space. Some advocates have started using the term “solar geoengineering” – but these techniques are not related to solar power production.

COP 13 Gene Drives FAQ

On Thursday, December 15, 2016 the Civil Society Working Group on Synthetic Biology circulated a short fact sheet to help clear up four of the most common questions arising about gene drives. 

1.      Are gene drives naturally occurring?

In brief: the engineered gene drives being discussed at COP 13 are NOT naturally occurring elements.