Sugar Companies to Launch GMO Education Campaign

Genetically modified crops such as sugar beets and corn have been a godsend to the farmers who grow them, an Idaho farmer and biotechnology expert told members of the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture July 27.

To try to change consumers’ understanding and perception of GMO crops, the nation’s sugar beet industry is preparing a $4 million online campaign that will launch this fall.

Roundup Ready sugar beets, which are genetically engineered to withstand applications of the glyphosate herbicide, enjoy 100 percent adoption among Amalgamated growers and save them about $22 million per year, he said.

Because the GMO beets allow growers to use fewer herbicides, the plants are disturbed less and they face much less competition from weed pressure, which has translated into higher yields, Grant said.

Since GMO corn was introduced in the 1990s, he said, U.S. corn acres have increased from just under 60 million to 90 million, while acres of wheat, which is not genetically modified, has dropped from about 60 million to 45 million in 2017, which is the lowest acreage since records began in 1919.

Continue Reading at Capital Press

Experts Says: Genetically Modified Crops Need Detailed Evaluation

“The GM crops aim at increased quantity of the crop, but genetic modification affects the nutrients also, which is different from the naturally grown food. Bio-availability of naturally grown food is always higher than GM crops, which have a different nutritive value,” says Dr. Dharini Krishnan, Nutrition Consultant with Heinz Nutrition Foundation.

As stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), when new crops are developed using conventional methods, the characteristics can change positively or negatively. Main issues discussed were of allergic reaction, gene transfer and outcrossing due to consumption of such food.

“As a case-by-case basis study is needed to assess the GM foods and their safety because different GM crops include different genes inserted in various ways, a definite conclusion cannot be made on its health aspects as toxins can impact people differently,” says Dr. D Janardan, a senior nutritionist.

These factors highlight the need for careful assessment and evaluation of GM foods to find out its effect on health.

Deccan Chronicle

FSSAI Plans Labelling of GM Foods

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is planning a regime of labeling genetically modified (GM) foods, which do not exist in India as of now.

FSSAI, though responsible for testing food standards, is passing the buck on independent testing of the impact of GM foods on human health. Its officials said that the environment ministry should look at it.

As per Section 22 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, FSSAI has the responsibility to regulate GM organisms and products once they are approved by GEAC. FSSAI even submitted a status report before the Supreme Court, which is hearing a case against the commercial cultivation of GM Mustard, and stressed that no regulation is yet framed to regulate GM foods. DNA has reviewed a copy of the status report.

Continue Reading at DNA

Genetically modified food – is GM really that bad for us?

A debate has raged around the potential risks and benefits of genetically modified (GM) foods for the last 20 years.

Friends of the Earth says that although food from 12 GM crops has been approved for sale in the EU, most UK supermarkets and food manufacturers have removed GM ingredients from their produce.

The arguments for GM

Most existing genetically modified crops have been developed to improve yield through resistance to plant pests or increased tolerance to herbicides.

Professor Jonathan Jones, a senior scientist at The Sainsbury Laboratory and an expert on how plants resist disease, was featured on the Panorama program.

“Producing enough food is hard, and currently there’s a lot of control of disease and pests by spraying agrochemicals,” he said.

“GM opponents have this idealistic notion that we can have a perfect, utterly clean way of doing things, but this idealism isn’t helpful because farming is a very pragmatic business. You’ve got to control weeds, so you need herbicides, and there are a lot of objections to them, but the question is, what’s the least bad way to do it?

“Anything that gets regulatory approval is completely safe, or at least as safe as its non-GM counterpart.”

Read more at BT.com

CSOs Storm National Assembly over GMO

The CSOs including Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Save Nigeria, Climate, Transformation and Energy Remediation Society (Climatters) and Women Environmental Programme (WEP) urged the National Assembly to outrightly ban the GMOs, stopped their field trails and transborder movement and ensure the labeling of the GM products if it has not been totally recalled

The Director of HOMEF Nnimmo Bassey and Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour who led the protest said that the activities of the GMOs are being curtailed in the United States, European and other countries and wondered why Nigeria is embracing what has been confirmed to be detrimental to Nigerians’ health.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Ecology and Climate Change Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Senator Abu Ibrahim who addressed the protesters at the entrance of the National Assembly, assured that the federal lawmakers would look into the petition of the protesters and the sides of those supporting the GMOs and take appropriate action in the interest of Nigeria.

Daily Trust

Genetically Modified crops

With the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, an Environment Ministry body that evaluates genetically modified crops, approving transgenic mustard for environmental release, a key hurdle remains before farmers can cultivate it: Environment Minister Anil Dave’s approval, under a procedure set down by the UPA government.

What is a GM crop?
A GM or transgenic crop is a plant that has a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.

Concerns associated
The technology of genetic engineering is an evolving one and there is much, especially on its impact on human health and environment that is yet to be understood properly. The scientific community itself seems uncertain about this.

In fact, globally, there is a clear view that GM crops must not be introduced in centers of origin and diversity. India also has mega biodiversity hotspots like the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats which are rich in biodiversity yet ecologically very sensitive. Hence it will only be prudent for us to be careful before we jump on to the bandwagon of any technology.

Continue Reading at: The Hands India

China Pushes Public to Accept GMO as Syngenta Takeover Nears

Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University and two other Chinese colleges will carry out the survey, said Jin Jianbin, a professor at Tsinghua’s School of Journalism and Communication. The poll, sponsored by the government, will be carried out in tandem with a campaign on social media to broadcast basic knowledge on GMO technology, which is widely misunderstood in the country, Jin said.

China is the world’s fourth-largest grower of GMO cotton and the top importer of soybeans, most of which are genetically modified and used for cooking oil and animal feed for pigs and chickens. But public concern over food safety issues and skepticism about the effects of consuming GMO foods have made the government reluctant to introduce the technology for staple crops.

A 2012 trial of so-called Golden Rice — a yellow GMO variant of the grain that produces beta-carotene — caused a public storm after reports that the rice was fed to children without the parents being aware that it was genetically modified.

The national survey aims to discover what the public’s concerns are so that the government can resolve the confusion, Jin said. “If the government pushes ahead before the public is ready to accept the technology, it would be embarrassing — like offering a pot of half-cooked rice to eat.”

Producers of GMO crops claim they offer improved yields, enhanced nutritional value and resistance to drought, frost and insects. Critics have raised concerns over safety and potential adverse ecological effects. Last year, the U.S., the world’s largest producer of GMO crops, mandated that food makers label products with modified ingredients. EU lawmakers this month objected to imports of herbicide-resistant strains of corn and cotton.

China itself has spent billions on research of its own GMO technology over the past decade, but has not allowed commercial production of grains, with scientists citing public resistance as part of the reason for the delay. China has said that it will allow commercial production of modified corn and soybeans by 2020.

Government officials have said that the country would introduce the use of the technology first on feed grains after cotton. China’s corn consumption is estimated to grow nearly 20 percent in the coming decade on demand for protein-rich meat and dairy products.

Bloomberg

Tackling hidden hunger: Biofortified Genetically Engineered Foods Increase Iron, Zinc and Vitamin A

Today, most of us do get enough to eat, in terms of calories, but we still may not be getting our essential micronutrients, such as iron and zinc. In other words, our focus has shifted from quantity to quality. This ‘hidden hunger’, a term used to describe dietary micronutrient deficiencies, must be taken care of. The answer, find researchers, is biofortification.

Golden rice is a variety of rice produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesise beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the edible parts of rice.

The most common micronutrient deficiencies are iron and zinc, with 2 billion people affected worldwide with anaemia (30% of the world’s population), says the World Health Organization. Vitamin A deficiency is not far behind. This triad, vital to our health, especially for the development of children, women, and other vulnerable sections (seniors or those who have low immunity), is the focus of biofortification research.

The Genetic Literacy Project

The Future of Food: To GMO or Not To GMO?

An organic diet has never been more in style than it is right now, with millions of consumers willing to shell out extra dollars for organic foods. Most of us have a vague idea that organic is better because it’s more natural and free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pesticides.

But what does “natural” even mean? The line is harder to draw than we may think.

How different is food from GM crops as compared to food from non-GM crops?

Humans have been “genetically modifying” plants and animals for thousands of years. Five hundred years ago, say a farmer noticed some corn was a little sweeter. To replicate that flavor, the farmer might select those seeds for the next crop. That new trait came about by random genetic mutation, and establishing a noticeably sweeter flavor using selective breeding would take years, if not decades.

Some GM foods, like BT crops, are engineered to contain a form of pesticide, which means they don’t need to be sprayed with chemical pesticides. Eating food that produces a pesticide sounds scary, but as the video notes, pesticide doesn’t always mean it is inedible or harmful to humans. Many substances harm insects or animals, but not humans—coffee is one example.

Much of the backlash against GMOs is less about genetic engineering and more about the business practices of the corporations that control our food supply. GMO crops have been a money-maker for herbicide companies—and as crops have been modified to be herbicide-resistant, herbicide use increases. For companies making GMO seeds and associated herbicides, that’s a lot of power over something as critical as how we feed ourselves.

GMOs are part of the larger genetic engineering debate, which is only going to intensify. New techniques are getting easier, cheaper, and more precise by the year. Tech can do damage or be a force for good; the real trick is weighing risk and benefit impartially and making choices that steer us in the right direction.

Singularity Hub

Consumers Opposed to GM don’t Understand Plant Breeding

RED DEER — Consumer concern about the safety of genetically modified food stems from lack of understanding about plant breeding regardless of type, says an American corn breeder and professor at Cornell University.

Margaret Smith said people have been modifying crops through domestication, selection and cross breeding for about 200 years, and genetic modification is only the newest tool available to achieve it.

She referred to a 2001 U.S. survey in which more than 60 percent of respondents said they had never eaten a traditionally crossbred fruit or vegetable, and more than 64 percent thought they had never eaten a GM fruit or vegetable.

As for GM content, there are few examples of fresh produce on the market today beyond some varieties of sweet corn, although a non-browning apple and potatoes engineered to resist black spot and late blight are pending.

She said 83 percent of the world’s soybeans, 29 percent of maize and 24 percent of canola are GM varieties.

About 60 percent of supermarket foods have ingredients from a GM variety, said Smith, although those ingredients are chemically identical to those that are non-GM.

The safety of GM food has always been a major consumer concern, said Smith, noting that studies to date have produced no credible evidence that existing GM food is harmful.

Smith also said consumers are concerned that the rights to GM crops belong to few.

In the United States, the 96 existing approvals of crops with GM traits are mostly held by Monsanto, Aventis, Syngenta, Dow and DuPont. Various planned mergers, involving Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina and Dow and Dupont, if approved, would leave four main players in the field, Smith said.

The Western Producer