The Incredible Persistence of GMOS: Updates on the companies who produce them, new technologies, new legislation and people’s resistance
We have been following information about GMOs since studies were first published. It is not a straight forward story. Below are some new developments. Good or bad? What do you think?
Mergers and Acquisitions
First is the issue of mergers of giant biotechnology and chemical companies. Although the recent attempt by Bayer to buy Monsanto for$ 62 billion was not successful the companies are continuing to negotiate. Four other “Gene Giants,” a term coined by the ETC Group, are also talking merger–DOW with Dupont and ChemChina with Syngenta. Luckily, many watch dog and advocacy groups are up in arms.
These seed and crop companies are not in great shape financially; they have rising debts and waning sales. Farm equipment companies are doing even worse. Not to worry, though. According to the ETC Group, this could be an opportune time for Big Equipment to merge with the Big Biotech and Big Chemical. It’s all about Big Data. These days, plant varieties can be identified by drones and crop yields predicted by satellites. For instance, the soil and climate data of all US farm land has been digitized into ten by ten yard sections. This is meant to help corporate agriculture, not family or cooperative farms.
To sign a petition to ban the Bayer Monsanto merger go to
New Technologies: Ready or Not, Here we Come–Gene Drives.
In a June 9, 2016 news release the ETC Group described RNA-guided gene drives as “a high leverage, synthetic biology technology only invented last year.” These drives have the capability to impose a particular genetic trait through an entire species, for better or worse. The National Academy of Sciences has just issued a 200 page report that, according to ETC’s analysis, fails to adequately address potential threats to peace, biodiversity and food security represented by this new technology. It would in fact be a new force for the elimination of biodiversity on the planet. Jim Thomas, program director for the ETC Group sums it up ominously, “Historians may come to see last year’s invention of a working gene drive as biology’s ‘nuclear’ moment.”
New Legislation: The EU Greens get it Right
Many members of the EU Parliament, especially the Greens, follow the issue of GMOs with care. Like their public, they have overall been skeptical, if not downright suspicious, of genetically modified organisms. “Not on our plates!” is a common motto in Europe. Not to say that the EU Commission has concurred with either the Parliament or EU citizens. It has not. In fact, 67% of the budget for research in agriculture in the EU is devoted to biotechnology. All the more reason for the concerned members of Parliament to try to send strong messages about their stance on GMOs, especially given the pressure on the EU to cave in to US demands under TTIP negotiations for Europe to import GMOs. Since December 2015, the Parliament has denied authorization to import six GMO crops, including a carnation and several corn varieties. Moreover, it has denounced the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa, which promotes biotech as a way to feed the hungry. The Parliament also recently voted in favor of a report which opposes the promotion of GMOs in Africa with EU tax payer money.
Resistance: is Golden
On May 21, 2016, people marched against Monsanto in 400 cities on six continents.
The campaign based in the U.S. argues:
“Monsanto has infiltrated various agencies within the United States government, and as a result both public health and the health of our environment has suffered greatly. Glyphosate, the cancer-linked herbicide that is an essential component in the expansion of GMO crops, is already being banned around the world over safety concerns. Here in the United States, glyphosate is consistently being discovered in everything from hospital feeding tubes and tampons to the breast milk of nursing mothers.”
Monsanto in India
In 1998 activists in India started the “Monsanto Quit India Campaign.” Could this happen? In March 2016, there is some possibility that it will although it might just be a bluff in response to the Government’s order that it reduce seed prices for BT cotton by 74%.
According to Vandana Shiva, “Monsanto’s current threat of quitting India is based on the assumption that violating India’s laws is their right.”
Sign the petition at Nation of Change
Don’t Let the Government Keep Us in the DARK—Take the pledge to demand support for mandatory GMO labeling and tell your Senators to the new bill introduced by Senator Pat Roberts. – See more at: