Traditional rice farmers join forces to stop bio-piracy

100 small-scale farmers have launched a network to keep traditional crop varieties in common use and to try to prevent the varieties from being grabbed by large agricultural companies who could try and cover the genes of the plants with intellectual property rights. The farmers from 15 states in India have launched the National Seed Savers Network. It aims to pass seeds of crops and vegetables species in common use and ownership by sharing and distributing the seeds within the network. The network will also use varieties from the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) and university collections. The main impetus for launching the network was the recent approval…

Are GM crops a failed agricultural experiment?

Genetically engineered or modified crops were supposed to herald in a new green revolution with reducing use of pesticides and better crop production. A recent study onto the first 16 years of use of GM crops has shown that pesticide use has soared as herbicide resistant weeds take hold. As any ecologist will tell you the natural world is a battle ground with chemicals weapons being used to fight off the competition. So it should come as no surprise that weeds would eventually become resistant to herbicides resulting in the need for ever more herbicides to be applied and the need for newer herbicides to be developed. A study  by…

UK signs Nagoya Protocol

UK signs Nagoya Protocol

The UK signed up to show it’s support for the The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing yesterday (25 June 2011). Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, added her signature to that of 11 other European countries who signed yesterday.  In total 36 countries have now signed leaving only 14 signatures required for the international treaty to be ratified.   On signing the agreement  Spelman said: “This agreement  heralds a better deal for developing countries blessed with rich ecosystems and could pave the way for exciting, new medicinal and genetic innovations. We fought hard for a fair deal at Nagoya and we’ll shortly outline how to meet our international commitments at home through the…

Further evidence GM plants are now established in the wild

Further evidence GM plants are now established in the wild

Researchers in North Dakota have released news about the discovery of more established population of GM plants in the wild. A study was undertaken of wild canola plants alongside roads and highways in the state. Of 406 plants collected 86% had proteins that protected against herbicides of the glyphosate or glufosinate types.  This adds to the previous discoveries of genetically modified rapeseed (canola)  and rice plants in the wild in both Canada and Japan. “There were also two instances of multiple transgenes in single individuals,” said one of the study’s coauthors Cynthia Sagers, University of Arkansas. “Varieties with multiple transgenic traits have not yet been released commercially, so this finding suggests that…

Coalition government to be pro GM

Caroline Spearman, Secretary of State for department of environment, food and rural affairs, in her first public interview has committed the UK to becoming one of the most pro-GM countries. She believes that GM food in the right circumstances could be of benefit to the market place. While there are no questions that it will benefit big business, consumers in general are still anti GM. If this government forces through a pro-GM agenda then we could see the same situation in the UK that is currently in place in the US where  70% of all processed foods having some GM ingredients. At a time when people are becoming more aware of…