genetic engineering

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

Twitter-land was abuzz last week with news that a formerly ardent critic of genetic engineering (GE) has recanted his position. Mark Lynas gave a long mea culpa speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, in which he apologized to the world for tearing up GE crops back in the day, and for what he described as his “anti-science environmentalism.”

Unfortunately, Lynas then went on to ignore the weight of scientific evidence (more on that below). He claimed that GE crop production is good for biodiversity and necessary to feed the world, that organic farming is bad, and that “there is no reason at all why avoiding chemicals should be better for the environment.” He then quickly slammed the door shut on public debate, pronouncing “discussion over.” Many of us in the global scientific community were left shaking our heads, bemused if disappointed in Lynas’ anti-science rhetorical flourishes.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

Organic and conventional farmers are feeling rooked. And for good reason. A USDA-appointed advisory group known as the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) has just concluded over a year’s worth of deliberation on how to address the thorny problem of transgenic contamination of organic and non-genetically engineered (GE) crops— a major threat to farmers’ businesses and livelihoods.

The result? A report recommending that farmers and taxpayers bear the heavy costs of dealing with genetic contamination, while leaving the Big 6 pesticide and GE seed manufacturers free from any responsibility for the harm caused by their products. 

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

Over last week’s Thanksgiving holiday, many Americans will have paused to savor the blessings of health, family and community. Some of us will have binged on too much turkey and consumption-crazed Black Friday sales. But for the world’s biggest pesticide and seed biotech companies, the entire year has been one long feeding frenzy. This frenzy culminated in recent months in a multi-billion dollar spending spree in which, reports Bloomberg, three of the "Big 6" pesticide companies (Syngenta, Bayer and BASF) together shelled out over two billion dollars to acquire biopesticide and other “green product” companies.  

Concerns over corporate "greenwashing" notwithstanding, the larger issue here is a new frontier of market-making and corporate consolidation from the people who brought us "DDT is good for me" commercials. 

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

What do over 60 countries in the world, representing over half the world’s population — including member nations of the European Union, Russia, China, Brazil, Australia, Turkey, Saudia Arabia, Indonesia and Japan — have in common? A national requirement for mandatory GE food labeling.

And the global movement continues to grow, with India’s GE labeling laws coming into full force in 2013. Last week, I heard more good news: one of our partners in South Africa, the African Centre for Biosafety, reports that GE labeling laws there are getting stronger.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

As a scientist at Pesticide Action Network, I am frequently asked these days to explain what genetically engineered (GE) crops have to do with pesticides. When I answer that GE crops both contain and drive up pesticide use, I am often met with earnest incredulity. We seem to need to believe that GE technology is the best thing since sliced bread.