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UK agricultural research: a different approach is urgently needed

The article argues that the dominant assumptions in UK agricultural research need to be challenged, opening it up to a wide range of voices and disciplines.

This article has been published in the special edition magazine - For whom? Questioning the food and farming research agenda (follow link to access the full magazine and a fully referenced version of the article).

'New Breeding Techniques' and synthetic biology - genetic engineering by another name

Advocates claim that synthetic biology and the so-called New Breeding Techniques (NBTs) are distinct from genetic engineering (GE), write Helena Paul, Elisabeth Bücking & Ricarda Steinbrecher. In fact synthetic biology and NBTs carry similar risks to old-style GE, and even create novel hazards. The 'new GE' techniques - as they should be named - and their products deserve regulation at least as strict as those applying to GMOs. Read the full article on the Ecologist website.

New breeding techniques

In the interest of protecting the environment and public health, genetically modified crops are subject to risk assessment, an authorisation process and labelling rules under EU law. All non-traditional breeding processes that change the structure of DNA using genetic engineering technologies or interfere with gene regulation fall within the scope of these GM regulations. Some are now calling on the European Commission to exempt new genetic engineering techniques from GM rules. The undersigned groups argue that such an exception could threaten the environment and our health, and would violate EU law.

AGROPOLY - A handful of corporations control world food production

In just 18 pages, Agropoly shows how a handful of companies have come to dominate the agro-industries for:

Corporations at Rio+20

As Rio+20 approaches, we are publishing two new articles on corporations:

Calling the corporations to account
is a short history of why corporate power was not tackled at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, even though many people went to Rio with the purpose of limiting it. It is written to stimulate efforts to make Rio+20 the place where we finally begin the international process to control corporate power.

Corporations are not human, so why should they have human rights?
explains how corporations came to have human rights, and asks whether this is desirable, and what we might do about it.

Who’s in Charge?
Through these articles, we also want to highlight a previous piece of work. This is a short history of the development of the modern corporation and corporate personhood in the UK, written by Daniel Bennett at the request of Helena Paul, for the Programme on Corporations, Law and Democracy.

EU biofuel (agrofuel) target

By 2020 each European country should be using 10% biofuel in transport. This target is mainly to provide stability for commercial investment in biofuels. Even though many EU countries are not building up to the implementation of the target as quickly as expected, it is already causing serious damage to ecosystems, biodiversity, food production and communities in the global south. Yet many people in the UK and other EU countries are not aware that every time they fill up their cars with petrol, they are burning biofuel.

GM mosquito OX513A ...

Oxford-based company Oxitech genetically modified the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) to develop the GM variety OX513A. OX513A mosquitoes are genetically modified to require the antibiotic tetracycline in order to survive to adulthood. The mosquitoes are grown in the lab with tetracycline present, before adult males and females are separated.

GM chicken - a solution to bird flu?

On 14 January 2011, Science published an article by Lyall et al. entitled 'Suppression of Avian Influenza Transmission in Genetically Modified Chickens'. The authors state themselves that their research and results are about a 'proof of principle' - something which by definition is a long way away from actual applicability and does not consider any safety issues.

Lifestock

... still to come ...

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