Agriculture/Organisms
The manipulation of genes in a wide range of organisms, from microorganisms to higher plants and animals raises many questions. These include the viability of the genetically modified organism itself, ecological and health issues, social and economic issues.There is already modification of a number of the world’s major food crops. Soya, maize and canola have been modified for herbicide and pest resistance, and constitute the bulk of commercially grown and traded GMOs and GM products. However, there has been no commercial approval of GM wheat in any country because of growing awareness of biosafety, increasing consumer preference for non-GM food, as well as fears of field and trade contamination that may adversely affect the wheat market.
Research and field trials on GM rice are taking place in some countries but again there is great caution and even resistance against commercialization, on the basis of insufficient scientific certainty on the environmental and health impacts. The impact on rice biodiversity is also a major concern for many Asian countries since the region is the centre of origin and diversity of rice. Associated with rice is the region’s rich cultural diversity.
Bt cotton, the other commercialised GM crop, has become controversial with reports of inconsistent yields and other problems in China, India, the Indonesia and South Africa.
While there has been public attention on some of the major crops (including crops engineered for pharmaceutical production), there is far less awareness on other GM plants (including ornamental plants and flowers), trees, animals, fish and microorganisms.There is considerable research on and field testing of many GMOs that are taking place without public knowledge, and often, without the knowledge of all relevant parts of a national government. Thus very few countries, especially developing countries, have had the opportunity to consider and weigh all aspects of gene technology and GMOs. This is necessary and urgently needed if the appropriate policies on science and technology, agriculture, forest management, biodiversity conservation and health are to be in place under the rubric of sustainable development.
[Note: In a separate page on this website, entitled “Traits in Agriculture” we post articles and reports that provide information and discussions on specific traits in agricultural GMOs.]

Civil Society Denounces the Release of GM mosquitoes in Burkina Faso

Civil society organisations from Africa and around the world have strongly criticised the release of GM “male-sterile” mosquitoes in Burkina Faso. They say that the experiment is unethical and unjustifiable as the risks outweigh the benefits. […]

Release of GE American Chestnut Trees into Wild Forests Raises Serious Risks

The risks of introducing the GE American chestnut into forests are numerous and difficult to assess, and regulatory agencies are ill-equipped to evaluate a GE forest tree intended for deliberate spread through wild forests. […]

Oxitec’s failed GM mosquito releases worldwide – Forewarnings for Africa and the Target Malaria project

This briefing details the serious concerns arising from the releases of GM mosquitoes around the world, with forewarnings for proposed GM mosquito releases in Africa. […]

Antibiotic-Resistant GE Bacteria in Animal Feed Spreading Across Europe

Unapproved GE bacteria were first found in animal feed in Europe in 2014. Due to a lack of action, the GE bacteria have spread in animal farming environments, and have also passed their resistance to antibiotics on to other disease-causing microbes. […]

Cayman Islands Abandons Failed GM Mosquito Project

The Environmental Health Minister of the Cayman Islands has announced that the release of Oxitec’s GM Aedes aegypti mosquitoes has not worked, the contract with Oxitec will formally end soon, and the government will not invest in this technology any furth […]

Release of Risky GM Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso Highly Unethical

Concerns raised about proposed release of genetically modified “male-sterile” mosquitoes in Burkina Faso. […]

Critique of AU’s Endorsement of Gene Drive Mosquitos for Malaria ‘Eradication’ in Africa

Critique of African Union report endorsing the development of controversial gene drive mosquitoes for malaria ‘eradication’ in Africa and ‘enabling legislation’ for their deployment across its member states. […]

Failure of Oxitec’s GM Mosquito Field Trials in the Cayman Islands

Documents and correspondence released under Freedom of Information requests appear to show that the controversial release of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands is a failed project. […]

Unapproved GM Wheat Found in Canada, Imports Suspended by Japan and South Korea

Unapproved GM wheat from field trials conducted 20 years ago has been found growing in Canada, prompting Japan and South Korea, two major importers of Canadian wheat, to suspend imports. […]

Transgenic and Glyphosate Contamination of Processed Food and Tortillas Made From Industrial Corn in Mexico

The detection of transgenes and glyphosate in processed foods and tortillas made from industrial corn in Mexico presents a threat to a country where corn is the staple food. […]