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.]

GM Wheat in Argentina Delivering Poor Yields

GM wheat has been approved for planting in Argentina, and for import in Brazil. However, the GM wheat is giving poor yields, around two-thirds of the average for non-GM wheat. […]

Bt Cowpea May Present Hazards to Human and Environmental Health

There are substantial deficiencies in the risk assessment of Bt cowpea approved for cultivation in Nigeria, with several issues of concern regarding the safety of the Bt toxins produced in the plants. […]

Transgenic Glowing Fish Escape and Thrive in the Wild in Brazil

Transgenic glowing fish have escaped fish farms and are thriving in creeks in Brazil, posing a threat to local species by competing for food or preying on them. […]

The Financialisation of Malaria in Africa: Burkina Faso, rogue capital & GM /gene drive mosquitoes

This paper shows how malaria, along with other diseases, is increasingly financialised – financial markets, institutions, actors and motives play a pivotal role in disease response, including in the case of GM/gene drive mosquitoes. […]

GE Trees a False and Harmful Solution to Climate Change

Genetically engineered trees are not a climate solution. They are a dangerous distraction, and a threat to forests and communities that will worsen the climate crisis rather than fix it. […]

Genetic Breakdown of Molecular Mechanism Underpinning GM ‘sterile’ Insect Techniques

Research reveals chink in the molecular armour of genetic switches, where ‘sterile’ GM insects revert back to being fertile, resulting in resistant GM populations persisting in the environment. […]

US Court Declares FDA’s Approval of GE Salmon a Violation of Environmental Laws

In November, a U.S. District Court ruled the FDA had violated core environmental laws in approving GE salmon and ordered it to thoroughly analyze the environmental consequences of an escape of GE salmon into the wild. […]

African Governments Urged to Support Non-GM Preferred Cotton Over GM Cotton

African governments are urged to support GM-free preferred cotton production which can boost farmer income and revitalize rural economies, and to reject GM cotton due to its manifold risks and failures. […]

Experiments Using GM Fungus to Kill Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso Fail to Meet Biosafety Requirements

A three-year experiment to test the use of GM fungus to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes in Burkina Faso raises troubling legal, biosafety, ethical, political and human rights concerns. […]

Gene-Editing of Rice Found to Cause Unintended Mutations

CRISPR gene editing in rice varieties caused undesirable and unintended on-target and off-target mutations, according to a recent study. […]