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.]

Reviewing the GM Mosquito Trials in Burkina Faso Against the Bioeconomy of Science and Public Trust

Crucial questions remain regarding the engagement of Burkina Faso — and Africa — with GM mosquito trials. These need to be addressed in relation to the underlying bioeconomy of science, public engagement and trust in biomedical innovations. […]

Gene Edited Farm Animals Will Threaten Human, Animal and Environmental Safety

This report reveals that the use of gene editing in farm animals poses risks to human health, the environment and animal welfare. It recommends instead the development of sustainable and ecological animal agriculture systems. […]

GM Mosquitoes Interbreed with Wild Populations in Brazil

Contrary to claims that GM mosquito offspring would die before reaching adulthood, scientists have found evidence that the GM mosquitoes released by Oxitec have successfully interbred with natural mosquito populations in Brazil and are persisting in the environment. […]

Genome-Edited Hornless Cattle Found to Have Unintended Antibiotic Resistance Genes

New research published by US Food and Drug Administration scientists has discovered foreign DNA inadvertently introduced into the genomes of genome-edited animals, dealing a significant blow to the biotech industry’s claims that no regulation of such organisms is necessary. […]

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. […]