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.]

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. […]

FDA’s Analysis of Genome-Edited Cattle Show Unintended Alterations, Regulation Needed

US FDA scientists report that the gene editing process to produce hornless cattle resulted in unintended alterations at a genome-edited target site, and say this is a reason why regulatory oversight of intentional genomic alterations in animals is needed. […]

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. […]