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.]

GE Trees Will Aggravate, Not Solve, Forest Health Problems

This article discusses attempts to promote forest health in the US with genetically engineered trees, warning of the potentially irreversible impacts on forest ecosystems and the communities they support. […]

Insufficient Evidence to Support GM Mosquitoes as a Viable Tool to Control Mosquito-Borne Diseases

The lack of studies and reliable information impair the feasibility of using genetically modified mosquitoes in real-world conditions to control the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. […]

Cayman Government Cancels Nationwide Roll-out of GM Mosquito Programme

The Cayman Islands government has reportedly cancelled a national roll-out of the genetically modified mosquito project by Oxitec amid budget cuts and concerns that the technology has yet to fully prove itself. […]

No Benefit to Imminent Release of Risky GM Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso

GM “male-sterile” mosquitoes are due to be released in Burkina Faso this year by Target Malaria, despite the admission that there are no benefits of this release for malaria control. […]

Golden Rice 2 Carries High Likelihood of Risks Without Substantial Benefits

An evaluation of the risk assessment for IRRI’s application for food import of Golden Rice 2 in Australia and New Zealand finds flawed data, failure to show any substantial benefits, and a high likelihood of risks. […]

FDA’s Approval of GE AquAdvantage Salmon Disregards Precautionary Principle

This legal Note critiques the US FDA’s approval of AquAdvantage salmon for consumption, arguing that it did not properly vet the GE salmon, and had relied on inappropriate criteria in its approval. […]

Golden Rice: A Perfect Example of GM Unintended Effects

Recent research by Indian scientists has shown that introducing Golden Rice transgenes had severe and unexpected effects on plant growth and yields. […]

GM Mosquito Releases in the Caymans Risky and Ineffective

New information shows that the releases of GM mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands by Oxitec are risky and ineffective in their bid to suppress wild populations of disease-bearing mosquitoes and should be halted pending further investigation. […]

USDA Approves First Trials of GE Diamondback Moths, Avoids Full Environmental Impact Statement

In the face of the USDA’s approval of the first open-air trials of GE diamondback moth in upstate New York, civil society is calling for a halt to the trials, citing the lack of a full environmental impact assessment and public hearings. […]

Animal Feed Vitamin Supplement Contaminated by Illegal GE Bacteria

A strain of illegal GE bacteria was found in riboflavin vitamin supplements imported from China to Germany for animal feed use, highlighting the need for a database of detection methodologies for all GMOs used, both in contained use and field trials. […]