FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONTREAL, MEXICO CITY, SÃO PAULO, February 22, 2018—The largest rural movements in Brazil, representing well over a million farmers, are protesting a new Brazilian regulation that would allow release of gene drives, the controversial genetic extinction technology, into Brazil’s ecosystems and farms.
“The future has arrived — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” —William Gibson, 1992
As the year careens to a close, summing up the trends, portends and hairpin bends of 2017 feels like a Pandora’s unboxing of mashed up dystopias. Call it technological convergence or the fourth industrial revolution, but the familiar cyberpunk themes of robotics, Artificial Intelligence and bioengineered economies are now becoming cyber-industrial fact.
It's usually the case at ETC that when we encounter success, we've usually already moved on to the next campaign. But in our 40th year, we decided to take a moment to celebrate by looking back at some of our favourite wins. We like them all, so they are presented here in roughly chronological order.
7. Seed Treaty
As 2017 draws to a close, we’re excited to announce our 2040 Fund. As technologies and corporate power gain critical mass, ETC’s contribution will shift from from fighting technologies one by one to defining the “positive possible” of the longer term, and illuminating pathways out of the current mess.
To make that possible, our goal is to build a base of donors to our 2040 fund who contribute an average of $20.40 per month. Want to be part of it? Click here to donate now.
Or read on to find out more.
By Silvia Ribeiro*
It is not often that so many prominent scientists reveal their ignorance on a topic in such a short space. This was the case for the public letter that a hundred Nobel laureates published on June 30th defending genetically modified organisms (GMOs), particularly the so-called “Golden Rice,” and attacking Greenpeace for its critical stance on these crops. The letter is so full of high-sounding adjectives and epithets, false claims and poor arguments that it seems more like a propaganda tirade from transgenic companies than scientists presenting a position.
Las Vegas seems to be an apt place to launch a risky corporate gamble that could destroy the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers. Earlier this month, the international food conglomerate Cargill chose the city’s famous Strip to introduce what it hopes will be its next blockbuster product: EverSweet, a sweetener made of “the same sweet components in the stevia plant.”
And yet, despite Cargill’s heavy reliance on stevia in its promotional material, EverSweet does not contain a single leaf of the plant. Cargill’s new product is an example of synthetic biology, a form of genetic engineering that uses modified organisms to manufacture compounds that would never be produced naturally. What makes EverSweet taste sweet is not stevia; it is a compound produced by a bioengineered yeast.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December will feature all the tightly choreographed production values of a Hollywood blockbuster. The cast will be huge: presidents and prime ministers at center stage, supported by thousands of extras, including protesters, riot police, and busloads of media. The script may still be under wraps, but the plot has already leaked: This time, in sharp contrast to the failed negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, the planet is going to win. It is a seductive plot, but one that does not quite hold together.