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5-4-3-2-1! GM Crop Countdown.

5-4-3-2-1! GM Crop Countdown.

The biotech industry claims that the global area devoted to GM crops in 2005 was 90 million hectares - or 222 million acres. ETC Group does not endorse or agree with the validity of annual statistics on GM crops compiled by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

We agree with civil society critics who charge that ISAAA's statistics are inflated and unreliable. However, even using industry-generated statistics, the biotech countdown is revealing. Here are the vital statistics:

Groups Demand Genetic Independence for Mexicos Maize

Groups Demand Genetic Independence for Mexicos Maize

On September 12 just days before Mexico celebrates its Independence Day ETC Group and several Mexican organizations held a press conference in Mexico City and declared the traditional Cry of Independence, but this time for the genetic independence of Mexican maize. It has been over five years since DNA from genetically modified maize contaminated native maize varieties in Mexico.

Synthetic Biology - New alcohol in old (corporate) bottles.

Synthetic Biology - New alcohol in old (corporate) bottles.

The Economist this week has a Special Report on Synthetic Biology , the new field of building artificial life forms from scratch. As is to be expected from the Economist, this is a fairly upbeat assesment of the technology that fails to mention the growing opposition to Synthetic Biology, signalled a few months ago when almost forty civil society groups, trade unions and scientific associations signed an open letter calling for caution.

Here at ETC we have been busy writing our own special report on Synthetic Biology (which we are calling 'Extreme Genetic Engineering' - watch this space!). You can expect it to be a bit more critical than the Economist.

Babies as Guinea Pigs: Biotech company turns two Peruvian hospitals into laboratories

Babies as Guinea Pigs: Biotech company turns two Peruvian hospitals into laboratories

Silvia Ribeiro*

The biotech company Ventria Biosciences sponsored tests, on babies and children hospitalized at two pediatric institutes in Peru, of two new experimental drugs derived from transgenic rice that was genetically engineered with synthetic human genes to produce artificial human milk proteins.

Ventria, a California biotech company, is growing rice that is genetically engineered to produce two pharmaceutical compounds derived from human genes. It was revealed in May that the company had tested its controversial "pharmed" compounds on 140 patients at a pediatric hospital in Peru. The article below by Silvia Ribeiro appeared in the July 1 edition of Mexico's "La Jornada."

The Science of Bioethics

The Science of Bioethics

We've just read the article, "Lessons on Ethical Decision Making from the Bioscience Industry" - this is not a joke - which appeared in the May issue of PLoS Medicine and is available on the Internet. The authors are Jocelyn E. Mackie, Andrew D. Taylor, David L. Finegold, Abdallah S. Daar and Peter A. Singer. Four of the five authors are at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics.

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