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The National Academies’ Gene Drive study has ignored important and obvious issues

The National Academies’ Gene Drive study has ignored important and obvious issues

Jim Thomas

‘Gene drives’ seem to be the ultimate high-leverage technology. Yesterday’s report from the US National Academies begun the job of describing what is at stake, but it missed some important questions.

Jim Thomas is programme director at the ETC Group

Stop The Gene Bomb! ETC Group Comment on NAS Report on Gene Drives

First study on gene drive governance avoids the explosive issues: Militarization, Commercialization, Food Security. ETC Group urges that gene drive patents and governance be handed to the United Nations.

Coming in at over 200 pages, today’s National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, 'Gene Drives on the Horizon’ is weighty but disappointing. It fails to properly address three of the most pressing issues raised by the controversial new technology of CRISPR-CAS9 gene drives. Dubbed, the ‘mutagenic chain reaction’ by its inventors, RNA-guided gene drives are a high-leverage synthetic biology technology invented only last year.

Craig Venter Lays an Easter Egg

Six Years in the Making, “Synthia” is Resurrected

Synthetic Biology, according to its proponents, is moving at five times the pace of Moore’s law – basically doubling its capabilities and halving its costs every four months. Except that brash billionaire Craig Venter, often dubbed Bioscience’s Bad Boy, is no Gordon Moore. Venter has just announced that his team has produced Synthia 3.0 – the simplest human-made and self-replicating lifeform ever. Synthia 1.0 was announced – after years of delays – in 2010 and its second coming in this new form has been awaited ever since. Synthia 2.0 slipped by without notice – apparently not much to talk about – but this new version is being hailed by at least some synthetic biology scientists as a breakthrough.

Human Health and the Environment: Zika Virus and GM Mosquitoes as Business

Human Health and the Environment: Zika Virus and GM Mosquitoes as Business

The data on which is based the declaration of international emergency for the Zika virus are striking for the lack of evidence to motivate such a pompous statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the face of a mild illness, with very little evidence of connection with more serious ailments and without scientific proof.

Sino-Genta?

And soon there will be three. Joy of six heads towards a “ménage à trois”

For a decade, six multinationals have controlled 75% of the world’s high-tech seeds and pesticides businesses. Late last year, Dow and DuPont agreed to merge and now state-owned ChemChina is buying Syngenta for $43 billion. This means that Monsanto needs a merger to stay in the game. Or, is the game about to be called?

Global Agribusiness Mergers NOT a Done Deal

New ETC Group report, Breaking Bad, shows how Dow-DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta seed and pesticide deals could be blocked by Global South

The $130 billion Dow-DuPont merger announced last week has rekindled ChemChina’s $44.6 billion bid for Syngenta which, in turn, may provoke a fourth takeover try by Monsanto. If ChemChina prevails, Monsanto is likely to look for a deal with either BASF or Bayer. If they get their way, the world’s Big Six agricultural input companies controlling 75% of global agricultural R&D may be reduced to three or four.

No to 1.5°C with geoengineering!

Sign-on letter

Paris, 11 December 2015

Seemingly out of the blue (or rather, out of the black smog of the UNFCCC process), some of the largest historical culprits for climate change, countries including the United States, Canada and the European Union, have decided to back an "ambitious goal" of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. To achieve this, radical emissions cuts would be needed from now, but in the case of these countries, that's not their real intention.

Report Release: Outsmarting Nature?

New Report Questions Risky Synthetic Biology Developments Promoted Under “Climate-Smart” Guise

Paris, 27th November 2015 – Some of the world’s largest agro-industrial corporations will be flying the flag for ‘climate-smart agriculture’ at the upcoming Climate Summit. They will claim that hi-tech crops and intensive industrial agriculture are needed to rescue farmers (and the hungry) from a warming world – a claim widely dismissed by peasant movements and civil society groups.

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