CANCUN, MEXICO — This week, 196 countries meeting at the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) Conference of the Parties made progress on the global governance and oversight of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology (syn bio) has become one of the most fiercely debated topics at the Biodiversity Convention, almost 7 years after civil society first brought the need for precaution and regulation of the new set of biotechnologies to this UN body.
CANCUN, MEXICO – The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which gathered at its 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) in Mexico from December 4-17, decided to reaffirm its landmark moratorium on climate-related geoengineering that it first agreed to in 2010.
On Thursday, December 15, 2016 the Civil Society Working Group on Synthetic Biology circulated a short fact sheet to help clear up four of the most common questions arising about gene drives.
1. Are gene drives naturally occurring?
In brief: the engineered gene drives being discussed at COP 13 are NOT naturally occurring elements.
CANCUN, MEXICO – This week, international conservation and environmental leaders are calling on governments at the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity to establish a moratorium on the controversial genetic extinction technology called gene drives.
• CBD Decision X/33, 8 (w) on geoengineering remains valid and should be affirmed and strengthened.
• The potential impacts of geoengineering on biodiversity have been scarcely studied. Studies and policy recommendations on the impacts on biodiversity and associated livelihoods caused by any geoengineering intervention are, and should remain, under the mandate of CBD and its bodies.
• New research papers continue to demonstrate high risks and uncertainties associated with the full range of geoengineering proposals.
A fundamental shift is underway in how food, flavor, cosmetic, and fragrance ingredients are being produced for global markets. The new game in town is synthetic biology, or GMOs 2.0—companies are now able to create yeasts that secrete artificial compounds that taste or smell like familiar substances but don’t actually come from the natural source.
Yo ho ho! Who are the most gruesome and despicable biopirates plundering genetic resources in your country? Which corporate crooks are looting indigenous knowledge in your communities? Have any governments failed to ward off marauders, enacted bogus policies, or plotted against their own people? Which gene-jacking genome editors are carrying out dastardly digital theft via your local genome database?
BALTIMORE, MD — Consumer and environmental groups today released the Shopper’s Guide to Synthetic Biology to help consumers avoid the new wave of GMOs in food and cosmetics, and find truly natural and sustainable options.
Gene-silenced apples that never look old, synthetic stevia created with genetically engineered yeast — these are just some of the new generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) making their way into food and consumer products.
Wednesday’s confirmation that Monsanto and Bayer have agreed to a $66 billion merger is just the latest of four M&A announcements, but at least three more game-changing mergers are in play (and flying under the radar). The acquisition activity is no longer just about seeds and pesticides but about global control of agricultural inputs and world food security. Anti-competition regulators should block these mergers everywhere, and particularly in the emerging markets of the Global South, as the new mega companies will greatly expand their power and outcompete national enterprises. Fou
OAHU, HAWAI'I — As thousands of government representatives and conservationists convene in Oahu this week for the 2016 World Conservation Congress, international conservation and environmental leaders are raising awareness about the potentially dangerous use of gene drives — a controversial new synthetic biology technology intended to deliberately cause targeted species to become extinct.
Since August 1st, the news is spreading that Monsanto had to abandon the construction of one of the biggest factories in the world for producing transgenic seed that was to be installed in Córdoba, Argentina, in the municipality of Malvinas Argentinas. From there they had planned to distribute seeds to Latin America and beyond. This is an occurrence of enormous importance, that the company has not wanted to admit publicly, because the reason for their exit is the persistent popular resistance from neighbourhoods, youths and mothers, who have blocked the factory since 2013.
What’s the role of synthetic biology in our food system and how does it relate to “climate-smart” agriculture? What are the costs and risks?
Available to watch at http://www.synbiowatch.org/2016/07/outsmarting-nature-webinar/
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.
‘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
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.
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.
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.