Quick Reads

A Bad Bet on Synthetic Biology

Cargill's Eversweet is competing with farmers and misleading consumers

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.

Brasil ataca la moratoria internacional sobre semillas Terminator

Los Derechos de los Agricultores y la Soberanía Alimentaria bajo fuego

En un momento en el que Monsanto, DuPont y Syngenta controlan el 55% de las semillas comerciales del mundo, revive en el Congreso de Brasil una iniciativa de ley que busca revertir la prohibición de 10 años sobre la tecnología Terminator, diseñadas para asegurar las ganancias de las corporaciones al eliminar el derecho ancestral de los agricultores a plantar las semillas de su cosecha.

Brazil Aims to Torpedo International Moratorium on Terminator Seeds

Farmers’ Rights and Food Sovereignty Under Fire

At a time when just three corporations – Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta – control 55% of the world’s commercial seeds, industrial farming interests in the Brazilian Congress have introduced a bill that aims to overturn the country’s 10-year old ban on Terminator technology – seeds that have been genetically modified to render sterile seeds. The technology is designed to secure corporate profits by eliminating the age-old right of farmers to save and re-plant harvested seeds.

Time to Wave the White Flag for a Failed Techno-Fix?

The Volkswagen scandal is a warning that the Fossil Majors can’t be trusted to control GHG emissions

Try though they might, Volkswagen can’t seem to get off the air those three little old ladies in their television commercials waving a white scarf in front of a Volkswagen diesel exhaust pipe. (See cartoon.) Volkswagen’s emission scandal is just a prelude to a much bigger emissions sleight of hand that will be rolled out in Paris this December at the Climate Change Summit.

El show climático de París

OTTAWA – La Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climático, que se desarrollará en París en diciembre, será un espectáculo tan cuidadosamente coreografiado como una superproducción de Hollywood. Habrá un reparto estelar enorme: presidentes y primeros ministros en el centro de la escena, acompañados por miles de extras, incluidos manifestantes, policías antidisturbios y montones de periodistas. El guión todavía es un secreto, pero ya se filtró el argumento: esta vez, en marcado contraste con las fallidas negociaciones de 2009 en Copenhague, gana el planeta.

The Paris Climate-Change Spectacular

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.

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