Anti-GMO handicaps progress

November 14, 2017

Given the strength of arguments against the use of alm oil, you’d think a product using an  oil made from algae would be popular, but the company which developed it struck problems:

When green cleaning company Ecover announced the launch of a new laundry liquid containing an oil made from algae, as an alternative to the palm oil used in most detergents, it wasn’t prepared for the backlash.

The problem? The algae producing the oil were genetically modified. “We put everything on hold,” says Tom Domen, global head of long-term innovation at Ecover, following reactions to the 2014 product trial.

Environmental groups Friends of the Earth and Grain were among 17 organisations to sign an open letter calling on the company to “reconsider the false solution of using ingredients derived from the new genetic engineering”.

For Ecover it was a lesson learned. “We had quite detailed conversations with all our stakeholders,” says Domen, “for which the main outcome was that we were a bit clearer on how we would go about deciding on responsible innovation … and what the principles for use are when going off with more controversial technologies.” . . 

This is one of many examples where science is no match for environmental activism based on emotion.

It is possible to use genetic engineering responsibly and it’s irresponsible to damn a product out of hand because it’s used GE .

Radical environmentalists want stock reduced in number or even eliminated altoegether to reduce greenhouse emissions but won’t consider the possible of GE technology which would have the same environmental outcome without culling animals.

Ignorance has led to many environmental problems and ignorance based on arguments lacking any scientific basis are preventing some solutions.

Caution over new developments is prudent, refusal to countenance them at all lets science lose to emotion.

 

 

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Rural round-up

May 23, 2014

Beef producers demand a high quality TPP deal:

Beef producers from four Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries have again demanded that any TPP agreement be a high quality deal that eliminates all tariffs on beef.

Members of the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA)* from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, urge all participants involved in the TPP negotiations to re-commit to securing a comprehensive, non-discriminatory outcome – one which eliminates tariffs and importantly addresses behind the border trade barriers.

FNBA is concerned that TPP members have not been able to craft a tariff-eliminating deal for beef, and unless all parties step up to the plate and reaffirm their commitment to a trade liberalizing outcome, countries could begin to drift away from the goal of achieving a 21st century agreement. . .

Forest researchers frustrated by ruling:

A High Court ruling against the use of genetic engineering techniques for tree breeding has frustrated forestry researchers but relieved GM opponents.

The Sustainability Council challenged a decision by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) that allowed Forest Research Institute Scion to use two new plant breeding technologies to grow pine trees that among other things would cope better with climate change, and be more disease resistant.

But the High Court has ruled the authority misinterpreted the law and should not have approved the techniques.

Scion said the court decision showed up serious deficiencies in the law covering genetically modified organisms. . .

Native plants often the best answer:

Native plants can help farmers in a multitude of ways, South Canterbury expert Hugh Thompson says.

Speaking at the Trees on Farms workshop at Pleasant Point on April 30, Mr Thompson said native species could be used in shelter belts and riparian plantings, for soil stability in creeks and steep areas, for biodiversity, and for aesthetic reasons.

”They look natural and they’re there forever.”

Six years ago, concerned by the neglect of native vegetation on farmland, Mr Thompson became a full-time horticulturist and started a native nursery.  . .

Goat Conference to address adding value to New Zealand:

Federated Farmers is pleased to announce that the inaugural NZGoats Conference in Queenstown, on 23-25 May, will be focusing on adding sustainable value to the industry.

“Right now the goat industry has a lot to offer with goat meat leading global red meat consumption and Mohair becoming a popular niche fibre so this conference is at a pivotal time for the industry,” said John Woodward, Federated Farmers Mohair New Zealand (INC) Chairperson.

Chairperson of Federated Farmers NZGoats, Dawn Sangster, added “The event is a collaboration between Mohair New Zealand (Inc), Meat Goat New Zealand and NZ Goats, under the Federated Farmers Goats industry umbrella, and the New Zealand Boer Goat Breeders Association (Inc).

“It is aimed at both experienced goat farmers and those interested in the potential of goat farming as a way to diversify their farm business”. . .

Chilly diners get blanket coverage – Sally Rae:

When it came to warming up Queenstown’s Public Kitchen and Bar over winter, the solution was simple – New Zealand wool.

And it all fell into place after Domenic Mondillo was tackled by restaurant manager Heidi Thomson about ways to promote Mondillo Wines and also how to keep customers warm.

Mr Mondillo’s wife Ally had been looking for wool blankets to put their branding on and use as promotional items for clients and overseas visitors and met Polly McGuckin at Exquisite Wool Blankets. . . .

Outdoors Lobby Seeks Party Election Policies:

A national organisation is seeking the views of political parties and current MPs on outdoor recreation and environmental issues. The Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations (CORANZ) has prepared an election charter and sent it to political parties and MPs said Andi Cockroft, CORANZ co-chairman of Wellington.

“Responses will be later collated and made public,” he said.

Andi Cockroft said CORANZ was strictly apolitical and “politically impartial” but had increasingly viewed with alarm the style and policies of recent governments that were bypassing democracy and eroding the public’s heritage of the outdoors and environmental quality.  . .


Where’s the science?

May 24, 2013

People who oppose genetic engineering will be protesting in several cities around New Zealand in support of a global March Against Monsanto.

But where’s the science which supports their contentions?

Can they refute the claim by former anti-GMO activist Mark Lynas?

I think the controversy over GMOs represents one of the greatest science communications failures of the past half-century. Millions, possibly billions, of people have come to believe what is essentially a conspiracy theory, generating fear and misunderstanding about a whole class of technologies on an unprecedentedly global scale.

This matters enormously because these technologies – in particular the various uses of molecular biology to enhance plant breeding potential – are clearly some of our most important tools for addressing food security and future environmental change.

I am a historian, and history surely offers us, from witch trials to eugenics, numerous examples of how when public misunderstanding and superstition becomes widespread on an issue, irrational policymaking is the inevitable consequence, and great damage is done to peoples’ lives as a result.

This is what has happened with the GMOs food scare in Europe, Africa and many other parts of the world. Allowing anti-GMO activists to dictate policymaking on biotechnology is like putting homeopaths in charge of the health service, or asking anti-vaccine campaigners to take the lead in eradicating polio.

I believe the time has now come for everyone with a commitment to the primacy of the scientific method and evidence-based policy-making to decisively reject the anti-GMO conspiracy theory and to work together to begin to undo the damage that it has caused over the last decade and a half. . .

It shouldn’t be hard for scientific methods and evidence-based policy making to triumph over a conspiracy theory, generating fear and misunderstanding about a whole class of technologies.

But emotion beats facts which is why people will be marching.

 

 

 


GE animals okayed by FDA but challenged in NZ

March 10, 2009

The FDA has approved medicine from genetically engineered goats:

The drug, meant to prevent fatal blood clots in people with a rare condition, is a protein extracted from the milk of goats that have been given a human gene.

The same drug, which was approved in Europe in 2006 but has not been widely adopted, is the first to have been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under guidelines the agency adopted only last month to regulate the use of transgenic animals in the nation’s drug and food supply.

Meanwhile, back here GE Free New Zealand is making a High Court challenge  to development applications by the Environmental Risk Management Authority and Crown research institute, Agresearch.

AgResearch has made four applications to develop, import and commercialise genetically modified animals from nine species, including sheep, cows, pigs and horses.

But the GE-Free lobby argued that Erma had wrongly allowed the applications to go ahead.

It said insufficient information had been provided on the new organisms to be created or where they would be developed and tested.

This sounds like emotion versus science but courts don’t rule on those, they have to go by the law.


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