View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news

February news round-up

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EU executive set to back new GM crop

The crop in question is a insect-resistant maize for human consumption. Ministers and diplomats from 19 of the 28 EU countries opposed approval, but that’s not enough to reject the crop. There will likely also be a proposal on GM cultivation that would allow individual member states to ban GM crops if they wished.

India’s environment minister approves GM crop trials

This allow gene modification trials of more than 200 varieties of rice, wheat, maize, castor and cotton. There is still a hearing in the Supreme Court about this, following  an anti-GM petition.

New technique for genetic modification of monkeys could lead to more useful animal models of disease

These aren’t the first genetically modified monkeys to been born, but apparently the new “CRISPR/Cas technology” is a more efficient way to alter their DNA.

The Promise of GMOs: Herbicides

Part of an interesting series of posts on whether GMOs live up to promises. In the case of decreasing herbicide use and improving the environmental impact, is seems that there is indeed data to back up industry claims.

When caution trumps opportunity – opinion piece from a Cornell scientist

Bio-safety regimes empower officials over farmers. Scarce public resources are wasted in surveillance and control.” Apparently, in 2012 genetically engineered crops grown in developing countries exceeded total acres grown in the developed countries for the first time.

Maui citizens push for GMO moratorium

In Hawaii citizens are collecting petition signatures from fellow voters.

12 bizarre examples of genetic engineering

Fun pictures introducing some novel uses of genetic modification. Glow-in-the-dark cats: using a virus scientists inserted the gene for green fluorescent protein (originally from jellyfish, GFP is widely used in scientific research). The intention is to genetically modify cats to give them human diseases for research. ‘Enviropig’ has been genetically altered to produce less phosphorus in its manure to reduce water pollution  when manure is used as fertiliser. There are also cabbages which produce scorpion venom, modified so that it is still poisonous to caterpillars but not to humans.

Author: Rebecca Nesbit

I am author of a popular science book 'Is that Fish in your Tomato?' exploring the fact and fiction of GM crops. In my work and leisure so far, I have trained bees to detect explosives, used a radar to study butterflies for my PhD, written a novel, taken the train from London to China, organised Biology Week, sold science jewellery on Etsy, and traveled to four continents with Nobel Laureates. Best off all, I've made lots of friends whose support I very much appreciate. Thank you! Please visit my website:

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