Learn about regulation of GMOs

Anyone interested in how genetically engineered organisms are regulated in the US should check out the Stakeholder meeting presented by the USDA’s Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) happening on November 19 from 8:30am to 12:00pm EST. You can find registration information for the webinar and the agenda at the BRS website.

The agenda includes highlights such as “Coexistence of Agricultural Sectors: A USDA Perspective” and “Global Trade and Acceptance of GE Crops”. There’ll also be a panel discussion about how BRS’s parent organization, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) interfaces with the EPA and FDA.

For more biotech news from BRS, you can view their news page or sign up for emails through their Stakeholder Registry.

Help GENERA by submitting links to outside analyses!

In August, we launched the Beta release of the GENetic Engineering Risk Atlas (GENERA). This is our long-term project to make it easier to find and understand the scientific literature on genetically engineered crops. When we released the beta version of GENERA we knew there was still a lot of work to be done, including adding and correcting citation information, funding, and outcomes for studies. We also got some feedback on its functionality (please take our survey!) and we are planning the next big update to occur in January. For this update, there is one section that we would like your help to build: links to outside analyses. Continue reading.

Kickstarter update: Two Weeks and Counting

Greetings, everyone! I have an update on the status of our Kickstarter rewards. We know you are eagerly anticipating getting your Frank N. Foode™ and Lanakila Ā. Papaya plushies, and a few of you have been checking in wondering what the status is. We had a couple more steps to finish, and a production delay which I will tell you about. But the good news is the plushies are being produced right now, and I have been told that there is less than two weeks left until they are finished! Continue reading.

“The GMO Deception” is, in fact, deceptive

Recycling can be a very good practice. Re-using components of electronics, waste paper, and food scraps that would otherwise head to the waste stream can be a great idea. However, sometimes re-use doesn’t bring any value. Recycling bad claims and ideas about GMOs helps no one. Unfortunately, The GMO Deception is a prime example of worthless recycling.

A stale, misleading, text worth only about 2 pounds of recycled paper.

A stale and misleading text worth only about 2 pounds of recycled paper.

I found out about this text from Marion Nestle’s blog. She promoted this book in a post and by blurbing for it: This week’s reading: The GMO Deception. It didn’t take me long to find more details about it at the publisher’s site, because I had already been over there that same week. Skyhorse Publishing had just published RFK Jr’s new book on thimerosal and vaccines. And I learned that they had also published Andrew Wakefield’s “Callous Disregard”. This did not bode well for my confidence in scientific rigor, of course.

Unwilling to pay for the book ($24.95 at the publisher’s site), I put my name into my local library queue and waited. My chance arrived a couple weeks ago, and I began to look over the contents. Continue reading.

A new meta-analysis on the farm-level impacts of GMOs

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Maize breeding, credit: KJHvM

Despite the fact that the global area of GM crops has grown rapidly over the past decade and now encompasses more than 170 million hectares it is still questioned whether current applications of genetic engineering in agriculture are beneficial to farmers or not. While several reviews and meta-analyses on the impact of GM crops exist, the evidence is still not regarded as conclusive by many. A new meta-analysis of the agronomic and economic impacts of GMOs has appeared in the journal PLOS ONE. It summarizes the findings of 147 original studies published until March 2014. Besides being the most up to date, this meta-analysis has two other features that make it an important addition to the existing body of meta-analyses and review articles: First, it includes not only studies from peer-reviewed journals but also those that are not (grey literature), thus providing a broader perspective. Second, the authors investigated the reasons why different studies found different results, providing several interesting insights. Continue reading.