VIB informs

Objections to GMO’s are not science-based but represent ‘technofobia’
23 October 2014
Currently Europe is reviewing the possibility for member states to restrict or ban the cultivation of authorized GM crops. This nationalization proposal seems to be necessary to unlock the GM situation in Europe. Jan Huitema, agricultural engineer and member of the European parliament, makes a plea to make science-based decisions. “For more than 20 years now GMO’s have been safely consumed, it is time to embrace these technologies and not to let ourselves be led by ungrounded fears”, Jan Huitema states. With his text Huitema responds to the call of his Croatian colleague Marijana Petir to completely restrict the cultivation of GMO’s in Europe.
Read the full text of MEP Huitema


The next green revolution
3 October 2014
Global agriculture needs both organic farming and modern biotech crops. It’s not a question of low-tech vs high-tech. “A lot of us got into genetic engineering because we thought we could do a lot of good for the world” Robert Zeigler says, plant pathologist and director of IRRI. “These tools are fantastic, but we do feel a bit betrayed by the environmental movement. If you want to have a conversation about what the role of large corporations should be in our food supply, we can have that conversation. But it’s not the same conversation about whether we should use these tools of genetics to improve our crops. Let’s not confound these issues.”
Read the full paper in National Geographic Magazine

No sign of health or nutrition problems from GMO livestock feed, study finds

1 October 2014
The United States produce over 9 billion food-producing animals annually. More than 95% of these animals consume feed containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Two researchers from the University of California Davis summarized the scientific literature on performance and health of animals consuming GM feed. The data sets, representing over 100 billion animals, reveal that the health and performance of GM fed animals are comparable to that of non-GM fed animals.
For more info, or read the full paper

Sticking with non-GMO agriculture isn’t always the solution 

20 September 2014
Mischa Popoff, a former organic farmer and author of “Is it Organic?” explains that farmers, consumers and the environment would benefit from cultivating insect resistant GM maize in Italy. Italy bans the GM maize MON810 while it is authorized for cultivation in Europe. As a result Italian farmers end up with infected and contaminated maize that can only be used for bioenergy production. To feed its livestock Italy imports maize from the US … GM maize.

Read the full text

Why I Turned From GM Opponent to Advocate
4 June 2014
Environmentalist and climate change expert Mark Lynas explains how he came to realise that his position against GM crops was completely wrong.

Read the full text.  


Europe is at serious risk of becoming the Museum of World Farming

27 Januari 2014

Owen Patterson, UK’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, highlights the consumer benefits of GM technology. Read here the speech he gave at the Growing Voices event on Healthy food. 


Séralini study retracted by Food and Chemical Toxicology
12 December 2013

Last year, Gilles-Eric Séralini and colleagues reported the results of a long term toxicity study that, in their opinion, revealed clear indications that genetically modified NK603 maize and Roundup are dangerous to health.
Numerous research institutes including VIB as well food safety agencies as EFSA have reviewed the study.
Now, one year later and after performing an independent re-reviewing process, the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology reports that Séralini’s results are inconclusive. As a result the journal retracts the paper.

The Irrational Fear of GM Food

22 October 2013

Billions of people have eaten genetically modified food over the past two decades. Not one problem has been found. Read the column in The Wall Street Journal by Marc Van Montagu. 

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BT cotton in India...a success story for the environment and local welfare

13 September 2013

Nowhere on earth will you see more cotton fields than in India. Cotton cultivation has experienced a remarkable growth story over the last decade: the production, the yield per hectare and the total area on which cotton can be cultivated have all increased to record high levels. The Indian cotton farmers now account for 21 % of the global production.
Of course there is more than one reason for this increase in cotton cultivation in India. Nonetheless, anyone who examines the figures will note that this growth is associated with the introduction of Bt cotton, a type of cotton plant that has had the genes of the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis inserted – hence the na me Bt cotton. These genes produce proteins that protect the plant against the bollworm, a notorious pest of cotton plants.

GM even safer than conventional food, says environment secretary

20 June 2013

UK environment secretary Owen Paterson: “We cannot expect to feed tomorrow’s population with yesterday’s agriculture. We have to use every tool at our disposal, including GM-technology. GM is a safe, proven and beneficial innovation”.

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Conclusions from new GMO feeding study by Carman et al. (2013) are not reliable

12 June 2013

The results of a new study in which pigs were fed genetically modified crops are currently being distributed via social media and news agencies. An analysis of the proposed results shows that the author’s conclusions cannot be derived from the study.

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‘Coalition for a GM-free India’ unjustly tries to present GM crops in a negative perspective 

5 June 2013

A document written by the “Coalition for a GM-free India” tries to present evidence for adverse impacts of GM crops and food. The document compiles 384 references, which according to the authors should substantiate their claims. After reviewing the document it is clear that the selection was done on a (semi-)automated basis since most references have nothing to do with GM crops or are not specific for the GM debate.

A number of the listed references undermine the report itself by citing long-term feeding studies that show no difference between GM and non-GM diet or by demonstrating that Bt crops have no effect on non-target organisms. A detailed review of the compilation can be found here.

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The race towards the first genetically modified plant

2 May 2013

1983 was a great year for plant biology. First, Barbara McClintock was awarded the Noble prize for Physiology for the discovery of genetic transposition in maize. Second, four publications demonstrated the proof of concept of introducing genes into plants and opened the era of agriculture biotechnology. The exciting race towards the first transgenic plant, which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year, deserves a historical reflection.



Genetically modified crops do NOT belong in the EEA report

10 March 2013

In January the European Environmental Agency (EEA) released an extensive report warning against repeating mistakes from the past. In the report, the authors bundled various chemical substances and technologies that – according to them – have long been known to be harmful to the environment and/or public health. The report ‘Late lessons from early warnings’ also dedicates a chapter to genetically modified crops (GMOs). The section about GMOs is very one-sided and focuses on the impact of multi-nationals. As the report is intended to assist policy makers in their decisions, VIB feels that it needs to respond in its capacity as a scientific institute. After all, GMO technology is a safe technology. In addition, GMOs in an integrated agricultural model can assist in providing solutions for the great challenges that agriculture is facing. Side-lining GMO technology due to unfounded fears and/or ideology would be a huge mistake.

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Pollen of current generation genetically modified crops is not harmful to bees

4 February 2013

At least one third of all crops are pollinated by insects, with honeybees accounting for up to 80 % of the work. Therefore, bees are correctly considered to be the most important pollinators in agriculture. However, a decline in bee populations has been noted all over the world. The Greens/EFA group has sounded a warning and launched a campaign “Give bees a chance: no GMOs, no pesticides”. Scientific studies have shown that certain pesticides from the group of neonicotinoids can be harmful for bees. However, it is objectionable that the Greens/EFA group has linked genetically modified (GMO) crops to the current bee problems. There is no sensible argument to indicate that GMO crops are harmful to bees.

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