GE Resources

GENETIC ENGINEERING POLICY ALLIANCE RESOURCES

Genetic Contamination
Legal and Financial Burdens for Farmers
Economic Harm due to Market Rejection
Liability
Farm Insurance
Genetic Engineering Threatens Organic Sector
Environmental Impacts
Public Health Concerns
Pharmaceutical and Industrial Crops – A Special Case
Inadequacy of Federal and State Oversight
Genetic Engineering Policies and Regulations – Best Practices

Genetic Contamination

Can crop transgenes be kept on a leash?

By Marvier M., vanAcker R.C. Frontiers Ecol. Environ. 2005; 3:99-106.

Contaminating the Wild: Gene Flow from Experimental Field Trials of Genetically Engineered Crops to Related Wild Plants.
By Doug Gurian-Sherman, Center for Food Safety, 2006.

To better understand the risks from gene flow to wild relatives, this report evaluates the regulation in the U.S. of GE field trials, which are outdoor plantings of experimental GE crops. It evaluates whether the current USDA regulation is adequate to prevent gene flow from field trials, or environmental harm if gene flow occurs.

Contamination Episodes with Genetically Engineered Crops. 
Center for Food Safety, August 2006

A factsheet from the Center for Food Safety that details a few of the dozens of episodes in which pollen or seeds from genetically engineered crops have contaminated conventional crops, often causing seed or product recalls, and other problems for farmers and consumers.

Contamination, Illegal planting and negative side effects of GE crops worldwide.
GeneWatch UK and Greenpeace International, 2005.

This report is the first from the on-line GM Contamination Register by GeneWatch UK and Greenpeace UK and reviews cases reported in the public and scientific literature of contamination, illegal plantings and releases of GM organisms, and negative agricultural side-effects since GM crops were first grown commercially on a large scale in 1996. This report also includes a special review of the Syngenta Bt10 GM maize contamination incident that took place in 2005, affecting the USA, Europe and Japan and probably many other countries importing maize from the USA

Gone to Seed, Transgenic Contamination in the Traditional Seed Supply.
By Margaret Mellon M. and Jane Rissler, Union of Concerned Scientists, 2004.

This report examines the contamination of traditional seeds by DNA sequences derived from genetically engineered crop varieties. Based on a small pilot study of seeds of three major food crops: corn, soybeans and canola the study found that all three are pervasively contaminated with low levels of DNA sequences derived from transgenic varieties.

California-related media articles on contamination

Japan rice ban worries some California farmers.
By Robin Hindery, Associated Press 08/22/06

A Slight Taint of Biotech Rice Puts Farmers’ Overseas Sales in Peril.
By Rick Weiss Washington Post Staff Writer, Washington Post 09/21/06

Rice Farmers Face a Biotech Threat to Profit: Genetically engineered grains could end up costing the industry its biggest export customer. 
By Paul Elias, The Associated Press 10/16/06

Legal and Financial Burdens for Farmers

Economic harm due to market rejection

GE Contamination Case Study: Unapproved GMO Rice Contaminates the
Food Supply

This fact sheet summarizes the chronology of events arising from the
2006 discovery of three types of GE rice in the domestic and export U.S.
food supply. It also includes a summary of the devastating consequences for
rice farmers and the rice industry.

Market Rejection of GE Crops.
Center for Food Safety. August 2006.
Fact sheet detailing the most prominent examples of market rejection of GE.

U.S. vs. EU: An Examination of the Trade Issues Surrounding Genetically Modified Food. 
Pew Initiative on Food And Biotechnology, 2005.

An issue brief on the trade dispute between the U.S. and the EU over agricultural biotechnology providing an overview of the history of the dispute between the U.S. and the EU over GM foods and crops, the impacts of the dispute on U.S. trade, and a summary of current EU regulations and its approval process.

Liability

GMO Liability Threats for Farmers: Legal Issues Surrounding the Planting of Genetically Modified Crops.
By David R. Moeller. Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG). Minnesota, 2001.

This report focuses on possible legal risks for farmers in relation to genetically engineered crops. Includes discussions of Legal issues raised by the production of crops containing GMOs. Includes discussions about tort-based liability, such as those claims arising when genetic drift and crop contamination occur; contract-based liability, such as might arise under farmers’ Technology Agreements with seed companies or farmers’ assurances to crop purchasers; and regulatory liability, such as might arise if farmers’ actions or circumstances result in violations of statutes or regulations.

Farm Insurance: Does it Cover Genetic Contamination?

United States Department of Agriculture. “Opportunities and Challenges in Agricultural Biotechnology: The Decade Ahead.
A report prepared by the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture. July 13, 2006.

A report examining the long-term (5-10 years) impacts of biotechnology on the U.S. food and agriculture system and USDA, and providing guidance to USDA on pressing individual issues, identified by the Office of the Secretary, related to the application of biotechnology in agriculture.

Genetic Engineering Threatens the Organics Sector

The Myth of Coexistence: Why Transgenic Crops Are Not Compatible With Agroecologically Based Systems of Production.
By Altieri M. Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society. 2005; 25(4): 361-371.

This article examines why the coexistence of GE and non-GE crops is a myth, explaining that the movement of transgenes beyond their intended destinations is a certainty, and this leads to genetic contamination that is not likely to be retractable. It also looks at risks to biodiversity from increased intensification, geneflow and toxicity to non-target organisms.

Environmental Impacts

Genetically Engineered Crops and Pesticide Use in the United States: The First Nine Years.

By Benbrook C.M. Biotech Infonet Technical Paper No. 7. 2004.

Benbrook analyses the first nine years of GE crops in the US and how pesticide use has changed during that time. He finds that the pesticide reduction claims of proponents of GE crops are unfounded.

The International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds. 

Transgenic DNA introgressed into traditional maize landraces in Oaxaca, Mexico. 
By Quist D, Chapela I.H. Nature. 2001; 414: 541-543.

This article reports the presence of introgressed transgenic DNA constructs in native maize landraces grown in remote mountains in Oaxaca, Mexico, part of the Mesoamerican centre of origin and diversification of this crop.

When transgenes wander, should we worry?
By Ellstrand N. California Agriculture, 2006; 60(3):116-125.

Ellstrand looks at the reasons why there should be concern about the contamination of non-GE plants with GE material in California and beyond.
Online at: calag.ucop.edu

Selected media articles on glyphosate resistance

UC scientists find herbicide-resistant horseweed in California.
By Jeannette Warnert, University of California Ag and Natural Resources News and Information Outreach. July 20, 2005.

Morning glories creeping their way around popular herbicide, new UGA research reports.
By Kim Carlyle, University of Georgia. August 24, 2004.

Resistant mare’s tail in southeast Missouri. 
By Forrest Rose, Delta Farm Press. Aug 5, 2004.

Public Health Concerns

Genetic Engineering and Public Health.
Soil Association UK. 2005

An overview of the human health concerns related to Genetic Engineering from the UK’s organic advocacy and certifying body.

Pharmaceutical and Industrial Chemical Crops – A Special Case

A Growing Concern: Protecting the Food Supply in an Era of Pharmaceutical and Industrial Crops.
Union of Concerned Scientists, 2004.

Report addresses the challenge of protecting the U.S. food supply from contamination by crops genetically engineered to produce drugs and industrial substances (“pharma” crops).

Manufacturing Drugs and Chemicals in Plants: Biopharming Poses New Threats to Consumers, Farmers, Food Companies and the Environment
By Freese B. Friends of the Earth website, 2002.

Paper explains what pharmaceutical and industrial crops are and how they will affect human health and the environment.

Pharmaceutical and Industrial Crop Database.
Union of Concerned Scientists database that allows you to search what pharmaceutical and industrial (pharma) crop production the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allowed in your state.

Union of Concerned Scientists Position paper: Pharmaceutical and Industrial Crops.
USC, 2006.

Report details UCS’s position that rather than attempting to impose ever more elaborate restrictions on the growing of food crops engineered for pharmaceutical and industrial purposes, it would be better to ban such applications altogether. UCS has also launched a national campaign to achieve this goal. Sign the petition and read supporting materials online.

Inadequacy of Federal and State Oversight

Briefing Report: Deficiencies in Federal Regulatory Oversight of Genetically Engineered Crops.

Prepared by Brian Tokar – Institute for Social Ecology Biotechnology Project.
June, 2006.

Overview of the federal regulatory framework for Genetically Engineered Crops and the gaps that exist.

California Food and Agriculture Report Card.
Center for Food Safety, 2006.

Key statistics from the State of the state of GE food and agriculture in California. Download the executive summary here, or see the whole report on the Center for Food Safety Website.

Environmental Effects of Transgenic Plants: The Scope and Adequacy of Regulation.

Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington, DC.: National Academy of Sciences Press. 2002: 79. A USDA commissioned study undertaken by the National Academy of Sciences to examine the scientific basis for and the operation of APHIS regulatory oversight and evaluate the regulatory framework.

Field Test releases of GE crops in the U.S.
A full database of field test releases of GE crops in the U.S., searchable by state.

Genetic Engineering policy and regulations – best practices

Genetically Modified (GM) Crops and Foods: Worldwide Regulation, Prohibition and Production.
An ongoing project of the Center for Food Safety mapping and compiling worldwide as well as US regional regulations, prohibitions and production of GE crops.