News

2018-08-21 |

EDITORIAL: Genome editing poses a tricky regulatory challenge

The government has started working on legal and regulatory rules on dealing with genome-edited animals and plants.

In developing a regulatory system to govern genome editing, a new type of genetic engineering that involves changing an organism’s DNA, the government has to adopt an appropriately cautious, safety-first approach to ensure that there will be no harmful effects on biodiversity or human health.

Unlike early, less precise genetic engineering techniques, gene editing is aimed at changing DNA at a specific site in the genome.

The approach employs various techniques. A certain type of protein is used as “scissors” to cut the DNA at the target site to eliminate its specific gene function. Or new useful DNA is inserted into a specific location of the gene.

2018-08-19 |

Pesticide damage to DNA found "programmed" into future generations

Dr Paul Winchester sees a potentially catastrophic outcome resulting from the epigenetic damage caused by pesticides

EXCERPT: [Dr Paul] Winchester lays the blame [for rising infertility] at the feet of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which doesn't consider epigenetic or generational effects of chemicals, and the pesticide and chemical manufacturers like Monsanto. "They can sell all the Roundup they want, but if it's in me they are going to have to pay for that. Every molecule that I find is on them … What I want to know is: has my fetus had altered DNA imprinting because of this chemical? I have a right to know that. If we are going to have to wait 75 years to find out if my grandchildren are going to be affected by it, I think somebody has to pay. They better put a fund together. I want somebody's head to roll. I don't think that the EPA and Monsanto get to walk away."

2018-08-16 |

Councils urged to suspend use of Roundup or face risk of legal action

COUNCILS should ban the use of Roundup or risk being sued by employees and residents if their health is affected, say action groups.

The call comes in the wake of a landmark lawsuit in the United States in which a jury found chemical giant Monsanto liable for causing a school groundsman’s cancer from his exposure to the weedkiller.

The active chemical in Roundup – glyphosate –is classified as probably carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation but is still approved for use in Australia.

2018-08-13 |

Investors shun Bayer stock over US pesticide ruling

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) -
Investors fled shares in German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer Monday, fearing a massive damages ruling against one of newly-acquired US firm Monsanto's flagship products could signal a wave of costly lawsuits.
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Nevertheless, "if it's a quarter of a billion dollars per case, you don't need to lose many lawsuits before it becomes quite expensive," said analyst Michael Leacock of MainFirst bank, pointing out that Monsanto faces some 4,000 US lawsuits at the state level and 450 so-called "multi-district" cases at the federal level.

"The total cost, in our view, could easily reach $10 billion" if Bayer were to settle out of court with a still larger number of plaintiffs, he predicted.

2018-08-11 |

China says U.S. farmers may never regain market share lost in trade war

This story is being published by POLITICO as part of a content partnership with the South China Morning Post. It originally appeared on scmp.com on Aug. 11, 2018

China can easily find other countries to buy agricultural goods from instead of the U.S., its vice agriculture minister said, warning that American farmers could permanently lose their share of the Chinese market as a result of the trade war.
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China and the U.S. have been locked in a tit-for-tat trade war since early last month. Beijing unveiled its latest retaliatory tariffs on $16 billion of American goods on Wednesday, matching Washington’s move to slap 25 percent duties on the same value of Chinese imports.

The vice agriculture minister also said Chinese companies had “basically stopped” importing soybeans from U.S. farmers since July 6 and would deal with the impact by finding alternative ingredients for animal feeds.

China is the world’s biggest importer of soybeans, which it uses to make cooking oil, biodiesel and the meal to feed livestock.

Han said the country was expecting soybean imports from the U.S. to drop dramatically this year and that preparations had already been made. “China is totally able to handle the shortfall created by a drop in American soybean imports,” Han told Xinhua.

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