Innovation Files has moved! For ITIF's quick takes, quips, and commentary on the latest in tech policy, go to itif.org

Biotechnology

Farm

Points to Consider: Biotech Improved Herbicide Tolerant Crops Have Improved Yields and Sustainability

Professional opponents of agricultural innovations have failed utterly to make their case that seeds improved through biotechnology impose novel risks.  Massive data and vast experience have refuted such claims in the eyes of all but the most fervent true believers.  Opponents have therefore lately tried to construct dubious linkages with time honored scapegoats of pesticides and herbicides.  A popular target is the world’s most widely used herbicide, glyphosate, which has ushered in a new area of improved sustainability for conventional farmers. We take a closer look at one of the recent misfires against glyphosate from a cadre of hard core biotech opponents.

ORIGINAL PAPER:   Bøhna, T.,  M. Cuhraa, T. Traavika, M. Sandenc, J. Fagan, & R. Primiceriob.  Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: Glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans. Food Chemistry Volume 153, 15 June 2014, Pages 207– 215. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814613019201

PRIMARY CLAIMS OF THE ORIGINAL PAPER:

  • RoundupReady soybeans contain elevated residues of glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid).
  • Organic soybeans have a healthier nutritional profile than other soybeans.

SALIENT FACTS & CONTEXT:  

  • The experimental design, sampling and analytical methods, and literature citations described in this paper
Read the rest
Corn Field

“Unnatural” Corn/Canola oil — Dispatches from Behind the Looking Glass…

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” (Rev. Charles Dodgson, Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 6)

Recent news brings one of those items that causes palms to smack foreheads:

ConAgra Foods is facing two class action lawsuits that claim the marketing of its Wesson cooking oils as “100% natural” and “pure” is misleading because the oil is extracted from plants that have been genetically modified (GM).

“The two lawsuits, one filed in Los Angeles and the other in Brooklyn, seek millions of dollars’ worth of refunds for consumers who bought products in ConAgra’s Wesson range of cooking oils, as well as a court order preventing the company from labelling the oils as natural. The oils concerned include Wesson-brand corn oil, canola oil, Best Blend and vegetable oil.

“According to the complaint, labelling the oils “100% natural” is misleading because GM plants are “unnatural”, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO says: “Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms in which the genetic material

Read the rest

Against the Current

Every so often a "news" item appears that gets the most important facts so upside down one is reminded of Thomas Jefferson's comment that   “… nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle” (Thomas Jefferson, June 11 1807, letter to John Norvell). The May 20 article in the Washington Post gives us a contemporary example that once again reaffirms the wisdom of the Founding Fathers.

The occasion is the imminent "threat" of increased availability of a nutritious, healthy, safe food with a lower carbon footprint and reduced environmental impact compared to competing products. It's difficult to make that out from the article, but we're talking about transgenic, or "genetically modified (GM)" salmon.

The offending piece in the Washington Post opens with an assertion that does violence to reality stating, "In the absence of a federal law requiring labels for genetically modified food…". What's wrong with this statement?

Read the rest

Val Giddings Headshot

ITIF Moves Into Biotechnology…

ITIF expands its portfolio to move into biotechnology. With all the money being invested in biotechnologies around the world by governments and the private sector, and with all the attention paid by NGOs, this may appear superfluous to some.  We see this as all the more reason. We propose to attack some of the fundamental policy issues, some of the thorniest problems, and to follow the facts wherever they may lead.  We propose to show that Joshua Reynolds was not 100% correct when he stated "There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the true labor of thinking."

Why is important to bring critical eyes to bear on challenges associated with biotechnology?

Read the rest