Japan, a potential sugar beet country

Japan has the potential to adopt biotech crops in the future with the increasing importation of biotech maize, soybean, canola, and cotton, which in 2016 was recorded at 20.9 million metric tons. About 90% of these crops were genetically modified (GM). The country leads globally in biotech crop approvals, however, no biotech crop was ever planted. This was put forward by Dr. Fusao Tomita, director of Nippon Biotechnology Information Center (NBIC) during the seminar launch of ISAAA Brief 52, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Tomita opined that Hokkaido farmers are interested in planting biotech sugar beet and consumers should be educated on substantial equivalence of sugar derived from biotech and non-biotech sugar beet.

Dr. Rhodora R. Aldemita of ISAAA presented the highlights of the ISAAA Brief 52, emphasizing on the approval of virus resistant biotech papaya for consumption since 2011 in Japan. There is also an ongoing limited planting of biotech carnation and rose in Japan in covered facilities, but no biotech crops are being cultivated. Dr. Yasufumi Iwai and Dr. Yoshihiko Fujimura, both from the Council for Biotechnology Information Japan (CBIJ) gave the opening remarks and the message, respectively.

The seminar launch was organized by CBIJ and NBIC with 120 participants, including the media, government representatives, academe,  and the industry at Asahi Seminar Hall, Tokyo, Japan on May 30, 2017. For more information, visit the Brief 52 homepage on the ISAAA website.

-Published in Crop Biotech Update.  See original article link here.

Biotech crops offer economic benefits

The economic benefits of planting biotech crops can never be underscored enough. According to the latest report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Filipino farmers who planted Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn from 2003 to 2015 earned an estimated $642 million. For 2015 alone, ISAAA said farm income reached around $82 million. At the average exchange rate of P45.50 to the greenback, corn farmers netted P3.73 billion in 2015.

According to ISAAA, the Philippines ranks 12th in biotech crop commercialization for 2016, when 812,000 hectares of biotech maize have been planted. This is 16 percent higher than the 702,000 hectares planted with Bt corn in 2015. Data from the ISAAA also showed that adoption rates also increased last year to 65 percent, from 63 percent in 2015. The number of small farmers growing on average 2 hectares of Bt corn in the Philippines last year was estimated at 406,000, according to ISAAA.

Bt corn was the first genetically modified crop to be commercialized in the Philippines since 2002, when the government rolled out a regulatory framework that is considered a model in Southeast Asia. “The Philippines continues to be at the forefront of biotech research and commercialization in Southeast Asia and has a model for science-based and thorough regulatory policy in the region,” the ISAAA said in its report. Despite this, however, only one crop—Bt corn—has been commercialized.

There are a number of biotech crops that are currently in the pipeline: Golden Rice, Bt cotton, biotech papaya with delayed ripening and papaya ring spot virus, and the controversial fruit and shoot borer resistant Bt eggplant. The prospects of commercializing Bt eggplant, or Bt talong, dimmed when the Supreme Court (SC) ruled in December 2015 to stop its field testing. The SC also halted the processing of applications for contained use, field testing, propagation, commercialization and importation of GM products when it nullified Administrative Order 8 issued by the Department of Agriculture in 2002.

While the SC reversed its decision in August 2016, proponents of Bt talong have yet to push through with the field testing of the crop. Other crops in the pipeline, such as the Golden Rice, have yet to reach the field testing stage. But because it is the country’s staple, Golden Rice’s commercialization will not be smooth sailing. This, despite the absence of definitive proof that GM crops are harmful to human health and the existence of a regulatory framework that is regarded as worth emulating in other parts of the region.

Biotech crops, such as Bt corn, allow farmers to save on production cost because they will no longer have to extensively use pesticides to kill the corn borer insect. For now, only corn farmers in the Philippines are reaping the benefits offered by biotech crops. Hastening the commercialization of other biotech crops would allow more Filipino farmers to enjoy higher incomes and help them get out of poverty.

-Published in BusinessMirror.  See original article linke here.


Study analyzes 17 years of modern biotech news reporting in the Philippines

The Philippine media developed a matured editorial position over 17 years of modern biotechnology reporting, according to the new publication of ISAAA titled From Frankenfood to Light of Hope: 17 Years of Agri-biotech Reporting in the Philippines (2000-2016). The publication is based on a study conducted by ISAAA and SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center published in the April 2017 issue of Philippine Journal of Crop Science.

The initial 10-year study (2000-2009) authored by Dr. Mariechel Navarro and colleagues showed that majority of the reports from the top newspapers, Manila Bulletin, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Philippine Star were about the development and commercialization of biotech corn in the Philippines. The coverage was high in terms of the number of articles, but sensationalism and speculations were evident, since a biotech crop was just introduced and commercialized in the country. Negative metaphors such as “frankenfood” and “poison” were commonly used in the initial years of reporting. The follow up study (2010-2016) conducted by Kristine Grace Tome, Dr. Navarro, and colleagues showed that the use of fear metaphors declined, and an increasing effort to present science-based information became more evident in the succeeding years. More positive metaphors such as “new hope”, “answer to farmers’ dreams”, and “light of hope” were used in the articles depicting favorable potential or promise of the technology. Bt eggplant development and field trial case sparked the interest of journalists to write about biotechnology. Articles from Business Mirror were also included in the analysis of 2010-2016 articles due to its high coverage on biotechnology.

Media practitioners and scientists were encouraged to continue to collaborate to sustain media coverage of biotechnology in the Philippines. With the increasing use of social media, a new breed of information seekers and producers could help revolutionize discourses on biotechnology not just in the Philippines, but also in other countries.

Download the publication from the ISAAA website.

-Published in ISAAA’s Crop Biotech Update.  See original article link here.

ISAAA: Surplus, exports possible with Bt corn

The Philippines has the potential to become the top exporter of corn in Asean, especially if more Filipino farmers would plant Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn to expand their output, according to international experts.

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri Biotech Applications (ISAAA) told the BusinessMirror that planting more Bt corn would allow the Philippines to have a corn surplus, which it could export to neighboring Asian countries.

“Many Asian countries are short of corn and the Philippines could supply their requirement,” Dr. Paul S. Teng, ISAAA board of trustees chairman, said on the sidelines of a news briefing on the global status of genetically modified (GM) crops in 2016, held recently in Alabang.

“Malaysia imports corn, Indonesia imports corn, so these countries would look for possible sources. Only the Philippines plants Bt corn in this region and it has a good history of growing corn, so I think it could become an exporter,” Teng added.

He also noted that the cost of shipping from the Philippines is much lower.

Based on the report of the ISAAA, titled “Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops in 2016”, the total hectarage planted with Bt corn in the Philippines reached 812,000 hectares, making the country the 12th-biggest producer of GM crops in the world. The figure was 16 percent higher than the 702,000 hectares recorded in 2015.

“The increase is due to favorable weather conditions, and high local demand for livestock and feed stocks,” ISAAA said.

ISAAA also reported that the adoption rate of Bt corn by Filipino farmers increased to 65 percent in 2016, from 63 percent in 2014. This means that out of the total 1.248 million hectares planted with corn, 812,000 hectares were of Bt seed varieties.

Out of the planted hectarage, 679 hectares were planted with stack traits corn, while the remaining 133,000 hectares were planted with single trait corn.

“In 2003 the area for Bt corn did not even reach 50,000 hectares, and now we are talking about 800,000 hectares. We have yet to receive reports that Bt maize has done harm or caused ailment,” Bureau of Plant Industry OIC Director Dr. Vivencio R. Mamaril said.

“The mere fact that planting area grew to 800,000 hectares is proof that it is a successful crop and farmers believed in it,” Mamaril added.

The ISAAA report noted that Filipino farmers earned an estimated $642 million from planting GM corn in 2003 to 2015. In 2015 alone, farmers recorded earnings of $82 million.

The number of small resource-poor farmers, growing on average 2 hectares of biotech maize in the Philippines in 2016, was estimated at 406,000, up from 350,000 in 2015. Biotech maize is the only GM crop commercialized in the Philippines.

Since the approval of Bt maize in 2003, a total of 6.03 million hectares have been planted with the GM crop, according to the estimates of ISAAA.

The Philippines is currently in the process of developing other biotech crops, including the Bt eggplant, Bt cotton, and Golden Rice.

Written by Jasper Arcalas in BusinessMirror.  See original article link here.

Scientists to release biotech maize, cotton varieties in Kenya

Kenyan scientists have used modern biotechnology to develop two crop varieties that are expected to be released in the country soon.

Simon Gichuki of the Kenya Agricultural, Livestock Research Organization’s (KALRO) Biotechnology Research Institute (BioRI) said that the maize and cotton varieties are already awaiting the National Performance Trials before they can be released for field trials, while gypsophilla flower will follow soon.

“The products have been produced within the country by local scientists where risk assessment has been done in accordance with the law,” he said during an agricultural biotechnology sensitization workshop in Nairobi on Friday.

Gichuki noted that genetically modified drought- and pest-resistant cassava, sorghum and sweet potato are due to be complete soon.

Julia Njagi, a biosafety officer at the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), revealed that the authority has approved 24 crop varieties for laboratory and greenhouse trials, 14 for Confined Field Trials (CFT) and three for environmental trials.

She added that the two varieties are pending approval and are at the laboratory and environmental release stages.

Research on Bt cotton was completed in 2002-2012 and approved by NBA for National Performance Trials (NPT) by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS).

Insect-resistant and drought-tolerant maize variety has also been approved and is undergoing NPT by KEPHIS experts. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

-Published in NewsGhana.  See original article link here.

Genetically-modified mustard gets GEAC nod for cultivation

The recommendation for clearance has been sent to Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave who has to approve the decision.

AFTER MONTHS of suspense, a genetically-modified variety of mustard, developed by a Delhi-based institute, has been cleared for commercial cultivation by the country’s top regulator on genetically-engineered organisms. The GEAC, or Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, a body that functions under the Environment Ministry, on Thursday gave its recommendation to approve the long-pending application of the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at Delhi University which had developed a transgenic mustard called DMH-11.

The recommendation for clearance has been sent to Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave who has to approve the decision. The GEAC’s decision on Thursday puts DHM-11 mustard at a stage where Bt brinjal, a transgenic variety of brinjal, had found itself seven years ago. Bt brinjal was the first genetically modified food crop that had reached the Environment Minister’s table for clearance after obtaining all the necessary regulatory requirements. The then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, however, had refused clearance and put an indefinite moratorium the decision. That moratorium continues to this day.

GM mustard is the only other food crop which has made it to this last stage, after prolonged debate and several rounds of regulatory checks that has been going on for years. It is not clear what Dave would decide on this crop.

But organisations opposed to genetically-modified crops slammed the GEAC’s decision. “GEAC has proved yet again that it is unscientific and uncaring with regard to citizens’ health and environment. They have failed in their very mandate and purpose for which they have been created, to protect citizens from the risk of GMOs… We hope and urge minister Anil Madhav Dave to be responsible in his decision-making. This GM mustard should be rejected just as Bt brinjal was, seven years ago,” said Sarson Satyagraha which claims to be a platform for “hundreds of organisations” representing farmers and scientists opposed to introduction of GM mustard.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi in Indian Express website.  See original article link here.1212

ISAAA presents 2016 Annual Report on GM crops adoption in 2016

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) launched its 2016 report titled Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016. Two launch events were held on May 4 and 5, 2017 in Beijing, China.

The media conference held on May 4, 2017 at China Wold Hotel was attended by some 40 journalists from Chinese and international news agencies. ISAAA Chair, Dr. Paul Teng, presented the highlights of the report. He stressed that the adoption of biotech crops increased to 185.1 million hectares in 2016 after the slight decline observed in 2015. ISAAA Senior Program Officer, Dr. Rhodora Aldemita, talked about the development and adoption of biotech crops in Asia.

The following day, a seminar was held on May 5, 2017 at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which was attended by 120 scientists, members of the academe, and students. Drs. Paul Teng and Rhodora Aldemita presented the highlights of the ISAAA report. Mr. Zhang Xianfa from the Ag GMO Division of the Ministry of Agriculture discussed the status of Chinese biotech crops regulation and development. The participants signified their interest in the adoption of more biotech crops in the country to benefit not just the farmers and their families, but also the consumers.

The events were organized in cooperation with China Biotechnology Information Center, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and the Chinese Biotechnology Society.

For more information about the events, send an email to knowledge.center@isaaa.org. The ISAAA report is downloadable at the ISAAA website.

-Published by ISAAA.  See original article link here.

World Earth Day And Nigeria’s Stand For Science

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22 with various worldwide events held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. In commemoration of the day this year, over 600 countries across the world took to the streets for ‘March for Science’. Our dear country, Nigeria was one of the countries that participated in the march and took a stand for science.

The event was organised in Abuja, Nigeria, by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in collaboration with other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government; the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA); National Orientation Agency (NOA); the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa, Nigeria Chapter and a non-profit institution based at Cornell University, New York, the Cornell Alliance for Science.

The ‘March for Science’ drew participants from the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF); National Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS); FCT Department of Science and Technology; Academic Union of Research Institutes (ASURI); ECOWAS; a private agricultural solution firm, CONTEC Global and other scientific officers, who marched from the Eagle Square to the Unity Fountain and back. There was also a media parley and a tour of NABDA facilities at the agency’s headquarters on Airport Road, Abuja.

Addressing participants at the Unity Fountain, the permanent secretary of the science and technology ministry, Mrs Belema Wakama, said the march provided an opportunity for scientists and science supporters to take a stand and highlight the immense benefits available for Nigerians in science.

“We are here to remind you that we live in the age of science. The life of everyone of us is highly dependent on the scientific inventions, innovations and modern day technologies. Science has changed the lives of people largely which as we all know have been deployed  to every aspect of modernization and in sectors like agriculture, medicine, environment, education, industry, electricity, aviation, information, etc. for both the developed and developing nations,” she said.

Wakama noted that science is revolutionary as it holds the key to constant development and improvement for addressing climate change, food shortage and challenges in medicine, stressing that the march provided yet another opportunity for supporters of science to come together, join voices to amplify available evidence-based solutions for the nation to adopt to ensure food security especially with its growing population.

According to her, “at the current population of over 180 million people and projected population of 400 million people by 2050, Nigeria is faced with the risk of decreased farming population due to age; decreased arable land; poverty; malnutrition and hunger because the conventional method of agriculture can no longer meet up with our demand. Science holds the solution to our food security.”

Saying a country that cannot feed herself cannot have self-pride, she pointed out that the issue of food security required all hands to be on deck for the reconstruction, revival and rejuvenation of our agricultural sector.

The permanent secretary represented by the director of bioresearches and technology at the ministry, Abayomi Oguntunde, stated that agricultural biotechnology and genetic improvement is recognised all over the world as a solution to food security, adding scientific and regulatory agencies around the world had repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be safe.

Earlier in her remarks, the director-general of NABDA, Prof. Lucy Ogbadu, said the ultimate goal of the march was to ensure that scientific integrity played an important role in government decisions that affect everyone, from funding research for evidence-based policy making to regulation recommendations.

She said the march also aimed to highlight the vital role science plays in our lives and take a stand on it; to build capacity, gain publicity and demonstrate strength and solidarity in science to decision makers; to re-emphasis the role of science in national development; to help scientists and communities they serve work together in improving science education, communication and access.

Other objectives of the march, according to her, include to create awareness and sensitise the public on the many ways that science serves our communities and our world and also encourage the public to value and invest in science, appreciate and engage with science; to speak up because research is not gaining enough support it needs to drive the plan to revitalise Nigeria’s agricultural sector; to create an open, honest science communication inclusive public outreach and to affirm science as a democratic value.

Speaking to journalists, the OFAB in Africa, Nigeria chapter coordinator, Dr Rose Gidado, said the aim of the ‘March for Science’ in Nigeria was to persuade the nation to adopt pervasive technologies especially biotechnology.

“We are narrowing the aim of this march down to biotechnology so we can use this technology, the genetic modification tool, in combating the challenges of global warming, desert encroachment, insect and pest infestation of farmers’ farmland. This technology is the only tool that the breeders have been able to find useful; they have used it and they find it useful to be able to overcome these global warming challenges,” Gidado said.

-Published in Nigeria Tibune.  See original article link here.

Kenyan scientists seek more funding for biotechnology research

NAIROBI (Xinhua) — A Kenyan scientist on Wednesday called on the government to increase funding for agricultural biotechnology to help empower women scientists.

Professor Caroline Thoruwa, the Chairperson of African Women in Science and Engineering said additional funding could help enhance the participation of women in science whose number is currently small.

“Additional funding will help empower women’s participation in modern science especially Genetically Modified Organization that is the current innovation in agriculture,” she said in an inaugural women in biosciences forum in Nairobi.

Thoruwa called on the government to increase awareness on biotechnology by reaching women in all parts of the country.

“It is time to tell the public about the positive side of biotechnology.

“We need to raise up the status of women in biotechnology and also encourage women to network in order to achieve the noble goal of sharing their science,” she said.

Felister Makini, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization Deputy Director General urged the government to make farming easier to women by providing them with modern tools such as biotechnology.

“Biotechnology can help African women since they form majority of farmers and suffer most during drought and food shortages,” she noted.

Makini said that drought and perennial hunger should be a thing of the past since the technology that could be of great help exists.

Margaret Karembu, Director, The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications AfriCenter hailed Kenya’s intention to revive the textile industry by introducing disease resistant and drought tolerant Bt cotton.

“Despite demonstrated will and long history of safe use, conflicting messages between different ministries and regulatory agencies were hampering progress in delivering the technology to farmers,” Karembu said.

She called on women scientists to intensify engagement with government and help clarify long-standing misconceptions on the technology.

-Published in coastalweek.com.  See original article link here.

German biotech on the rise

The Biotechnology in Germany is a growth engine. According to a new report, all key figures such as employees, turnover and R&D expenditure were at an all-time high in 2016.

In terms of key economic factors, 2016 was the best year for the German biotech sector ever. According to the company survey, which Berlin-based information specialist BIOCOM AG conducts annually based on the biotech indicators of the organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD) for more than ten years, the generated turnover of the German biotech sector for the third year exceeded €3bn. In 2016, total figures increased by 8% to €3.54bn compared to the year before.


Key figures with all-time high

Further upswing has been observed regarding spending on research and development (R&D). For the second time since 2010, the innovation budget cracked the one billion euro mark (+6.3%) and now stands at €1.1bn (2015: €1.04m). With a total of 20,280 (2015: 19,010), there were more employees than ever before working in biotech companies that are occupied wholly or predominantly with modern biotechnological methods. The total number of these companies rose to 615 (2015: 593). Thereby, the following figures and conclusions relate only to the ‘dedicated’ biotechnology companies, as defined by the OECD.

Stable financing situation

The financial situation also mirrors a sustainable positive trend over the last years: in 2016, around €505m was invested in German biotech companies, which did not reach the record levels of 2015 (€550m), but still is a high amount of money compared to previous years. The majority of the money was spent in public companies (€258m, +5%). With bioeconomy pioneer BRAIN AG, the first biotech IPO since 2007 took place at the German stock exchange in Frankfurt. Total numbers of listed German biotech companies increased to 21. Among them are five firms that are listed on a foreign stock exchange. In 2016, Berlin-based Noxxon Pharma choose that way, too, and went public on Euronext in Paris.

Interest of big pharma and the crowd

A closer look into the financings of the private firms, which secured a total of €216m in 2016, reveals that despite overall lower levels (-17%) than in 2015, a lot of double-digit rounds were raised. Foreign investors participated in eight of the 21 private financing rounds, demonstrating that German companies are able to attract high levels of interest. In addition, two crowdfunding campaigns for biotech companies took place in 2016. Some major multimillion euros licensing deals, such as BioNTech with Genentech (€278m), or Medigene with Bluebird Bio (€917m), or Proteros with MSD (€157m), further support the theory that German firms are quite attractive from an international point of view.

Record employee numbers

There is sustained interest in biotechnological processes and services from big business. This is confirmed by a consistently high number of companies in which biotechnology represents only one aspect of business. In 2016, the category of ‘other biotechnology-active companies’ comprised a total of 137 companies (2015: 133). These included both pharmaceutical and chemical companies focused on innovative biotechnological processes as well as companies from the areas of environment, waste management, energy and agriculture. In 2016, a total of 22,000 people were employed in the biotechnology-oriented areas of such companies. Compared to the previous year (2015: 20,250), this represents a growth of 8.6%. For the first time, total headcount in commercial biotechnology increased above the 40,000 mark to 42,280 (+7,7%).

For more information: click here.

-Written by Sandra Wirsching in European Biotechnology website.  See original article link here.

The government is going to counter ‘misinformation’ about GMO foods

The Food and Drug Administration will fund a campaign to promote genetically modified organisms in food under a bipartisan agreement to keep the government funded through the end of September.

The deal to avert a government shutdown, which passed the Senate by a vote of 79 to 18 Thursday, allocates $3 million to “consumer outreach and education regarding agricultural biotechnology,” which includes genetic engineering of food and commodity crops. The money is to be used to tout “the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic, and humanitarian impacts” of biotech crops and their derivative food products.

More than 50 agriculture and food industry groups had signed on to an April 18 letter urging the funding to counter “a tremendous amount of misinformation about agricultural biotechnology in the public domain.” But some environmental groups and House Democrats have derided the provision as a government-sponsored public relations tour for the GMO industry.

“It is not the responsibility of the FDA to mount a government-controlled propaganda campaign to convince the American public that genetically modified foods are safe,” said Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), who attempted to get the measure struck from the bill last month. “The FDA has to regulate the safety of our food supply and medical devices. They are not, nor should they be, in the pro-industry advertising business,” Lowey said during a congressional hearing

It’s unclear what the FDA campaign will look like, or when it will launch. The $3 million allocated is little more than a speck in the FDA’s total allocated budget of $2.8 billion.

The budget specifies only that the initiative be developed in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, and include the “publication and distribution of science-based educational information.” An attempt by Democrats to redirect the project’s funding to pediatric medical projects within FDA was unanimously voted down by Republicans.

A 2016 study by the Pew Research Center found that 39 percent of American adults believe that genetically modified foods are worse for health than their conventional equivalents — an assessment with which the vast majority of scientists disagree. Nearly 90 percent of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science believe GMOs are safe to eat, according to another Pew study.

“Clearly, communication of the benefits of biotechnology from the scientific community has not gone well, and this presents an opportunity to engage with the public in a more meaningful dialogue,” said Mark Rieger, the dean of the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who signed the industry letter. “We see it as a communication issue, not a political one.”

But critics argue the issue is inherently political, given the financial ties between lawmakers and the ag biotech industry. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, agribusiness interests donated more than $26.3 million to political campaigns, including those of several congressmen who sit on the House agriculture appropriations subcommittee.

Rep. Robert B. Aderholt (R-Ala.), the chair of that subcommittee and a defender of the GMO education funding, received $10,000 from Monsanto in 2016.

“This is a really clear example of big ag influencing policy,” said Dana Perls, the senior food and technology campaigner for the environmental group Friends of the Earth. “The Trump administration is putting big ag before consumer desire and public health … Consumers do not want this.”

Critics have also wondered whether it’s the government’s job to communicate this particular information — and whether that information, as written in the budget, oversteps what scientists really know. While there’s a widespread consensus that GM crops are safe, there are valid and lingering questions about the environmental and social impacts of GMOs.

Last year, an academic analysis of 14 years of farm data found that an uptick in GM seed plantings goes hand-in-hand with increased herbicide use, for instance. Some herbicides have been found to contribute to health problems in animals and humans.

An October analysis by the New York Times found that the technology does not significantly increase yields. And few GM products with tangible consumer benefits — such as better taste or nutrition — have yet made it onto the U.S. market.

“So yes, that gives them a marketing problem,” Kimbrell said. “But Monsanto has plenty of money to advocate for GMOs … Why do we need to use taxpayer dollars?”

One possible answer, from industry’s perspective, is that taxpayer dollars are already funding a Department of Agriculture initiative to label GM foods. Last year, Congress passed a bill mandating that food companies disclose the GM ingredients in their products, and USDA has said it is actively working on the standards for those labels.

Patrick Delaney, a spokesman for the American Soybean Association, said it will be important for consumers to understand those labels once they roll out, likely after September 2018.

“We recognize that there is a need for better and more accessible information on what this technology is and what it provides to consumers, he said by email. “We supported (and still support) that $3 million in funding for biotech education … to better inform the public about the use of biotechnology in food and agricultural production.”

-Written by Caitlin Dewey in The Washington Post.  See original article link here.