Pages tagged "Syngenta"
Goodbye to Golden Rice? GM Trait Leads to Drastic Yield Loss and "Metabolic Meltdown"
“The classic criticisms of genetic engineering as a plant breeding tool have always been, first, that introduced DNA will disrupt native gene sequences and, second, that unpredictable disruption of normal metabolism may result from introducing new functions. Golden Rice exemplifies these flaws to perfection.” -Jonathan Latham, Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project.
GMO Golden Rice is promoted as a potent tool to alleviate vitamin A deficiency. However, Indian researchers now report that the genes needed to produce it have unintended effects. When they introduced the engineered DNA, their high-yielding and agronomically superior Indian rice variety became pale and stunted, flowering was delayed and the roots grew abnormally. Yields were so reduced that it was unsuitable for cultivation (Bollinedi et al. 2017).
. . . Golden rice has for over 20 years stood as the exemplar of a “good GMO” and proponents have blamed its failure to reach the market on “over-regulation” of GMOs and on “anti-GMO” opposition (Lee and Krimsky 2016).
This latest research suggests a different narrative. It shows that problems intrinsic to GMO breeding are what have prevented researchers from developing Golden Rice suitable for commercialization (Schubert 2002; Wilson et al. 2006).
The second great significance of this research, is that it implies engineering sufficient levels of β-carotene is disruptive to the basic metabolism of the plants.
“What the Indian researchers show is that the Golden Rice transgenes given to them by Syngenta caused a metabolic meltdown,” says Jonathan Latham, Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project. “The classic criticisms of genetic engineering as a plant breeding tool have always been, first, that introduced DNA will disrupt native gene sequences and, second, that unpredictable disruption of normal metabolism may result from introducing new functions. Golden Rice exemplifies these flaws to perfection.”
This then is the fundamental challenge of GMO metabolic engineering. It seems that making the intended metabolic changes (in this case increasing β-carotene levels) is the easy part (Giuliano 2017). The real challenge is to notmake unintended changes by disrupting the many intersecting biochemical pathways—and thereby disrupting the complex plant processes that depend on them (Schubert 2008).
With their BioBricks approach to biology, Syngenta and their public sector allies have shown negligible understanding of these complexities, leaving it once again to non-GMO breeders to successfully enhance nutrient levels in plants (Andersson et al.2017).
For years the quintessential example used to support GMO plant breeding, Golden Rice may now become “Exhibit A” for those wishing to critique it.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.Read more
ChemChina completes Syngenta takeover, targets emerging markets
Swiss agrochemical giant Syngenta said on Tuesday it is now officially owned by the state-owned China National Chemical, or ChemChina.
ChemChina Chairman Ren Jianxin, who has been elected Syngenta's chairman, said in a recent interview with The Nikkei that "our aspiration is to create another Syngenta ... and double [its size] in the next 5-10 years."
ChemChina said in February 2016 that it would buy Syngenta for $43 billion. U.S. and European regulators had approved the deal by April.
Syngenta, which generated sales of $12.8 billion last year, plans to expand sales of its agricultural chemicals and seeds in emerging markets through ChemChina's sales channels.
Photo from Flickr.
Six companies are about to merge into the biggest farm-business oligopoly in history
Big farms are about to get a lot bigger.
With six agricultural giants on the verge of merging into three separate companies, consumers and farmers are feeling uneasy about the global implications and how it might impact the food system.
Top executives from Bayer, Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical, and Syngenta today (Sept. 20) testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, making a case for why federal regulators should approve the mega-mergers, which stand to fundamentally reorganize global agriculture. (Executives from the sixth company involved in the consolidation, China National Chemical Corp., declined an invitation to appear at the hearing.)
The executives in attendance argued that the proposed mergers would combine their companies’ expertise and allow for greater efficiency in serving farmers and consumers. But whether that efficiency is worth the side effects of massive consolidation—possible price hikes and less competition in the marketplace—is an open question. In essence, should people put faith in three big companies to shepherd consumers and farmers into a world that can responsibly feed a growing global population?
Here’s what’s on the table
- On July 20, shareholders at Dow Chemical and DuPont agreed to a $59 billion merger that would bring under one umbrella two of the largest US chemical makers. The deal is awaiting US antitrust clearance.
- On Aug. 22, Chinese state-owned China National Chemical Corp. was cleared by US regulators to proceed with its $42 billion purchase of Swiss chemical and seeds company Syngenta. The deal, subject to US scrutiny because of Sygenta’s American business interests, marks the largest purchase of a foreign firm in Chinese history.
- On Sept. 14, Bayer, the German pharmaceutical and chemical giant, said it had reached an agreement to purchase US seed company Monsanto for $66 billion. If the deal is approved by US regulators, it would create the world’s largest seed and agriculture chemicals company.
The consolidation of these six highly competitive companies into three juggernauts has left many farmers and consumers uneasy. Consumers advocates say they worry the mergers will usher in a “new era of sterile crops soaked in dangerous pesticides.” Farmers worry that less competition in the marketplace will give the merged companies an ability to increase prices of seeds and chemicals—something that would be particularly harmful during a time when US farm incomes are dropping.