Under wraps: Genetically Engineered Seeds

no-science-allowed-on-gmo-x-matt-collins-sciamer-290-x-290By Emily Waltz
Nature Biotechnology

Are the crop industry’s strong-arm tactics and close-fisted attitude to sharing seeds holding back independent research and undermining public acceptance of transgenic crops?

The increasingly fractious relationship between public sector researchers and the biotech seed industry has come into the spotlight in recent months. In July, several leading seed companies met with a group of entomologists, who earlier in the year had lodged a public complaint with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over restricted access to materials. In a letter to the EPA, the 26 public sector scientists complained that crop developers are curbing their rights to study commercial biotech crops.

“No truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions involving these crops [because of company-imposed restrictions],” they wrote.

In turn, the seed companies have expressed surprise at the outcry, claiming the issue is being overblown. And even though the July meeting, organized by the American Seed Trade Association in Alexandria, Virginia, did result in the writing of a set of principles for carrying out this research, the seed companies are under no compunction to follow them.

“From the researchers’ perspective, the key for this meeting was opening up communication to discuss the problem,” says Ken Ostlie, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, who signed the complaint. “It will be interesting to see how companies implement the principles they agreed upon.”

What is clear is that the seed industry is perceived as highly secretive and reluctant to share its products with scientists. This is fueling the view that companies have something to hide.

Read full pdf at Nature Biotechnology

5 responses to “Under wraps: Genetically Engineered Seeds

  1. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Under wraps: Genetically Engineered Seeds « Food Freedom

  2. It is imperative that the GM crops be halted from open field testing and growing. Contamination and biosystem collapses continue to occur as well as harming bee populations. Unless true scientific research on these crops is allowed, we have no way of knowing the true harm they are doing to life.

    • agreed. and you affirm the author’s point. because biotech companies won’t allow independent testing, what else can the public think but that they must be hiding the harmful effects of gm crops

  3. and who? is going to pay for the escape of the GM Flax seed, contaminating world wide ,one wonders? it never got approval(wonder why?) and yet is well and truly all over the place. and no one knew, till very recently, and that finding was an accident.
    these companies will do a James Hardy Asbestos trick when the poop splatters, change names move segments around and cry poor to avoid compensation and clean up.
    ah silly me, Monbast**ds have already done JUST THAT! Anniston.

  4. “I think it’s better to be open about it,” he says. “It’s not as if one problem with one variety means the whole technology isn’t useful.”


    Personally I think the technology as a whole is both safe and useful, but it’d be a lot easier for us all to agree one way or the other if any scientists was freely to do any study.

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