Local Food Systems in Europe: Case studies from five countries and what they imply for policy and practice (August 2010)
23rd August 2010
The results from the project 'FAAN - Facilitating Alternative Agro Food Networks: Stakeholder Perspectives on Research Needs'. Funded by the EU's FP7 'Science in Society'.
Bioscience for Life?
6th April 2010
This report documents the political commitment to a new bio-economy and how it has influenced research funding decisions in the biosciences. It concludes that there are significant opportunity costs associated with pursuing ineffective biotech solutions to a wide variety of problems in health and agriculture, and that the research funding system needs significant reform.
Agrofuels and the use of Genetic Modification
11th August 2009
This GeneWatch UK report explores the use of genetic technologies for the production of agrofuels (industrial-scale biofuels). The report questions whether the substantial investment being made in a new generation of agrofuels, often being developed using genetically-modified (GM) organisms and new GM crops, will solve the problems now acknowledged with the current generation.
History of the proposal for data-sharing without consent
26th January 2009
This report documents the history of the UK Biobank genetic research project. It forms Appendix A of the later 'Bioscience for Life?' report. It refers to proposals to share genetic and health data with private companies without consent: these proposals were dropped in 2009 following massive public opposition (read more here). However, data-sharing without consent could still take place using the NHS's secondary uses service (SUS) for electronic medical records.
Summary & Conclusions: History of proposal for data-sharing without consent
26th January 2009
A summary of the history of UK Biobank.
Participatory science and scientific participation: PSx2 project final report
1st December 2008
GM Contamination Register Report 2006
19th February 2007
shows how 2006 was they worst year for GM contamination so far.
Making the Polluter Pay
9th February 2007
Your Diet Tailored to your Genes: Preventing Diseases or Misleading Marketing?
16th May 2006
GM Contamination Register Report 2005
8th March 2006
This report is the first from the on-line GM Contamination Register (www.gmcontaminationregister.org) and reviews cases reported in the public and scientific literature of contamination, illegal plantings and releases of GM organisms, and negative agricultural side-effects since GM crops were first grown commercially on a large scale in 1996. This represents a sample of the actual cases of GM contamination that have taken place, many of which are not detected or not revealed because they are part of food producers quality control systems. The report also includes a special review of the Syngenta Bt10 GM maize contamination incident that took place in 2005, affecting the USA, Europe and Japan and probably many other countries importing maize from the USA. It considers the scope and causes of all the incidents, to make recommendations for action.
The Police National DNA Database: Balancing Crime Detection, Human Rights and Privacy.
1st January 2005
Using DNA to trace people who are suspected of committing a crime is one of the biggest advances in tackling crime since fingerprinting. When DNA profiling is used wisely it can bring major benefits to society by helping to convict serious criminals including murderers and rapists. Concerns arise, however, when tissue samples, genetic information and personal data are stored indefinitely on a DNA database, like the police forensic database known as the National DNA Database (NDNAD). There are fears that this information may be misused in ways that threaten our individual rights as well as those of our families. We must be confident that the police and the Government use DNA in a way that respects our fundamental right to privacy and protects our civil liberties.
Avoiding the difficult issues. A GeneWatch UK report on the Government's response to the GM Nation? public debate.
1st June 2004
GeneWatch UK publishes a report which evaluates the Government's response to the public debate on GM crops and foods (1). The report finds that in its GM policy announcement and response to the public debate (2), the Government has paid no attention to concerns expressed by people about how GM technology is being applied and the lack of public benefit. Nor has it addressed mistrust in Government and multinational corporations. Whilst pointing to possible benefits in the future, the Government did not indicate how these might be achieved.
The report's findings include:
- addressing concerns about the purpose of using GM crops would need a realignment of the direction and control of the technology. Unless this takes place, it is unlikely that people will feel reassured about the risks the technology brings;
- it might be possible to influence the products emerging from biotechnology
through science policy and intellectual property rights, but this was not
the Government could have considered ways of shaping biotechnology research in the public interest and engaging in intellectual property rights debates internationally to ensure equitable access for the poor, but it chose not to do so;
- the Government could seek ways of engaging people more in shaping the public research agenda for food and farming, but did not do so.
Non-Food GM Crops: New Dawn or False Hope? - Part 2: Grasses, Flowers, Trees, Fibre Crops and Industrial Uses
1st March 2004
This report reveals how the production of GM crops intended for non-food uses could contaminate food crops and wild species. "The use of GM for non-food crops could bring contamination of food and nature by the back door," said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatch's Director and author of the report. "Industry and government hope to get around public concerns by using GM technology on non-food crops. We know it is difficult to contain GM crops inside a field or farm but GM grasses and trees will not even stay inside a country. Although people aren't going to eat them, the GM contamination threat to other plants remains".
The report considers research taking place into the development of GM crops intended for non-food use: grasses, flowers, trees, crops such as cotton used for fibre production, and the range of different crops being modified to provide the raw materials for industrial production of oils, starches and plastics. It considers how they are being modified, how successful it has been and what environmental and health issues are raised. It makes recommendations for policy and research.
Non-Food GM Crops: New Dawn or False Hope? - Part 1: Drug Production
1st December 2003
This report reveals that the research in this area is being driven by a desire to produce drugs more cheaply and with the hope that the GM plant could be eaten as a simple way to administer a drug or vaccine. It is not clear whether such approaches will work, and using edible crops to produce GM drugs could be dangerous as they may be accidentally eaten by people or animals. Furthermore, there is little or no research being undertaken on the possible environmental impacts of growing such crops.
GM Nation? Engaging People in Real Debate? A GeneWatch UK report on the GM Nation? process
1st October 2003
This report is an initial reflection on the 2003 GM Nation? public debate process and its likely usefulness to Government and society. It focuses on the grassroots engagement, including its intersection with the Science and Economics Reviews. In July 2002, when the Government announced that it would have a broad public debate on the future of GM crops and food in the UK this was a novel and welcome step that brought the possibility of a new form of public participation in decision making. At best, the process could be used to bring new insights to inform Government and industry policy and decision making. At worst, it could be ignored and fuel feelings of cynicism about intentions and the beneficiaries of GM foods.
This report only attempts to identify what lessons can be learned about the process at this stage. Therefore, it does not consider the outcomes - what the particular findings might mean for GM policy. It will be followed by another report in 2004 which will consider how the Government actually used the public debate and Science and Economics Reviews in its policy and decision making.
Genetic Testing in the Workplace
1st June 2003
This report is concerned with the potential misuse of genetic information by employers. It provides a brief introduction to the kinds of genetic tests that might be used for employment purposes and reviews the research evidence linking genes to occupational illness. The limitations of this research are then discussed. A short description of current research activity in this area in both the USA and the UK is also provided.
The report goes on to consider why employers might be interested in using genetic tests and whether they would be likely to benefit from their introduction. Current UK legislation surrounding workplace health and safety is reviewed to consider how genetic testing might fit with current employment practice and the legal roles and responsibilities of employers.
The implications for employees are also discussed, highlighting potential benefits and the possibility of genetic discrimination. Finally, the limitations of existing UK laws and safeguards are considered and the changes necessary to prevent genetic discrimination in employment are identified.
Genetically Modified and Cloned Animals. All in a Good Cause?
1st April 2002
Animals are being genetically modified and cloned for:
use in biological and medical research;
drug production (so-called "pharming");
use in intensive agriculture.
This report is concerned with the genetic modification of mammals and birds. It gives a short description of the main genetic techniques, an overview of the actual modifications that have been carried out in species other than mice and looks at the major applications of the technology. It then discusses the ethical and welfare implications of the genetic modification of animals and examines how this is being regulated in the UK.
Giving Your Genes to Biobank UK: Questions to Ask
1st December 2001
You could soon be asked to donate a sample of your blood or cells to a biobank....
A proposed national biobank will contain blood or cell samples from 500,000 people which will be linked to their medical history and lifestyle data. 'Biobank UK' would be used to look at how genes and the environment interact to cause illnesses like heart disease and cancer. There are great hopes that new medical treatments and cures could be found but there are also dangers with this type of research.
This report examines the risks involved in establishing Biobank UK before proper safeguards and legislation are in place. It also sets out the questions you should ask before agreeing to participate and suggests ways in which you can help to ensure that potential risks are avoided.
Syngenta: Switching off Farmers' Rights?
1st October 2000
Produced jointly with ActionAid, The Berne Declaration and The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
The agrochemical divisions of AstraZeneca and Novartis have merged to form Syngenta, which is now the biggest developer of GM crops in the world. The new company now holds over half of the world's patents (identified so far) on GM crops which use Terminator and Traitor technology.
Terminator and Traitor could have serious consequences for farmers, particularly in developing countries, by depriving them of the right to save seed for sowing in subsequent years and forcing them into buying expensive packages of seeds and chemicals.
Although AstraZeneca and Novartis have made commitments not to develop Terminator Technology, the new report describes eleven of their patents - published in 1999 and 2000 - which cover GM crops that use the technology. Syngenta is not bound by the statements made by the companies from which it is formed and is now ideally placed to exploit the technology.
Rethinking Risk: A Pilot Multi-Criteria Mapping of Genetically Modified Crop in Agriculture Systems in the UK
29th September 1999
Produced jointly with Andy Stirling of the Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU)
This major new report demonstrates that people with very different perspectives - even on issues as controversial as genetically modified crops - can in fact participate in constructive discussion and help design regulatory risk appraisal.
Twelve specialists - including highly placed government advisors, biotechnologists, and representatives of the food industry and public interest groups - working with the researchers together helped to create a "map" of the debate surrounding GM crops.
The new technique - known as 'multi-criteria mapping' - is based on an approach well-used in areas like energy and land use planning but - until now - has not been applied to the GM crops issue in the UK. Instead of asserting a single 'right' (or 'wrong') answer, the new method highlights the uncertainties and the reasons for disagreement, and draws a 'map' of the assumptions under which different options look 'best'.
Leaking from the Lab? The 'Contained' Use of Genetically Modified Micro-organisms in the UK
28th June 1999
Based on extensive research into the use of GM micro-organisms in research laboratories and commercial production facilities, this report examines:
the use of genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs) in the UK and how they are being routinely released into the environment
the environmental and human health risks posed by such releases
the inadequacies of current safety regulations and recommendations for their improvement