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GM potatoes in Ireland and Europe – The Patent Holders

category national | environment | news report author Wednesday September 12, 2012 01:48author by Dagda - Tuatha de Danaan Report this post to the editors

Tracking the money and power behind the science.

A look at the ongoing GM potato trials in Ireland, the European context, a little bit of history and analysis as well as important information on patent holders.

This article is presented as a work in progress. In the spirit of open source research and the liberation of all life it is hoped that others will build on and disseminate this information.

Background and analysis.

This project is an EU wide one involving, 22 partners in 15 EU countries and Argentina. It is called the AMIGA project; http://www.amigaproject.eu/web/partners/ and is co-ordinated by an Italian organisation called ENEA; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENEA_%28Italy%29, http://old.enea.it/com/ingl/default.htm and funded by an EU Framework Programme, FP7; http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/home_en.html (Tracking where this money comes from exactly might be a useful avenue of research). It involves transferring genes from within the potato family to create blight resistant potatoes. This process is known as cisgenic modification as opposed to transgenic, which involves gene transfer from outside biological families. The specific gene involved here is referred to as Rpi-vnt1.1.

The justification given for undertaking this work is to reduce the need for anti-fungal spraying against the blight organism Phytophthora infestans which apparently causes losses of e15 million per year in this country. http://www.epa.ie/news/pr/2012/name,33726,en.html

At first glance this appears to be a very different kettle of fish from the GM sugar beet that was planted, and in several cases dug up again or sprayed with herbicide in this country back in the late 90s. http://www.rte.ie/news/1999/0816/monsanto.html

Back then the project was clearly fronted by a well-known and widely -hated trans-national corporation, Monsanto. This time around there is little surface evidence of any corporate involvement. The picture being painted is one of dedicated scientists doing important research. This is mirrored in criticisms aimed at anti –GM protestors as being irrational, sentimental and anti-science . http://www.newsy.com/videos/are-anti-gm-wheat-protester...ence/ Another criticism leveled at protestors is that they are selfishly denying starving Africans the right to grow GM crops to feed themselves. http://billycarmichael.blogspot.ie/2012/07/feeding-afri....html Anyone thinking of mounting an effective PR campaign against GM will need to update their arguments.

Is this rational science image for real or is it merely PR for the same ancient agenda to gain money and power by controlling vital resources?

It is perhaps significant to note at this point that the Sarvari Research Trust based in Wales, who successfully developed the Sarpo range of blight resistant potatoes using non-GM methods, recently had their funding cut by the British government.

Who holds the Patent?

An important and revealing piece of information in all this that has not been widely circulated in the media up to now is who or what holds the patent on these potatoes? As a new invention the gene sequence will have been patented as Intellectual Property. This enables the patent holder to make a profit on it if it becomes commercially viable.

Who Profits?

The patent on the relevant gene, Rp1-vnt1.1 is apparently held by The Sainsbury laboratory in the UK and is being developed as a piece of intellectual property by TSL using its subsidiary, PBL - Plant Bioscience Ltd . PBL was set up by TSL to take on the Intellectual Property and commercialisation aspects of its work. The link to the patent information follows: http://www.pbltechnology.com/cms.php?pageid=363 & http://www.tsl.ac.uk/ & http://www.pbltechnology.com

Interestingly this researcher could find no evidence of this patent on the European Patents Register. Maybe the patent is not held in the EU? Again others are invite to check this information.

Who or what is the Sainsbury Laboratory?

Rather than a corporation they are a Charitable Company, part owned and funded by various other foundations and charitable entities. Namely

  • The John Innes Foundation, founded in 1910 using a bequest from John Innes of John Innes compost fame who was also a wealthy landowner in the city of London. Their tagline is “The advancement of education and the promotion of the understanding of agriculture, horticulture and plant science” they also own “a very significant collection of archive material, the History of Genetics Library, and the "Special Collection" of rare botanical books.” http://www.johninnesfoundation.org.uk/

  • The Biological and Biotechnology Sciences Research Council, a research council funded by the UK government. Their strapline: ”Investing in world class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public” http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/home/home.aspx

  • The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, who have the majority 75% share in the project. The Gatsby Foundation “is set up by David Sainsbury to realise his charitable objectives”, which according to the website cover 6 main areas; Plant science, Neuroscience, Education, Africa, Public Policy and the Arts http://www.gatsby.org.uk/

Who is David Sainsbury?

He is also known as Baron Sainsbury of Turville. According to his entry in Wikipedia he is a very rich and powerful man from a very rich and powerful British family. Sainsbury’s the supermarket was founded by his great grandfather John James Sainsbury. They are well represented on both sides of the house of lords with both labour and conservative peers in the family. Like all good dynasties they’ve been building up the wealth over several generations though they have now spread out from the supermarket business into other areas. As with many families with vast amounts of money they seem to enjoy setting up trusts and foundations with which to pursue their interests. They call this philanthropy (from the Greek words philos – loving and anthropos – humanity or mankind).

David Sainsbury himself was science minister in the Blair govt since 1998 and was member of the cabinet committee with responsibility for national policy on GM crops. He has also been a faithful donor to the labour party over the years having given over £11million by 2003, being made a life peer in 1997 and minister for science in 1998.

There were some issues of conflict of interest during his time as minister. To quote directly from Lobbywatch website:
http Lobbywatch ://www.whale.to/a/lord_david_sainsbury.html

“When he was made Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury resigned as Chairman of the Sainsbury's supermarket chain and put into a blind trust major investments in two plant genetics-related investment companies (Diatech Ltd and Innotech Investments Ltd). Innotech has a substantial stake in a firm called Paradigm Genetics involved in a joint GM-related venture with Monsanto. Between 1996 and 1999 Diatech was granted three patents for GM products that are said to have the potential to make millions of pounds in royalties. “

“Through his Gatsby Charitable Foundation Lord Sainsbury has also put millions into the study of plant genetics. Gatsby gives approximately £2 million a year to the Sainsbury Laboratory of the John Innes Centre, which does research into GM crops. Lord Sainsbury helped found the Laboratory in 1987 and his Gatsby Foundation remains its principal source of funding, although it also receives over £800,000 a year from the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) , for which Sainsbury is responsible in his ministerial role. Its grant has increased several fold during Sainsbury's time as minister.”

“. Professor Steven Rose of the Open University Biology Dept is among those who have commented critically on this emerging corporate science culture, ‘Well I think there is a very real problem from the point of view of university research in the way that private companies have entered the university, both with direct companies in the universities and with contracts to university researchers. So that in fact the whole climate of what might be open and independent scientific research has disappeared, the old idea that universities were a place of independence has gone. Instead of which one's got secrecy, one's got patents, one's got contracts and one's got shareholders.’ “

This information is confirmed and expanded upon in various other places, for example:
http://www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/blog/entry/donor-of-t...sbury
http://www.redicecreations.com/article.php?id=20838

Readers will be able to draw their own conclusions from this information and act accordingly. Again, please check, build on and disseminate this information.

Yours for Liberation. Springing up from the ground.
Plant, Animal, Human

author by Concerned Dubpublication date Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:34Report this post to the editors

Thank you for that.

You touched on something I've noticed myself - repeated calls that this is about the science and that 'we should leave the scientists to get the impartial answers from scientific research so that the citizens can make informed choices'.

While in the background, the appointments of Chief Science officers and senior scientific policy personnel in Ireland and the EU are raising more eyebrows and concerns, whether it's their flippant disregard for the precaurionary principle, shameless self service or the sheer number of them with connections to the International Life Sciences Institute. 'Oh we need the best talents but sometimes they come from industry.'

There was even a shill site set up, Sense About Science, with industry backing, hosting a video of scientists making an earnest and convincing plea to activists to not destroy the Rothamstead GM wheat trials earlier this year, so they could provide independent data. I fell for it. Stephen Fry fell for it.

Previously, when scientists (and they were usually pro GM like Profs Puztai and Traavik) discovered problems with transgenic crops, they were demonised, sacked and otherwise 'made an example of' but it was almost becoming a cliche. Now it seems the reports are either ignored by other scientists or scientists have to carefully word their reports to say that nothing untowards was found, even though the charts and data say otherwise.

P.S. 'cisgenics' is a subset of 'transgenics', ie. still transgenics. Another marketing trick.

author by Artpublication date Thu Sep 20, 2012 09:14Report this post to the editors

The Tegasc director Mr Gerry Boyle has just published an article in the Irish Farmers Journal saying “We need a grown up debate on the costs and benefits of GM” and “ Let the real debate begin.”

No better time for Mr Boyle and the editor of the IFG who is also an advocate of GM to express their views on the recent shocking revelations just announced and reported in the Daily Mail today with the headlines.

Cancer row over GM foods as study says it did THIS to rats... and can cause organ damage and early death in humans and it shows a picture of one of the deformed rats from the research

Rats fed a lifetime diet of Monsanto's genetically modified corn or exposed to its top-selling weedkiller Roundup suffered tumours and multiple organ damage, according to a French study published today. A full version of the article can be read in the Daily Mail at the link below.

Ireland should immediately cease all GM use North and South and try to maintain a GM free status, otherwise trying to survive in farming will be like trying to stop the tide coming in with a grape. Farmers need also to ask why the Dairy, Pig and other sectors that used imported GM feed are now on their knees.

The French team has released shocking images of tumours in mice caused by exclusively eating GM corn.
The French team has released shocking images of tumours in mice caused by exclusively eating GM corn.

Related Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2205509/....html
author by Johnpublication date Thu Sep 20, 2012 13:28Report this post to the editors

GM food is the logical next step if we insist on sticking to the industrial farming model. It's the latest "solution" to overuse of pesticides and herbicides put forward by the same companies using the same thinking as caused the problems in the first place. We need more and smaller farms with more people physically engaged with their landscape and ecosystems and less reliance on machines and technology..
We are being fed the notion that it is inevitable for us humans to be a negative force in our environment and that we have no choice but to go down this road.
This is a lie that will become true unless we create the alternatives and take personal responsibility for our food needs. Which means getting out from our computers and getting sweaty.

author by pat cpublication date Thu Sep 20, 2012 15:47Report this post to the editors

I wouldn't agree totally with the anti-GM campaign but was shocked by this story and will have to think again. But the very fact that a foodstuff is tested on animals should be reason enough to oppose it.

French scientists have revealed that rats fed on GMO corn sold by American firm Monsanto, suffered tumors and other complications including kidney and liver damage. When testing the firm’s top brand weed killer the rats showed similar symptoms.

The French government has asked its health and safety agency to assess the study and had also sent it to the European Union's food safety agency, Reuters reports.

"Based on the conclusion…, the government will ask the European authorities to take all necessary measures to protect human and animal health, measures that could go as far as an emergency suspension of imports of NK603 maize in the European Union," the French health, environment and farm ministries said in a joint statement.
Researchers from the University of Caen found that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 – a seed variety made tolerant to amounts of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller – or given water mixed with the product, at levels permitted in the United States – died earlier than those on a standard diet.

The research conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini and his colleagues, said the rats suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. The study was published in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology and presented at a news conference in London.

Fifty percent of male and 70 percent of female rats died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group, said the researchers.


Related Link: http://rt.com/news/monsanto-rats-tumor-france-531/
author by Tpublication date Thu Oct 18, 2012 23:45Report this post to the editors

Listening to a recent Gary Null show he was pointing out that both Mitt Rommy and Obama families only eat organic food. They clearly know all the other stuff is bad for you long term and both of them have regularly promoted GM companies like Monsanto and allowed some very dubious bills to pass

author by Tpublication date Thu Feb 14, 2013 23:21Report this post to the editors

In a report Feb 6th Mother Jones magazine has a report covering the fact that nearly half of all farms in the US are resistant to Monsanto's herbicide Roundup. This has happened because of the widespread use of GM crops which are purely designed to be able to grow in the presence of heavy spraying of the Roundup herbicide. Monsanto sells both the GM crops and Roundup.

Monsanto's answer is to create even more deadly herbicides to spray on the crops and to add even more genes to resist these.

All I can say is thankfully the genomes of the weeds are flexible enough to adapt to this shit and out maneuver it

Full report at the link below

Related Link: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/02/report-...-12-0
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