As part of our 2017 giving back program, Frontier Co-op has donated $30,000 to support research by the non-profit ETC Group to address the environmental, social justice and food system impacts of next‐generation genetic engineering techniques, known as GMOs 2.0.


GMOs 2.0 are the next generation of genetic engineering techniques, which include synthetic biology, genome editing and RNAi techniques. These ingredients are beginning to enter the marketplace, often misleadingly identified as “natural” or “sustainable” — which has significant implications for growers of natural products, agricultural biodiversity and consumers.


Farmers, consumers, civil society groups and the organic and natural products industry have joined in an organized front against the threats of first generation genetic engineering for the past two decades. GMOs have been kept out of organic food and farming, non‐GMO verification has become widespread, and a vibrant organic and non‐GMO food system has developed.


Now there is growing awareness that GMOs 2.0 pose additional threats and challenges to sustainable production, social justice and the livelihoods of small farmers around the world.


Meeting these new challenges requires that consumers, producers and civil society better understand exactly where in the supply chain the new technologies are appearing and what their implications are. ETC Group engages with the natural products industry and other groups and develops clear communication with the public and consumers about the changes and threats ahead.


ETC Group will use Frontier Co-op's donation to launch and maintain an online ingredient database identifying products of synthetic biology, engaging with natural, organic and non-GMO certifiers to clarify their position regarding these new ingredients. The group is also re-designing the synbiowatch.org website, which acts as a hub for civil society views on Synthetic Biology, reframing it as a first-stop public portal on next generation genetic engineering.


For 25 years, ETC Group has been an advocate on global issues such as the conservation of agricultural biodiversity and food security — and on the impact of new technologies. Since the early 1980s, they have done groundbreaking research and education — and successful social action — on issues involving agricultural biodiversity, biotechnology, intellectual property (IP) and community knowledge systems. In the 1990s, their work expanded to encompass social and environmental concerns related to biotechnology, biopiracy, human genomics and nanotechnology.


ETC Group’s international reputation has been built on its effective research and its ability to transform research into public policy and institutional change. Frontier Co-op is happy to be able to support their important work.