ETC Group (eco-justice)

ETC Group is an international organization dedicated to "the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights." The full legal name is Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration. "ETC" is intended to be pronounced "et cetera."[1][2]

The ETC Group often publishes opinions on scientific research; its staff and board members come from a variety of backgrounds, including community and regional planning, ecology and evolutionary biology, and political science.[3]


The ETC Group was known as RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International) until 1 September 2001, and its history runs back to the National Sharecroppers Fund that was established in the 1930s by Eleanor Roosevelt (amongst others) to alleviate the plight of poor, mostly black tenant farmers in the U.S. In the early 1970s, Pat Mooney, Hope Shand, and Cary Fowler began working on the Seeds Issue through the Rural Advancement Foundationand, in time, set up an international arm concerned with the rights of farmers in the global south.

RAFI pioneered civil society research, critiques and advocacy on farmers rights, seed monopoly laws, and opposes adoption of genetic engineering in agriculture, patents on life and biopiracy (a term that RAFI coined) and new life science technologies such as terminator technology, genomic technologies, and nanotechnology. RAFI played a key role is pushing for and shaping UN recognition of farmers' rights and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Advised to change their name in order to secure nonprofit status in the United States, RAFI launched a name change contest on their website in early 2001. After consulting hundreds of suggestions the organization decided upon ETC Group (etcetera).[4]


The organisation has taken a public campaigning stance against geoengineering,[5] including a campaign called "Hands off Mother Earth!", which was launched in April 2010.[6] In October 2010 a comprehensive report titled "Geopiracy - The Case Against Geoengineering" was published,[7] covering proposed technologies, governance discussions, geoengineering key players and the roles and interests of military and corporations.

Diana Bronson of the ETC Group stated global warming was caused by "the scientific, corporate and political establishment of developed countries", and to now think those same people will correct the climate crisis and the biosphere is naïve.

Synthetic biology

The ETC group publicly campaigns for increased regulation in the emerging scientific field of synthetic biology, which they refer to as "extreme genetic engineering".[8] The groups major areas of concern surrounding this field include corporate involvement, and potential threats to biosafety and biosecurity. In an effort to inform opinion about synthetic biology, the ETC Group has released several comic-style illustrations regarding "Synthia", the cell with the first synthetic genome created by Craig Venter and the J. Craig Venter Institute.[9] The illustration titled "The Story of Synthia" has also been adapted into a short video that can be viewed on YouTube.[10]

On December 16, 2010, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues released a report that recommended self-regulation by synthetic biologists, stating that the infant technology posed few risks to society.[11] This decision was strongly opposed by Jim Thomas of the ETC Group, who referred to the recommendations by the commission as "disappointingly empty and timid".[11] The ETC group joined a group of over 50 environmental groups calling for a moratorium on synthetic biology in a letter to government officials that referred to results of the commission as "irresponsible and dangerous" and stated that "self-regulation amounts to no regulation".[11]

On January 23, 2012, UC Berkeley's Richmond Field Station was chosen for the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab's second campus.[12] In a news conference meant to address the concerns surrounding synthetic biology at the local, national, and international level, five panelists including Jim Thomas of ETC Group, spoke on the risks associated with synthetic biology.[12] The panel refers to the laboratory's association with UC Berkeley as a "shiny veneer" for a poorly regulated industry with dangerous consequences, and Thomas referred to the "1.6 billion dollar industry" as "genetic engineering on steroids".[12]

See also


  1. "About ETC Group". Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  2. "RAFI becomes ETC group". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2006-11-18.
  3. "People". Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  4. "RAFI becomes ETC Group". Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  5. "Obama and Geo-engineering? Yes, you can – but don't!". ETC Group. April 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-10.
  6. Oren Dorell (June 11, 2010). "Can whiter clouds reduce global warming?". USA Today.
  7. ETC Group: Geopiracy - The Case Against Geoengineering Archived 2011-04-26 at the Wayback Machine, published 2011-10-18
  8. "Synthetic Biology". ETC Group. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  9. "The Men and Money Behind Synthia". ETC Group. Archived from the original on 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
  10. Story of "Synthia" the (theoretical) human-made synthetic microbe on YouTube
  11. Andrew Pollack (December 16, 2010). "Synthetic Biology Does Not Need Regulation Now, Panel Says". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
  12. Robert Rogers (March 29, 2012). "Critics raise safety concerns with biotech labs at Berkeley forum". Mercury News. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
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