22.02.2017 |

GMO-ethanol corn contamination raises concerns about another “StarLink” disaster

Food corn buyers say Syngenta’s Enogen GMO corn is contaminating non-GMO white corn fields, creating a potential “trainwreck;” may be linked to bad masa flour in California.

Enogen, a genetically modified corn for ethanol production, has contaminated non-GMO white corn grown in Nebraska that is used to make flour for tortillas and other products.

Contaminated farmers’ corn

According to Derek Rovey, owner of Rovey Specialty Grains, Inland, Nebraska, a few of his contract farmers who grow non-GMO white corn had their crops contaminated by Enogen corn.

“We’ve had some growers who’ve had some problems (with Enogen). Their corn was right next to Enogen fields,” says Rovey.

Enogen’s GMO trait was detected in the white corn using GMO strip tests, says Rovey.

20.02.2017 |

No patents on plants and animals! Time for action – Now! 2017 How YOU can make a CHANGE!

This document explains what measures can be taken by civil society to make their voice heard in order to prevent patents on conventionally bred plants and animals in Europe.

Provided by NO PATENTS ON SEEDS! in February 2017

www.no-patents-on-seeds.org

Twitter: @NoPatentsOnSeed

The current situation and our goals

On 25 March 2015, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the

European Patent Office (EPO) confirmed an unacceptable

interpretation of the current patent law: while processes for

conventional breeding cannot be patented, plants and animals

stemming from these processes are patentable. This is not only

contradictory in itself, but it also undermines the prohibitions in

European patent law: “Plant and animal varieties or essentially

biological processes for production plants and animals” are

excluded from patentability (Art 53 b, EPC).

20.02.2017 |

EU unites against patents on plants and animals

Member States call for stricter prohibitions

20 February 2017 / The governments of the EU Member States today decided to take action against patents on conventionally bred plants and animals. The EU governments want to prevent the European Patent Office (EPO) from granting further patents in this area. The position as adopted in the EU Competitiveness Council supports earlier statements by the European Parliament and the European Commission. In recent years, the EPO has again and again granted patents on plants and animals derived from conventional breeding, including patents on broccoli and tomatoes. Most recently the EPO granted patents on barley and beer for the companies Carlsberg and Heineken.

The Council decision is the result of protests from civil society. In recent years, millions of signatures have been collected and hundreds of civil society organisations have become active against the practice of the EPO. “This is a huge success for all of the people who have been active against the monopolisation of seeds, agriculture and food. They have forced the political decision makers to finally take action”, says Katherine Dolan for Arche Noah, Austria. “But now we have to make sure that the governments practice what they preach and the loopholes are really closed to put a stop to all patents on conventional breeding.“

The patents of Carlsberg and Heineken are good examples of the relevant legal loopholes. The patents are based on random mutations, which are supposed to improve the quality of barley. From a technical point of view, the methods applied are not new and not inventive. In contrast, they have long been known by breeders, farmers and gardeners. But according to recent statements from the EPO´s patent examiners, such patents will also be granted in future, despite the latest political developments. This is in contradiction to the position of the European Commission which states that patents may only be granted if a gene is inserted into a genome by methods of genetic engineering.

Patents such as the ones held by Carlsberg and Heineken can have severe effects: These breweries are already amongst the biggest in the world, with many well-known brands such as Carlsberg, Holsten, Paulaner and Gösser. The breweries can instruct their barley producers to only use the patented seeds. In this way, they can gain profits from selling the seeds as well as selling beer and increase their market power. The negative consequences might affect farmers, other breweries, breeders and consumers.

“These patents are not inventive but are based on an abuse of patent law and have to be prohibited”, says Erling Frederiksen from Friends of the Earth, Denmark. “Since the companies and the EPO are not ready to act in the spirit of the law, it is now up to the political decision makers to provide necessary legal clarity.”

Further Informations:

www.no-patents-on-seeds.org

17.02.2017 |

Bt Cotton: Africa’s Burkina Faso sets an example to follow

HYDERABAD: As the debate over the Genetically Modified crop, Bt Cotton rages in India, Burkina Faso, a small West African nation has completely phased out the cultivation of Bt Cotton which once occupied close to 2.8 lakh hectares in the country. In India, Bt Cotton occupies close to 95 per cent of the 105 lakh hectares under cotton cultivation.

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As a result, the cotton companies stopped promoting Bt Cotton. The three companies have filed a court case asking for 74 million Euros as compensation from the seed company Monsanto.

17.02.2017 |

Farmers in 10 States Sue Monsanto Over Dicamba Devastation

Farmers across 10 states are suing Monsanto, alleging that the agrochemical company sold dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybean crops knowing that illegal spraying of the highly volatile and drift-prone herbicide would be inevitable.

Steven W. Landers, et al v. Monsanto Company was filed on Jan. 26 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Southeastern Division. Kansas City law firm Randles & Splittgerber filed on behalf of Steven and Deloris "Dee" Landers and similarly harmed farmers in 10 states—Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

15.02.2017 |

GMO'Golden Rice': Unexpected genomic effects

Rice plants show reduced growth and irregular gene expression

15 February 2017 / A new publication has reported unintended effects in genetically engineered rice producing precursors of vitamin A, so-called carotenoids. Crossing the manipulated rice with the Indian variety Swarna led to a nasty surprise: The resulting plants showed extensive disturbance in their growth. The researchers identified several reasons for this: The new gene constructs interfere with the plant’s own gene for producing growth hormones, and the additional gene constructs were not, as intended, active solely in the kernels, but also in the leaves. This led to a substantial reduction in the content of chlorophyll that is essential for vital functions in the plants.

These unintended effects were not detected in previous investigations, and it was assumed that the genetically engineered plants used in these trials would show genetic stability. In fact, these detrimental genomic effects remained undetected until the transgenic plants were crossed with the variety called Swarna, which is grown widely in India.

The observed effects are highly relevant for the risk assessment of the plants. Once released, the transgenic plants could spread their gene constructs into populations of weedy rice as well as other cultivated varieties. In addition, genomic effects not found in the original plants can occur in plant offspring. At the stage when the hazards are identified, it can be impossible to remove the transgenes from the environment.

14.02.2017 |

Italy urged to follow through with ban on glyphosate co-formulant

NGOs are warning Italy that it should not extend a grace period and ensure that pesticides containing glyphosate do not contain the toxic co-formulant POE-tallowamine.

On 29 June 2016, the European Commission decided to extend the licence of weed-killer glyphosate for another 18 months until the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki issues its own scientific assessment of the substance.

With the support of member states, the Commission also set some conditions on the approval of glyphosate. One of them was for the member states to ensure that plant protection products (PPP) containing glyphosate do not contain the co-formulant POE-tallowamine.

13.02.2017 |

Bayer-Monsanto merger: An existential threat to South Africa’s food system

PRESS RELEASE

In December 2016 Monsanto shareholders voted in favour of the sale of the company to Bayer for US$66 billion, making it the largest-ever foreign corporate takeover by a German company.

Both Bayer and Monsanto are major global manufacturers of agrochemicals and seeds, including genetically modified seed. A merged entity would be the world’s largest supplier by sales of both seeds and pesticides, controlling 29 percent of the world’s commercial seed markets and 24 percent of the world’s pesticide markets. Bayer and Monsanto are major actors in South Africa’s seed and agrochemical industries. The deal will require approval from about 30 regulatory agencies around the world, including by South Africa’s Competition Commission.

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, has produced a briefing paper titled, ‘The BAYER-MONSANTO merger: Implications for South Africa’s agricultural future and its smallholder farmers” which outlines that the proposed merger is taking place against a backdrop of other related mega-mergers in the seed and agro-chemicals sectors: between US chemical giants Dow and DuPont in a deal estimated to be worth US$130 billion, and China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) and Swiss-based Syngenta in a deal worth around US$43 billion.

09.02.2017 |

GMO dicamba-resistant soybean - "New" pesticides, same Monsanto story

Last fall, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rubberstamped Monsanto’s newest formulation of the herbicide dicamba for use on the corporation’s genetically engineered (GE), dicamba-resistant soybean and cotton seeds. Expecting that this approval will lead to a dramatic increase in use of the herbicide dicamba, PAN and partners just filed a federal lawsuit challenging the agency's decision to risk farmer livelihoods, community health and the environment.

The original version of dicamba, which is still on the market, has been around for over 45 years and is responsible for the third highest number of drift-related crop damage incidents in the U.S. Monsanto claims that its new formulation, ”XtendiMax," is less likely to drift from the fields where it's applied — although there is no guarantee that this newer, more expensive formulation will be used in place of the older, cheaper option.

05.02.2017 |

Consultation on Breeding Techniques

The realm of breeding techniques is rapidly evolving. The recent introduction and broad uptake of new genetic engineering techniques raises potential for huge impacts on our planet and society.

IFOAM - Organics International has convened an expert Working Group to study the full breadth of the topic and its effects both within and beyond the organic sector. The Working Group has drafted a position paper, which is now released for global consultation and feedback. We hereby request your review and comments so that we may further improve it.

At the next General Assembly of the organic movement, which is immediately following the 19th Organic World Congress in New Delhi, India in November 2017, the membership of IFOAM - Organics International is expected to vote on the position that the organic sector will take with respect to the full spectrum of known breeding techniques. (This new position complements the recently updated IFOAM - Organics International Position on Genetic Engineering and Genetically Modified Organisms.)

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The deadline for comments is 31 March 2017.

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