International News

2016-06-27 |

Demand for Bt cotton seeds sharply down

Nagpur: There has been a major dip in the demand for genetically modified Bt cotton seeds this kharif season. The seeds that were introduced by the US multinational Monsanto in 2002 have become mainstay of cotton farming since then. This year, there has been a sharp increase in use of local varieties of cotton seeds instead of Bt in the northern states. The area seems to have gone up but the supply of indigenous seeds did not keep pace, sources said. A similar trend was expected in other cotton growing areas of the country too.

According to the figures compiled by city-based Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), as against 3,000 odd hectares under indigenous varieties of cotton last year, there are 72,280 hectares this season in northern states. The data was collected from states' agricultural departments, said Dr Keshav Kranthi, director of CICR, a government research agency.

2016-06-26 |

Press Conference: New GMO Technologies – old illusory promises of salvation

What the International Monsanto Tribunal wants to achieve
and why the Bayer-Monsanto merger must be blocked

Berlin, June 22th, 2016 – An alliance between NABU, Navdanya International, IFOAM (International Foundation for Organic Agriculture), Organics International and the Coordination against BAYER risks, invites you to a press conference that will take place on Monday, June 27th, 2016, from 12pm to 1pm at NABU Bundesgeschäftsstelle, Charitéstraße 3, Berlin-Mitte.

The speakers are:
– Dr. Vandana Shiva, globally known activist, eco-feminist, and winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award, 1993)
– Antonius Michelmann renowned chemist and new director of the Coordination against BAYER risks
-Sarah Wiener, acclaimed cook and activist on food and agricultural issues
Presentation: Bernward Geier

2016-06-26 |

Close to Home: Why a local GMO ban makes sense

KARL FORSYTH, A SANTA ROSA RESIDENT, IS A VOLUNTEER WITH THE “GMO-FREE SONOMA COUNTY” MOVEMENT

The Close to Home column by Tom Cooke last week had a number of inaccurate assertions (“Let science, humanity inform your GMOs vote,” June 19). I remind Professor Cooke that truth is not a fear tactic.

The Sonoma County Transgenic Contamination Ordinance, which will be on the fall ballot, is simple and clear. It prohibits the cultivation, propagation, raising and growing of genetically engineered organisms in Sonoma County. It protects family and/or organic farms from contamination by genetically engineered plant pollen drift. In addition, it protects from the increased herbicide use inherent in the cultivation of these crops.

Genetically engineered pollen poses a genuine concern for non-GMO and organic farmers, as pollen drift threatens to contaminate unintended crops even with buffer zones.

2016-06-24 |

Commission must prepare glyphosate exit plan, Greenpeace

Greenpeace Press release - June 24, 2016
Brussels – Greenpeace has called on the European Commission to prepare a glyphosate exit plan, after an EU vote on the controversial weedkiller today cleared the way for the Commission to push through a temporary licence extension.
The original ten-year glyphosate licence expired in June 2012, but the Commission extended it twice, in 2011 and 2015, to 14 years. The Commission will now extend the licence further to a total of 15 years and six months, until the end of 2017, when the European Chemicals Agency is expected to complete an assessment of glyphosate’s negative effects on human health and the environment.

The Commission again failed to gain the backing of a qualified majority of EU countries (representing at least 55 per cent of countries and 65 per cent of the EU population) for its plan to extend the licence, but under EU rules can still push the extension through regardless.

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The Commission is about to give glyphosate an unreasonable grace period, which will continue to leave people and nature exposed to the controversial weedkiller. It should use this time to draw up a glyphosate exit plan. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in Europe and has been linked to serious health concerns and loss of wildlife. It’s time for Europe to plan for a glyphosate-free future.”

Thousands of organic farmers show how weed control is possible without glyphosate. In arable farming, for example, a combination of crop rotation, catch crops and undergrowth can suppress the growth of weeds. Mechanical means (e.g. soil tillage before sowing and rotary hoeing later in season) can be used to combat the remaining weeds.

2016-06-20 |

Call for public action: Stop patents on plants and animals!

We need to protect our favourite vegetables!
29 June 2016, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. European Patent Office, Bob van Benthem Platz 1, Munich

European patent laws say that patents cannot be granted on plant and animal varieties or on the conventional breeding of plants and animals. At present, the European Patent Office (EPO) is completely undermining these prohibitions. Within last months, we have collected about 800.000 signatures from people all over Europe on a petition calling for politicians to take action and properly enforce EU law. On 29 June 2016, we will be handing these signatures over to the EPO at the above venue. To emphasise our point and as a visible reminder, we will be carrying our favourite vegetables with us – tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces, onions, beans, carrots and cabbage and so on …. We will be sending a very clear message: Protect our vegetables from patents held by seed giants such as Bayer and Monsanto!

2016-06-13 |

Thirty-one organisations call on EU Commission to stop any extension of glyphosate’s approval

European Food Safety Authority and German risk assessment institute BfR are in contempt of the law in claiming glyphosate is unlikely to pose a cancer risk, say groups

In an open letter, thirty-one European environmental, health, trade union, consumer protection and medical organisations have called upon EU Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Ambassadors of the member states to stop any further extension of glyphosate’s authorisation.

Signatories of the open letter include Pesticide Action Network Europe, Breast Cancer UK, Corporate Europe Observatory, the International Union of Food Workers, and GMWatch.

The letter points out that in assessing the carcinogenicity of glyphosate and concluding that it was unlikely to pose a cancer risk, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) ignored relevant OECD guidelines, falsely interpreted animal carcinogenicity studies, and systematically rejected relevant epidemiological studies by wrongly claiming them to be "unreliable”.

2016-06-13 |

Gene-Drive Modified Organisms Should Not Be Released, Say Scientists

Gene drives are designed to relentlessly drive a specific genetic trait through an entire species or population – with the potential to reshape entire natural populations and ecosystems, and possibly driving species to extinction. The development of a powerful genome editing tool in 2012, CRISPR/Cas9 has led to recent breakthroughs in gene drive research. Gene-drive modified organisms are on the horizon.

The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) convened a committee with a broad range of expertise to summarize the scientific discoveries related to gene drives and considerations for their responsible use. The NAS has since released its report (Item 1). Its main conclusion is that gene-drive modified organisms are not ready to be released into the environment and require more research in laboratories and highly controlled field trials to understand the scientific, ethical, regulatory, and social consequences of releasing such organisms. The committee urged caution and has recommended a collaborative, multidisciplinary, and cautionary approach to research on and governance of gene drive technologies.

2016-06-07 |

ADM looks to expand soy crush capacity in northwest Europe

STRAUBING, GERMANY — Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) announced on June 2 that it has successfully started up its new soybean crushing capacity at its oilseeds plant in Straubing, Germany and is now looking at further expanding its soy crushing options at other facilities in northwest Europe.
(.....)
Straubing’s new capability allows the site to crush soybeans sourced from the Danube region in order to market European non-GMO soymeal and oil to customers in Western Europe.
(.....)
“We are pleased with the product throughput and quality we are seeing at the plant and excited that we are now also able to supply non-GMO soymeal and oil from Danube-grown soybeans to our customers,” said Rene van der Poel, general manager of ADM’s Straubing facility. “I wish to thank the whole project team and our customers for their help and support in successfully getting this project off the ground.”

2016-06-06 |

Toxic substances/Glyphosate: 3 strikes must mean Commission rules glyphosate approval out

A proposal for a temporary 'technical extension' of the EU approval of the herbicide glyphosate today failed to secure the support of a majority of EU governments (1). Commenting on the development,Green environment and food safety spokesperson Bart Staes stated:

"We applaud those EU governments who are sticking to their guns and are refusing to authorise this controversial toxic herbicide. There are clear concerns about the health risks with glyphosate, both as regards it being a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor. Moreover, glyphosate's devastating impact on biodiversity should have already led to its ban. Thankfully, the significant public mobilisation and political opposition to reapproving glyphosate has been taken seriously by key EU governments, who have forced the EU Commission to back down.

"Three strikes must mean the approval of glyphosate is finally ruled out.

2016-05-31 |

The Industrial Food Chain's Recipe for a Box Lunch

Who’s going to eat whose lunch … the Hardware Grunts or the Software Gurus? The Battle for the control of agricultural inputs is just beginning. Time for a “Kickboxer” Campaign?
Submitted on 30 May 2016

Bayer’s $62 billion bid for Monsanto, as of this writing, has been rejected, but both parties say they are continuing to negotiate. That the “Joy of Six” agricultural input companies may soon become a ménage à trois has been a matter of speculation in ETC Group since mid-2014. If (and it is a big “if”) the marriages of Dow with DuPont, ChemChina with Syngenta, and Bayer with Monsanto are consummated, the only wallflower left on the dance floor, BASF, will either have to hook up or give up.

Agriculture is, relatively speaking, small potatoes for the German chemical giant, but, still, it brought home $7.2 billion in crop chemical sales in 2014 and commands a hefty 11.5% of the global pesticide market. Although BASF invests in plant breeding and breeding technologies, it doesn’t directly sell seeds. Instead, the company collaborates on R&D all along the food chain – with Monsanto (developing GMO traits), with Yara (producing ammonia for fertilizers), with synbio company Evolva (developing biosynthetic pesticides), with Cargill (developing oils high in omega-3), with Deere & Co. (selling crop insurance, precision agriculture) – and it has cross-licensing deals with major seed companies including Monsanto, DuPont and Dow.

BASF could give Bayer a run for its money wooing Monsanto, or it may decide its dance card is full enough. Or, the company may choose to spin off its Plant Science business altogether. If so, one of the top three farm machinery companies could be a buyer: Deere & Co., CNH or AGCO (in order of sales).

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