International News

2015-08-03 |

Organic farming is not only cost effective but healthy as well

Docs, farmers, scientists promote organic farming

Meerut: Environment activist and author Vandana Shiva kick-started a nationwide campaign, Anna Swaraj Andolan, from Meerut on Sunday. The campaign is meant to make farmers aware of the benefits of organic farming and also inform them of the hidden agenda of multi-national companies, which allegedly attempt to control the national agronomy by introducing genetically-altered seeds.

"Meerut's farmers had stood against colonialism in 1857. Now, the time has come for the city to fight again against another kind of colonialism which not only wants to capture our agronomy but also wishes to play havoc with our health through genetically mutated seeds and pesticides," Shiva said.

2015-07-23 |

Stop Monsanto´s GM soybeans - Write to EU Commissioner

Stop the toxic soybeans! Support our call!
Testbiotech, 23 July 2015

Testbiotech is warning that EU market authorisation might be given to a new genetically engineered soybean produced by Monsanto. Soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 was made resistant to two pesticides, glyphosate and dicamba. Spraying soybean crops with these herbicides leaves residues in the plants which might be carcinogenic. Glyphosate was recently classified as “probably carcinogenic” by an international expert group. Dicamba degrades to compounds such as formaldehyde, which has already been classified as carcinogenic for several years. It follows that the harvested soybeans will regularly contain a combination of residues from these herbicides. If they are imported, the food and feed chain could be permanently exposed to this specific mixture.

This is the first time that this combination of herbicides will be used to spray soybeans.

2015-07-22 |

Biosafety and Knowledge Gaps of New Plant Breeding Technologies Necessitate Further Research

New plant breeding techniques, such as those involving site-directed or sequence-specific modifications to the genomes of crop species, have emerged as a group that is different from conventional breeding and standard genetic modification. Current international biosafety regulations for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may not be applicable to all novel products arising from these new techniques, giving rise to the concern on how to assess, monitor and regulate them properly.

A report by GenØk–Centre for Biosafety, Norway, reviews the potential applications and knowledge gaps related to two new plant breeding techniques, site directed nucleases (SDN) and oligonucleotide directed mutagenesis (ODM). The aim is to both create a historical record of the emergence of these technologies and to serve as a case study in how ‘early warnings’ may be incorporated into risk assessments of new technologies.

2015-07-21 |

GMO Soy Accumulates Formaldehyde and Disrupts Plant Metabolism, Says New Study

Genetic engineering of soy disrupts the plant's natural ability to control stress, and invalidates the FDA's current regulatory framework of "substantial equivalence."

A new study published today in the peer-reviewed journal Agricultural Sciences reveals genetic engineering of soy disrupts the plant's natural ability to control stress, and invalidates the FDA's current regulatory framework of "substantial equivalence" used for approval of genetically engineered food (GMOs).

2015-07-20 |

Soil Association calls for ban on Glyphosate: the world’s most widely sold weedkiller

The Soil Association is calling for a UK ban on the use of Glyphosate sprayed on UK wheat as a pre-harvest weedkiller and its use to kill the crop to ripen it faster. New figures analysed by the Soil Association from government data were released at a scientific briefing in London on July 15 2015. This revealed Glyphosate use in UK farming has increased by 400 per cent in the last 20 years and it’s one of the three pesticides regularly found in routine testing of British bread - appearing in up to 30 per cent of samples tested by the Defra committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF).

2015-07-19 |

BIO members include Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, BASF

BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotech 2015

BIO is the world's largest biotechnology industry lobby group. In June 2015, BIO changed its name from the Biotechnology Industry Association to the Biotechnology Innovation Association. In 2012, BIO spent $65 million dollars on its activities. BIO members include three of the six largest biotech, seed and pesticide companies in the world: Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, BASF.

The BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology is in Montreal July 19-22 and is a platform for the development and promotion of biofuels and biomass including the use of synthetic biology.

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Companies have big plans for our future – but are corporate solutions real solutions? Genetic engineering including new technologies like synthetic biology threaten to commodify every living organism, replace livelihoods and put our environment at risk.

2015-07-18 |

MEPs object to draft law allowing national bans, call for plan B

A draft EU law that would enable any member state to restrict or prohibit the use of EU-approved GMO food or feed on its territory was strongly opposed by MEPs from all political groups in a debate on Wednesday. Members were concerned that the draft did not include an impact assessment, that member state measures might not be compatible with single market or WTO rules and that the proposal might prove unworkable.

“There is a clear majority in the European Parliament against this proposal” said Environment Committee chair Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT), whose draft report recommends rejecting the draft legislation. “There is no impact assessment around this draft, and we believe that this was not the best proposal possible” he said.

“This proposal is in conflict with the principles of “better regulation” and transparency which the new European Commission has taken on (…) After so many years we have spent on getting rid of internal barriers, this proposal could fragment the internal market and lead to border inspections, and we all worked to get rid of those, back in the day”

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Next steps

The Environment Committee will vote on the proposal on 12-13 October. The file will then be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole at the 26-29 October plenary session in Strasbourg.

2015-07-17 |

Ruthless Power and Deleterious Politics: From DDT to Roundup

Morton Biskind, a physician from Westport, Connecticut, was a courageous man. At the peak of the cold war, in 1953, he complained of maladies afflicting both domestic animals and people for the first time. He concluded that the popular insect poison DDT was the agent of their disease. DDT, he said, was “dangerous for all animal life from insects to mammals.”

The Reign of DDT
Yet, he was astonished at what little was done to restrict or ban DDT. On the contrary, officials and scientists defended it:

“[V]irtually the entire apparatus of communication, lay and scientific alike, has been devoted to denying, concealing, suppressing, distorting… [the bad news about DDT]. Libel, slander and economic boycott have not been overlooked… And a new principle of toxicology has… become firmly entrenched…: no matter how lethal a poison may be for all other forms of animal life, if it doesn’t kill human beings instantly, it is safe. When… it unmistakably does kill a human, this was the victim’s own fault – either he was “allergic” to it… or he didn’t use it properly,” he wrote (Biskind 1953).

2015-07-08 |

EU-US trade talks: European Parliament vote ignores citizen concerns

The European Parliament today expressed its support for the TTIP trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States.

The resolution adopted today [1] is the parliament’s unique opportunity to give its opinion on the ongoing trade talks. The result of the vote is a setback for citizens, the environment, and democracy, reacted Friends of the Earth Europe.

Natacha Cingotti, Friends of the Earth Europe trade campaigner, said: “The people of Europe are rightly concerned about the threat TTIP poses to our environment, food, health and social protections – they expected the European Parliament to take a strong stance but MEPs have sided with big business and put democracy at risk by supporting these talks. The parliament has backed dangerous propositions within TTIP such as special privileges for foreign investors and plans to permanently align existing and future rules between Europe and the US which would lead to lower environmental, food and safety standards.

2015-07-07 |

TTIP could open EU to 'new biotech' GMO seeds and foods

Coroprate Europe Observatory & Inf'OGM
7th July 2015

The EU Parliament is voting tomorrow on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the USA and the EU. But do MEPs realise that the agreement could force European markets open to 'new biotech' foods and crops using advanced GM technologies that do not meet current definitions of 'GMO' within the EU?
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One of the most contentious issues is whether TTIP will weaken Europe's rules over genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a long-time target for US exporters who claim these rules hamper their profits.

Meanwhile, the biotech industry is pushing for the products of the 'next generation' biotech crops to escape the EU's legislation on GMOs and therefore to go unregulated. Is there a link between this new push, and TTIP? Emails obtained via a Freedom of Information request show this might indeed be the case.

Responding to public concerns, the European Commission has fervently denied any claims that EU food safety standards, or other standards for that matter, would be lowered as a result of TTIP.

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