International News

2015-04-15 |

Seed laws that criminalise farmers: resistance and fightback

Who Owns Seeds Who Owns Seeds

La Via Campesina | GRAIN | 08 April 2015 | Publications

Seeds are under attack everywhere. Under corporate pressure, laws in many countries increasingly put limitations on what farmers can do with their seeds and with the seeds they buy. Seed saving, a thousand-year-old practice which forms the basis of farming, is fast becoming criminalised. What can we do about this?
Finally, perhaps the most important lesson to be learned is that this is a long battle. Our common experience has been that, after the short respite following the defeat of a seed law, business and government return to the fray. And, if they win, they will always ask for more in the future. We must be constantly prepared for another round of resistance and struggle in the defence of our seeds.

2015-04-13 |

Action: Tell Juncker to keep his promise to make EU GMO decisions more democratic

This Wednesday 15 April, some key decisions may be taken in the European Commission regarding GMOs. Commission President Juncker had promised to make EU decisions on GMOs more democratic. However, the proposed 'solution' currently on the table will not do anything to that end. What's more, on the same day the Commission intends to authorise up to 17 new GM crops for import as food and feed. All of these are tolerant to one or more herbicides, and/or produce (multiple) insecticides. Take action now to tell Juncker to keep his promise on the GMO authorisation rules, and to urge him to not allow this wave of new GM crops for import.

2015-04-02 |

Organic farmers call for GMO bans


IFOAM EU Group Press release

Brussels, 1 April 2015 – As the Directive granting Member States the right to ban GMO cultivation on their territory enters into force tomorrow, a new report from IFOAM EU provides an overview of existing national “coexistence” measures aimed at preventing contamination by GMOs.

Eric Gall, IFOAM EU Policy Manager, said: “Our legal analysis shows that banning GMOs is the most effective way to prevent GMO contamination and to avoid extra costs for the food industry, public authorities and the organic sector. So-called “coexistence” measures are costly, difficult to design and implement and are not sufficient for the prevention of contamination. The organic food and farming sector therefore calls on all Member States to ban all GMO cultivation on their territories.”

The new IFOAM EU report shows that the Member States with the most developed legal “coexistence” measures have, in most cases, eventually chosen to ban GMO cultivation. On the other hand, measures are clearly insufficient or simply non-existent in many countries.

Alejandro Gill, IFOAM EU Policy Coordinator continued: “The Spanish example clearly shows that GMO cultivation threatens the viability of organic production for farmers in the territories where they are cultivated. It is highly regrettable that, in the case of a Member State refusing to ban GMO cultivation, the new Directive does not require Member States to put contamination prevention measures in place, nor to develop an effective liability regime to compensate victims of contamination.”

2015-03-27 |

European Patent Office upholds patents on broccoli and tomato

Patents on plants and animals derived from conventional breeding can also be granted in future

Munich 27 March, 2015
The Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) has decided on the precedent cases of broccoli and tomato (G2 / 12 and G2 /13). The EPO made clear that while processes for crossing and selection cannot be patented, plants and animals stemming from these processes are still patentable. This illogical decision was a long awaited outcome of a precedent case on the patentability of plants and animals derived from conventional breeding. The coalition No Patents on Seeds! has heavily criticised this decision. The organisations are warning about the increasing monopolisation of breeding of plants and animals needed for food production.
“The EPO has paved the way for companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and others to take control of resources we all need for our daily lives. We call upon European governments to put political pressure on the EPO to change its practice”, says Christoph Then for No Patents on Seeds! “No company should hold monopolies on sunlight, air or water. The same is true for the resources needed for food production.”

2015-03-24 |

Pesticide Action Week: No Pesticides, No GMOs

Call for a pesticide-free spring Call for a pesticide-free spring

As pesticide action week is set to begin, one may reflect on the fact that GMOs have been sold primarily as a way of reducing the use of pesticides. Shouldn't we then celebrate this way to reduce our pesticide addiction and embrace a great new agricultural technology? The first point to consider is the fact that it is the pesticides companies that make and patent these GMO crops, and that alone should make us rather sceptical about the argument. Is it really logical for a company to try to sell less of its products? Furthermore, let's not forget that these companies have fiercely opposed all EU proposals to reduce the use of pesticides. With economic and pseudo-scientific arguments, they have gone as far as suing the Commission for its moratorium on some uses of certain neonicotinoids, and enrolling scientists to try and minimise the health and environmental impacts of those. This can only make us question their claims that GMOs are safe.

Let's take a quick look at what we're dealing with after 20 years of growing GMO crops:

There are only two main traits which have been engineered in crops: tolerance to herbicides and the production of insecticides.

2015-03-23 |

Simultaneous Demonstrations Oppose Gates Foundation’s Secret Meeting about Seed Privatization in Africa

SEATTLE, WA — On Monday, March 23, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are sponsoring a secret meeting in London to promote a recent report they commissioned detailing in clear terms how to privatize the seed and agricultural markets of Africa- without African stakeholders having a seat at the table. A coalition of grassroots community organizations across the US, UK, and Africa are criticizing the gathering for:

Inviting corporations, development bodies, trade bodies and aid donors, yet not inviting any representatives of impacted organizations;
Promoting the privatization of African seed production and distribution through top-down changes to African states’ national regulations;
Building a nontransparent network of corporate, philanthropic and state-based actors aiming to expropriate African land, seeds and agriculture.
The UK activists plan to hold a demonstration outside of the meeting in a message of solidarity with African groups who are resisting what they are calling a new form of colonialism. Community Alliance for Global Justice will be holding a solidarity demonstration, simultaneously with the London action, outside the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle, WA.

2015-03-23 |

New report: Where in the world are GM crops and foods?

Where in the world are GM crops and foods Where in the world are GM crops and foods

Where in the world are GM crops and foods?
The reality of GM crops in the ground and on our plates
Report 1 | March 2015

In this first report of the GMO Inquiry 2015, we investigate what genetically modified (GM) crops are grown in Canada and around the world, where they are being grown, how much of each one is being grown, and where they end up in our food system.
“Where in the world are GM crops and foods?” is the first in a series of reports that investigate unanswered questions from 20 years of GMOs in Canada. Watch this space for future reports, and join us as we examine the impacts of GM crops on our environment, on our food and farming systems, and on our health.

2015-03-19 |

India: Thousands of farmers demonstrate in Delhi against GM crops, anti-farmer policies

Modi government targeted for “pushing for unneeded, unwanted and unsafe GMOs in farming” - GMWatch Modi government targeted for “pushing for unneeded, unwanted and unsafe GMOs in farming” - GMWatch

Thousands of farmers have taken to the streets in a Kisan Maha Panchayat (farmer meeting) in Delhi, India, in protest at the Modi government’s anti-farmer policies, which include uncritically promoting open field trials of GM crops.

There is some speculation in India that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition, led by Narendra Modi (now prime minister), may have come to power with the help of generous funding of their election campaign by the GMO lobby. It is said that this may explain their conversion to the pro-GMO cause.

Though there appears to be little transparency in political funding in India, we hope the Modi government will move to allay fears of corruption by publishing full details of its election campaign funding.

2015-03-17 |

Australian Story: The Seeds of Wrath - GM canola contamination

The Seeds Of Wrath Part 1 - Transcript
PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT: Monday, 16 March , 2015

CAROLINE JONES, PRESENTER: Hello. I'm Caroline Jones. Wherever we may live, it's a fine thing to have good neighbours. Tonight we’re off to the wheat belt of Western Australia for an epic saga of friends and neighbours falling out. It all began with the planting of genetically modified crops next to an organic farm but it escalated to the Supreme Court, where it’s drawn international headlines. The battle is far from over. With the case about to return to court we hear from both farmers, and their families, for the first time.

ROSYLYNE ALLSOP, MICHAEL’S SISTER: To get to Perth it’s a three hour drive. It’s not a short trip. On verdict day, Michael would have left first thing in the morning.

MICHAEL BAXTER: Steven, you know, to put me through what he’s put me through: well, there’s no forgiving for that. He could possibly, he could have done things a lot easier. Could've come over the fence and had a chat and, you know, have a beer and somehow maybe sorted it out a little bit different.

STEVE MARSH: I don’t think a lot of people realise just how much goes on in preparing for particularly a big court case. After going through so much, everything is beyond your control. So you’ve just got to just, just wait and hear what the judgement is.

2015-03-09 |

New Film Explores Loss of Seed Diversity

Open Sesame - The Story of Seeds Open Sesame - The Story of Seeds

Few things are more essential to our survival than seeds, yet few things are taken more for granted.

Filmmaker M. Sean Kaminsky’s new documentary Open Sesame looks at the necessity for seed diversity and how monoculture-farming practices threaten it. In the past century, we’ve lost an astonishing 90 percent of the fruit and vegetable seeds once available. Instead, the world’s food supply is built largely on hybrid seeds, and like mules, they are unable to naturally reproduce. As a result, there’s no way for a species to evolve regional hardiness, or withstand pests, diseases and changing climate conditions.

Open Sesame illuminates what is at stake when seeds are patented and controlled by large corporation, and the film features different approaches that enterprising farmers are using to preserve seeds and foster diversity.

As spring planting season begins, we spoke with Kaminsky about the film, what inspired him to make it and the perils facing seeds today.

Open Sesame is available to stream or download here on Vimeo, as well as iTunes and Amazon. DVDs are also available for purchase.

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