International News

2015-01-19 |

We are fed up!: 50,000 march against TTIP & GMOs in Berlin

We are fed up! 50000 people demo We are fed up! 50000 people demo

A broad alliance of farmers, ethical consumers, and anti-capitalist activists staged a march through Berlin that numbered up to 50,000, to denounce the proposed TTIP treaty between the US and EU, and mass farming technologies.

More than 120 organizations joined the fifth annual ‘We are Fed Up!’ demonstration, which this year focused on the increased importation of American farming practices – such as genetic modification, frequent antibiotic injections for animals, and chemical meat treatments – following the implementation of the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

(.....) Speaking at one of the Green Week events, Federal Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt promised to address the issues raised by the demonstrators, and said that he welcomed the public display of opinion.

2015-01-16 |

EU's harvest of genetically-modified corn falls

European Union production of genetically modified corn fell last year, even as output of conventional maize soared to a record high – but there is no sign of imports of biotech products slackening off.

2015-01-14 |

EU Parliament backs GMO opt-out for EU member states

New legislation to allow EU member states to restrict or ban the cultivation of crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on their own territory, even if this is allowed at EU level, was passed by MEPs on Tuesday.

2015-01-13 |

EU Parliament backs GMO opt-out for EU member states

PLENARY SESSION Press release - Environment − 13-01-2015 - 13:24

New legislation to allow EU member states to restrict or ban the cultivation of crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on their own territory, even if this is allowed at EU level, was passed by MEPs on Tuesday. The legislation, informally agreed by Parliament and Council in December, was originally tabled in 2010 but was then deadlocked for four years due to disagreement between pro- and anti-GMO member states.

"This agreement will ensure more flexibility for member states who wish to restrict the cultivation of the GMOs in their territory. It will, moreover, signpost a debate which is far from over between pro- and anti-GMO positions” said Frédérique Ries (ALDE, BE), who is steering the legislation through Parliament.

“As to what comes next, I place my trust in Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's formal pledge to strengthen the democratic process on GMOs in Europe and ensure that research is genuinely independent", she added. The agreement negotiated with EU ministers was approved by 480 votes to 159, with 58 abstentions.

2015-01-13 |

Seed Banks Are Just a Start

Farmers will need to experiment to cope with climate change.

Cary Fowler helped create the world’s largest seed bank, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which stores more than 780,000 crop varieties in a mountain in the Norwegian Arctic. Climate change is the biggest challenge farming has ever faced, he says, and to survive it we need to learn much more about plants.

Why are seed banks important?
I call them an insurance policy for the globe. Without crop diversity, farming isn’t going to adapt to climate change, and neither are we. It’s the biggest challenge that agriculture has faced since the Neolithic days when agriculture began. We’re going to see a change in seasonality, growing seasons that no longer align with rainfall—everything will be out of whack. If you think the recent droughts in the U.S. Midwest and California were bad, we’ve got more of this coming, and it’s going to get worse.

(.....)
Is it enough just to save seeds in seed banks?
No, you also need to know what you have there. To use an analogy, it may be in the library, but we don’t yet have it card-cataloged for the kinds of traits that we will need in the future. At the moment, virtually no seed bank is geared up for screening seeds and providing good answers to farmers who need new crop varieties in order to adapt to climate change. If a new disease comes along and you need resistance, and that resistance isn’t found in the crops that are already in your field, you’ll go out of business or starve.

2015-01-09 |

Organic Farming Points the Way to Sustainable Agriculture

Chart: Who Owns Organic? 2014 Chart: Who Owns Organic? 2014

NAGAPATNAM, India, Jan 7 2015 (IPS) - Standing amidst his lush green paddy fields in Nagapatnam, a coastal district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a farmer named Ramajayam remembers how a single wave changed his entire life.

The simple farmer was one of thousands whose agricultural lands were destroyed by the 2004 Asian tsunami, as massive volumes of saltwater and metre-high piles of sea slush inundated these fertile fields in the aftermath of the disaster.

(.....) “The general perception is that organic farming takes years to yield good results and revenue,” TOFarM’s Revathi told IPS.

“But during post-tsunami rehabilitation work, with data, we proved that in less than a year organic methods could yield better results than chemical farming. That TOFarM was invited to replicate this in Indonesia and Sri Lanka is proof that farms can be revived through sustainable practices even after disasters,” she added.

As early as 2006, farmers like Ramajayam, having planted a salt-resistant strain of rice known as kuzhivedichan, yielded a harvest within three months of the sowing season.

Together with restoration of some 2,000 ponds by TOFarM, farmers in Nagapatnam are confident that sustainable agriculture will stand the test of time, and whatever climate-related challenges are coming their way. The lush fields of Tamil Nadu’s coast stand as proof of their assertion.

2015-01-05 |

Iowa Farmers File Lawsuits Against Syngenta Over GMO

Iowa lawsuits accuse Syngenta over rejected GMO crops

Iowa farmers and companies are suing Syngenta AG, claiming they suffered financial losses when China rejected corn shipments containing a genetically modified seed developed by the agribusiness giant but not approved for use by China.

Sixteen growers and businesses filed suit Monday seeking monetary and punitive damages from Syngenta, which is based in Switzerland and has operations in Iowa. Including previous legal action, the company now faces challenges from more than 100 farmers and commodity traders, including Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland.

"Syngenta has caused damages to U.S. farmers, grain handlers and exporters," the latest lawsuits allege. "Syngenta's conduct in marketing, distributing and selling unapproved corn seed violates the legal standards of the marketplace because the primary market risk falls on U.S. farmers, grain handlers and exporters, not on Syngenta."

2014-12-23 |

After opposition: Monsanto patent on tomatoes revoked

no patent on seeds no patent on seeds

Monsanto implicated in “fraud and abuse of patent law”

22 December 2014 / Munich.
Patent EP1812575 held by the US company Monsanto has been revoked by the European Patent Office (EPO) after the international coalition No Patents on Seeds! filed an opposition in May 2014. A further opposition was filed by Nunhems / Bayer CropScience. In November 2014, Monsanto requested that the patent be revoked in its entirety and the EPO complied with this request. The patent covered conventionally bred tomatoes with a natural resistance to a fungal disease called botrytis, which were claimed as an invention. The original tomatoes used for this patent were accessed via the international gene bank in Gatersleben, Germany, and it was already known that these plants had the desired resistance. Monsanto produced a cleverly worded patent in order to create the impression that genetic engineering had been used to produce the tomatoes and to make it look 'inventive'.
“Revoking this patent is an important success. It was more or less based on a combination of fraud, abuse of patent law and biopiracy. The patent could have been used to monopolise important genetic resources. Now breeders, growers and consumers have a chance of benefiting from a greater diversity of tomatoes improved by further breeding”, says Christoph Then, a coordinator of No Patents on Seeds!. “The intended resistance is based on complex genetic conditions, which are not known in detail. So genetic engineering is clearly not an option in this case.”

2014-12-20 |

IFOAM EU: Key points to stay GMO free identified at first "Keeping GMOs out of organics" roundtable

IFOAM EU IFOAM EU

During the first roundtable meeting of the “Keeping GMOs out of organics” project, fifteen experts on prevention of GMOs in the GM-free supply chain identified key points to staying GM-free.

Among the key strategic points identified by the experts were the need to address the costs of coexistence, the socioeconomic impact of GMOs in the entire GM-free sector supply chain, the need to collect data in the field and the importance of better information sharing regarding best practices and available tools to prevent GM contamination. Moreover, the experts also discussed the need to join efforts and to develop better coordination with GM-free conventional agriculture regarding the introduction of GMOs in the supply chain.

2014-12-18 |

GMO testing procedure curtails US hay exports to China

GMO Alfalfa GMO Alfalfa

China's booming dairy industry has meant a surge in US hay exports, but the country's resistance to imports of some US genetically-modified crops (GMOs) is reducing US exports of hay modified with biotech alfalfa.

US farmers have embraced the GMO technology that helps to kill weeds, fight pests and improve yields. But China has not accepted all GMO agriculture products and has tight restrictions on imports.

Earlier this year, China started testing to determine if US hay imports contained the genetically modified alfalfa developed by Monsanto Co, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

"China is among the largest markets for US hay; so, of course it will affect exports. Again, it comes back to industry sourcing product as demanded by the customer. It is our understanding the Chinese government is aware of the need for regulatory approval and that it might take at least a year," he said. "In the meantime, we strictly adhere to China's zero-tolerance policy and do our best to please our customers in all markets with properly sourced product."

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