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International News

2016-09-21 |

New Shopper’s Guide to Synthetic Biology

Are GMOs 2.0 in your food and cosmetics? Gene-silenced apples that never look old, synthetic stevia created with genetically engineered algae — these are just some of the new generation of GMOs companies are sneaking into food and consumer products.

This new guide helps consumers avoid the new wave of GMOs and find truly natural and sustainable options.

The 12-page guide is available for free below, and printed copies can be ordered in bulk for the cost of shipping.

The Shopper’s Guide to Synthetic Biology explains:

Which GMO 2.0 products are in stores now, or on their way. Examples include synthetic versions of vanilla, stevia and patchouli fragrance.
Concerns about GMOs 2.0, including lack of testing, lack of labeling and negative impact on small farmers.
How to avoid GMOs 2.0: Buy organic as the best option, or choose products with the Non-GMO Verified or Made Safe certifications that do not allow synthetic biology ingredients.

How can I get hold of the Shopper’s Guide?
Consumers can download the Shopper’s Guide for free (344 downloads) . You can also order printed copies to distribute in your business, organization, or community for the cost of shipping. And you can download the mini guide (71 downloads) , to get the conversation started in your community.

2016-09-16 |

The Monsanto–Bayer tie-up is just one of seven; Mega-Mergers and Big Data Domination Threaten Seeds, Food Security

Policymakers could still block the agribiz mergers; peasants and farmers will continue the fight for seeds and rights

Wednesday’s confirmation that Monsanto and Bayer have agreed to a $66 billion merger is just the latest of four M&A announcements, but at least three more game-changing mergers are in play (and flying under the radar). The acquisition activity is no longer just about seeds and pesticides but about global control of agricultural inputs and world food security. Anti-competition regulators should block these mergers everywhere, and particularly in the emerging markets of the Global South, as the new mega companies will greatly expand their power and outcompete national enterprises. Four of the world’s top 10 agrochemical purchasing countries are in the global South and account for 28% of the world market.[1] If some of these throw up barriers, shareholders will rebel against the deals regardless of decisions in Washington or Brussels.

“These deals are not just about seeds and pesticides, but also about who will control Big Data in agriculture,” says Pat Mooney of ETC Group, an International Civil Society Organization headquartered in Canada that monitors agribusiness and agricultural technologies. “The company that can dominate seed, soil and weather data and crunch new genomics information will inevitably gain control of global agricultural inputs – seeds, pesticides, fertilizers and farm machinery.”

2016-09-15 |

Less choice for African farmers, after Bayer's Monsanto takeover

A $66 billion merger deal between German chemical giant Bayer and US seeds firm Monsanto could result in the world's largest agribusiness. But what does it mean for African farmers, where Monsanto is also active?

Many experts say that Bayer's takeover of Monsanto may lead to a global monopoly in the production of agricultural supplies. Mariam Mayet, executive director of the African Centre for Biodiversity in South Africa, told DW that the merger could also have a negative impact on both farmers and consumers in Africa.

DW: What is your take on the merger between Bayer and Monsanto?

Mariam Mayet: I think that it will result in one of the largest agribusinesses on the planet, because it will put together one company that will control almost 30 percent of the world's seeds and around one quarter of the world's pesticide market. But we must also remember that this merger is part of a bigger consolidation and concentration in the global agriculture input market. As we speak, the deal between ChemChina and Syngenta is being finalized, as well as the merger between the Dow Chemical Company and DuPont.

What are the likely risks arising out of this merger and how will it affect farmers in Africa?

I think the first thing to note is that Monsanto already controls much of the high breed maize seed market in Southern Africa, and in parts of West Africa. So in terms of further expansion into the seed market, I think that we will see a greater push into the GM [genetically modified] seed market, particularly GM cotton in West Africa.

2016-09-05 |

30 Environmental Leaders say ‘No!’ to Gene Drives in Conservation

Genetic “Extinction” Technology Rejected by International Group of Scientists, Conservationists and Environmental Advocates
gene-drives-image
via www.synbiowatch.org

OAHU, HAWAI’I — As thousands of government representatives and conservationists convene in Oahu this week for the 2016 World Conservation Congress, international conservation and environmental leaders are raising awareness about the potentially dangerous use of gene drives — a controversial new synthetic biology technology intended to deliberately cause targeted species to become extinct.
Members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including NGOs, government representatives, and scientific and academic institutions, overwhelmingly voted to adopt a de facto moratorium on supporting or endorsing research into gene drives for conservation or other purposes until the IUCN has fully assessed their impacts. News of the August 26 digital vote comes as an important open letter to the group is being delivered.

2016-09-01 |

USDA shifts GMO labeling policy for meat, eggs

The USDA will allow meat and eggs to be labeled as being raised without genetically engineered feed, marking a departure from the agency’s previous policy.

2016-08-30 |

The accidental release of forbidden GMO wheat in Huntley could have been catastrophic

Seeds of discontent: Sixteen years ago, Montana State University partnered with Monsanto on what farmers and researchers hoped would usher wheat into the genetic age.

A decade later, with the experiment long abandoned, Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” wheat, which was never federally approved, unexpectedly sprang up at MSU’s Southern Agricultural Research Center in Huntley. The discovery has caused big headaches for MSU. Possessing a genetically modified species that hasn't been approved for planting by the federal government is illegal. And, with no country willing to buy genetically-modified wheat, had the rogue wheat inadvertently entered the food chain, it could have been disastrous for the farm economy.
(.....)
“I repeatedly mentioned that I thought this had been moved by the intervention of some animal, whether it be rodents or birds, or deer or raccoons. We have stuff moving across the landscape here all the time,” Kephart said. “You watch a pheasant, they’ll go down a row and they’ll fill their craw with seed and then they fly off to who knows.

"So, I brought this up to the (APHIS) guy. And I mentioned ‘Why are you not considering this and he said ‘We simply don't have a protocol to evaluate that risk. Therefore, it doesn’t exist.’”

2016-08-26 |

India: Monsanto pulls new GM cotton seed in protest

Monsanto Co has withdrawn an application seeking approval for its next generation of genetically modified cotton seeds in India, a major escalation in a long-running dispute between New Delhi and the world's biggest seed maker.

2016-08-26 |

Who is to blame for the failure of GM golden rice?

Press release 25 August 2016
European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER)

The recent Nobel laureates’ open letter to the United Nations and governments around the world, accusing Greenpeace of a “crime against humanity” for opposing genetically modified (GMO) golden rice, elicited a reaction from scientists Angelika Hilbeck and Hans Herren (Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich). They point out that the letter does not recognise the facts about golden rice and makes many scientifically unsubstantiated claims. Among the Nobel laureate signatories, there seems to be hardly anybody with a solid scientific track record in agriculture, food production, development, or the socio-ecological and political causes of poverty and hunger. Others with notable competence – at least in the economic and social domains of development, poverty, and hunger – are not among the signatories. Hilbeck and Herren present the missing facts.

2016-08-24 |

Italy Places Important Restrictions on the Use of Glyphosate

August 23, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

PAN Europe enthusiastically applauds the decision by Italy’s Ministry of Health to place a number of restrictions on the use of Glyphosate, one of the world’s most ubiquitous pesticides.

The Italian restrictions ban the use of Glyphosate in areas frequented by the public or by "vulnerable groups" including children and the elderly. The list of banned areas includes parks, gardens and courtyards, the edges of roads and railways, urban areas, sports fields and recreational areas, playgrounds and green areas within the school buildings, and areas adjacent to health facilities.

In addition, the pre-harvest use of Glyphosate--a process known as desiccation--is banned. The desiccation of crops by spraying glyphosate is a primary source for residual pesticide contamination at the consumer level. Finally, the non-agricultural use of glyphosate is banned on soils composed 80% or more of sand--a measure designed to protect groundwater from contamination.

2016-08-22 |

Argentina: The villagers who fear herbicides

Argentina is one of the world's largest exporters of genetically-modified soya. It's big business, but some local residents fear herbicides used by the industry could be making them sick.
Horacio Brignone lives in the village of María Juana in the Argentine flatlands, or pampas. From his window he can see fields of soya.
His 20-year old son has suffered from asthma since he was three years old, he says, but when he recently moved to a city the condition disappeared.
"He hasn't had an attack for two years since he went to study in Córdoba," says Horacio. "But when he came home for two months recently, he began to cough again."
He blames the weedkiller sprayed on the soya fields.
"We are 50m from the fields," Mr Brignone says. "We can't be certain, but respiratory problems and skin complaints are very common round here among those who live very close to the fields."
Mr Brignone's wife, Rosalía Ramonda, has suffered from rashes on her skin for years.

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