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International News

2016-02-11 |

Gene editing is a 'weapon of mass destruction'

The US intelligence chief added gene editing to a list of threats that includes North Korea's nukes and Syria's chemical weapons

The United States' top intelligence official just added gene editing technology to a list of threats that includes North Korea's nukes and Syria's chemical weapons, MIT's Technology Review reported.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday about 2016's US Intelligence Community's Worldwide Threat Assessment.

Genome editing is a technology used to cut and paste DNA inside living cells.

In recent years, a technique known as CRISPR has been widely adopted because it is far easier and more precise than previous methods.

2016-02-11 |

Intensive, corporate agriculture is increasing poverty in Africa

New research indicates that agricultural policies aimed at alleviating poverty in Africa are making things worse, writes Lawrence Woodward. Backed by 'development' aid, big business is forcing modern farming practices on unwilling rural communities. Only the rich benefit, while the poor carry the burden of landlessness and debt.

A new study by the University of East Anglia (UEA) indicates that agricultural policies which governments, international donors and organisations such as the International Monetary Fund claim to be economically successful and alleviating poverty are not working.

In fact they are having large negative impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable people in rural Africa.

2016-02-10 |

Monsanto to pay $80 million civil penalty for Roundup-related accounting violations

The Securities and Exchange Commission slapped Monsanto with an $80 million civil penalty for violating accounting rules and misstating past earnings related to rebates on its flagship weedkiller Roundup. Two accounting executives and a retired sales executive also agreed to pay penalties to settle the charges.

And while the SEC found no personal misconduct by Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, the biotech seed giant disclosed Tuesday that Grant already had reimbursed the company $3.2 million in pay due to the restatement of corporate earnings in fiscal years 2009 through 2011.

The penalty is another black eye for the Creve Coeur-based company, which has had a number of high-profile setbacks in the past year.

2016-02-08 |

GMOs are being authorised in the EU without Member State support – MEPs

GMOs are being authorised in the EU without the support of Member States, according to MEPs.

They said last week that the European Commission should not authorise the glyphosate-tolerant GM soybeans in food and feed.

The MEPs note that glyphosate, a herbicide, is classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The three genetically modified soybeans to be authorized by the European Commission for use in food and feed are FG72, MON 87708 x MON 89788 and MON 87705 x MON 89788.

MEPs approved three separate objections, included one tabled by Irish MEP Lynn Boylan.

Late last year, MEPs also opposed two maize GMOs which the Commission adopted for food or feed uses.

2016-02-04 |

Organic agriculture is key to feeding the world sustainably

Washington State University researchers (link is external) have concluded that feeding a growing global population with sustainability goals in mind is possible. Their review of hundreds of published studies provides evidence that organic farming can produce sufficient yields, be profitable for farmers, protect and improve the environment, and be safer for farm workers.

The review study, “Organic Agriculture in the 21st Century,” was authored by John Reganold, WSU regents professor of soil science and agroecology and doctoral candidate Jonathan Wachter. It is the first such study to analyze 40 years of science comparing organic and conventional agriculture across the four goals of sustainability identified by the National Academy of Sciences: productivity, economics, environment, and community well being.

2016-02-04 |

Monsanto’s Glyphosate most heavily used weed-killer in history

Glyphosate Glyphosate

Nearly 75 Percent of All Glyphosate Sprayed on Crops Came in the Last 10 Years; Surging Use in both U.S. and Globally Raises New Concerns for Health and the Environment

WASHINGTON – Monsanto’s signature herbicide glyphosate, first marketed as “Roundup,” is now the most widely and heavily applied weed-killer in the history of chemical agriculture in both the U.S. and globally, according to a landmark report published today.

The paper, published Feb. 2, 2016 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe, reports that to date 18.9 billion pounds (8.6 billion kilograms) of glyphosate have been used globally. Glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since so-called “Roundup Ready” genetically engineered crops were introduced in 1996.

In 2014, enough glyphosate was sprayed to leave more than three-quarters of a pound of the active ingredient on every harvested acre of cropland in the U.S., and remarkably, almost a half pound per acre on all cropland worldwide (0.53 kilogram/hectare).

The paper by Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., titled “Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and Globally,” is available free online at Environmental Sciences Europe.

“The dramatic and rapid growth in overall use of glyphosate will likely contribute to a host of adverse environmental and public health consequences,” Dr. Benbrook wrote.

2016-02-03 |

MEPs object to three GM soybean authorisations

PLENARY SESSION Press release - Consumers / Public health − 03-02-2016 - 13:17

The EU Commission should not authorize the use of glyphosate-tolerant GM soybeans in food and feed, said Parliament on Wednesday. MEPs note that glyphosate, a herbicide, is classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and that GMOs are being authorized in the EU without the support of member states.

The three genetically modified soybeans to be authorized by the European Commission for use in food and feed are FG72, MON 87708 x MON 89788 and MON 87705 x MON 89788. MEPs approved three separate objections, all tabled by MEPs Bart Staes (Greens/EFA, BE), Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, FI), Guillaume Balas (S&D, FR), Lynn Boylan (GUE/NGL, IE) and Eleonora Evi (EFDD, IT).

Concerns over glyphosate

2016-02-03 |

Burkina Faso abandons GM Bt Cotton

Cotton Cotton

Burkina Faso calls time on Monsanto's GM cotton, demands $280m damages

After a run of low quality GM cotton crops with unusually short fibres, Burkina Faso has ended its love affair with Monsanto's Bt cotton, writes Claire Robinson. In a further blow to the company, growers are demanding $280 million compensation for their losses.

In a move that could help decide the future of GM crops in Africa, Burkina Faso has abandoned GM Bt cotton.

The country has begun a complete phase-out of the crop, citing the inferior lint quality of GM cultivars.

This story of a major GMO failure is documented in a new briefing in the journal African Affairs, which is published by Oxford University Press.

2016-01-27 |

Genetically Modified Mustard is Unsafe for Us. Stop potential approval of its cultivation

This ‘new’ mustard in our kitchen could soon be harmful to us. Mustard oil is an everyday consumption item for lakhs of families across India. Almost all our curries are incomplete without a seasoning of mustard and mustard products find their way into our food in various ways. Don’t we have babies massaged with mustard oil? Have we not enjoyed Sarson da Saag on cold winter days?

And now our mustard is getting Genetically Modified. Shockingly, important information about this new Genetically Modified (GM) mustard is not being disclosed to us.

(.....)

This is a fight for the food we eat everyday. Sign the petition and forward this campaign to your friends.

2016-01-22 |

Feral 'Roundup Ready' GM alfalfa goes wild in US West

A USDA study shows that a GM alfalfa has gone wild in alfalfa-growing parts of the West. This may explain GMO contamination incidents that have cost US growers and exporters millions of dollars - and it exposes the failure of USDA's 'coexistence' policy for GMOs and traditional crops.

The US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has long maintained that genetically engineered (GE) crops can co-exist with traditional and organic agriculture.

According to this 'co-existence' narrative, if neighboring GE and traditional farmers just sort things out among themselves and follow 'best management practices', transgenes will be confined to GE crops and the fields where they are planted.

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