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17.10.2017 |

GM Cotton in Africa: Battleground Between US and Chinese Capital

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACBIO), shares with you its new research report titled, GM Cotton in Africa: Battleground between Chinese and US Capital.

The report shows that 13 African countries undertook field trials or granted approval for the commercial growing of genetically modified (GM) crops in 2016. Cotton is the first adopter GM crop to gain entry into countries where there is fierce opposition to eating GM food or using it as animal feed. There is, however, no barrier between fibre, feed and food with cotton as cotton seed oil is used in a range of food products across the continent, and by-products from the milling process is used for animal feed.

While currently, only South Africa and Sudan cultivate GM cotton commercially, commercial growing is expected in Ethiopia, Malawi and Kenya in 2018/19. Various entities supported by the United States (US) government, are also putting pressure on several African countries to relax their strict liability provisions in their biosafety laws. Zambia, Swaziland and Mozambique are in the process of doing so, and Tanzania has already done so. Yet in many countries such as Swaziland, field trials are being conducted without proper regulatory oversight.

28.09.2017 |

End commercial release of new Bt cotton seeds

The Maharashtra government has asked the Centre to reverse its nod for the commercial release of genetically modified (Bt) cotton seeds grown using Bollgard II (BG-2) technology. The State claimed that the seeds lost their ability to fight diseases and reduced crop productivity.

28.09.2017 |

Monsanto banned from European parliament

MEPs withdraw parliamentary access after the firm shunned a hearing into allegations that it unduly influenced studies into the safety of glyphosate used in its RoundUp weedkiller

Monsanto lobbyists have been banned from entering the European parliament after the multinational refused to attend a parliamentary hearing into allegations of regulatory interference.

It is the first time MEPs have used new rules to withdraw parliamentary access for firms that ignore a summons to attend parliamentary inquiries or hearings.

Monsanto officials will now be unable to meet MEPs, attend committee meetings or use digital resources on parliament premises in Brussels or Strasbourg.

While a formal process still needs to be worked through, a spokesman for the parliament’s president Antonio Tajani said that the leaders of all major parliamentary blocks had backed the ban in a vote this morning.

“One has to assume it is effective immediately,” he said.

MEPs had been incensed at a Monsanto decision to shun a hearing organised by the environment and agriculture committees, with academics, regulators and campaigners, on 11 October.

The meeting is expected to hear allegations that Monsanto unduly influenced regulatory studies into the safety of glyphosate, a key ingredient in its best-selling RoundUp weedkiller.

28.09.2017 |

Products of new GM techniques must be strictly regulated as GMOs, say scientists

Risks of new GM techniques include toxic food crops and ecological harm, says a statement signed by over 60 scientists

The products of new genetic modification techniques (NGMTs) are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and should be strictly regulated as such, according to a statement released today by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER).

The statement challenges claims by proponents that these new GM techniques (often called New Plant Breeding Techniques or NPBTs) are so precise and controllable that their products are not genetically modified organisms in the usual sense and do not pose any greater risks than their non-GMO counterparts. Proponents are arguing for deregulation of the products of new GM techniques at the European level. This would mean that these products would not undergo a mandatory safety assessment and would not carry a GMO label.

However, according to the ENSSER statement, which is currently signed by over 60 international scientists, scientific evidence shows that these techniques (including CRISPR-Cas/Cpf to oligonucleotide directed mutagenesis, cisgenesis, and RNA-dependent DNA methylation) “are highly prone to off-target effects”. In the case of food crops produced with these techniques, that could lead to unexpected toxicity or allergenicity.

15.09.2017 |

Osage farmer grows non-GMO beans

OSAGE | “I am not mainstream, I am more in the process of growing food,” said Mike Lewis, who farms southeast of Osage. “All my stuff is non-GMO.”

Lewis, an Osage High School and a 1980 Iowa State University with a degree in farm operations, recognizes he has to deal with problems GMO farmers don’t have, but he also acknowledges the production of his food-grade soybeans brings a premium price, which overshadows some of the challenges he faces.

Thirty years ago, Lewis began a limited planting of the food-grade soybeans. Ten years later, he turned to full production of the soybeans.

15.09.2017 |

EU report on weedkiller safety copied text from Monsanto study | Environment

Exclusive: EU’s food safety watchdog recommended that glyphosate was safe but pages of report were identical to application from pesticide maker

The European food safety authority (Efsa) based a recommendation that a chemical linked to cancer was safe for public use on an EU report that copied and pasted analyses from a Monsanto study, the Guardian can reveal.

Glyphosate is the core ingredient in Monsanto’s $4.75bn (£3.5bn) a year RoundUp weedkiller brand and a battle over its relicensing has split EU countries, with a final decision on its authorisation expected in early November.

13.09.2017 |

Study Questions Sustainability of GM Soy Production in Argentina

Roundup Ready (RR) soybean, a genetically modified (GM) soy variety resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, was introduced in Argentina in 1996. By 2015-2016, GM soybeans were cultivated on nearly 20.5 million hectares, representing 60% of total land cultivated, and production reached 61 million tons. In 2015, the soybean sector accounted for 30.7% of total exports of the country and dominated the international soybean pellets market with nearly 33.3% of world exports, ahead of the United States and Brazil.

A new study uses a holistic approach to explore the long-term sustainability of the "soybeanization" of Argentinian agriculture, through an evidence-based assessment of the most relevant economic, social, and environmental factors. The research was based on a unique data set drawn from a field survey carried out in 2011 in two provinces of the Argentinian Pampas.

01.09.2017 |

GMA: GMO labeling should apply to highly refined oils, sweeteners

If consumers are to believe that the food industry is serious about transparency, highly refined oils and sweeteners derived from GM crops must be included in the new bioengineered food standard (the federal GMO labeling law), even if they are indistinguishable from their non-engineered counterparts, says the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

30.08.2017 |

France to vote against license renewal for weedkiller glyphosate

PARIS (Reuters) - France will vote against renewing the European license for weedkiller glyphosate, an official at the environment ministry said, adding to uncertainty over the future of widely-used products such as Monsanto’s Roundup in the European Union.

Concerns over glyphosate’s risk to human health have prompted investigations by U.S. congressional committees and delayed a relicensing decision in the EU.

“France will vote against the reauthorization of glyphosate due to the doubts that remain about its dangerousness,” a ministry official said.

The European Commission, the EU executive, has proposed extending approval for glyphosate by 10 years after the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) said in a study in March it should not be classified as a cancer-causing substance.

A vote on whether to renew the license is due on Oct. 4, the French official said. A qualified majority of member states is needed for the renewal to go ahead.

In previous votes, France and Germany have abstained, leading the Commission to extend the license by 18 months at the end of June 2016 to give the ECHA time to study the chemical further.

30.08.2017 |

Experts: Bt cotton no longer resistant to bollworm

Nagpur: Incidents of pink bollworm attack on Bt cotton this year again have alarmed the agriculture authorities. The state agriculture commissioner has taken up the matter with the Union government and has even suggested reconsideration of approval given to genetically modified Bt cotton seeds that are supposed to be resistant to bollworm and other infestations.

The chief of Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavalamban Mission (the state government task force to deal with farm distress) Kishore Tiwari has claimed this year the situation could be worse as it is found that the Bt cotton seeds were now susceptible to attack of not only pink worm, but also thips , mealybug and regular bollworm. With over 40 lakh hectares under cotton cultivation, Maharashtra has largest area of cotton crop in the country.

The state agriculture commissioner S Kendrekar is believed to have apprised deputy director (quality control) of Union agriculture ministry on August 1 about the situation. According to him, last year too incidents of pink worm attacks were reported and confirmed by various government agencies and experts of city-based Central Institute of Cotton Research. Following that, ban was imposed on seeds of one company that had licence from Monsanto, the multinational that pioneered and introduced genetically altered Bt Cotton seeds under brand names BG I and later BG II.

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