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09.08.2017 |

The zoo beneath our feet: We’re only beginning to understand soil’s hidden world

The gardener has a long, touchy-feely relationship with the soil. As every good cultivator knows, you assess the earth by holding it. Is it dark and crumbly, is there an earthworm or beetle in there, is it moist, and when you smell it, are you getting that pleasant earthy aroma?

All these signs are reassuring, and have been through the ages, but they are mere indicators of something much greater and infinitely mysterious: a hidden universe beneath our feet.

This cosmos is only now revealing itself as a result of scientific discoveries based on better microscopic imaging and DNA analysis. There is much still to learn, but it boils down to this: Plants nurture a whole world of creatures in the soil that in return feed and protect the plants, including and especially trees. It is a subterranean community that includes worms, insects, mites, other arthropods you’ve never heard of, amoebas, and fellow protozoa. The dominant organisms are bacteria and fungi. All these players work together, sometimes by eating one another.

20.07.2017 |

To save rural Iowa, we must end Monsanto’s monopoly

Iowa farmers face a crisis. Crop prices have fallen by more than 50 percent since 2013, with no end in sight. At the same time, farmers hold more debt and possess fewer capital reserves to fall back on. In fact, farmers’ debt levels are almost as high as they were prior to the farm crisis of the mid-1980s.

Meanwhile, a wave of mergers among the world’s agricultural giants is upending the markets for seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. If approved, the proposed merger would result in just two companies — Monsanto-Bayer and Dow-DuPont — controlling about three-quarters of the U.S. corn seed market. The power that these corporations would hold in the seed market is unprecedented.

Farmers are already being squeezed. The price of corn seed has more than doubled in the past 10 years — from $51 per acre in 2006 to $102 in 2015 — as a result of similar consolidation, including Monsanto’s purchases of DeKalb and Cargill's international seed business. If the Monsanto-Bayer merger is permitted, this problem will only intensify, further limiting farmers’ choices and making the products they need even more expensive.

20.07.2017 |

Stop Glyphosate European Citizens' Initiative (ECI)

On 3 July 2017 we submitted 1,320,517 ECI signatures to

STOP GLYPHOSATE

— now let’s get to 2 million!

We’re now 1323431-strong demanding a total ban on glyphosate in the European Union

17.07.2017 |

Bee Study Author Fights Back Against Bayer and Syngenta Accusations

The lead author of a major study which found that neonicotinoid pesticides harm honey bees has hit back against criticism from the chemical companies that part-funded the work.

Dr. Ben Woodcock from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), said Bayer and Syngenta, which produce the controversial pesticides, had looked to undermine his work after it was published, despite providing $3 million in funding.

Speaking exclusively to Energydesk, he said:

"From a personal perspective, I don't really appreciate having them accuse me of being a liar. And accusing me of falsifying results by cherry-picking data. That's not what we've done. I've got little to gain from this and it's been a major headache. We just present the results we get."

14.07.2017 |

Tennessee joins states taking action on dicamba; Missouri imposes restrictions

CHICAGO • Tennessee on Thursday imposed restrictions on the use of dicamba, becoming the fourth state to take action as problems spread over damage the weedkiller causes to crops not genetically modified to withstand it. Missouri on Thursday also announced restrictions, partially rolling back an emergency ban announced last week.

Dicamba is sprayed by farmers on crops genetically modified to resist it but it has drifted, damaging vulnerable soybeans, cotton and other crops across the southern United States. Farmers have fought with neighbors over lost crops and brought lawsuits against dicamba producers.

14.07.2017 |

Traditional mustard output adequate, don’t need GM mustard

New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Rajasthan, India’s top mustard producing state on Friday, expressed its reservations over commercial introduction of Genetically Modified (GM) variety of mustard, saying output from the traditional varieties was adequate.

Rajasthan’s Agriculture Minister Prabhu Lal Saini said it did not want to be dependent on any company for seeds.

“Production of mustard is quite good in our state. We are getting 32-33 quintals per hectare from the traditional varieties and oil content (recovery) is also between 40-42 per cent. The output from the traditional varieties is adequate and it is highly nutritious. Then why do we need GM seeds? We do not want to disturb our parental seeds,” Saini told reporters here.

13.07.2017 |

EU authorities broke their own rules and brushed aside evidence of cancer to keep glyphosate on the market

A new report by the toxicologist Dr Peter Clausing shows that the EU authorities violated their own rules and disregarded evidence that glyphosate is carcinogenic to reach a conclusion that the chemical does not cause cancer

The EU authorities reached the conclusion that glyphosate is not carcinogenic by disregarding and brushing aside evidence of cancers in experimental animals and by violating directives and guidelines that are supposed to guide their work, according to a new report [1] by the German toxicologist Dr Peter Clausing.

The report shows for the first time that glyphosate should have been classified as a carcinogen according to the current EU standards. This would mean an automatic ban under EU pesticides legislation. However, the EU authorities disregarded and breached these standards, enabling them to reach a conclusion that the chemical is not carcinogenic.

08.07.2017 |

Dicamba Ban: Missouri Joins Arkansas in Halting Sale and Use of the Herbicide

Yesterday (July 8, 2017) the Missouri Department of Agriculture joined the Arkansas Plant Board in banning the use and sale of dicamba herbicide. The Missouri ban is effective immediately while the Arkansas ban will take effect on Tuesday, July 11.

Missouri’s Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order includes the following dicamba pesticide products labeled for agricultural uses.

05.07.2017 |

5 GMOs authorized for import in the EU without any political support

5 GMO authorizations were published yesterday, without any political support, neither from the Member States nor from the European Parliament. This is further proof that the decision process concerning GMOs needs to be changed quickly to a more democratic and more transparent one. The Greens/EFA are actively working to that end.

The European Commission yesterday published regulations authorizing the use of four new GM plants in food and feed: two cottons (from Monsanto and Bayer), and two maize strains (from Syngenta and Dow Agrosciences)[1]. They also renewed the authorization of the well-known maize Mon 810 from Monsanto for use in food and feed.

None of these authorizations received political support from the Member States, as they have been repeatedly unable to gather the qualified majority needed during the votes.

All of these authorizations, however, were disavowed by the European Parliament, who voiced objections against each of them, every time with comfortable voting majorities. The reasons for these objections are numerous: tolerance to herbicides dangerous for the environment and in certain cases, for health, unacceptable shortcomings in the evaluation etc. But what this really demonstrates is the inadequacy of the decision-making process concerning GMO authorization, a fact that had already been acknowledged by Jean-Claude Juncker back in 2014.

In February, the European Commission published a draft to reform this process. We welcome the opening of this much-needed debate; however, the Commission’s proposal is insufficient to reach a truly democratic decision-making procedure.

03.07.2017 |

Seed Saving as an Act of Resilience

On February 26, 2008, a $9-million underground seed vault began operating deep in the permafrost on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, just 810 miles from the North Pole. This high-tech Noah’s Ark for the world’s food varieties was intended to assure that, even in a worst-case scenario, our irreplaceable heritage of food seeds would remain safely frozen.

Less than 10 years after it opened, the facility flooded. The seeds are safe; the water only entered a passageway. Still, as vast areas of permafrost melt, the breach raises serious questions about the security of the seeds, and whether a centralized seed bank is really the best way to safeguard the world’s food supply.

Meanwhile, a much older approach to saving the world’s heritage of food varieties is making a comeback.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, a group of volunteers in the northern Montana city of Great Falls met in the local library to package seeds for their newly formed seed exchange, and to share their passion for gardening and food security.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen to our climate in the future,” said Alice Kestler, a library specialist. “Hopefully, as the years go by, we can develop local cultivars that are really suited to the local climate here.”

Wir bedanken uns ganz herzlich bei allen Spenderinnen und Spendern!

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