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International News

2016-06-13 |

Thirty-one organisations call on EU Commission to stop any extension of glyphosate’s approval

European Food Safety Authority and German risk assessment institute BfR are in contempt of the law in claiming glyphosate is unlikely to pose a cancer risk, say groups

In an open letter, thirty-one European environmental, health, trade union, consumer protection and medical organisations have called upon EU Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Ambassadors of the member states to stop any further extension of glyphosate’s authorisation.

Signatories of the open letter include Pesticide Action Network Europe, Breast Cancer UK, Corporate Europe Observatory, the International Union of Food Workers, and GMWatch.

The letter points out that in assessing the carcinogenicity of glyphosate and concluding that it was unlikely to pose a cancer risk, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) ignored relevant OECD guidelines, falsely interpreted animal carcinogenicity studies, and systematically rejected relevant epidemiological studies by wrongly claiming them to be "unreliable”.

2016-06-13 |

Gene-Drive Modified Organisms Should Not Be Released, Say Scientists

Gene drives are designed to relentlessly drive a specific genetic trait through an entire species or population – with the potential to reshape entire natural populations and ecosystems, and possibly driving species to extinction. The development of a powerful genome editing tool in 2012, CRISPR/Cas9 has led to recent breakthroughs in gene drive research. Gene-drive modified organisms are on the horizon.

The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) convened a committee with a broad range of expertise to summarize the scientific discoveries related to gene drives and considerations for their responsible use. The NAS has since released its report (Item 1). Its main conclusion is that gene-drive modified organisms are not ready to be released into the environment and require more research in laboratories and highly controlled field trials to understand the scientific, ethical, regulatory, and social consequences of releasing such organisms. The committee urged caution and has recommended a collaborative, multidisciplinary, and cautionary approach to research on and governance of gene drive technologies.

2016-06-07 |

ADM looks to expand soy crush capacity in northwest Europe

STRAUBING, GERMANY — Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) announced on June 2 that it has successfully started up its new soybean crushing capacity at its oilseeds plant in Straubing, Germany and is now looking at further expanding its soy crushing options at other facilities in northwest Europe.
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Straubing’s new capability allows the site to crush soybeans sourced from the Danube region in order to market European non-GMO soymeal and oil to customers in Western Europe.
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“We are pleased with the product throughput and quality we are seeing at the plant and excited that we are now also able to supply non-GMO soymeal and oil from Danube-grown soybeans to our customers,” said Rene van der Poel, general manager of ADM’s Straubing facility. “I wish to thank the whole project team and our customers for their help and support in successfully getting this project off the ground.”

2016-06-06 |

Toxic substances/Glyphosate: 3 strikes must mean Commission rules glyphosate approval out

A proposal for a temporary 'technical extension' of the EU approval of the herbicide glyphosate today failed to secure the support of a majority of EU governments (1). Commenting on the development,Green environment and food safety spokesperson Bart Staes stated:

"We applaud those EU governments who are sticking to their guns and are refusing to authorise this controversial toxic herbicide. There are clear concerns about the health risks with glyphosate, both as regards it being a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor. Moreover, glyphosate's devastating impact on biodiversity should have already led to its ban. Thankfully, the significant public mobilisation and political opposition to reapproving glyphosate has been taken seriously by key EU governments, who have forced the EU Commission to back down.

"Three strikes must mean the approval of glyphosate is finally ruled out.

2016-05-31 |

The Industrial Food Chain's Recipe for a Box Lunch

Who’s going to eat whose lunch … the Hardware Grunts or the Software Gurus? The Battle for the control of agricultural inputs is just beginning. Time for a “Kickboxer” Campaign?
Submitted on 30 May 2016

Bayer’s $62 billion bid for Monsanto, as of this writing, has been rejected, but both parties say they are continuing to negotiate. That the “Joy of Six” agricultural input companies may soon become a ménage à trois has been a matter of speculation in ETC Group since mid-2014. If (and it is a big “if”) the marriages of Dow with DuPont, ChemChina with Syngenta, and Bayer with Monsanto are consummated, the only wallflower left on the dance floor, BASF, will either have to hook up or give up.

Agriculture is, relatively speaking, small potatoes for the German chemical giant, but, still, it brought home $7.2 billion in crop chemical sales in 2014 and commands a hefty 11.5% of the global pesticide market. Although BASF invests in plant breeding and breeding technologies, it doesn’t directly sell seeds. Instead, the company collaborates on R&D all along the food chain – with Monsanto (developing GMO traits), with Yara (producing ammonia for fertilizers), with synbio company Evolva (developing biosynthetic pesticides), with Cargill (developing oils high in omega-3), with Deere & Co. (selling crop insurance, precision agriculture) – and it has cross-licensing deals with major seed companies including Monsanto, DuPont and Dow.

BASF could give Bayer a run for its money wooing Monsanto, or it may decide its dance card is full enough. Or, the company may choose to spin off its Plant Science business altogether. If so, one of the top three farm machinery companies could be a buyer: Deere & Co., CNH or AGCO (in order of sales).

2016-05-30 |

Glyphosate authorisation back on the table next week

Member states are to have another go at coming to an agreement on the use of the pesticide glyphosate next week. EurActiv Germany reports.

An EU official has told AFP that a meeting has been scheduled for 6 June, in which the member states will try to come to a consensus on whether or not to reauthorise the use of the controversial chemical. An option that is currently on the table is to extend the existing authorisation period until the middle of next year.

Glyphosate is one of the most used ingredients in pesticides in the EU, but its potentially carcinogenic nature has brought its use under close scrutiny. A decision on whether to grant it a multi-year extension has already failed to materialise twice because of disagreements between member states.

2016-05-19 |

EU delays vote on weed-killer glyphosate license amid cancer row

The European Union on Thursday delayed a vote on renewing sales approval for the pesticide glyphosate, used in Monsanto's weed-killer Roundup, amid a transatlantic row over whether it may cause cancer.

Experts from the EU's 28 nations had been due to vote on a proposal, seen by Reuters, to extend by nine years licensing of the herbicide, widely used by farmers and gardeners.

EU sources said the vote was postponed due to opposition in France and Germany, which have big farming and chemicals industries.

Without those two countries' support, the European Commission lacks the majority it needs for a binding vote: "Since it was obvious that no qualified majority would have been reached, a vote was not held," a Commission spokeswoman said.

2016-05-17 |

PRESS RELEASE: Organic farmers urge Commission to ban patents on seeds

Brussels, 17 May 2016 – Tomorrow, a symposium on patents and plant breeders’ rights will be hosted by the Dutch Minister for Agriculture. IFOAM EU welcomes the Dutch Presidency initiative and urges the Commission to take concrete, legal action to put an end to patents on seeds. This comes in the context of a new resolution by the European Parliament calling for a ban on conventionally bred products (1); a groundswell against a patent requested by Syngenta for a conventionally bred tomato (2); and recent revocation of a patent that had been issued by the European Patent Office for a conventionally bred melon from Monsanto (3).

Thomas Fertl, IFOAM EU Board Member and Farmers’ Representative, said: “The European Commission should urgently clarify that seeds and genetic traits that can be found in nature and obtained through conventional breeding cannot be patented. The patent legislation has increasingly been used to grant patents on natural traits, which is a complete misuse of the patent system. This kind of patents fosters further market concentration in the seed sector and hamper competition and innovation. Today, only 5 companies control 75% of the seeds sold throughout the world and own most of the patents. This is corporate control over farming and the food chain at its most dangerous.”

2016-04-15 |

Parliament agrees to re-authorise glyphosate, demands restrictions

The European Parliament this week (13 April) approved a seven-year extension to the authorisation of the chemical glyphosate, a suspected carcinogen present in many domestic and agricultural pesticides, notably Monsanto’s Roundup. EurActiv France reports.

MEPs gave the go-ahead to the re-authorisation of glyphosate, but asked the European Commission to reduce the period to seven years, from the usual 15.

This is a defeat for France, which had hoped for a complete ban.

In their non-binding resolution, which passed by 374 votes to 225, with 104 abstentions, MEPs also approved a number of restrictive measures, including a ban on the sale of the chemical for use in domestic gardens and public parks.

Angélique Delahaye, a French MEP and rapporteur on the file for the European People’s Party (EPP) grouping in Parliament, said there were economic reasons to continue authorising glyphosate, despite health and environmental worries.

“The debate on glyphosate raises concerns among citizens, that’s obvious,” she said in a statement. But she recalled that farmers are “largely dependent” on the weedkiller and should be allowed to continue using it until an alternative is found.

2016-04-13 |

Glyphosate: authorise for just seven years and professional uses only, urge MEPs

Given concerns about the carcinogenicity and endocrine disruptive properties of the herbicide glyphosate, used in many farm and garden applications, the EU Commission should renew its marketing approval for just 7 years, instead of 15, and for professional uses only, Parliament says in a resolution voted on Wednesday. MEPs call for an independent review and the publication of all the scientific evidence that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) used to assess glyphosate.

The European Commission should renew the EU market approval for glyphosate for another 7 years only instead of 15 as originally proposed, says the non-binding resolution, which was passed by 374 votes to 225, with 102 abstentions.

Furthermore, the Commission should not approve any non-professional uses of glyphosate, say MEPs.

The Commission should also reassess its approval of glyphosate in the light of its pending classification by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), under separate legislation, they add.

The resolution calls on the Commission to table a new draft in order to better address the sustainable use of herbicides containing glyphosate and also to launch an independent review of the overall toxicity and classification of glyphosate, based not only on data relating to carcinogenicity but also on possible endocrine-disruptive properties.

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