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International News

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.

2016-01-20 |

Organic farmers heat up debate over new plant breeding techniques

Organic farmers have raised the alarm over the potential “severe” economic and environmental consequences of new plant breeding techniques for Europe’s farming sector, calling for GMO legislation to apply when approving new seed traits.

In a policy paper due to be published later today (14 January), the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements EU (IFOAM EU) urges the European Commission to classify NPBTs as falling "within the scope of the GMO legislation”.

These new techniques should “be subject to a risk assessment”, and “mandatory traceability and labelling requirements that apply to other GMOs”, according to the policy paper, seen by EurActiv.

The EU executive is expected to rule in the coming months whether they fall within the scope of GMO legislation or not.

2016-01-18 |

Hearing on the opposition against Monsanto Patent on Indian Melon

Increasing opposition against patents on conventional breeding

18 January 2016. On 20 January the European Patent Office (EPO) will hold a public hearing on the opposition to a European Patent on melons (EP1962578). Monsanto is using this patent, to claim melons with a natural resistance to plant viruses as its own invention, derived from breeding without genetic engineering. The patent was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) even though European Patent Law does not allow patents on the conventional breeding of plants and animals. The resistance was copied from Indian melons. The opposition is also supported by the renowned Indian activist Vandana Shiva and her organisation Navdanya.

“Monsanto’s melon Patent is biopiracy at its most devious. First of all, the patented resistance was not invented by Monsanto – just discovered in an Indian melon. Monsanto is now pretending to be the first to have bred it into other melons – but to copy something is not an invention”, says Francois Meienberg from Berne Declaration. “Secondly, Monsanto has violated the Indian Biodiversity Act implementing rules on Access and Benefit-Sharing based on the Convention on Biological Diversity. It would be a disgrace if the European Patent Office rewards Monsanto with a patent based on a flagrant violation of Indian law.”

The Berne Declaration has access to a letter sent by the National Biodiversity Authority of India to Monsanto in November 2012, explicitly stating that “The actions of Monsanto in using Indian melon varieties in research and development with commercial intent including application of a patent based on Indian melon varieties amounts to a blatant violation of Section 3 and 6 of the Biological Diversity Act.”

The melon patent is just one of several patents granted on plants and animals derived from conventional breeding by the EPO. Recent No Patents on Seeds! research shows that in 2015 around hundred new patent applications were filed. These patents concern carrots, potatoes, brassica plants, maize, melons, pepper, rice, lettuce, soybeans, spinach, tomatoes, wheat and onions. Amongst the applicants are big companies like Bayer, Dupont/Pioneer, Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow AgroSciences. All in all, around 1400 patent applications on conventional breeding are pending with around 180 being granted already by the EPO.

Opposition is growing against these patents: Around 80.000 individuals and more than 200 organisations have signed a call from No Patents on Seeds! within the last few months demanding that patents on conventional breeding are stopped. Further, today in Germany the organisation Campact, together with its European partners and also supported by “No Patents on Seeds!”, is starting a campaign urging national governments to take more action in the fight against patents on plants and animals.

The coalition No Patents on Seeds! is supported by Arche Noah (Austria), Bionext (Netherlands), The Berne Declaration (Switzerland), GeneWatch (UK), Greenpeace, Misereor (Germany), Development Fund (Norway), NOAH (Denmark), No Patents on Life (Germany), ProSpecieRara (Switzerland), Red de Semillas (Spain), Rete Semi Rurali (Italy), Reseau Semences Paysannes (France) and Swissaid (Switzerland). They are all calling for a revision of European Patent Law to exclude breeding material, breeding processes, plants and animals, their characteristics, their genetic components, the harvest and food derived thereof from patentability.

no-patents-on-seeds.org

2016-01-12 |

We are fed up with agro industry!

In 2016 the agricultural turnaround must begin: We call on EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German Federal Minister Sigmar Gabriel and German Federal Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt: Stop the blind support of agri-businesses! Instead of pushing for exports, stand in for more quality food. Ensure fair trade around the world – stop TTIP and CETA!

We are calling for farmers, manufacturers and consumers to send a common message in Berlin on 16. January 2016. We are the people from the countryside and from the city, from the north and from the south. We are fed up with agro-industry – we want a rural an organic agricultural and food system that is accepted by society.

More info (in English, French and German) visit: wir-haben-es-satt.de

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