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International News

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.

2016-04-11 |

Two-thirds of Europeans support ban on glyphosate - poll

Concerns remain chemical widely used in agriculture as a herbicide can kill all plants, algae, bacteria and fungi in a crop’s vicinity, affecting biodiversity.

Two-thirds of Europeans support a ban on glyphosate, the most-widely used agricultural chemical in the world’s history, according to a new Yougov poll.

A prohibition on the herbicide ingredient was backed by three quarters of Italians, 70% of Germans, 60% of French and 56% of Britons, in a survey of more than 7,000 people across the EU’s five biggest states.

Up to 150 MEPs in Strasbourg are expected to give urine samples today and tomorrow to see if they contain residues of the ingredient, ahead of a symbolic vote on prohibition this Wednesday.

2016-04-10 |

New Norwegian Study Accuses Monsanto Of Falsely Claiming GMOs Are Safe

Norway is one of many countries in Europe to ban genetically modified products and to choose not to produce them. In fact, they are one of the most restrictive importers of GM products, with several EU-approved GMOs being strictly illegal in the country.

The global resistance against Genetically Modified Crops is growing at an exponential rate. A few years ago, you were almost ridiculed for suggesting that GM foods could be hazardous, but now scientists and researchers are presenting information that has 19 new countries joining an already long list of nations to completely ban, or at least place severe restrictions on, GMOs — and the pesticides that go with them.

2016-04-09 |

France to Ban Glyphosate Weedkillers Due to Health Risks

France is banning glyphosate mixed with certain adjuvants (additives) due to its perceived risks to human health. The move comes less than two months after Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy, called for the ban.

ANSES—France’s food, environment and health agency—sent a letter this week to manufacturers informing them that it intends to withdraw the authorization on herbicides containing glyphosate mixed with the adjuvant tallow amine, ANSES’ deputy director general Francoise Weber told Reuters.

According to Weber, ANES made the decision after the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) suggested greater potential risks compared to glyphosate alone.

As EcoWatch noted previously, tallow amine aids the effectiveness of herbicides such as glyphosate and is one of the ingredients in Monsanto’s widely popular weedkiller Roundup.

2016-04-08 |

After pressure from industry: EU Commission wants to allow the import of genetically engineered „toxic“ soybeans

Concerns about health risks due to residues from spraying glyphosate in combination with other herbicides

Friday, 8 April 2016
In a recent letter to Testbiotech, EU Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis made it clear that the Commission finally wants to allow the import of genetically engineered soybeans produced by Bayer and Monsanto, despite concerns about health risks. These soybeans can be sprayed with a combination of glyphosate and other herbicides such as dicamba or isoxaflutole. The European Food Safety Authority EFSA just recently stated that the health risks of these residues cannot be sufficiently assessed and safety levels cannot be defined since the relevant data are missing. Nevertheless, market authorisation is imminent after massive pressure from industry.

Within the last few months, Testbiotech has received several letters from the Commission about these plants. While it was first argued that safety would be ensured by so-called maximum residue levels (MRL), the Commission has now had to admit that those levels are not sufficiently defined. In fact, they are presented as work in progress, and as the Commission states, no further comment can be given “at this point in time, as the Commission is in the process of establishing its position”.

2016-04-04 |

Africa to lose heritage crops to multinationals ‘donating’ GM technology

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), in a new report titled, “For your own good!” The chicanery behind GM non-commercial ‘orphan crops’ and rice for Africa shows that the GM industry is expanding its grasp to African traditional crops such as cassava, sorghum, sweet potato, pigeon pea, cowpea, banana as well as rice under the guise of philanthropy.

The report reveals that a great deal of research and development is currently underway into the genetic modification (GM) of these crops, with most of the on-going trials being focused on drought and salt tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency, resistance to tropical pests and diseases and nutritional enhancement (biofortification). The key countries that have been targeted include, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi.

2016-03-29 |

Nigerians Overwhelmingly Reject Monsanto’s Risky Gm Maize and Cotton

More than 100 groups representing over 5 million Nigerians, comprising of farmers, faith-based organisations, civil society groups, students and local community groups, are vehemently opposing Monsanto’s attempts to introduce genetically modified (GM) cotton and maize into Nigeria’s food and farming systems. In written objections submitted to the biosafety regulators, the groups have cited numerous serious health and environmental concerns and the failure of these crops especially GM cotton in Africa.

Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited has applied to the National Biosafety Management Agency (NABMA) for the environmental release and placing in the market in Zaria and surrounding towns of GM cotton (Bt cotton, event MON 15985). A further application isfor the confined field trial (CFT) of two GM maize varieties (NK603 and stacked event MON 89034 x NK603) in multiple locations in Nigeria.

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