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International News

2016-08-22 |

Millions Spent and No Vitamin A Deficiency Relieved

by Angelika Hilbeck and Hans Herren

The recent Nobel laureates’ letter accusing Greenpeace of a “crime against humanity” for opposing genetically modified (GMO) golden rice reveals a deep division not only between civil societies and some science circles but also within the science community – a division in the visions for our common future and which path to take for our joint development. A division we see growing and escalating. A strong indication of this division is that among the Nobel laureate signatories, there seems to be hardly anybody with a solid scientific track record in agriculture, food production, development, or the socio-ecological and political causes of poverty and hunger. Others with notable competence – at least in the economic and social domains of development, poverty, and hunger – are not among the signatories. Signs of escalation also include the emotional, accusing language in the letter and the ample use of scientifically unsubstantiated claims. What is missing in the letter and among the supporters and developers of GMOs is the recognition and scientific analysis of some tough facts.

2016-08-09 |

New rules around the use of glyphosate to come into effect in two weeks

New rules which restrict the conditions around the use of glyphosate in the European Union are to come into effect in two weeks time, after the rules were published in the EU Official Journal.

Earlier this year, the European Commission granted an 18-month extension to glyphosate’s authorisation in the EU after Member States failed to reach agreement on the renewal of the herbicide.

If they had decided not to renew it, or if a decision hadn’t been reached, then Member States would have had to withdraw the authorisations for plant protection products containing glyphosate from their market.

Under the new conditions around the use of the herbicide, there is a ban of a co-formulant (POE-tallowamine) from glyphosate-based products.

2016-08-06 |

Indian farmers cotton on to new seed, in blow to Monsanto

In a tiny hamlet at the heart of the cotton belt in northern India, Ramandeep Mann planted Monsanto’s (MON.N) genetically modified Bt cotton seed for over a decade, but that changed after a whitefly blight last year.

Mann’s 25-acre farm in Punjab’s Bhatinda district now boasts “desi”, or indigenous, cotton shrubs that promise good yields and pest resistance at a fraction of the cost.

Mann is not alone.

Thousands of cotton farmers across the north of India, the world’s biggest producer and second largest exporter of the fibre, have switched to the new local variety, spelling trouble for seed giant Monsanto in its most important cotton market outside the Americas.

2016-07-30 |

Unapproved GMO wheat found in Washington state could affect US trade

SEATTLE (AP) — Genetically modified wheat not approved for sale or commercial production in the United States has been found growing in a field in Washington state, agriculture officials said Friday, posing a possible risk to trade with countries concerned about engineered food.

The Food and Drug Administration says genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are safe and little scientific concern exists about the safety of those on the market. But critics say not enough is known about their risks, and they want GMOs labeled so people know what's in their food.

Several Asian countries temporarily banned U.S. wheat imports after genetically modified wheat was found unexpectedly in a field on an Oregon farm in 2013. It also popped up in a field at a university research center in Montana in 2014.

2016-07-25 |

EU Commission allows 'toxic soybeans' for import

Health risks of residues from spraying with herbicides not assessed

Sunday, 24 July 2016

According to news agencies, the EU Commissionhas allowed the import of genetically engineered soybeans produced by Bayer and Monsanto. The imported soybeans can be used in food and feed despite unresolved concerns about health risks. These crops can be sprayed with a combination of glyphosate and other herbicides such as dicamba or isoxaflutole. Market authorisation has been issued after massive pressure from industry, which already sold its patented seeds in the US for cultivation and now wants to import the harvest to the EU within the next months. The European Food Safety Authority EFSA only recently stated that the health risks resulting from herbicide residues cannot be properly assessed, and that safety levels cannot be defined since the relevant data are missing.

2016-07-12 |

Biodiversity, GMOs, Gene Drives and the Militarized Mind

by Vandana Shiva

A recent report from the National Academy of Science of The United States, titled "Gene Drives on the Horizon: Advancing Science, Navigating Uncertainty, and Aligning Research with Public Values," warns:

“One possible goal of release of a gene-drive modified organism is to cause the extinction of the target species or a drastic reduction in its abundance.”

Gene Drives have been called "mutagenic chain reactions," and are to the biological world what chain reactions are to the nuclear world. The Guardian describes Gene Drives as the "gene bomb."

2016-07-11 |

Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh lead in earmarking special organic farming zones

NEW DELHI: After turning Sikkim into a fully organic state, India is now looking at a "cluster" approach to increase area under chemical-free farming in other states. Many states have already started earmarking exclusive organic farming zones, with Maharashtra leading the pack with 932 exclusive clusters followed by Madhya Pradesh (880), Rajasthan (755), Uttar Pradesh (575), Uttarakhand (550) and Karnataka (545).

2016-07-09 |

Monsanto and DuPont Announce New Weed Killer for GMO Crops

One of the biggest concerns about the cultivation of genetically modified crops is the rise of superweeds caused by the overuse of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's best-selling Roundup and other pesticides.

So, in an effort to beat back these herbicide-defying weeds, Monsanto and DuPont have agreed to sell an even stronger weed killer to go with their genetically modified seeds.

2016-07-04 |

Genetically Modified (GM) Soya in South Africa: Status Quo Report

ACBio_Report ACBio_Report

This briefing paper presents the status of genetically modified (GM) soya in South Africa. GM Soybean seed owned by Monsanto and genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide glyphosate, accounts for 90% of all soya bean production in South Africa.

Soya is now one of South Africa’s most important crops and has surpassed sunflower as the country’s major oilseed crop. In 2015/16 despite the crippling drought, South African farmers planted a record 687 000 ha of GM soybeans, yielding a harvest of over 1 million tons. It is expected that production will rise 1 million ha within a decade.

The majority of GM soya grown in South Africa is for the animal feed industry, though previous GM testing by the ACB has found GM soya in a variety of food products, including bread, breakfast cereals and soya mince.

The use of glyphosate in South African agriculture has increased dramatically since the introduction of GM crops, and the continued increase in cultivation of GM soya is likely to exacerbate this trend. Should local weed populations start developing resistance to glyphosate, as has happened elsewhere, South Africans can expect the introduction of GM soya varieties tolerant to combinations of more and more toxic chemicals such as 2,4 D and dicamba.

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