International News

2015-03-27 |

European Patent Office upholds patents on broccoli and tomato

Patents on plants and animals derived from conventional breeding can also be granted in future

Munich 27 March, 2015
The Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) has decided on the precedent cases of broccoli and tomato (G2 / 12 and G2 /13). The EPO made clear that while processes for crossing and selection cannot be patented, plants and animals stemming from these processes are still patentable. This illogical decision was a long awaited outcome of a precedent case on the patentability of plants and animals derived from conventional breeding. The coalition No Patents on Seeds! has heavily criticised this decision. The organisations are warning about the increasing monopolisation of breeding of plants and animals needed for food production.
“The EPO has paved the way for companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and others to take control of resources we all need for our daily lives. We call upon European governments to put political pressure on the EPO to change its practice”, says Christoph Then for No Patents on Seeds! “No company should hold monopolies on sunlight, air or water. The same is true for the resources needed for food production.”

2015-03-24 |

Pesticide Action Week: No Pesticides, No GMOs

Call for a pesticide-free spring Call for a pesticide-free spring

As pesticide action week is set to begin, one may reflect on the fact that GMOs have been sold primarily as a way of reducing the use of pesticides. Shouldn't we then celebrate this way to reduce our pesticide addiction and embrace a great new agricultural technology? The first point to consider is the fact that it is the pesticides companies that make and patent these GMO crops, and that alone should make us rather sceptical about the argument. Is it really logical for a company to try to sell less of its products? Furthermore, let's not forget that these companies have fiercely opposed all EU proposals to reduce the use of pesticides. With economic and pseudo-scientific arguments, they have gone as far as suing the Commission for its moratorium on some uses of certain neonicotinoids, and enrolling scientists to try and minimise the health and environmental impacts of those. This can only make us question their claims that GMOs are safe.

Let's take a quick look at what we're dealing with after 20 years of growing GMO crops:

There are only two main traits which have been engineered in crops: tolerance to herbicides and the production of insecticides.

2015-03-23 |

Simultaneous Demonstrations Oppose Gates Foundation’s Secret Meeting about Seed Privatization in Africa

SEATTLE, WA — On Monday, March 23, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are sponsoring a secret meeting in London to promote a recent report they commissioned detailing in clear terms how to privatize the seed and agricultural markets of Africa- without African stakeholders having a seat at the table. A coalition of grassroots community organizations across the US, UK, and Africa are criticizing the gathering for:

Inviting corporations, development bodies, trade bodies and aid donors, yet not inviting any representatives of impacted organizations;
Promoting the privatization of African seed production and distribution through top-down changes to African states’ national regulations;
Building a nontransparent network of corporate, philanthropic and state-based actors aiming to expropriate African land, seeds and agriculture.
The UK activists plan to hold a demonstration outside of the meeting in a message of solidarity with African groups who are resisting what they are calling a new form of colonialism. Community Alliance for Global Justice will be holding a solidarity demonstration, simultaneously with the London action, outside the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle, WA.

2015-03-23 |

New report: Where in the world are GM crops and foods?

Where in the world are GM crops and foods Where in the world are GM crops and foods

Where in the world are GM crops and foods?
The reality of GM crops in the ground and on our plates
Report 1 | March 2015

In this first report of the GMO Inquiry 2015, we investigate what genetically modified (GM) crops are grown in Canada and around the world, where they are being grown, how much of each one is being grown, and where they end up in our food system.
“Where in the world are GM crops and foods?” is the first in a series of reports that investigate unanswered questions from 20 years of GMOs in Canada. Watch this space for future reports, and join us as we examine the impacts of GM crops on our environment, on our food and farming systems, and on our health.

2015-03-19 |

India: Thousands of farmers demonstrate in Delhi against GM crops, anti-farmer policies

Modi government targeted for “pushing for unneeded, unwanted and unsafe GMOs in farming” - GMWatch Modi government targeted for “pushing for unneeded, unwanted and unsafe GMOs in farming” - GMWatch

Thousands of farmers have taken to the streets in a Kisan Maha Panchayat (farmer meeting) in Delhi, India, in protest at the Modi government’s anti-farmer policies, which include uncritically promoting open field trials of GM crops.

There is some speculation in India that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition, led by Narendra Modi (now prime minister), may have come to power with the help of generous funding of their election campaign by the GMO lobby. It is said that this may explain their conversion to the pro-GMO cause.

Though there appears to be little transparency in political funding in India, we hope the Modi government will move to allay fears of corruption by publishing full details of its election campaign funding.

2015-03-17 |

Australian Story: The Seeds of Wrath - GM canola contamination

The Seeds Of Wrath Part 1 - Transcript
PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT: Monday, 16 March , 2015

CAROLINE JONES, PRESENTER: Hello. I'm Caroline Jones. Wherever we may live, it's a fine thing to have good neighbours. Tonight we’re off to the wheat belt of Western Australia for an epic saga of friends and neighbours falling out. It all began with the planting of genetically modified crops next to an organic farm but it escalated to the Supreme Court, where it’s drawn international headlines. The battle is far from over. With the case about to return to court we hear from both farmers, and their families, for the first time.

ROSYLYNE ALLSOP, MICHAEL’S SISTER: To get to Perth it’s a three hour drive. It’s not a short trip. On verdict day, Michael would have left first thing in the morning.

MICHAEL BAXTER: Steven, you know, to put me through what he’s put me through: well, there’s no forgiving for that. He could possibly, he could have done things a lot easier. Could've come over the fence and had a chat and, you know, have a beer and somehow maybe sorted it out a little bit different.

STEVE MARSH: I don’t think a lot of people realise just how much goes on in preparing for particularly a big court case. After going through so much, everything is beyond your control. So you’ve just got to just, just wait and hear what the judgement is.

2015-03-09 |

New Film Explores Loss of Seed Diversity

Open Sesame - The Story of Seeds Open Sesame - The Story of Seeds

Few things are more essential to our survival than seeds, yet few things are taken more for granted.

Filmmaker M. Sean Kaminsky’s new documentary Open Sesame looks at the necessity for seed diversity and how monoculture-farming practices threaten it. In the past century, we’ve lost an astonishing 90 percent of the fruit and vegetable seeds once available. Instead, the world’s food supply is built largely on hybrid seeds, and like mules, they are unable to naturally reproduce. As a result, there’s no way for a species to evolve regional hardiness, or withstand pests, diseases and changing climate conditions.

Open Sesame illuminates what is at stake when seeds are patented and controlled by large corporation, and the film features different approaches that enterprising farmers are using to preserve seeds and foster diversity.

As spring planting season begins, we spoke with Kaminsky about the film, what inspired him to make it and the perils facing seeds today.

Open Sesame is available to stream or download here on Vimeo, as well as iTunes and Amazon. DVDs are also available for purchase.

2015-03-08 |

BIODIVERSITY OR GMOS: Will the future of nutrition be in woman's hands or under corporate control?

Declaration for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2015 Declaration for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2015

Press Release International Women’s Day, 8th March 2015

Diverse Women for Diversity
Mahila Anna Swaraj
Initiative for Health , Equity and Society
Moms Across the World


Women have been the primary growers of food and nutrition throughout history, but today, food is being taken out of our hands and substituted for toxic commodities controlled by global corporations. Monoculture industrial farming has taken the quality, taste and nutrition out of our food. As a result, India is facing a nutritional crisis: every fourth Indian goes hungry, and in 2011 alone, diabetes took the lives of 1 million Indians. Globally, there is a disease epidemic because our food is nutritionally empty but full of toxics.

Now, the same companies who created the crisis are promising a miracle solution: GMOs. Genetically engineered Golden Rice and GMO Bananas are being proposed as solutions by corporations hiding behind the cloak of philanthropy as a solution to hunger and malnutrition in the Global South. But these are false miracles. Indigenous biodiverse varieties of food grown by women provide far more nutrition than the commodities produced by industrial agriculture. Golden Rice is 350% less efficient in providing Vit A than the biodiversity alternatives that women grow. GMO ‘iron-rich’ Bananas have 3000% less iron than turmeric and 2000% less iron than amchur (mango powder). Apart from being nutritionally empty, GMOs are part of an industrial system of agriculture that is destroying the planet, depleting our water sources, increasing green houses gases, and driving farmers into debt and suicide through a greater dependence on chemical inputs. Moreover, these corporate-led industrial monocultures are destroying biodiversity, and we are losing access to the food systems that have sustained us throughout time. When we consider the number of patents involved in these initiatives, it becomes all too clear that the only beneficiaries of these supposedly ‘people-led’ ventures are large companies operating for profit - not for people.

This needs to stop now. On this international women’s day, we call on all women – the world’s primary food-growers and food-givers – to stand together and join us in reclaiming our knowledge, our farming, and our food. To expose the lies generated by the GMO industry, to reject the false promises of Golden Rice and GMO Bananas, and to reclaim the planet for all living beings.

The alternative lies in women’s hands and minds
On International Women’s Day 8th March 2015, we the women of India and the world commit ourselves to reclaiming our seed, food, and knowledge sovereignty so that we can all enjoy healthy, safe, nutritious, tasty and diverse food. And through our food, we will reclaim our health and the health of the planet.

We will not allow a further degradation of our food systems and knowledge systems. We do not have to go down the road of replacing our biodiversity with GMO monocultures and our rich knowledge of food and nutrition with scientific and ethical fraud. We will not sacrifice our seed and food sovereignty for corporate control and profits.

2015-03-06 |

Brazil: Approval of GM eucalyptus trees postponed - Over 1000 people took direct actions

1,000 women of the MST occupied the Suzano company (parent corporation to GE tree company Futuragene) in Itapetininga, Sao Paulo, Brazil 1,000 women of the MST occupied the Suzano company (parent corporation to GE tree company Futuragene) in Itapetininga, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Victory! CTNBio Occupied: Meeting Cancelled! FuturaGene Taken Over

300 peasants took over the building where CTNBio was meeting to decide about whether to approve GE eucalyptus trees. The meeting was cancelled. On the same morning, 1,000 women took over operations of Futuragene across Brazil. The action included the destruction of GE eucalyptus seedlings.

About 1,000 women of the MST occupied the Suzano company (parent corporation to GE tree company Futuragene) in Itapetininga, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

This morning about 300 peasants organized by La Via Campesina occupied the meeting of the Brazil National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio), which was convening to discuss the release of three new varieties of transgenic plants in Brazil including genetically engineered eucalyptus trees. The meeting was interrupted and decisions were postponed. Earlier in the morning on Thursday, another 1,000 women of the Brazil Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) from the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais occupied the operations of FuturaGene Technology Brazil Ltda, a subsidiary of Suzano timber corporation, in the municipality of Itapetininga, in São Paulo.

2015-03-05 |

EU’s food agency re-checks safety of biotech crops following new research

Stop GMO Maize 1507 Stop GMO Maize 1507

Europe urged to stop authorisation of genetically engineered maize for cultivation
Friends of the Earth Europe and Testbiotech
Thursday, 5. March 2015

The European Food Safety Authority has started an investigation into the safety of growing genetically engineered maize in Europe following the publication of the biggest study on maize pollen published to date. Friends of the Earth Europe and Testbiotech have called on the EU to immediately suspend the growing of GM maize and to stop all future approvals. The European Commission, under pressure from the biotech industry, is understood to be imminently considering genetically engineered maize 1507 permitted for cultivation. Friends of the Earth Europe and Testbiotech have written to the new EU food safety Commissioner Andriukaitis calling for him to halt all cultivation of GM maize. The European Food Safety Authority, in a letter dated 16 December 2014, announced a new investigation into the safety of genetically engineered maize currently being grown in Europe, or in the pipeline to be grown. They claim these new safety tests will be complete by 31 May 2015.

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