09.03.2019 |

Monsanto loses millions of dollars after Indian farmers switch to indigenous seeds

Monsanto claims that the genetically modified cotton seeds they sell are superior. So why are so many people trying to switch?

Monsanto is losing millions of dollars now that farmers in India are switching to indigenous cotton seeds rather than Bt cotton.

The agrochemical company is known for pushing a form of Bt cotton in India for the last decade. They have been accused of manipulating laws in order to enter the Indian market.

Monsanto’s manipulation and greed in India has caused hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers to commit suicide. Between the years of 1995 and 2013, more than 300,000 farmer suicides occurred, many of which were linked to Monsanto. Farmers are forced to pay for Monsanto’s costly seeds, which then force them to pay for the expensive pesticides to effectively grow them, as Bt cotton’s pest resistant quality fades over time.

04.03.2019 |

UNEP - Synthetic biology: Re-engineering the environment

FRONTIERS 2018/19 Emerging Issues of Environmental
FRONTIERS 2018/19 Emerging Issues of Environmental ConcernSynthetic Biology: Re-engineering the environment

The ability to successfully alter organisms at the genetic level has excited scientists and the general public alike. Gene-editing techniques are advancing rapidly, bringing the promise of many biological and ecological benefits, from eradicating human diseases to preventing species extinction. CRISPR-Cas9 is the latest, quickest tool in the genetic editing tool box, allowing extraordinary precision in the manipulation of genomes.

However, this ability to create synthetic life and alter existing DNA carries with it the risk of cross contamination and unintended consequences. Hacking the code of life has such major implications that there is an urgent need for governing bodies to collaborate and cooperate in ensuring safe research and development in this field. The rise of the DIY biohacker and the risk of the accidental release of genetically modified organisms into the environment is a cause for regulatory concern. Many of the benefits and challenges of synthetic biology are explored in this fascinating chapter.

28.02.2019 |

CAP | The Key Areas Environment Committee Put Forward

The Environment Committee (ENVI) voted on the 14th February on CAP proposals (Strategic Plans). With the Agriculture Committee voting in the coming weeks, before a full Parliament plenary, what were the key areas ENVI emphasised?

Ring-fencing of money for climate and the environment

- In the Commission proposal: 30% for environmental purposes under rural development, 0% for eco-schemes (up to Member States to decide what to allocate);

- ENVI at least 40% for environmental purposes under rural development, at least 30% for eco-schemes, and special ring-fencing for biodiversity;

- No more tax payers money being used for the promotion of wine and meat.

Enhanced objectives for Member States to achieve via CAP strategic plans

25.02.2019 |

Sign-on letter from India against IPR on seed

Shri Modiji,

The undersigned signatories representing agricultural and farmer groups from all over India are deeply concerned and writing to you to emphasise that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations must not place any obligation on India or any other developing country with respect to intellectual property (IP) on seed and planting materials.

RCEP IS ‘WTO-PLUS’

The demand for tighter IPR comes in the form of insistence on provisions on rights in plant varieties. It is demanded by some RCEP-participating countries (RPCs) that such plant variety protection (PVP) shall provide for the IP protection of all plant genera and species by an effective PVP system, which is consistent with the 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991 Convention). This demand makes RCEP go beyond the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and is thus ‘WTO- plus’.

It is important to recall that Article 27.3(b) of the WTO TRIPS Agreement only requires WTO member countries to make available an effective sui generis system for the protection of plant varieties. Countries have complete freedom to adopt a system suitable to their agricultural condition and needs. Nothing in the RCEP negotiations should affect and limit this freedom.

20.02.2019 |

European farms could grow green and still be able to feed population

Research shows loss in yields could be offset by reorienting diets away from grain-fed meat

Europe would still be able to feed its growing population even if it switched entirely to environmentally friendly approaches such as organic farming, according to a new report from a thinktank.

A week after research revealed a steep decline in global insect populations that has been linked to the use of pesticides, the study from European thinktank IDDRI claims such chemicals can be phased out and greenhouse gas emissions radically reduced in Europe through agroecological farming, while still producing enough nutritious food for an increasing population.

Agroecology takes into account natural ecosystems and uses local knowledge to plant crops that increase the sustainability of the farming system as a whole. The IDDRI study, entitled Ten Years for Agroecology, used modelling to examine the reduction in yields that would result from a transition to such an approach.

20.02.2019 |

European farms could grow green and still be able to feed population

Research shows loss in yields could be offset by reorienting diets away from grain-fed meat

Europe would still be able to feed its growing population even if it switched entirely to environmentally friendly approaches such as organic farming, according to a new report from a thinktank.

A week after research revealed a steep decline in global insect populations that has been linked to the use of pesticides, the study from European thinktank IDDRI claims such chemicals can be phased out and greenhouse gas emissions radically reduced in Europe through agroecological farming, while still producing enough nutritious food for an increasing population.

Agroecology takes into account natural ecosystems and uses local knowledge to plant crops that increase the sustainability of the farming system as a whole. The IDDRI study, entitled Ten Years for Agroecology, used modelling to examine the reduction in yields that would result from a transition to such an approach.

19.02.2019 |

GMO Feature: Canola | Living Non-GMO

Our readers write to us almost every day to ask why they saw canola in a Non-GMO Project Verified product. There’s a fairly pervasive misconception that all canola is genetically modified, but this is not true! Non-GMO canola does exist; when you see canola in a product bearing the Butterfly, you can rest assured that it’s non-GMO canola because we test (major) high-risk crops that go into your food.

07.02.2019 |

Petition against Pioneer Hi-Bred’s application for open field trials of RNAi/gene silencing (DP-566113-9) GM maize

Say no to open field trials of new, untested gene silencing technology

Please support the African Centre of Biodiversity’s objection by signing and commenting on this petition against Pioneer Hi-Bred’s application for open field trials of RNAi /gene silencing (DP-566113-9) GM maize.

Once again, the GM industry aims to test a risky product on the SA environment and its citizens, who are being targeted as recipients of an unproven technology that promotes the private seed industry at the cost of our local, small-holder farmers and their seed and food systems.

Just as most people were going on holiday, on 21 December 2018, Pioneer Hi-Bred advertised in the Citizen newspaper its intention to make application to our GMO authorities for permission to conduct open field trials of a genetically modified (GM) maize variety, DP-056113-9, involving gene silencing techniques.

07.02.2019 |

Towards a Common Food Policy for the EU

This report argues for a Common Food Policy for the European Union: a policy setting a direction of travel for the whole food system, bringing together the various sectoral policies that affect food production, processing, distribution, and consumption, and refocusing all actions on the transition to sustainability.

It highlights the conflicting objectives of existing policies, and the potential for new synergies to be established. The report maps out a new governance architecture for food systems, and puts forward a concrete vision of the policy reform and realignment that is required in order to deliver sustainable food systems.

The Common Food Policy vision draws on the collective intelligence of more than 400 farmers, food entrepreneurs, civil society activists, scientists and policymakers consulted through a three-year process of research and deliberation.

06.02.2019 |

French, German farmers destroy crops after GMOs found in Bayer seeds

PARIS (Reuters) - Bayer said on Wednesday that farmers in France and Germany were digging up thousands of hectares of rapeseed fields after traces of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) banned for cultivation were found in seeds sold by the company.

GMO crops are widely grown across the world, but they remain controversial in Europe, where very few varieties are authorized for growing and some countries like France have completely outlawed their cultivation, citing environmental risks.

Checks by the French authorities during the autumn showed minute quantities of GMO seeds, estimated at less than 0.005 percent of the volume, in three batches of rapeseed seeds sold under the Dekalb brand, Catherine Lamboley, Bayer’s chief operating officer for France, said.

Dekalb was previously a Monsanto brand before the U.S. company was taken over by Bayer last year.

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