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08.10.2018 |

Patent on beer

The big breweries Carlsberg and Heineken jointly filed applications for patents on barley used for the production of beer and other beverages. The patents, EP2384110 and EP2373154, were granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2016. They cover barley plants derived from conventional breeding, their usage in brewing as well as the beer brewed thereof. The patents in question are based on random mutations in the genome of the barley. Kernels were brought into contact with chemicals and in reaction showed an increase in their genetic variability. Thereafter, specific mutations, already known to be useful, were selected by standard procedures. The kernels are supposedly more suitable for brewing beer that, it is hoped, will keep its fresh taste over longer period of time. Furthermore, the EPO granted a third patent (EP2575433) that covers a combination of the characteristics of the barley plants achieved by further crossings. Each of the three patents covers the plants, the harvest, the process for brewing, malt and wort and all drinks produced by this method.

Therefore, in 2017, NO PATENTS ON SEEDS!, together with around 40 other organizations, filed oppositions against these patents.

Hearings 2 and 8 October

On October 2nd and 8th, 2018, starting at 9 a.m., these oppositions will be heard in public hearings at the European Patent Office (EPO, Bob van Benthem-Platz 1, Munich).

07.10.2018 |

Stakeholders warn against introducing GM maize seed

LAHORE: Stakeholders have warned the new government against experimenting with the healthy maize crop, saying farmers, dairy and livestock sector, seed producers and industrialists are satisfied with the increase in harvest.

The federal government is in consultation with the stakeholders for introducing imported genetically modified (GM) maize seeds in the near future. These seeds will be protected from some pests and will have tolerance against lethal pesticides.

The new technology, however, will be detrimental to the local maize varieties as it will contaminate them due to cross-pollination.

The stakeholders have fiercely opposed the large-scale import of costly and potentially hazardous GM maize seeds. They argue that the maize crop has been showing tremendous results and there is no major challenge to its cultivation that needs any intervention.

05.10.2018 |

How should we control the power to genetically eliminate a species?

The power to re-engineer or eliminate wild species using a “gene drive” needs to be brought under international governance, say Simon Terry and Stephanie Howard

(Stephanie Howard and Simon Terry, researchers for the Sustainability Council of New Zealand)

Thanks to a form of genetic engineering technology known as a gene drive, it is now possible to modify or even eliminate a wild species in its natural habitat, bypassing the laws of inheritance that have governed nature for millennia. The power to deliver “extinction to order” is potentially immense – as is the political challenge.

The technology works by driving a gene throughout a population, meaning the plants or animals containing the drives could impact ecosystems that cross not just country borders, but entire continents.

03.10.2018 |

This Seed Bank Preserves Biodiversity by Opening Its Doors to Farmers

The Ethiopian institution pioneered a new model.

HOUSED IN THE NONDESCRIPT OFFICE buildings of the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute are a series of cryogenic vaults that, together, contain the largest and most important collection of plant seeds in sub-Saharan Africa. Located in the capital city of Addis Ababa, the facility stores seeds for more than 62,000 varieties of native plants related to horticultural production alone.

When it was founded in the early-1980s, the EBI became the world’s first living seed bank. This is in contrast to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is housed underneath thick ice not far from the North Pole, and is essentially a bunker meant to protect seedstocks against global calamity. By partnering with local farmers, the EBI instead “stores” a minimum of 40,000 additional varieties by keeping them alive and growing in fields.

“From a global perspective, the single focus of gene banks seems to be on collecting and preserving whatever samples they can find, and they call that conservation,” agronomist Melaku Worede told an interviewer in 2009. The 82-year-old helped found the EBI and received a Right Livelihood Award (commonly known as the Alternative Nobel) for his work as its first director. “We, on the other hand, believe in conservation through use, in keeping diversity alive as you use it.”

03.10.2018 |

New Study Shows Roundup Kills Bees

Glyphosate targets undesired weeds—as well as honeybees

The most widely sprayed herbicide in the world kills honeybees, according to a new report.

Glyphosate, an herbicide and active ingredient in Monsanto’s (now Bayer’s) Roundup weed killer, targets enzymes long assumed to be found only in plants. The product is advertised as being innocuous to wildlife. But some bacteria also use this enzyme, including a microbiome found in the intestines of most bees. When pollinators come in contact with glyphosate, the chemical reduces this gut bacteria, leaving bees vulnerable to pathogens and premature death.

“The bee itself has no molecular targets from glyphosate,” Nancy Moran, a biologist at the University of Texas at Austin and a coauthor of the study, told Environmental Health News. “But its gut bacteria do have targets.”

Moran and other scientists liken glyphosate exposure to taking too many antibiotics—and upsetting the balance of good bacteria that supports immunity and digestion.

“We all know that glyphosate is an antibiotic. It’s very toxic to bacteria. It’s even patented as an antibiotic,” says Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But very few researchers have actually dived into this issue. The good thing is, that’s starting to change.”

02.10.2018 |

Imported seeds fast replacing local varieties in Pakistan

KARACHI: Agriculture constitutes the largest sector of Pakistan’s economy and the majority of the population depends on it. It contributes about 24 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), accounts for half of the country’s employed labor force, and is the largest source of foreign exchange earnings. It feeds the whole rural and urban populations of Pakistan.

The country has a rich biodiversity and multinational companies have realized this. Thousands of varieties of seeds, medicinal plants and herbs have been developed over hundreds of years by farming communities, who were well-equipped with indigenous knowledge of the local environment, climate and conditions for agricultural production.

But the day is not far off when the entire seed business will be controlled by seed companies, leaving local farmers totally dependent on imported or multinationals’ seeds.

01.10.2018 |

Call to Action 2018: Our Bread, Our Freedom

Food systems are either sources of nourishment forging the foundations of human health and well-being or one of the most substantial health risk factors.

An entire colonization of the earth, agriculture and our bodies has taken place over a century. Food and agriculture systems upon which we all depend have increasingly become industrialized and globalized. Commercial compulsions of current global agricultural and food systems, compounded by high levels of economic inequality are making healthy diets unavailable or unaffordable to large sections of the population in every part of the world.

27.09.2018 |

Bayer may stop selling Monsanto's new Bt cotton in India

Germany’s Bayer AG, which acquired US biotech firm Monsanto in June, recently said new Bt cotton seed technology cannot be introduced in India as it is no more profitable and financially viable because of royalty issues. The acquisition of Monsanto is over globally but is still in process in India.

Monsanto, which has been selling genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in India through its joint venture Mahyco Monsanto Biotech that has sub-licensed Bt cotton seed technology to various domestic seed companies, is involved in legal battles with the Indian Government and Indian company Nuziveedu Seeds.

The company needs to be compensated for investment made in research and development (R&D) to come up with innovative products, Bob Reiter, global head of R&D, crop science division of Bayer, told a news agency.

23.09.2018 |

India: Failed promises of GM Bt cotton

Stagnant yields, pest attacks and skyrocketing fertilizer use have beset India’s first commercialised GM crop. Claire Robinson reports

GM Bt cotton in India has brought stagnant yields, massive pest attacks, and increased agrochemical use, according to data presented at a conference.

GMO advocates often claim that GM Bt cotton was responsible for increased cotton yield in India. But while yield did increase for the first few years of Bt cotton introduction, this gain was not sustained.

And the data show that even this temporary gain was not due to Bt cotton. During the years when cotton yields grew, from 2002–2005, the percentage of Bt cotton in the total cotton crop was minuscule – below 6% at the all-India level. As the percentage of GM Bt cotton in the total cotton crop grew to over 90%, yields stagnated and even declined.

21.09.2018 |

Patented Plants: Who Owns Our Global Seed Supply?

At the Non-GMO Project, we believe that by encouraging a non-GMO seed supply, we are supporting the restoration of traditional seed breeding and the right of farmers to save and plant their own seeds and grow varieties of their choice. It’s one of our most important principles. But why do we need to restore these traditional farming practices in the first place? One important reason is that some of agriculture’s biggest corporations use patents to control how farmers grow crops.

(.....)

But What about Patents on Non-GMO Seeds?

Non-GMO seeds can be patented too. The key differences are the number of patents and the degree to which those patents impact large-scale agriculture. Some of the most commonly-patented non-GMO plants are actually flowers, not food. Meanwhile, some GMO-producing corporations hold more than thousands of patents (search here to explore these patents), and they hold them on major commodity crops such as soy and corn.

Do we really want to live in a world where we depend on just a couple companies for the whole world’s seed supply?

At the Non-GMO Project, we do not. We do, however, want to live in a world where individual farmers have the power to collect, crossbreed, and save their own seeds.

Wir bedanken uns ganz herzlich bei allen Spenderinnen und Spendern!

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