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2009-05-20 |

Tell Congress not to force GE crops on other countries

An effort to fight global poverty and hunger may become a Trojan horse to force genetically engineered crops on countries and farmers that do not want them. In the Senate, Senators Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) introduced the Global Food Security Act, which increases funding for agricultural research in the developing world, and a companion bill in the House of Representatives is expected to be introduced soon.

2009-05-20 |

GE crops holds seeds of hope for Africa

there are new technologies on the horizon that can help farmers lessen the impact of drought. Through biotechnology, researchers at Monsanto are developing a drought-tolerant corn to reduce lost yields caused by drought. [...] The technology has been submitted for regulatory review in the United States and we expect it to be a valuable tool in the Western corn belt in a few years. But as with the latest medications, it is inconceivable that African farmers should have to wait longer for the technology.

2009-05-20 |

GE crops making important contributions to sustainable farming

”Since 1996, biotech crop adoption has contributed to reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, decreased pesticide spraying and significantly boosted farmers' incomes,” said Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics, co-author of the report. ”The technology has also made important contributions to increasing the yields of many farmers, reducing production risks, improving productivity and raising global production of key crops.

2009-05-20 |

GE crop debate rages on in Uganda

Amid concerns on the safety of genetically-modified cro ps and the cost of acquiring GM seeds by the largely peasant African farmers, the debate over the acceptability of biotechnology continues to rage in Uganda, just it does in most parts of Africa. Supporters of biotechnology said it offered Africa the best chance of guarding against food insecurity because it enhances agricultural productions. Opponents countered by questioning the safety of the relatively new technology as well as its affordability.

2009-05-19 |

DuPont alleges anti-competitive conduct by Monsanto in response to lawsuit over stacked traits

Monsanto is trying to deny farmers access to alternative technologies at a time when farmers are struggling with weeds that are increasingly resistant to current Monsanto products, said James C. Borel, DuPont group vice president.
”The litigation filed today by Monsanto is more of what we have come to expect from them,” said Borel, in response to the filing of a lawsuit by Monsanto in federal court in St. Louis, Mo. ”Monsanto has a long history of using litigation and aggressive tactics to preserve their monopoly and attempt to intimidate customers, seed partners and competitors.

2009-05-19 |

Farmers reveal: The truth about GM corn in the Philippines

A forum on the case study on the socio-economic impact of Genetically Modified (GM) Corn or RR Corn in Capiz was held last April 30, 2009 [...] Ms. Eloisa Bosito, MASIPAG-National Secretariat presented & discussed the results of the socio-economic study which shows that almost all of the farmers in both municipalities are dependent with the local financiers in the area, with 57% of the corn farmers in Dumarao are paying an interest of 7% per month. In Maayon, most of the farmers are paying as high as 10% per month.

2009-05-19 |

Vatican science academy pushes GMOs as safe way of feeding the hungry

Sandwiched amid Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the Middle East and President Barack Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame, a behind-closed-doors ”study week” in Rome sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Sciences on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, has so far flown largely below radar. Yet the May 15-19 event could help drive the Vatican toward a pro-GMO stance, disappointing some social justice activists, as well as a cross-section of Catholic bishops and theologians, who see genetically altered crops as risks to the environment and human health as well as a boondoggle for giant agribusiness corporations.

2009-05-19 |

Biotech portion of U.S. foreign aid bill draws criticism

Congress has largely stayed out of the battles over genetically engineered crops, but that could change with a foreign aid bill that could target research money to agricultural biotechnology. [...] The legislation appears to be in line with the Obama administration’s priorities. […..] But critics of biotechnology are angry that the increased U.S. aid could be used to promote the use of genetically engineered seeds, and they’re pushing lawmakers to strip the provision from the bill.

2009-05-19 |

Cancer patients challenge the patenting of a gene

Ms. Girard took a genetic test to see if her genes also put her at increased risk for ovarian cancer, which might require the removal of her ovaries. The test came back positive, so she wanted a second opinion from another test. But there can be no second opinion. A decision by the government more than 10 years ago allowed a single company, Myriad Genetics, to own the patent on two genes that are closely associated with increased risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and on the testing that measures that risk.

2009-05-19 |

U.S. Federal Circuit limits patentability of genetic sequences

The Federal Circuit’s decision in Kubin generally means that to the extent a protein has been previously identified, its nucleotide sequence is no longer patentable. The broader application of Kubin will include attempts to reject or invalidate claims directed to biotech inventions which claim an outcome of experimentation from among a range of expected results, even though not expressly predictable. There will undoubtedly be an increase in invalidity challenges to existing gene patents by those seeking to market generic and follow-on biologics prior to patent expiration, in view of the likelihood that pending regulatory legislation also passes. Clearly, the patentability standard for gene sequences and the commercial exclusivity available for such biotech inventions have been dramatically altered by the Federal Circuit’s In re Kubin decision.

2009-05-18 |

Canadian Wheat Board and others cautious about GM wheat

The Canadian Wheat Board won’t support genetically modified wheat until key conditions are in place, including assurances that its overseas markets would accept the crop. [...] The Wheat Board, which opposed Monsanto Co’s application for a herbicide-tolerant GM wheat in 2004, would also want to see a greater benefit, such as resistance to fusarium disease or improved yield and quality, [spokeswoman for the Wheat Board] Fitzhenry said. At present, there’s no way to effectively segregate GM wheat from non-GM wheat, which would be another condition the board would want satisfied, she said.

2009-05-18 |

Growers in U.S., Canada, Australia back GMO wheat

Farm groups from the world’s top wheat-exporting nations on Thursday said they had reached an agreement to support a ”synchronized” commercialization of biotech traits in wheat. Though any market roll-out of a genetically altered wheat would be years away, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) said Thursday it had signed up grain growers in Canada and Australia in a deal that would align the nations against any international backlash if and when a biotech wheat was introduced.

2009-05-18 |

Aquinnah (Massachusetts, USA) votes for GE food ban

The final article calling for a ban on genetically modified foods (GMO) from Aquinnah garnered the most resounding support of the night. It was approved unanimously and inspired several comments condemning the methods of big argibusiness and expressions of support for the petition. [...] As part of the measure voters also endorsed a petition to the federal government to introduce labels on all GMO produce.

2009-05-18 |

Agrolink Director Svetla Nikolova: We hope for GM Free Bulgaria

Interview with Svetla Nikolova, Director of AGROLINK (www.agrolink.org). AGROLINK brings together specialists, experts and farmers in a network of partnership with the aim to influence encourage and assist farmers and rural societies in Bulgaria to develop and support organic farming as the most sustainable agriculture system.

2009-05-18 |

New report undermines Vatican meeting on GE crops

On the eve of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences’ ”Study Week” on genetically modified food, a new report from GM Freeze shows why GM won’t, and can’t, deliver on its promises. [...] The biotech industry now hopes to boost their market with ”nutritionally enhanced” GM crops, which it claims will alleviate malnutrition and improve health. Yet after over a decade of such promises, no nutritionally enhanced crops are commercially available, while better approaches to health and nutrition are cheaper and ready to use.

2009-05-18 |

Few signs of concern as GM crops advance in Ghana

Ghanaians are daily consuming genetically modified (GM) products imported by various traders without much care. However, as the government prepares to allow the planting of GM crops locally in a bid to boost food production, one non-governmental organisation, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Ghana is sounding the alarm.
Field trials of GM crops in Ghana began in May 2008, regulated by existing legislation coverying the conduct of research in general. A Biosafety Bill that will establish a framework for the commercial growing of genetically-modified crops in the country is presently before parliament.

2009-05-14 |

Bayer CropScience and Evogene enter a multi-year collaboration for rice yield improvement

Bayer CropScience AG and Evogene Ltd. today announced a three-year collaboration focused on increasing rice productivity and yield. Pursuant to the collaboration agreement, key candidate genes discovered by Evogene for yield enhancement will be introduced into Bayer CropScience’s rice R&D pipeline for the development of high yielding hybrid rice. The agreement strengthens and expands the companies’ existing research and development collaboration for rice, established in 2007.

2009-05-14 |

Monsanto’s ”Water Utilization Learning Center” to open soon

Monsanto’s new ”Water Utilization Learning Center” -- a demonstration farm for genetically altered crops -- will open in late spring or early summer, manager Chandler Mazour said recently. Located on 155 acres near Highway 47 two miles south of Gothenburg, the center will have an interactive learning center inside with rooms for lectures and presentations.
The facility will be capable of videoconferencing with organizations anywhere in the world, Mazour said.

2009-05-14 |

Latvia bans GE crop cultivation

The Supervisory Council for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) today approved GMOs for sale in Latvia, yet each GMO will have to be examined beforehand, but banned GMO production in Latvia. Ten out of fourteen Supervisory Council for GMOs members voted for the proposal.

2009-05-14 |

Kenya GE maize debate heats up in Parliament

Prime Minister Raila Odinga was on Wednesday put to task to explain why genetically modified and 'poisonous maize' was imported to the country even after government agencies raised health issues with the shipment. MPs used the PM's time in Parliament to grill him on his role in the maize saga. ”The Prime Minister is confusing us by tabling too many papers in the House. We have listened to him and there was evidence of contradiction and the results he got,” he said.

2009-05-14 |

Monsanto sees U.S. seeds business doubling

Monsanto Co said on Wednesday that it expects its U.S. gross profit from sales of seeds and traits to double by 2012 from the 2008 level, while its international businesses should grow by 85 percent. The world’s biggest seed company said it will launch a ”high impact technology” product every one to two years, with the goal that each project will deliver more than $300 million in ”gross revenue opportunities” by 2020 in the country where it is launched.

2009-05-14 |

Africa Union expert says ”GMOs can save millions of lives in the continent”

The opposition by African governments to genetically modified (GM) foods is overblown, some science experts say. [...] Dr Sarah Olembo, a senior policy officer (Food Security Division) of the African Union Commission (AUC) says technologies for genetic modification offered a solution to Africa’s food security challenges. [...] ”Although widely considered risky to human health and the environment, food produced through genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can save millions of lives in the continent,” she said.

2009-05-13 |

Golden Rice: A dangerous experiment

Changing agricultural models have contributed to vitamin A deficiency. Interestingly, WHO’s recommended practice of growing beta-carotene-rich leafy vegetables in home gardens was common in developing countries before the arrival of World Bank, IMF and other Western-backed programmes that forced farmers into growing cash crops for export. [...] It is ironic that Golden Rice is a ”solution” promoted by Western interests to a problem that was arguably generated by Western interests in the first place.

2009-05-13 |

Call for agricultural research to serve people, not corporate interests

Farmers and food consumers worldwide need a stronger say in how agricultural research is funded, designed, implemented and controlled to ensure that the knowledge produced brings the most social and environmental benefits. So says a multimedia e-book published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) today to coincide with the annual meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, which focuses heavily on agriculture.

2009-05-13 |

Consumers still unsure about GM wheat, president of Canadian Federation of Agriculture

It has been five years since U.S. seed and chemical company Monsanto dropped its plans to introduce genetically modified (GM) wheat in the face of consumer opposition -- and while some attitudes have shifted since then, by and large many people still aren’t certain they want GM wheat included in their bread. Consumers are willing to accept many types of new technology without reserve but when it comes to GM food, feelings run very high, said Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Laurent Pellerin.

2009-05-13 |

Purple GE rose pricks thorny debate in Nambucca Shire Council (Austalia)

A purple/blue rose is responsible for causing a rift in Nambucca Shire Council ranks and sparking Nambucca Valley Conservation Association (NVCA) concern over council’s ability to keep up with the times. [...] A recommendation for council to simply note the application from Florigene was criticised by Cr Paula Flack. She told council it should follow the ”precautionary principle” and object to the proposal because ”we don’t know what effect it will have on our local industry”.

2009-05-13 |

Australian Pioneer GM canola planter ready for more

A WEST Wimmera farmer has been so pleased with the results of Roundup Ready canola, he’s going to increase his planted area this year. The uptake of genetically modified (GM) canola has been furiously debated, with proponents claiming farmers will enjoy the benefits of being able to tidy up paddocks with glyphosate, and opponents saying that the increased costs and regulation will outweigh the benefit of the technology.

2009-05-13 |

Sites chosen for GM grain receival in Australia

CO-OPERATIVE Bulk Handling has announced two sites likely to receive Genetically Modified canola being planted at 20 sites throughout the State. CBH Albany zone manager Richard Simonaitis said while the company was still working with Monsanto to finalise details of sampling and testing GM and non-GM grain, the CBH Group had nominated two receival sites likely to receive deliveries of GM canola. ”At this stage, those sites are Mt Kokeby and the Metro Grain Centre in Forrestfield,” he said.

2009-05-12 |

Monsanto’s ”Water Utilization Learning Center” to open soon

Monsanto’s new ”Water Utilization Learning Center” -- a demonstration farm for genetically altered crops -- will open in late spring or early summer, manager Chandler Mazour said recently. Located on 155 acres near Highway 47 two miles south of Gothenburg, the center will have an interactive learning center inside with rooms for lectures and presentations.
The facility will be capable of videoconferencing with organizations anywhere in the world, Mazour said.

2009-05-12 |

Irish celebrity chef Corrigan blasts authorities for ’low standards’

CELEBRITY chef Richard Corrigan yesterday called for Bord Bia to be abolished, claiming they are not doing a good job promoting Irish food to consumers. [...] Mr Corrigan said that Bord Bia quality assurance schemes do not guarantee that the products sold are Irish, free of genetically modified material or in the best interests of Irish consumers and farmers.

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