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2009-08-12 |

Romanian Parliament discusses new GE food labelling bill

The label of products containing genetically modified ingredients should contain a warning in this regard, a new bill to be submitted by the Conservative Party (PC) in the Parliament says, a PC spokesman announced on Thursday. A yellow circle covering no less than 30% of the label would have to contain the text warning that the product contains GM ingredients, according to the proposal, he said.

2009-08-12 |

Pharmacrop researcher and EFSA develop risk assessment guideline for GE pharmacrops

Drawn up by the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA), based in Parma, Italy, the guidance describes how developers of GM plants grown for purposes other than human or animal consumption, such as producing pharmaceuticals or industrial enzymes, will need to assess the potential risks to humans, animals and the environment. [...] ”It replaces what we had before, which was nothing, so that is a positive step,” says Julian Ma, a molecular immunologist at St George’s Hospital Medical School, University of London, who helped to draw up the guidelines.

2009-08-12 |

Patents in biotechnology: Potential impacts on life expectancy and hunger

As changes in food requirements and healthcare continue to be major issues across the globe, the biotechnology industry is escalating its role as a leader in adaptation. From genetic engineering to gene mutation, the biotechnology industry is devising new ways for us to think about our health and agriculture. As the biotechnology industry expands this scientific creativity, it is simultaneously pushing the boundaries of genetic patenting. However, could these new ideas in patenting also alter the way we understand life expectancy and hunger

2009-08-12 |

Members of human rights expert committee at UN question patents on food

A group of experts working as a think-tank for the United Nations Human Rights Council raised the issue of patents and food at a meeting this week. Meanwhile, a new report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food expected to be available at the end of August will focus on the intersection between intellectual property and the human right to food. ”Right to food is one of the human rights that was most violated,” despite its being ”Millennium Development Goal number one,” said Jean Ziegler, the vice-chairperson of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee and the former UN special rapporteur on the right to food from 2000-2008.

2009-08-12 |

A lawsuit filed against Myriad Genetics questions the ethics of gene patents

A battle is waging over whether the isolation and purification of specific genes linked to cancer are products of man or nature. Defendants in a high-profile lawsuit that could have significant implications for thousands of patents on human genes have now asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, calling it a ”thinly veiled attempt to challenge the validity of patents.” Two months ago, more than 150,000 researchers, doctors, activists and cancer patients filed a federal lawsuit in New York City against Myriad Genetics, Inc., the University of Utah Research Foundation and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

2009-08-12 |

Scientists urge better access to patented seed for independent research

Thanks to a 1980 Supreme Court decision, genetically modified organisms can be patented. And the biotech seed companies -- including the top three seed producers, Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta -- require a signed user agreement to purchase their seeds. Among the stipulations of the agreements is a prohibition on independent research, which prevents public-sector scientists from conducting head-to-head comparisons or environmental and health studies of genetically modified seeds.

2009-08-11 |

Products without labels with GMO information subject to fine in the Ukraine

Businesses that introduce products without labels with information on genetically modified organisms (GMO) they contain could be fined under Article 23 of the law on protection of consumer rights (fines from two to 100 non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens, depending of the seriousness of violation and 10-times the value of the products, taking into consideration the prices on the day the products were bought). The state committee for technical regulation and consumer policy announced the possible fines. The committee’s comment on cabinet resolution No. 468 of May 13, 2009 on the labeling of food and farming products with GMO or produced using GMO has been posted on its official Web site.

2009-08-11 |

German consumers get ’No Genetic Engineering’ label for food

German consumers now have an easier way to determine if their food has been genetically modified after Minister of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Ilse Aigner, introduced a new ”No Genetic Engineering” logo on Monday. [...] ”Through the adoption of a universal logo, consumers’ freedom to choose will be strengthened, and I hope that the label will be used actively,” Aigner said in Berlin.

2009-08-11 |

Scottish National Party snubs Benn’s call to grow GM crops for UK food security

Genetically-modified (GM) crops will not be grown in Scotland for the foreseeable future, despite calls by the Environment Secretary Hilary Benn for a radical rethink to how we produce and consume our food. [...] In Scotland, no such crops have been grown since trials of GM oil seed rape ended in 2003. First Minister Alex Salmond opposes the technology, previously claiming that the benefits ”would be small in comparision to the penalty”.

2009-08-11 |

UK Government sees GM foods as answer to self-sufficiency

Genetically modified crops could be part of the solution for making British agriculture more self-sufficient, Hilary Benn, environment minister, said yesterday as the government launched its first review of the nation’s food security. ”We need to produce as much food as we can ourselves,” Mr Benn said as he encouraged consumers to eat seasonally grown British vegetables - instead of out-of-season imports - as part of a drive to make the country less dependent on overseas producers. The UK, which only produces 61 per cent of the food it consumes, had experienced a ”wake-up call” in recent years with sudden oil and food price rises, he added.

2009-08-10 |

Free Consumers Union of Azerbaijan calls for GE food ban

The Free Consumers Union of Azerbaijan (FCUA) keeps on beating an alarm on the occasion of sales of genetically modified foods in the country. At today’s press conference in Baku Union’s chair Eyub Huseynov said that ’green light’ to GM foods was given in Azerbaijan since 1997 and neighboring Iran started applying GM technologies much earlier. We are against that.

2009-08-10 |

U.S. has wrong approach to African food security, groups say

As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tours Africa this week, a coalition of grassroots groups says ”business as usual” won’t work, and criticized the U.S. for pursuing a narrow approach that puts too much emphasis on biotechnology. The US Working Group on the Food Crisis used a visit by Clinton and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) to raise the question of whether U.S. tax dollars for food-related aid to Africa are being spent wisely.

2009-08-10 |

U.S. doctors and plant scientists create program to fight childhood hunger with GE crops

St. Louis doctors and plant scientists have started a new program to prevent hunger in Africa. The Global Harvest Alliance combines an existing project to feed children with efforts to grow genetically engineered, vitamin-rich plants. Project leader Dr. Mark Manary says the goal is to give kids a food supplement long enough to get them healthy, and to develop the plants as a future food source to prevent malnutrition.

2009-08-10 |

Indonesian Consumers Foundation calls for stricter regulation of GM products

The Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) says it is high time for the government to require genetically modified products to be labeled, as it is the public’s rights to know what they are consuming. ”The consumer protection law guarantees consumers the right to information on all products or services. If the public knows whether a product is genetically modified, they can make an informed decision,” YLKI researcher Ilyani S Andang said Wednesday. The call for labelling was first sounded nine years ago, but the government has never responded in a significant way.

2009-08-10 |

Pursue GE crops with care and respect, says U.S. National Catholic Rural Live Conference

By applying precautionary principles to transgenic plants, we believe this technology has a role to play in food production and security.
Failure to abide by precautionary points will:
- Accelerate the decline of agricultural biodiversity in local areas, where vast crop varieties have already been lost in the past century to monocultural practices.
- Allow a few dominant seed companies to control the supply of seeds worldwide, reaping a greater share of the food dollar at the expense of farmers and primary producers.
- Deny farmers of the world their just benefits to the development of genetic resources by their experimentation and local application.
- Threaten the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and indigenous people who depend on open access to resources, such as the traditional saving of seeds for future sowing.

2009-08-10 |

GM food is the answer to poverty and hunger

Although some countries remain adamantly opposed to the use of contemporary genetic modification, there is increasing awareness that these are important tools in the success of global efforts to lift the last billion out of hunger and poverty through agricultural intensification and decreased crop loss. Moreover, molecular modification will be an indispensable tool in the adaptation of crop plants to changing climatic conditions.

2009-08-10 |

U.S. antitrust enforcers begin visiting farm belt

Philip J. Weiser, a telecommunications-law expert who was recently named deputy assistant attorney general, told a farmer gathering here that federal antitrust regulators are ”committed to examining” the level of competition in several agribusiness sectors, such as the marketing of genetically modified seed, dairy processing and meatpacking. [...] While Mr. Weiser didn’t single out any agricultural companies for criticism, his 30-minute appearance came in the hometown of St. Louis crop-biotechnology titan Monsanto Co., where he addressed the annual convention of a farmers advocacy group called the Organization for Competitive Markets.

2009-08-10 |

EU buyers stop US soy imports after GE corn contaminations found

European Union buyers have voluntarily moved to stop imports of U.S. soy after shipments were found containing traces of genetically modified corn, a spokesman for the EU in Washington said on Thursday. [...] ”The industry has itself decided to stop all imports of U.S. soy, as of now,” Mattias Sundholm told Reuters. [...] Sundholm could not confirm the quantity or location of the shipments, but said they were found to contain the corn varieties MON-88017 and MIR-604.

2009-08-07 |

GM canola a growth crop for Canada

GENETICALLY modified canola has become Canada’s most valuable crop, is poised for more growth and is testimony to the country’s innovation policy, according to a visiting Canadian grains executive. Dennis Stephens, of the Canada Grains Council, said GM canola was introduced into Canada in 1995 as part of a government innovation policy. [...] ”We all recognise some potential [GM] yield benefits, but there are significant hurdles in the international marketplace, which makes it hard to be enthusiastic when huge markets have a zero threshold.”

2009-08-07 |

Don’t waste science cash on GM, New Zealand Green Party MPFitzsimons says

Precious science dollars should not be wasted on genetic modification (GM) research, Green Party MP Jeanette Fitzsimons says. The Government is hardening its approach to Crown research institutes (CRIs) and their requirement to make a profit and pay a dividend. The eight CRIs have been told not to assume that not returning a dividend to the Crown, as they have been able to do in recent years, will be tolerated.

2009-08-07 |

Survey to gauge public opinion on GMOs in Northern New Zealand

A telephone survey is set to gauge public opinion on genetically modified organisms. The survey will be asking whether ratepayers are satisfied with current national regulation by central government agencies, Environmental Risk Management Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries – under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996. Or whether people would like local councils to regulate genetically modified organisms in some way.

2009-08-07 |

Canadian researcher praises Australia’s handling of GM issue

A Canadian researcher has given Australia’s chief food regulator a tick of approval for its assessments of genetically modified foods. Dr William Yan, from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency in Ontario, was invited by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand to compare its GM food safety assessment process with international counterparts. Mr Yan says the food regulator’s assessments are ”scientifically rigorous” and are one of the most, if not the most, transparent in the world.

2009-08-07 |

Augusta-Margaret River Shire (Australia) local doctors say NO to GMO

LOCAL doctors have waded into the GM debate, presenting their own petition against the introduction of genetically modified crops to the Augusta-Margaret River Shire. At last week’s shire meeting councillors were expecting a public petition, containing almost 1500 individual signatures and those of 134 business people in the shire, but the doctors petition, handed over by Eddie Donato, came as a suprise to some. [...] All are concerned about the as yet unidentified risks GM food may have on human and animal health, and the contamination of locally produced food.

2009-08-07 |

Monsanto lobbying South Australia Government on GM canola

Biotechnology company Monsanto says it’s lobbying the South Australian Government to drop its ban on genetically modified canola. South Australia extended its ban on GM early last year. Monsanto Australia’s Tony May says South Australia is a big market, and last year many SA farmers came to see Victorian GM crops. ”We’re keeping them informed on what we do in the eastern states,” he says. ”But essentially we’ve been focused on our farmers producing in Victoria and NSW, and also focused on the trials in WA at this stage.”

2009-08-06 |

Can GE crops rescue the U.S. farmers?

Why should farmers have to work 200 days a year off-farm just so they can continue to farm, one of the most labor intensive and necessary jobs in the country? The administration’s solutions are non-starters. The administration calls for more agriculture-based fuels, ethanol and biodiesel. We tried that - dozens of new ethanol plants and millions more acres planted to corn - and still the rural economy sinks deeper into depression.

2009-08-06 |

Monsanto likely topic at Organization for Competitive Markets conference

A conference in St. Louis next month will focus on competition in the agriculture market and will likely include discussions about what some farmers describe as Monsanto Co.’s ”stranglehold” on seeds. Some farmers allege that the biotech company engages in anti-competitive practices, which lead to lower crop yields and monopolistic costs to farmers and consumers, the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) said Monday. [...] OCM decided to hold its annual conference in St. Louis because the city is central to its membership, it’s a ”good media market” and it’s the home of Monsanto, said Christy Moran, an OCM spokeswoman.

2009-08-06 |

Brazil CTC and BASF to develop drought-tolerant GE cane

Brazil’s Sugarcane Technology Center and Germany’s BASF said on Tuesday they will jointly develop a genetically modified sugarcane with yields up to 25 percent higher than those currently available. The cane, expected to hit the market within 10 years, will be able to handle drought better than current strains, said Luiz Louzano, biotechnology manager at BASF’s local unit. ”Our aim is to develop a cane which can survive in more hostile environments, areas with water limitations. Those characteristics could raise the average cane yield (in Brazil) to 100 tons per hectare, from 80 currently,” Louzano said.

2009-08-06 |

DuPont, Bayer settle seed lawsuits

DuPont and Bayer AG said on Thursday they had signed several licensing agreements that will resolve a patent infringement dispute over their biotechnology agriculture products. The two companies sued each other over patents and licensing deals concerning genetically modified seeds for corn and soybeans that allow farmers to use stronger herbicides and insect repellents.

2009-08-06 |

FuturaGene announces GE eucalyptus project with Chinese partners

FuturaGene, which develops environmentally friendly solutions that enhance yields and improve the processability of plants for forestry, biofuels, biopower and agriculture, is pleased to announce that the company and its wholly owned subsidiaries, CBD Technologies Ltd. and FuturaGene Investment Consulting Co. Ltd. (Beijing) have agreed to extend their September 2007 Collaboration Agreement with the Research Institute of Tropic Forestry (RITF), which is aimed at the development of improved eucalyptus varieties.

2009-08-06 |

Recent agrobiotech corporate news

MONSANTO Canada broke ground Monday on a new state-of-the art plant breeding centre that will get new types of genetically modified canola into farmers’ hands sooner than otherwise would have been possible. [...] First up on the product-development list is a new generation of herbicide-resistant (Roundup Ready), higher-yielding canola, Monsanto officials said in interviews following Monday’s ground-breaking ceremony. That will likely be followed by canola products with other farmer-friendly traits, including a resistance to drought and an ability to use nitrogen (fertilizer) more efficiently.

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