GENET-news

 Below you find the postings of the last seven days.

 

2008-11-24 |

Attorneys’ statements in U.S. tainted rice suit not unethical

A Lonoke County circuit judge said Monday he would not sanction attorneys for statements they made to the media in connection with a lawsuit over genetically modified rice. Lawyers for Stuttgart-based Riceland Foods Inc. asked Judge Phillip Whiteaker for a contempt finding against attorneys for a group of rice farmers who allege in a lawsuit that Riceland, the world’s largest miller and marketer of rice, contaminated the 2006 U.S. long-grain rice supply with unapproved, genetically modified rice.

2008-11-24 |

New True Food Guide launched in Australia

The Canola Edition of the True Food Guide for GE free shopping was launched today at Alex Herbert’s restaurant, Bird Cow Fish in Sydney. We were joined by Australian cooking icon Margaret Fulton and Carolyn Creswell of Carman’s Fine Food. Margaret Fulton, who had launched the first ever True Food Guide in 2002, heartily congratulated the ”green” companies – for first time, a majority of Australian food companies have committed to be GE-free, responding to growing consumer concern over the safety of eating GE food.

2008-11-24 |

Overwhelming opposition to GE papaya in the USA

Organizations came together with scientists, businesses, organic farmers, bee keepers and others to oppose a U.S. Department of Agriculture proposal to allow the commercialization of genetically engineered papaya trees in Florida. Over 12,000 people opposed the commercialization while only 17 people submitted statements supporting the commercialization of GE papaya. The STOP GE Trees Campaign, which initiated the call for opposition, includes 137 organizations across the world that have united in the demand for a global ban on GE trees of all types.

2008-11-24 |

Critics gear up to challenge GEAC’s approval of GM crops in Indian Supreme Court

The critics of the transgenic technology in agriculture are gearing up to challenge the regulator’s decision in the Supreme Court for allowing limited field trial of several genetically modified (GM) food crops, including Monsanto India’s Hishell and 900M Gold corn hybrids.

2008-11-24 |

Monsanto beets down opposition to GE sugar beets

Kevin Golden, staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety, says the unknown long-term environmental risks of genetically modified crops outweigh short-term benefits. ”We admit Roundup is a less toxic alternative than a lot of the herbicides, but weed resistance is developing really fast,” Golden says. ”Eventually, Roundup becomes obsolete and farmers have to use these really nasty herbicides. It’s a self-defeating prophecy to use this as a silver bullet.”

2008-11-24 |

Indian Bt cotton farmers pip US counterparts in farm income

Indian cotton farmers have earned more income per hectare than their US counterparts, thanks to the adoption of genetically modified technology developed by companies like Monsanto, says a UK-based agri-economist. ”Farmers in developing countries like India are having better farm income benefits compared to the US, Australia and Argentina,” agri-economist Graham Brookes told PTI. After paying for GM technology, cotton farmers in India have earned an additional average income of 225 dollars (Rs 9,956) per hectare between 2002 and 2006 against 94 dollars per hectare in the US and 133 dollars per hectare in Argentina, he said.

2008-11-21 |

Who owns nature?

In a world where market research is becoming increasingly proprietary and pricey, ETC Group’s report names names, discloses market share and provides top 10 industry rankings up and down the corporate food chain. Not all the corporations identified in ETC Group’s new report are household names, but collectively they control a staggering share of the commercial products found on industrial farms, in our refrigerators and medicine cabinets.

2008-11-21 |

DEFRA (UK) responds to secret GM crop trial claims

DEFRA has said it cannot confirm reports suggesting that the government intends to conduct future genetically modified crop trials in secret. [...] a DEFRA official told Farmers Weekly that it was taking stock of the situation and that no announcements had been made on the measures. However, the official added: ”Sensible and credible decisions on GM organisms cannot be taken without solid scientific evidence.

2008-11-21 |

Coffee breeders select non-GE low-caffeine varieties

Mr. Illy assembled a team of nine agronomists and technicians, who spent the next five years identifying Laurina plants in the collection on which to build a low-caffeine bean. [...] By the time Illy began conducting more successful field tests of the plant in the rich volcanic soil of El Salvador in 2000, several companies had already begun assembling low-caf teams of their own, and others were soon to follow.

2008-11-21 |

Urgency eases for GM wheat as prices fall

The push to promote genetically modified (GM) wheat to combat global food shortages could slow as global commodity prices ease, a top industry executive said on Sunday. ”Now that prices have fallen off their peak, I don’t think it will be a priority,” said Vijay Iyengar, managing director of the Singapore-based grains trader Agrocorp International Pte Ltd.
”Because of the record high prices we saw the push for increasing supplies, and so the call for genetically modified grain seeds received a lot of attention.”

2008-11-21 |

Lake County Board (California, USA) focuses on forming GE advisory committee

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday directed that an advisory committee be formed to find a middle ground on the issue of genetically engineered (GE) in Lake County. During the hearing, which ran about a half hour, the board once more heard input both from those who favored a ban and those who oppose it, but the focus of the discussion was on the committee and how it could be formed to ensure that the different sides hear each other.

2008-11-21 |

Monsanto’s non-GE drought-resistant cotton only available with other GE traits

He says a variety with more efficient water use will perform better under irrigation and will exhibit a better yield response under stress. ”This will be a huge benefit to growers. We will have a broader base of tests across various environments and regions. Utilizing this testing platform and advances in our molecular breeding program we hope to identify lines that handle tough environmental conditions better.” [...] Conventional breeding remains an integral part of the process. ”That’s the basis of a stronger platform,” he says. But he does not expect conventional varieties to move the market.

2008-11-20 |

EU on track to grant quick approval for Monsanto soybean

European Union governments late Wednesday couldn’t agree on whether to allow Monsanto Co. to import a new genetically modified soybean, sending the decision back to the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive arm, where it is likely to be approved. [...] That is encouraging for some in the industry who have long complained that the E.U.’s system is unnecessarily slow. ”It’s moved faster than is usual in our industry,” said Nathalie Moll of EuropaBio, the lobbying group for the biotech industry in the E.U., ”but that’s the speed it should move at.”

2008-11-20 |

Poland to remain free of GMOs

Poland will remain free of GMOs but scientific institutions will be able to conduct research on genetically modified organisms – is today’s declaration of the Polish government. The cabinet has decided to allow specialized laboratories to continue work with GMOs, for instance testing new drugs or investigating genetic diseases, but the organisms must be kept separate from the natural environment and human beings.

2008-11-20 |

GE ’Enviropig’ may go to market in the USA

It’s been called ”Frankenfood.” But backers of genetically engineered meat say it’s just as tasty and safe for consumers as regular cuts from the butcher. We’re not talking about mad scientists holed up in castles. Some of the biggest links in the food chain are expecting farm animals with altered DNA to end up on the dinner plate -- unless the Food and Drug Administration says no. The creators of ”Frankenfood” push health and costs benefits, but diners also could be doing their part for the environment by gorging on modified pork chops in the not-too-distant future.

2008-11-20 |

GM canarypox vaccine gets green light in New Zealand

A live, genetically modified, canarypox virus vaccine has been given the green light to protect horses in New Zealand if there is a outbreak of equine influenza. If used, it will be the first time a genetically modified organism has been released into the environment. The Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) has approved an application by the Racing Board and Equine Health Association to use the vaccine under certain conditions.

2008-11-20 |

New Zealand’s authority amends AgResearch approvals for GE animal trials

The Environmental Risk Management Authority has made a minor amendment to the AgResearch field test approvals granted in November 1999 and May 2001 respectively, that allowed AgResearch to conduct contained field tests involving GM cattle. [...]
* No new GM cattle can be produced or bred from 18 November 2008.
* The existing GM animals can be kept in outdoor containment to allow for decisions to be made on new applications from AgResearch.
* If the new applications are declined, the GM animals must be euthanized within one year.

2008-11-20 |

Uganda GM banana fails to defeat diseases

A field trial of a Genetically-Modified (GM) banana variety in Uganda has failed to defeat the occurrence of banana diseases. The variety was attacked by Black Sigatoka disease, which can cut a banana tree’s fruit production by half. [...] ”Depending on where the gene was inserted, it expressed itself inside the crop in a different manner. Our next target will be to see which crop exhibits stronger resistance when the gene is inserted and then we can conduct more experiments,” Kiggundu noted.

2008-11-19 |

GEAC clears limited field trials of GM corn in India

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has permitted Monsanto India Ltd to conduct limited field trials of corn hybrids that are genetically modified (GM) to confer resistance to the corn borer insect pest and application of its ’Roundup’ herbicide, according to highly placed sources. The sources said the clearance for ’bio-safety research level-1 field trials under confined conditions’ of the GM corn (maize) hybrids was granted at GEAC’s meeting last week.

2008-11-19 |

Bee learning behaviour affected by consumption of Bt Cry1Ab toxin

One of the speculated contributors to [the bee] decline is transgenic crops and specifically those containing Bt proteins since these are insect-active toxins to which bees are exposed through various routes. [...] Up to now however there has been no specific evidence that any Bt toxin has negative effects on bees, but equally such studies have been rare. Particularly lacking are studies on sub-lethal effects of Bt toxins on bees.

2008-11-19 |

Indian researchers develop non-GE ’TERI-DBT Bollcure’ bio-pesticide

With a vision to solve the cotton worm problem in India with environmentally benign solution, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), along with Department of Biotechnology facilitated the second technology transfer for Bollcure, a plant extract based bio-pesticide formulation developed by TERI, with PASURA Biotech Pvt. Ltd, Secunderabad. [...] Bollcure is a plant extract of Eucalyptus and it is 100% environment friendly, suitable for Conventional, Organic, Bt cotton and Integrated Pest Management crop practices

2008-11-19 |

Illegal Bt cotton cultivation serious threat to Orissa’s (India) agriculture

Orissa’s farmlands have become the battleground for several conflicting interests. There is the familiar battle over what should be grown — traditional food grains versus the more rewarding cash crops — but the more insidious battle is being waged over how the crops should be grown and what technology should be used. Cotton is the focus of this largely covert operation to wean farmers on a genetically modified (GM) regimen in a state which maintains that it intends to remain GM-free.

2008-11-19 |

GE crops to strengthen the existing practices to combat global food crisis

Talking about the international scenario, Dr Graham Brookes, Director of P G Economics, in his presentation said, ”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. [...] World price levels of crops like corn and soybeans would also probably be higher than the current (record high) levels if this technology had not been widely adopted by farmers.”

2008-11-19 |

The return of Bt cotton in India

The little evidence available suggests it is not Bt cotton per se that is responsible for the worsening farmers’ livelihoods but the context in which it was introduced along with environmental factors. Of course, their conclusion remains to be verified by the groups opposed to introduction of GM crops. But till then, the evidence is mixed and there is very little information from credible sources on the extent of Bt cotton or its impact on farming.

2008-11-18 |

Transgenics sweep Argentina

Increasing soy demand leads to greater soil damage, land concentration and campesino migration as transgenic soy farming spreads. One year ago, the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) displaced the United States as the world´s largest grain producer, bolstered by growing global demand for transgenic grains, particularly soy for animal feed. The trade bloc´s production in 2007 reached 105 million tons of soy — 72 percent of global supply.

2008-11-18 |

Tumbling soybean prices worry Brazilian farmers

Within a decade, settlers founded the town of Primavera do Leste and rode a soybean boom that’s turned Brazil into a leading breadbasket to the world. Primavera do Leste swelled to 60,000 residents and is expected to double in size within 10 years. However, soybean prices have cratered in the past three months. Credit has disappeared. Many farmers face selling their crop next year at a loss, and they wonder how they’ll pay off loans taken out during the 2007-08 bumper harvest. In a town that’s dependent on soybean’s fortunes, fear and worry have replaced optimism and hopefulness.

2008-11-18 |

South Australian GE canola controversy

CROPS in South Australia being contaminated from genetically modified material from over the border is an inevitability, according to international environmental lawyer Duncan Currie, who visited Adelaide last week. This comes as GM farmers in Victoria opened up their farms to allow other growers to see the results of their first season of Roundup Ready canola. Early sowing and no cultivation, good weed management and more flexibility in cropping options were some of the reasons the farmers gave for opting to try GM canola in its first season.

2008-11-18 |

Australian canola trials biased to show GE success

Media has focussed on Andrew Weidermann’s GM trials in Victoria but these trials were manipulated to favour GM. The non-GM varieties could not perform to their full potential because standard weed control was avoided. [...] As GM and Clearfield hybrids were compared to non-hybrid TT varieties, it is expected that early vigour would be far better. It is of surprise that some RR hybrid varieties rated the same lack of early vigour as non-hybrid TT varieties.

2008-11-18 |

Testing time for GE canola contamination in Victoria (Australia)

AN anti-genetically modified canola lobbyist has urged Wimmera growers worried about GM contamination to test crops. Cropwatch and Network of Concerned Farmers member Jessica Harrison will test GM canola roadside plants and crops in the Wimmera for GM contamination after the coming GM canola harvest. Ms Harrison was in the Wimmera yesterday to alert Wimmera growers to the availability of a GM test kit.

2008-11-18 |

No research on effects of GM crop management on pests in Australia

According to ecological geneticist Dr Andrew Weeks from the University of Melbourne, there has been no research in Australia on the impact of how the management of GM crops will affect pests. ”It’s one of weak points at this stage of the whole GM debate,” he says. [”...] any new insecticidal transgene incorporated into crop plants must be thoroughly tested on a range of organisms and ecosystems,” the researchers write.

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