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2009-08-19 |

Hope ends for fall RR alfalfa planting in the USA

The full environmental impact statement ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer for glyphosate-resistant alfalfa in 2007 is not expected to be complete until the end of the year, ending hopes for fall planting. An appeal of the decision to ban planting of the genetically modified alfalfa strain was recently struck down in court, leaving a favorable review as the only avenue for release. Growers who planted Roundup Ready alfalfa prior to the ruling continue to harvest a crop, but no new plantings have been allowed due to concerns with cross pollination and weed resistance.

2009-08-19 |

Monsanto and DuPont square off in crop seed turf war

It’s getting dirty down on the farm. As U.S. farmers prepare to harvest billions of bushels of corn and soybeans -- key ingredients in food, livestock feed and transportation fuel around the world -- seed technology titan Monsanto Co and its chief rival DuPont are ramping up their rivalry to new heights. DuPont is accusing Monsanto of illegal anti-competitive practices, while Monsanto counters that DuPont is engaging in a covert smear campaign that borders on fraud.

2009-08-19 |

Canada’s decision to reduce refuge requirements with SmartStax corn lacks scientific support

Krista Thomas, a biotechnology regulator with the CFIA, told The Epoch Times that the decision to shrink the refuge requirement was made after careful and rigorous consideration of available science. [...] But leading scientists like Tabashnik—whose work was cited four times by the CFIA in their decision to reduce the refuge—are adamant the decision is not supported by science. ”No one knows how much shrinking the refuge will speed up resistance” said Tabashnik.

2009-08-19 |

U.S. biotech industry develops guidelines addressing independent seed research

The goal of the principles is to enable the public sector research community to conduct independent research on commercially available seed products for the purpose of understanding the technology, education, extension and the safe and effective use of these products. The principles also recognize that the public sector research community is free to design robust, scientifically sound experimental protocols and methodologies, as well as to derive independent conclusions.

2009-08-18 |

More than Bt corn needed to modernise Mexican agriculture

Even if crop yields won’t dramatically improve after the introduction of GM corn, stabilization of farm incomes will help spur producers to invest in technology and mechanization. However, in order for GM corn to have a significant impact on production, efficiency and competitiveness, the government as well as private companies promoting this new technology will have to tackle the realities of Mexican farming: low technology levels, lack of investment and widespread resistance to change.

2009-08-18 |

Negros Oriental (Philippines) officials to study proposal to ban GMOs

Negros Oriental officials said they will undertake a thorough study before pushing for a legislative measure banning the entry and trade of genetically-modified organisms in the province. [...] NISARD had invited a Mexican scientist, Dr. Camilo Beltran, whose expertise focuses on bio-chemistry and molecular biology, to help review the provision of the Memorandum of Agreement between the two Negros provinces on the ban against GMOs.

2009-08-18 |

Genomics provides clues to sustainable potato protection

Professor Birch is collaborating with colleagues at SCRI, Warwick HRI and the University of Aberdeen in BBSRC-funded projects to address the problems faced by existing control measures, which currently rely on aggressive prophylactic chemical treatments. They are looking to understand how P. infestans causes disease and to identify essential pathogen virulence genes that may be durable targets for host disease resistance proteins.

2009-08-18 |

British Crop Production Council urges Minister to challenge Brussels on GM legislation

BCPC says that the Minister must oppose Brussels’ attempts to continue the practice of imposing thresholds without scientific basis. These purport to be safety measures, in line with the ’precautionary principle’ but simply work to the detriment of food production without delivering health or environmental benefit. A prime example of this is the EU limits on pesticides in drinking water – which will result in the banning of critical agrochemicals – and which already incur massive costs in removing chemicals at levels with no toxicological significance.

2009-08-18 |

UK Food Standards Agency and Defra GM reports published

The Food Matters report published in July 2008 by the Cabinet Office included two parallel action points for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Defra on genetically modified (GM) food and animal feed.

2009-08-18 |

U.S. GE crop imports blocked by Germany

Recently, boatloads of soya meal from the US were rejected by German authorities due to traces of a GM maize protein. Spanish authorities have also blocked shipments. The problem is not the GM soya but the maize which is still awaiting EU approval. The contamination is understood to have come from dust within the portside stores and handling systems, making it virtually impossible to prevent.

2009-08-17 |

GE seeds in India: ”Monsanto is the Coca-Cola of GM seeds business”

The Rs. 7,000 crore Indian market for agricultural seeds is the fifth largest in the world. Of that, roughly Rs. 2,000 crore is the market for cotton seeds. This is the market Metahelix is targetting. [...] Over 90 percent of Metahelix’s target market is transgenic, or genetically modified (GM). And 95 percent of those seeds contain technology from one company — Monsanto. Monsanto is the Coca-Cola of GM seeds business.

2009-08-17 |

Monsanto rounds up support for its polluting phosphate mines

As it races to replenish phosphate supplies for its weed-killing cash machine Roundup, Monsanto Co. insists its history of polluting southeastern Idaho’s high country shouldn’t prevent it from digging fresh open pits here. Three of the St. Louis-based chemical company’s previous mines in this region of broad valleys and forested ridges are under federal Superfund authority; a fourth is now violating federal clean water laws. In all, several companies are responsible for polluting at least 17 sites southwest of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

2009-08-17 |

Monsanto to charge as much as 42% more for new GE seeds

Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed maker, plans to charge as much as 42 percent more for new genetically modified seeds next year than older offerings because they increase farmers’ output. Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans will cost farmers an average of $74 an acre in 2010, and original Roundup Ready soybeans will cost $52 an acre, St. Louis-based Monsanto said today in presentations on its Web site. SmartStax corn seeds, developed with Dow Chemical Co., will cost $130 an acre, 17 percent more than the YieldGard triple-stack seeds they will replace.

2009-08-17 |

Monsanto: ’On the verge of a technology explosion’

Monsanto’s CEO has said that the agricultural giant is on the verge of a technology explosion that it hopes will double yields in corn, soybeans and cotton by 2030, helping to meet increased demand for the crops. Monsanto formed a collaboration with BASF back in 2007, pooling the two biotechnology firms’ resources in order to bring higher-yielding and stress resistant crops to market faster than the companies could separately, they said at the time.

2009-08-17 |

Monsanto’s man in the Obama administration, with an eye on Africa

Michael R. Taylor’s appointment by the Obama administration to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on July 7th sparked immediate debate and even outrage among many food and agriculture researchers, NGOs and activists. The Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto Corp. from 1998 until 2001, Taylor exemplifies the revolving door between the food industry and the government agencies that regulate it. He is reviled for shaping and implementing the government’s favorable agricultural biotechnology policies during the Clinton administration.

2009-08-17 |

Former Monsanto Director of International Government Affairs appointed as Director for the USAID-sponsored Program for Biosafety Systems

The International Food Policy Research Institute has appointed Dr. Judith Chambers as Director of the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) effective July 27, 2009. Dr. Chambers joins PBS with extensive experience in the fields of biotechnology and biosafety. She has served as Director of International Government Affairs at Monsanto Company and as Senior Advisor to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where she was responsible for co-developing the first public-private sector agency program on agricultural biotechnology (ABSP).

2009-08-14 |

Augusta Margaret River Shire Council (Western Australia) votes unanimously to keep GM crops out

The Augusta Margaret River Shire Council has voted unanimously to keep genetically modified (GM) crops out of the region. At a meeting last night, councillors heard from local farmers and anti-GM campaigners before casting their vote. Shire President Steve Harrison says the community’s concern about the affect of GM crops on the shire’s farming reputation will be passed on to State Parliament.

2009-08-14 |

African Centre for Biosafety lodges Complaint against South African government for breaking Cartagena Protocol

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) is a South African NGO deeply concerned with biosafety in South Africa and on the African continent. It campaigns against GMOs in food and agriculture. The ACB has today lodged a complaint to the Compliance Committee established under an international treaty, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety on the grounds that the South African government has failed to comply with the Treaty’s obligations with regard to open sharing of information and transparency in regard to GMO decision-making.

2009-08-14 |

Egypt denies banning GMO crop imports

Egypt’s agriculture minister has not issued a decision to ban the import of genetically modified crops, the state news agency MENA said on Thursday, denying an earlier report. The agency quoted an unnamed official at the Agriculture Ministry as stating that earlier reports citing Amin Abaza ordering that a certificate accompany all imports to show they were free of genetically modified materials were ”not correct.”

2009-08-14 |

Western Australian wine expert and chefs support GE-free movement

ONE of the country’s most respected wine makers is taking a stand against genetic modification (GM). Augusta Margaret River Shire councillors will vote on whether or not to allow GM crops to be grown in the district on Thursday evening. Vanya Cullen, of Cullen Wines, has recently returned from Britain, where she says Australia is losing its clean green edge, making it more difficult to sell wine in an increasingly discerning market. The UK is Australia’s largest wine export market.

2009-08-14 |

Thanks for GM trials, now lift the ban in Western Australia

ORGANISERS went to great lengths to maintain an agronomic focus on last week’s Genetically Modified (GM) canola field days and steer clear of industry politics.
However, political lobbying is destined to play a critical role in the overall process and can’t be ignored. The effectiveness of the lobbying could prove just as telling in the final wash-up on the technology’s future, as the GM crop’s actual yield and performance. The man at the centre of the decision-making is Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman.

2009-08-14 |

Western Australian public consultation on GE crops inadequate - extend review says Greenpeace

With two days left for public submissions to the review of legislation controlling the release of genetically engineered (GE) crops in Western Australia, Greenpeace is calling for the submission period to be extended, saying it has been barely publicised. [...] ”The introduction of GE crops would dramatically change the face of agriculture in Western Australia, yet the Government has barely publicised its current review of its Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act and has given the public just four weeks to lodge submissions.”

2009-08-13 |

Sierra Leone holds national Bio-safety Clearing House workshop

The Ministry of Lands Country Planning and the Environment and the Sierra Leone Environment Protection Agency in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has on the 20th of July 2009 held a one day awareness raising workshop on the Sierra Leone Bio-safety Clearing House (BCH). The awareness raising workshop was held at the Miatta Conference centre and it was represented by environmental stakeholders, and members of the private sector.

2009-08-13 |

Kenyan Agriculture Minister accused of misleading the Parliament on GE maize imports

Kimilili MP Simiyu Eseli has tabled documents in parliament indicating that 80 per cent of maize imported by the government to mitigate the food crisis was genetically modified. Agriculture Minister William Ruto had told parliament three weeks ago that no GMO maize was imported into the country. [...] Eseli now wants action taken against Ruto for misleading the house and misusing the privileges of the House while responding to his question.

2009-08-13 |

Genetically modified maize raked in R3-billion over the past ten years in South Africa

Biotechnology consultancy group FoodNCropBio reports in its annual 
project studies that 69% of maize, 92% of cotton and over 80% of soya currently planted in South Africa are genetically modified. Insect resistance has resulted in profits of some R3-billion for genetically modified (GM) maize over the past ten years. FoodNCropBio consultant Dr Wynand van der Walt says that 125-million hectares 
of GM crops have been grown globally in 2008.

2009-08-13 |

Africa’s biotechnology battle

Starved for Science is a troubling polemic. Political scientist Robert Paarlberg argues that genetically modified (GM) crops could solve Africa’s hunger and poverty, but that, through inadequate investment, external lobbying and stringent regulations, farmers are being deprived of the technology and prevented from achieving agricultural success. He lays the blame largely with European governments and non-governmental organizations for trying to foist their affluent values and precautionary sensibilities on Africa’s poor.

2009-08-13 |

Egypt says no GM food exports or imports

Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza, as reported by the official news agency MENA was quoted as saying that ”it was necessary that all crops imported from abroad and exported from Egypt be accompanied by a certificate from the country of origin stating they are free of genetically modified materials.” ”No agricultural products especially wheat, corn and soya bean would enter except after examining samples from the cargo,” MENA reported him as saying.
The debate in Egypt over food quality has become politically heated after some Russian wheat was rejected over quality concerns. Members of parliament have been calling for stricter rules and greater agricultural self sufficiency.

2009-08-13 |

Genetically engineered seeds are not in Guyana’s interest

There is a critical need for scientific research in Guyana, but I believe that the collaboration with MS Technologies, LLC/Stine Seed Company, although limited at the moment to corn and soybean seed development, will result in major problems for farmers in Guyana. Coming from a family of farmers, I have an ethical responsibility to raise concerns now. This company is in Guyana because they smell huge profits, there are no policy hurdles, there is a perceived naïve technical and lay public, and no risk for litigation.

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.

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