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2009-02-20 |

Kenya approves GM after years of delays

A National Biosafety Authority will now be created, under the National Council for Science and Technology, to implement the legislation and to follow priorities as stated in the National Biotechnology Development Policy passed in 2006 (see Kenya approves a national policy on biotechnology), Margaret Karembu, director of the Kenya-based African centre of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), told SciDev.Net. She adds that the new legislation will fast-track the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project to develop drought-resistant maize, which had stalled due to the lack of a legislative framework.

2009-02-20 |

’Super cassava’ to enter field trials in Nigeria

An ambitious attempt to bioengineer cassava into a ”complete meal” took a step forward last week with the approval of field trials for the plant by Nigeria’s National Biosafety Committee. The genetically modified cassava contains 30 times as much beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, as its normal counterpart. Ultimately it is hoped the cassava will contain increased levels of iron, protein, zinc and vitamin E that will meet the minimum daily allowance in a 500 gram meal.

2009-02-20 |

GE rice may be in the Chinese market by 2010, says ISAAA

Dr. Randy Hautea, ISAAA global coordinator and its SEAsiaCenter director, told reporters that Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-resistant rice from China ”may be available within 24 months,” or between now and 2010, and Golden Rice by 2012. Hautea made the disclosure last week at the press conference on the global launching of the 2008 Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops report [...] Bt rice is ”extensively field tested in China and awaiting approval by the Chinese regulatory authorities” for commercialization, the report said.

2009-02-19 |

Vietnam to grow genetically modified crops by 2015

Vietnamese farmers will be growing genetically modified crops by 2015, said Agricultural Genetics Institute head Le Huy Ham at a conference in Hanoi last week. [...] Coordinator Randy Hautea from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) said 25 countries in the world had grown biotech crops, including 15 developing countries, on 800 million hectares of land.

2009-02-19 |

GM canola plantings to skyrocket in Australia

ha100,000 of genetically modified canola could be sown in Victoria and NSW this year, a huge increase on the 9500ha planted last year. Gene technology company Monsanto and GM seed retailer NuSeed say favourable weather conditions would ensure a huge expansion of the crop. Monsanto predicts about 150,000 tonnes could be harvested.

2009-02-19 |

South Africa maintains its GM food productivity

Genetically modified (GM) maize crops grew by 10000 hectares last year while South Africa remained the eighth-biggest producer of GM foods in the world, AgriSA announced yesterday. ”South Africa maintained the No8 position in the world ranking of biotech crop countries, planting more than 1,8 million hectares of biotech crops,” said AgriSA chief executive officer Kobus Laubscher. South Africa also ranked eighth in 2007.

2009-02-19 |

India fourth largest adopter of GE crop in the world

India became the fourth largest adopter of biotech crop in the world, displacing Canada, in 2008 and planting Bt cotton on 7.6 million hectares (82% of the total cotton are in the country), according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). This was almost a million and half hectares over planted area in 2007 (6.2 m ha, equivalent to 66% of the total cotton area in the country).

2009-02-19 |

Genetically modified crops gain global foothold

The area under cultivation of GM crops grew strongly reaching 125 million hectares in 2008, up from 114.3 million hectares in 2007 — a 9.4 per cent increase that is also the sixth largest increase since the first commercialization of GM crops in 1996 [...] eight countries dominate planting of GM crops — with the USA accounting for 62.5 million ha, Argentina 21.0, Brazil 15.8, India 7.6, Canada 7.6, China 3.8, Paraguay 2.7, and South Africa 1.8 million hectares.

2009-02-19 |

Germany may ban Monsanto corn, Minister tells Berliner Zeitung

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government may revoke a license for the cultivation of Monsanto Co.’s genetically modified corn because neither consumers nor farmers want it, Agriculture Minister Ilse Aignertold the Berliner Zeitung. Genetic engineering ”has so far not yielded tangible benefits for the people,” the newspaper quoted Aigner as saying. [...] Aigner wants to allow Germany’s 16 states and regions within the states to ban cultivation of genetically modified crops, a view that may clash with European Union law, the newspaper said.

2009-02-18 |

British scientists condemn using children in Golden Rice food trials as unacceptable

Children have been used as ’lab rats’ in GM rice trials that were carried out in breach of ethics rules drawn up in response to the medical crimes of Nazi Germany, it is claimed. [...] The decision to use the children has been condemned as ’completely unacceptable’ by a group of 22 scientists - all GM critics - from Britain and around the world. They claim it is indicative of moves by the biotech lobby, led by the USA and biotech firms, to force GM food into the mouths of the world without proper assessment.

2009-02-18 |

GM battles rage down on the U.S. farms

Pressure is mounting from some scientists for Europe to end its resistance to genetically modified (GM) crops but fears remain about the impact of such technology on the rights of farmers. [...] The problem is that GM pollen can blow across fields and anti-GM campaigners say the fear of being prosecuted for growing GM accidentally leads many farmers to give up traditional methods and take the GM route for a quiet life. David Runyan, who has 400 hectares in eastern Indiana where he grows maize, wheat and soybeans, says he feels intimidated by the tactics of the biggest GM seed firm, Monsanto.

2009-02-18 |

Continued support of public non-GE seed research is essential in the USA

A concern over consolidation in the seed industry was raised at the recent North Dakota Grain Dealers Association convention. The worry is that as more seed research falls to private companies, with much of that work being done in the biotech area, those growers who opt for non-GMO crops will soon see a disadvantage in seed potential. Leland ”Judge” Barth, speaking on behalf of the non-GMO growers and producers who grow crops where biotech properties aren’t allowed, voiced concern that as seed breeding research becomes more concentrated in fewer private companies conventional seed varieties could have limited access to some of the traits developed for genetically modified varieties.

2009-02-18 |

Nigerian farmers sell non-GE striga-resistant maize

Nigerian farmers who tested new maize crops resistant to the widespread Striga plant parasite are so enthusiastic about their increased crop yields that they are selling more seeds than the official distribution channels. The crops were developed in the Nigerian laboratories of the International Institute for Agricultural Research (IITA). They dramatically cut maize losses from the root-infecting Striga, or witchweed, during two years of trial cultivation by farmers in Borno State in northern Nigeria.

2009-02-18 |

South African NGO acted for public good, costs case told

THE Pretoria High Court had failed to take into account that Biowatch was litigating in the public interest when the court ordered it to pay the legal costs of a private company in the business of genetically modified organisms, the Constitutional Court heard yesterday.
Biowatch, a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) working in the field of biodiversity, was appealing against the 2005 order by acting Judge Eric Dunn, who ruled in favour of Biowatch in its request for information on genetically modified organisms but ordered that the group should not receive its costs from state respondents.

2009-02-18 |

Location of GE crop trials must be released to public, European Court says

The EU’s highest legal body, the European Court of Justice, has ruled that the public must have access to information about location of genetically modified crops. It’s the latest decision on a very controversial issue. [...] ”The right of public access to information applies to releases of genetically modified organisms,” the ECJ said in its decision. ”The information relating to the location of the release can in no case be kept confidential.”

2009-02-17 |

Poland grows most GMO foods in EU

Poland is amongst the most prolific growers of genetically modified foods in the European Union [...]
The year 2008 saw about three thousand hectares of land used to grow plants for GMO food production – nine times as much as in 2007. The Polish government, who stands vocally against the production of GMOs, has admitted that it does not control the situation, as there are no current regulations enabling the crops to be monitored.

2009-02-17 |

EU foiled in bid to force France, Greece to allow GM crop

The European Commission was foiled Monday in its bid to force France and Greece to allow genetically modified maize from US biotech giant Monsanto to be grown in their fields. Food chain experts from the EU member states, meeting in Brussels, could not reach agreement on whether to back or oppose the French and Greek refusal to allow the maize, which has been given the green light to be grown in Europe. The standing committee on food chain and animal health ”failed to reach a qualified majority in favour or against,” the commission said in a statement.

2009-02-17 |

Anti-technology activists score One in Europe

The emotionally charged controversy over genetically modified (GM) foods reached the highest level of European bureaucracy today. And a few hours ago, the first wire reports came through with the bad news: Despite widespread objections from the scientific community, France and Greece will remain free to prohibit their farmers from taking advantage of GM plant technology. At least for now. [...] As a number of British scientists have pointed out in recent months, biotech crops have incredible potential to address global problems such as food shortages, chronic disease, and climate change.

2009-02-17 |

Biotech industry signals new effort to win EU acceptance for GE crops

The biotechnology industry, claiming the backing of European Union governments, signaled a new effort Monday to win greater leeway to grow genetically modified crops in Europe, a region where citizens have long been skeptical about the safety and value of the technology. [...] Biotechnology industry executives say that a bigger vote expected next week could lead to two additional engineered corn seeds being given permission to be marketed in the EU by year-end.

2009-02-17 |

Australia may sell transgenic canola to Japan

MARKETERS of genetically modified canola grown in Western Australia could sell the oilseed to Japan if it were allowed to be grown commercially, a key marketer said. Brian Mumme, general manager of Cooperative Bulk Handling Limited’s Grain Pool marketing unit, traditionally the largest grain and oilseed exporter from the state, said there is a market in Japan for both GM and non-GM canola going forward.

2009-02-16 |

WFP Deputy Executive Director on GMO food aid

For those donors who do produce GMO foods -South Africa, the United States and others, if this is commodity consumed by Americans or South Africans, then it is acceptable to us. [...] We go to every country saying, ”These are the specific qualifications. It does or does not have GMO content.” The country itself chooses if they will or will not accept GMO commodities. If they say no, that is the end of the story and we will do our best to find another source for them. But, in the way I explained, that may or may not be possible.

2009-02-16 |

Biowatch holds GMO workshops for small-scale farmers in South Africa

A recently concluded initiative tried to ensure this debate reaches a group of people who lack information about GM crops, even though their livelihoods stand to be profoundly affected by the course of biotechnology: small-scale farmers. Organised by Biowatch, a non-governmental group based in Cape Town, the seven-month programme has held three workshops to inform farmers about the implications of cultivating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and to equip them for lobbying policymakers.

2009-02-16 |

Peru Organico concerned about Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds

As Monsanto Company, a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation begins to gain more and more support from Peruvian authorities, citizens and grass roots organizations are beginning to speak out and express their concern. Peru Organico is one of these organizations that are extremely worried that the country’s citizens have no idea of what Monsanto is and what it could do to Peru’s organic products.

2009-02-16 |

Grain traders insist non-GE maize available in Zambia

The government instructed the FRA more than a month ago to import at least 100,000 metric tonnes of maize grain as the country waited for its maize harvest in April. To meet the shortfall, the FRA ordered some 100,000 metric tonnes from South Africa, but the controversy over maize supply has deepened further as more than half of the first consignment which arrived in the country last week was Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) grain.

2009-02-16 |

GMOs for Africa - In whose interest?

The USAID says that there is nothing to worry about GMOs, but the auditors to the United Department of Agriculture have raised questions about GMOs imported into the USA. This is very intriguing considering the fact that the USA has promoted the export of GMOs and their products into the world market. Recall how Zambia was vilified when they refused GMO corn as food aid in 2002.

2009-02-16 |

Kenyan President signs biosafety bill into law

Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki has today signed into law the biosafety Bill which has been pending since last December when Parliament passed it after years of discussions. The President action now allows regulatory authorities to draw up regulations that would be used to facilitate implementation of the Biosafety Act. The eight government agencies [...] have been meeting since when the Bill was passed by Parliament in anticipation of the signing it into law.

2009-02-13 |

Canadian firm hopes to hit market 1st with GMO salmon

Aqua Bounty Farms in Fortune, in eastern P.E.I., has been waiting more than a decade for federal approval in the United States. If the company gets the nod from the Food and Drug Administration, its salmon will be the world’s first on the market. FDA officials visited P.E.I. last fall to get a first-hand look at the facility in Fortune. A spokesperson from FDA wouldn’t tell CBC News much about the application, but when asked how long before the salmon might be approved, the answer was ”soon.”

2009-02-13 |

More news on GE pharma goats

A research team at UC Davis is hoping to save millions of lives with a product created from bioengineered animals. [...] these animals on the UC Davis campus could be on the forefront of a medical revolution -- preventing diseases that claim millions of lives. ”There are places where one in four kids die before the age of five because of diarrhea. It’s a huge cost to the world,” said James Murray, Ph.D. from UC Davis.

2009-02-13 |

GM sugar on shelves but not in EU’s fields

EX-SUGAR farmer and Euro MP Robert Sturdy expressed outrage over EU rules on genetically modified crops this week. Mr Sturdy said GM sugar beet grown in the US could be exported to sit on Europe’s supermarket shelves, yet the same GM sugar beet could not be grown by EU farmers.
He said Europe’s slow GM approvals process would drive UK growers away from of sugar beet.

2009-02-13 |

European Commission wants Austria to lift GM ban

Austria cited concerns about lower fertility levels, insects’ resistance to the crops and possible effects on butterflies. The European Commission today launched a bid to oblige Austria to lift its ban on two different types of genetically modified (GM) maize. Austria banned the growing and marketing strains of maize MON810 and T25 in 1999 and 2000, invoking a safeguard clause that allows a member state to ban GMs provisionally if it finds new threats to the environment or human health.

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