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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.

2009-08-05 |

Civil society group urge to keep GMO ban on Negros Occidental (Philippines)

Civil society and the Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development yesterday said they will continue to push for a continued implementation of the provincial government ban on genetically modified organisms in Negros Occidental. The transitory period has lapsed, it should not be extended, said Ramon Uy, president of the Negros Organic Retailers and Producers Association. Rommel Ledesma of NISARD said the primary purpose of the ordinance is to ensure Negros’ becoming the organic island of the country.

2009-08-05 |

Glimmer of hope: ETH researchers develop GE rice with increased iron content

Scientists at ETH Zurich have developed rice plants that contain six times more iron in polished rice kernels. To accomplish this, the researchers transferred two plant genes into an existing rice variety. In the future, the high-iron rice could help to combat iron deficiency, especially in developing countries in Africa and Asia. According to the World Health Organization, approximately two billion people suffer from iron deficiency. They tire easily, experience problems in metabolizing harmful substances in their bodies and eventually suffer from anemia. Women and children are particularly affected in developing countries, where rice is the major staple food.

2009-08-05 |

Submergence-tolerant non-GE rice released as variety in the Philippines

The first submergence-tolerant rice variety in the Philippines was released during the 27th Council Secretariat Meeting on July 7. [...] ”Submarino 1 is a non-genetically engineered rice plant that can survive, grow and develop even after 10 days of complete submergence in water at vegetative stage,” said Dr. Nenita V. Desamero, DA-PhilRice plant breeder and team leader of the on-farm testing of submergence rice in the Philippines.

2009-08-05 |

SmartStax GE corn seeds sow doubts

Next spring, farmers in Canada will be able to sow one of the most complicated genetically engineered plants ever designed, a futuristic type of corn containing eight foreign genes. With so much crammed into one seed, the modified corn will be able to confer multiple benefits, such as resistance to corn borers and rootworms, two caterpillar-like pests that infest the valuable grain crop, as well as withstanding applications of glyphosate, a weed killer better known by its commercial name, Roundup. But a controversy has arisen over the new seeds, which were approved for use last month by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency: Health Canada hasn’t assessed their safety.

2009-08-05 |

’No evidence’ that Welsh farmers has circulated GE seeds

An investigation has found no evidence a farmer who grew genetically modified cops circulated them to two farms. Jonathan Harrington who farms near Hay-on-Wye, Powys, said in January he had grown two varieties of the maize and passed the seeds onto other farmers.But Powys council said there was no evidence GM crops had been circulated to farms or fed to stock in the county.Mr Harrington, of Tregoyd, has been contacted for a response, but has been unavailable for comment.

2009-08-04 |

U.S. non-GMO soybean acreage increased by 1 million in 2009

US farmers planted one million more acres of non-GMO soybeans in 2009 than 2008, increasing to 6.97 million acres compared to 5.96 million acres the previous year. Overall, non-GMO soybeans accounted for 9% of a record high 77.5 million acres of soybeans planted this year. In 2008, non-GMO soybeans accounted for 8% of 75.5 million acres of soybeans. The percentage of farmers growing genetically modified soybeans decreased slightly from 92% in 2008 to 91% in 2009, the first drop in plantings of GM soybeans since 2000.

2009-08-04 |

Brazil’s Amaggi buys Norwegian non-GMO grain firm

Brazil’s Amaggi Exportacao e Importacao, the world’s largest soybean growing operation, said on Monday it bought a 51 percent equity stake in Norwegian non-GMO oilseed company Denofa to expand operations abroad. Denofa has a 430,000-tonne-per-year soy crusher in Fredrikstad, Norway, and a rapeseed oil processor in Poland. The value of the deal was not disclosed. [...] ”This acquisition is in accordance with Amaggi’s strategical plan of increasing its non-GMO program,” the company said in a statement.

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