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2009-03-20 |

Cradle of maize rocked by transgenics

Mexico has lifted the ban on experimental cultivation of transgenic maize imposed in 1999 in this country where the crop was first domesticated and shaped human culture. Biotech giants have put forward two dozen projects for approval and have announced investments of 382 million dollars up to 2012. The green light given by the government of conservative President Felipe Calderón to the trials, by means of an executive decree which came into force early this month, has provoked the indignation of activists and campesinos (small farmers) opposed to genetically modified (GM) maize.

2009-03-20 |

Western Australian communities briefed on GM trials

The State Government is keeping regional communities informed about the progress of Western Australia’s first commercial evaluation trials of GM canola this season.
Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman said more than 30 local government authorities within the proposed trial area were invited to information sessions in Narrogin and Northam this month. The proposed trial area is bordered by Northam, Cunderdin, Borden and Cranbrook.

2009-03-20 |

Medical researcher wants Kenya to review Biosafety Act

Dr Willy Tonui, of KEMRI and founding President of the African Biological Safety Association (AfBSA) said it should escape members of public that the Biosafety Act as it is currently emanated from consultations that began in 1998 and mainly aimed at domesticating the Cartegena Protocol which although important then, are no longer a priority to many countries. [...] Dr Tonui said time was ripe to begin to amend the Biosafety Act 2008

2009-03-20 |

SADC Parlamentary Forum recommends milling of GE-containing food imports

The prospect of a regional parliament in Southern Africa appeared less certain when a five-day meeting of the Southern African Development Community’s Parliamentary Forum wrapped up in the Namibian capital, Windhoek. [...] The meeting further called on SADC member states to come up with a common position on the safety of genetically modified organisms, and recommended that GM grain should not be imported into the region unless it was processed.

2009-03-20 |

Poor nations are now starting to shake off the old ’Frankenfood’ taboo

For years, farmers in Africa and other developing countries have struggled against a wide array of problems, from pests to changing weather patterns, without being able to avail themselves of all the high-tech tools that wealthier nations have. A big obstacle has been a taboo on genetic modification of food crops, inspired largely by attitudes in Europe, and a global agricultural industry that has been deaf to the problems of poor nations. But a recent series of crises is changing those attitudes.

2009-03-20 |

Working document for 2009 Synod of Bishops for Africa wanrs of GE crops

The working document for this fall’s Synod of Bishops for Africa called for a united effort among Catholics to help end the rampant injustices fueling conflicts on the continent and to usher in an era of peace. [...] It also strongly warned against thinking genetically modified crops would solve Africa’s food crises. Using GM crops risks ”ruining small landholders, abolishing traditional methods of seeding and making farmers dependent on the production companies” selling their genetically modified seeds, it said.

2009-03-19 |

Orissa (India) farmers protest against endorsement of genetically modified seeds

Upset over the government’s apathy towards cotton growers after they had incurred heavy losses due to illegal cultivation of BT cotton, farmers in Orissa, under the banner of the United Coalition Against Genetic Engineering (UNCAGE) held a protest march here on Tuesday. [...] ”It is not allowed to grow BT cotton in Orissa but still BT cotton seeds were found here and farmers have been growing BT cotton illegally for the last one year. The Government turned a blind eye at this illegal cultivation as a result the farmers have incurred great losses,” said Jaganath Chatterjee, President, UNCAGE.

2009-03-19 |

Monsanto begins initiative to raise yields in India

Monsanto India Ltd has kicked off Sustainable Yield Initiative, a project covering 10,000 farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan over a four-year period. ”It will be an intensive, handholding programme where we will benchmark and communicate the best agronomic practices in cotton and corn (maize), along with forging better market linkages by hooking the farmers directly with ginners and feed millers,” Mr Sekhar Natarajan, Chairman, Monsanto India, told Business Line here.

2009-03-19 |

Province of Ifuhao (Philippines) is GMO-free

The Ifugao province has declared itself free from genetically modified organisms (GMO), officials said Tuesday. Encouraging organic farming, Gov.Teddy Baguilat, Jr., Mayor Lino Madchiw, Greenpeace campaigner for Southeast Asia Daniel Ocampo and Cathy Untalan, executive director of Miss Earth Foundation, unveiled a GMO-free marker at the Dianara Viewpoint here. ”The Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)-free campaign should be a national campaign. If we influence our neighboring provinces where rice production is large, then that would be a positive impact,” said Baguilat.

2009-03-19 |

Philippine professor urges government to revolutionize GMO policies

[Chris Michelina, managing director of Initiative for Farm Advocacy and Resource Management] from the University of the Philippines-Mindanao has urged the government to revolutionize its policy on biotechnology and support scientists whose work on local biological research promotes genetically improved crops. [...] ”The antibiotech movement has only succeeded in scaring small companies from investing in biotechnology and some small governments from investing in biotechnology. They have unwittingly, or wittingly, contributed to the creation of a monopoly of biotech business,” Rasco lamented.

2009-03-19 |

UK Government launches bid to allay fears over GM food

The Government has asked its top scientist to investigate the merits of genetically modified food in the hope that his verdict will allay public fears about so-called ”Frankenstein foods”. Officially, Gordon Brown and his ministers remain neutral on the issue of GM because of public hostility, saying that they will be ”guided by the science”. But they have quietly ordered a major research project, which they hope will provide the launchpad for a campaign to persuade people that GM food is safe.

2009-03-18 |

European Commission approves Bayer’s GE canola for food and fed

The European Union has authorised imports of a genetically modified (GM) rapeseed type, clearing the way for a resumption of oilseed trading with Canada, the EU’s executive Commission said on Tuesday. Developed by Germany’s Bayer CropScience, the rapeseed -- known by its codenumber T45 -- is destined for use in food and animal feed, not for growing in European fields.

2009-03-18 |

USDA announces meetings on GE regulation revision

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invited interested parties to take part in a scoping session on the agenda for meetings discussing a proposed rule for genetically engineered (GE) organisms in April. The proposed rule will revise existing regulations for the importation, interstate movement and environmental release of certain GE organisms – regulations which have not been subject to a comprehensive review since they were first introduced in 1987.

2009-03-18 |

Monsanto submits drought-tolerant corn to USDA

St. Louis, Mo.-based Monsanto, a global leader in development of genetically modified crops, said it applied for approval of its new corn with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and various Canadian agencies. The company in December made a regulatory submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Monsanto is collaborating with Germany’s BASF in development of the drought-tolerant corn. The companies hope to launch the product in 2012.

2009-03-18 |

U.S. volunteers come out to support rBGH-free milk

As part of the national ”Know Your Milk” day of action, volunteers distributed rBGH-free milk and brownies and asked people to sign a petition supporting legislation that would make it easier for schools to make the choice to buy rBGH-free milk. The United States is the only industrialized nation that still uses the genetically engineered hormone rBGH, or recombinant bovine growth hormone, according to Food and Water Watch.

2009-03-18 |

Debate over genetically modified kalo continues in Hawai’i (USA)

The debate over the genetic modification of kalo continues in the state legislature and testimony we heard last Wednesday before the House agriculture committee. Those in favor of the bill as well as those opposed to it came out to voice their concerns. From a Hawaiian perspective, kalo is more than a food source. There is much stronger connection. ”Those biopharmaceutical corporations want to buy (our ancestor) Haloa, sell off Haloa, genetically modify Haloa. And its wrong!” said Daniel Anthony, Mahi Kalo Waianae.

2009-03-18 |

U.S. food processors ask Government to delay approval of Syngenta’s GE agrofuel corn

[U.S.] food processors [...] have asked the United States Department of Agriculture to delay approving the Syngenta corn. The government lacks ”adequate scientific data or documentation necessary” to evaluate the crop’s impact on food and feed products, according to a letter to the USDA from trade groups representing food industry giants such as General Mills, ConAgra and Archer Daniels Midland.

2009-03-18 |

Some progress in meeting on liability and redress for GMOs

Parties to the UN Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, at a meeting in Mexico City, have agreed that a legally-binding Supplementary Protocol will be developed on liability and redress for damage from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). [...] The Supplementary Protocol as well as the guidelines on civil liability are both annexes to the draft decision for MOP5. This indicates that the guidelines on civil liability will not be part of the Supplementary Protocol.

2009-03-17 |

Golden Rice Humanitarian Board admits to human feeding trials

The controversial Golden Rice Project has admitted on its web site that it was involved in a number of projects involving the feeding of unauthorized GM rice to both adults and children in China and the USA. The admission was made following a formal protest from a group of scientists from across the world on the grounds that Golden Rice is inadequately characterized in the literature, unauthorized anywhere in the world, and untested on animals.

2009-03-17 |

A magic non-GE pea leads a new Green Revolution in the drylands of India

A new, improved, protein-rich pea is set to launch a new Green Revolution. This new variety of pigeonpea, called Pushkal, is the first commercially available hybrid legume in the world. ”With 40 percent higher yields than the best local varieties, Pushkal is truly the magic pea,” exclaims Dr William Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

2009-03-17 |

GE scientists seek Vatican support

A closed door meeting to be held at the Vatican in Rome in May will see leading scientists gathering to discuss a campaign backing agricultural biotech. The study week has been organized by Ingo Potrykus, co-inventor of the fortified Golden Rice technology and president of the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, on behalf of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

2009-03-17 |

Monsanto and WTO are blamed for promoting gene-modified production into Azerbeijan

The Azerbaijan Free Consumers’ Union (AFCU) has found culprits of the fact the law on ecologically clean farming includes permission on turnover of products with content of gene-modified organisms (GMOs). Union’s chairman Eyub Huseynov says there is information that the permission was included into the law under strong pressure of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that acted in the interests of Monsanto Corporation (US), the global leader developing GMOs.

2009-03-17 |

Bacolod City (Philippines) adopts ordinance prohibiting entry of GMOs

In support of the Negros Island initiative on organic agriculture, the Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod approved during its special session Tuesday an ordinance banning the entry of genetically modified living organisms in the city. The GMO-Free Ordinance is inspired by a similar ordinance of the Negros Occidental provincial government, proponents Councilors Jocelle Batapa-Sigue and Alex Paglumotan said.

2009-03-17 |

Tribals from Orissa (India) oppose introduction of Bt Brinjal variety

Tribal women knocked on the doors of houses around Bhubaneswar today displaying huge cut-outs of Bt Brinjal asking residents to oppose the introduction of Bt Brinjal varities in the state. They visited many houses in Chandrashekarpur, Sahid Nagar, Bapuji Nagar, Nayapally, MLA colony and OUAT colony. They were assisted by Pradyut, the co-ordinator of the campaign against Bt. Brinjal.

2009-03-16 |

Nigerian environmentalists call for end to GM cassava trials

Friends of the Earth Nigeria/Environmental Rights Action [...] and over 30 local civil society groups have called for an immediate end to the trials, to be conducted by the National Root Crops Research Institute with the reported approval of the National Biosafety Committee – a body that currently has no legal power to grant such an approval. In addition to its concerns about the effects on biodiversity and human health of GM crops, FoEN says that Nigerian food security lies in building the capacity of its farmers, not in GM foods.

2009-03-16 |

Biggest Brazil soy state loses taste for GE soy seed

Farmers in Brazil’s Mato Grosso, the country’s top soy state, are shunning once-heralded, genetically modified soy varieties in favor of conventional seeds after the hi-tech type showed poor yields. ”We’re seeing less and less planting of GMO soy around here. It doesn’t give consistent performance,” said Jeferson Bif, who grows soy and corn on a large 1,800 hectare farm in Ipiranga do Norte, near the key Mato Grosso soy town of Sorriso.

2009-03-16 |

Philippine peasant group denounces DuPont and IRRI partnership

”DuPont and IRRI are culprits of shrinking agricultural productivity around the world and in the Philippines, rice production is being systematically destroyed by the use of these hybrid and genetically-modified rice varieties that require massive use of expensive agro-chemicals marketed by giant agro-TNCs such as DuPont and Syngenta,” said Danilo H. Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.

2009-03-16 |

Shun GE crops at your own peril, Kenyan scientist warns

Tired of not seeing action, African scientists have issued a stern warning to their governments: adopt modern technologies in agricultural production or forget about reducing poverty and disease in your midst. [...] ”Lack of political will and slow deliberation on biosafety legislation is the main stumbling block towards realizing Africa’s agricultural potential,” says Dr James.

2009-03-16 |

GM supporter attacks organic farmers

A CONTROVERSIAL GM farmer living in Wales last night launched an attack on organic farming, describing it as ”too wasteful”. GM crop researcher Jonathan Harrington, who lives and farms at Pen-y-lan Farm, near Brecon, described organic farming as a religion with no rational justification. He said organic farming methods use 50% more land than conventional farmers in Wales to produce the same amount of crop.

2009-03-16 |

GE crops key to food shortage

GENETICALLY modified crops have a key role in meeting a massive surge in world demand for food over the next 15 years, a leading plant scientist says. CSIRO’s deputy chief of plant industries, Dr T. J. Higgins, says population growth and rising wealth could mean an extra 10 billion tonnes of food consumed each year by 2025. Responding to that extra demand was a ”mammoth task” which would require ”many tools” including the use of GM crops, Dr Higgins said.

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