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2006-12-06 |

Australian food firms urged to avoid GM canola

Environment campaigner Greenpeace is urging Australian food makers to resist use of genetically modified canola, which has entered the market in the wake of a sharp drop in domestic output. Australia has banned commercial production of genetically modified (GM) canola until 2008 but it has been approved as safe for human consumption by the country's food authorities and food makers are allowed to use it if imported as an ingredient.

2006-12-06 |

Bungle let 'twice as much' corn into New Zealand

Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton says the border bungle which allowed into New Zealand sweetcorn seed now suspected of being genetically modified was twice as bad as previously thought. Mr Anderton told Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons an estimated 4420kg of sweetcorn seed was being investigated for possible GM contamination. This included an extra 2620kg of possibly contaminated seed that had been identified by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry following further tracing in the past day, he said in Parliament.

2006-12-06 |

GMOs are key to commercial agriculture in Uganda

THERE are many products and processes of biotechnology such as brewing of beer, in-vitro (or in test tube) fertilisation, plant tissue culture, among others, that have been developed and applied for many years to the benefit of mankind without much controversy. However Genetic Modification Technology has caused controversy despite the fact that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which are products of products of biotechnology, have been commercialised in more than 40 countries with significant benefits. In Uganda, no GMO crop has been commercialised but the potential is enormous. Scientists are already doing a good job at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories Institute (NARLI) at Kawanda.

2006-12-05 |

Is native maize diversity being lost in Mexico?

Evidence from CIMMYT suggests that maize landraces in a major farming zone in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas have been replaced by hybrids and other improved varieties, as a result of state programs to promote modern, more productive agriculture. “Maize landraces have virtually disappeared in La Frailesca,” says research assistant Dagoberto Flores, referring to a large, commercial farming region in southern Chiapas state, southeastern Mexico. “In 2000, 90% of the area was sown to improved open-pollinated maize varieties and landraces; now the breakdown is probably 90% hybrids, 5% landraces, and 5% OPVs. The traditional practice of exchanging seed has almost disappeared.”

2006-12-05 |

Syngenta property in Brazil said likely to be expropriated

A 123-hectare experimental farm owned by Syngenta Seeds (SYT) is in the crosshairs of the Parana state government and likely to be expropriated for alleged illegal planting genetically modified corn and soybeans on the border of Iguacu National Park, a government spokeswoman said Wednesday. Syngenta is one of Brazil's largest researchers of genetically modified organisms. The company sells agrochemicals.

2006-12-05 |

China considers great leap into biotech rice

According to myth, seeds of rice came to China tied to a dog's tail, rescuing the people from famine after severe floods. Ancient writings held that grains, especially rice, were more precious than jade or pearls. China is the world's top producer and consumer of rice, which is an important symbol of its culture. Now, China is considering whether to allow farmers to plant rice seed born of biotechnology, modified by scientists in the laboratory. If China decides to go forward, it would become the first nation to commercialize the genetically engineered staple on a major scale. It also would mark a watershed in the history of a food synonymous with Asia's culture, potentially opening the floodgates for such crops across the region.

2006-12-05 |

Aqua Bounty says GM salmon gene satisfies 'critical' US FDA requirement

Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc said it has satisfied a 'critical' US Food and Drug Administration requirement for its AquAdvantage gene, which it said halves the time it takes for salmon to grow to market size. The fish biotech company said it has completed all major studies on food safety and nutrient content for the genetically modified salmon. Studies on animal health and product efficacy are being completed and will be submitted to the FDA shortly.

2006-12-05 |

Indian Government has no plans to ban Bt cotton: Bhuria

The Government has no plans of banning the genetically modified crops including Bt Cotton, Minister of State for Agriculture, Kanti Lal Bhuria, said. This announcement is expected to provide major relief to the Bt Cotton farmers, who are entitled to grow the transgenic crop on a commercial basis. In India, only genetically modified cotton has been approved by the designated authority, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, for commerical cultivation.

2006-12-05 |

EU clashes over first "live" biotech crops

EU environment experts failed to agree on Monday on whether to authorise growing of a genetically modified (GMO) potato, their first foray into the sensitive area of "live" biotech crops in eight years, an EU official said. "It was a non-opinion and now goes to council (of EU ministers)," the official told Reuters, adding that this would most likely happen at a meeting in the first quarter of 2007. The potato, engineered by German chemicals group BASF to yield high amounts of starch, is used only for industrial processing to make items such as paper. It is not designed to be consumed by humans or animals.

2006-12-05 |

Russia slapped ban on rice imports due to GE and other contaminations

The Agriculture Ministry's food safety watchdog banned all rice imports Monday and said they would not resume until a tighter inspection system was established next year. [...] "We discovered a huge amount of rice this year that was of unacceptable quality," agency spokesman Alexei Alexeyenko said. "We saw pests in the rice, rice with mold. We also saw a lot of pesticides being used." Shipments found to contain a genetically modified strain called LL Rice 601, which was banned by the European Union on Sept. 5, also contributed to the restriction, he said.

2006-12-05 |

US food sector wary of GMO wheat - Gen Mills exec

The U.S. food industry is still not ready to embrace biotech wheat because of consumer wariness of genetic tinkering -- even though wheat acres are declining, a General Mills Inc. executive said on Monday. "We're going to continue to lose acres," Ron Olson, General Mills' vice president of grain operations, told Reuters in an interview. "But the food industry is going to pay whatever it takes (for wheat)," he said before giving a presentation to the National Grain and Feed country elevator conference in Kansas City.

2006-12-04 |

Runaway GM crops can pose food-safety risks

Genetically modified crops can produce food with superior qualities, but they may also pose food-safety risks if they mix with other crops, says a University of Guelph plant agriculture professor. “As pharmaceutical and industrial traits are introduced into crop plants, there will in some cases be a greater risk that Canadians will be directly affected by gene flow from crop to crop,” said Rene Van Acker, chair of the Department of Plant Agriculture, whose research focuses on managing the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops. “You shouldn’t have to worry about having pharmaceuticals in your morning cereal.” Unlike in Europe, where there are strict regulations around confining GM crops, Canada is still developing regulations for novel trait confinement, said Van Acker. Novel plant traits include anything from types of pharmaceutical proteins to herbicide tolerance. “When you have unconfined release, traits can move and show up in unexpected places,” he said. “With some of the newer novel traits that may pose direct risks, a confined release system needs to be put in place.”

2006-12-04 |

Defra approves GM potato research trials

Defra has approved an application by the organisation BASF to undertake research trials of a GM disease-resistant potato. The trials will take place on two sites in England, starting in 2007. The BASF application has been evaluated by the independent expert group, the Advisory Committee of Releases to the Environment (ACRE). It is satisfied that the trials will not result in any adverse effect on human health or the environment. The GM potato, developed by BASF, is resistant to late potato blight. This can be a significant disease problem for UK potato growers, who normally combat it by applying chemical fungicides.

2006-12-04 |

Moratorium sought on Bt rice trials in India

Indian rice exporters, concerned over the reported violations of biosafety norms in the field trials of Bt rice, have appealed to the Supreme Court to keep GM crops field trials in abeyance. The All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has filed an intervention application in a writ petition filed by Aruna Rodrigues and others seeking a moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops. The writ filed by Aruna Rodgrigues and others is in the advanced stage of hearing. The next hearing is scheduled on December 15.AIREA executive director Anil Adlakha said : “We, in our intervention application, have urged that field trials of any GM rice should be kept in abeyance, till the regulatory provisions are made stringent and transparent for implementation of biosafety norms.

2006-12-04 |

Genetically engineered blood protein can be used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen

Scientists have combined two molecules that occur naturally in blood to engineer a molecular complex that uses solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, says research published today in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. This molecular complex can use energy from the sun to create hydrogen gas, providing an alternative to electrolysis, the method typically used to split water into its constituent parts. The breakthrough may pave the way for the development of novel ways of creating hydrogen gas for use as fuel in the future.

2006-12-04 |

Violation alleged in GM rice field trials in India

The controversy surrounding field trials of the genetically modified rice by the Mahyco near Raipur in Chhattisgarh took a new turn with activists, based on their investigations, lodging a formal complaint against the company with the District Magistrate and the local police. Based on their field trip and inquiries, the anti-GM activists belonging to Richharia Campaign alleged that the company had committed serious violations under the Environment Protection Act (EPA), bio-safety guidelines prescribed for GM-related research and the conditional clearance given for conducting the trials.

2006-12-01 |

Monsanto anti-farmer patents to be reexamined at PUBPAT request

In response to requests filed earlier this year by the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), the United States Patent and Trademark Office will undertake a comprehensive review of four patents related to genetically modified crops held by Monsanto Company that the agricultural giant is using to harass, intimidate, sue - and in some cases literally bankrupt - American farmers. In its Orders granting the four requested reexaminations, the USPTO found that PUBPAT had submitted new evidence that raised "substantial questions of patentability" for every single claim of each of the four patents. Monsanto has filed dozens of patent infringement lawsuits asserting the four challenged patents against American farmers, many of whom are unable to hire adequate representation to defend themselves in court. The crime these farmers are accused of is nothing more than saving seed from one year's crop to replant the following year, something farmers have done since the beginning of time.

2006-12-01 |

Key wildlife species and habitats excluded from proposed GM environmental liability laws

Tomorrow, the Government is launching its consultation on the implementation of the Environmental Liability Directive (1). This includes the proposals for laws that will govern whether biotech companies have to pay for environmental harm caused by GMOs (2). The Government's proposals, seen by GeneWatch UK, are the weakest possible and will fail to protect important sites and species. "For GMOs, the Government doesn't intend to make the polluter pay," said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatch's Director. "These proposals are too weak to be effective and are dangerous because they create the impression that laws exist when they are a sham. While the public pay millions to protect species like the red squirrel and water vole, any damage that may be done by GMOs will not be paid for by the biotech industry".

2006-12-01 |

Syngenta says Brazil officials drop GMO enquiry

Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta said on Thursday Brazilian officials had dropped an investigation into allegations the company had been growing genetically modified organisms too close to the border of a national park without permission. Syngenta, which has been ordered by the governor of the state of Parana to leave the land in question, said a federal prosecutor dismissed a civil investigation after finding that Syngenta had been authorised by the National Technical Commission for Biosecurity (CTNBio) to plant the crops. Syngenta said the federal prosecutor had also said CTNBio was the appropriate official body to grant permission.

2006-12-01 |

Monsanto sees unprecedented early order activity for triple-stack traits by U.S. corn growers

Early order patterns in the United States for Monsanto's corn seeds and traits are reinforcing the company's goals of growing market share and increasing trait penetration, particularly in a triple-stack combination. In the 2007 growing season, the company's DEKALB and Asgrow national corn brands could have more than 35 percent of all of their seed sold in a triple stack, and for the first time will sell more acres of triple-stacked corn hybrids than hybrids with just one trait. The company's American Seeds Inc. (ASI) subsidiary of regional seed brands could have more than 30 percent of its seed sold as a triple stack. In 2006, the mix of triple stacks was 21 percent for DEKALB and Asgrow, and the mix of triple stacks was 14 percent for ASI.

2006-12-01 |

Egypt wants to explore biotech wheat

Egypt is "very interested" in developing a regulatory system that would allow for the introduction of genetically engineered crops, the head of the Kansas Wheat Commission said Thursday in a press release. However, it is critical for the U.S. to dispel ideas among middle eastern and east African wheat buyers that the U.S. is the only country working on biotech wheat, Chief Executive Dusti Fritz said. Fritz recently addressed the issue of biotech wheat with approximately 200 trade contacts at U.S. Wheat Associates' Middle East/East Africa crop quality seminar. She stressed that the U.S. is not the only country researching biotechnology and that biotech crops are being used globally, according to the release.

2006-12-01 |

Thirteen lawsuits over accidental spread of genetically altered rice could be combined into one

Thirteen lawsuits over the accidental spread of genetically altered rice could soon be combined into one legal action against Bayer CropScience AG, lawyers representing hundreds of rice farmers said Thursday. Attorneys told a panel of federal judges in St. Louis that the lawsuits should be tried collectively in front of one judge. But the lawyers mostly disagreed over which state should host the proceedings. The farmers from Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri allege the rice market was hurt after Bayer's strain of genetically engineered Liberty Link rice was accidentally released from test plots in the United States.

2006-12-01 |

Why scientists are still years from a vaccine

The unique nature of HIV has hampered the search for an Aids vaccine and it remains a distant prospect, the world's leading experts say. When American politicians announced the discovery of HIV in 1984, they predicted that a vaccine and a cure for Aids would be available within five years. It turned out to be a hopelessly optimistic assessment as the immense technical and scientific difficulties unfolded.

2006-12-01 |

Border bungles allows GE contaminated seeds into NZ

A bungle at the border has let nearly two tonnes of sweet corn seed into the country to be planted even though it is "contaminated" with genetically engineered seeds. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said today it is investigating how its own quarantine service "inadvertently cleared" two consignments of seed from the United States in October. A total of 1800kg -- enough to plant 400ha -- "were incorrectly cleared by MAF" even though documentation from the original batches of seeds bulked up for the shipments showed the presence of GE content. Both consignments were accompanied by certificates claiming they had tested negative for GE content.

2006-11-30 |

Wild GM canola continues to spread

Table 4: Survey of GM canola pollution (Chubu no Kai and others) Table 4: Survey of GM canola pollution (Chubu no Kai and others)

The results of the nationwide GM canola survey called for by the citizens' organization "No! GMO Campaign" were announced at a meeting in Tokyo on 8 July 2006. In this survey, the second after the survey conducted in 2005, 1942 samples were taken in 42 prefectures. 38 positive samples were found using the simple kit for preliminary protein testing, of which 31 were found to be positive in a second DNA test by the PCR method.

2006-11-30 |

Current state of bylaws and guidelines concerning regulation of GM crop cultivation in Japanese prefectures

There are currently a number of local governments (prefectures) which have passed, or are in the process of formulating, bylaws concerning food safety and security. Such bylaws carrying clauses concerning protection against cross-pollination or contamination by GM crops are on the increase. Local governments are also drawing up separate bylaws specifically to deal with GM crop regulation, such as Hokkaido and Niigata. Some prefectures are drawing up their own independent guidelines, such as Shiga and Iwate. In opposition to these moves by the prefectures, MAFF is showing signs of moving towards a the enactment of a law for the co-existence of the three types of farming, GM farming, conventional farming, and organic farming. See the table below for a breakdown of the current situation in the prefectures.

2006-11-30 |

A hundred farm suicides a month in Vidarbha

The farm activist also refuted the government claim that the low yield is due to spurious Bt. Cotton seed saying that there was no spurious cotton seed in the market since Monsanto had lowered their prices from Rs.1780 per bag to Rs.750. Five months after the announcement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Rs.3750 crore - relief package for the distressed farmers in Vidarbha, the suicide spiral has continued disturbingly with reports of five more farmers ending life in the last two days.

2006-11-30 |

EU to seek approval for BASF biotech potato, reviving fight

The EU will ask its 25 members to allow cultivation of a genetically modified potato owned by BASF AG, the first time the EU has proposed allowing a gene crop to be planted since a ban on the products ended. The Amflora potato, modified to increase its starch content, would be used for industrial purposes such as stiffening paper. The European Commission, the EU's regulator, will ask national governments to approve the product on December 4. „We've had a positive scientific opinion from the European Food Safety Agency, which means we'll propose the product for approval,” Barbara Helfferich, the commission's environment spokeswoman, said today by telephone in Brussels. „This is the first application for approval for planting a genetically modified crop since new regulations came into force in 2004.” The 2004 laws were drafted to allow the commission to approve biotech products if not enough countries could agree; six governments consistently blocked the approval of new gene-altered foods from 1999-2004.

2006-11-30 |

China, Chile to exchange breed resources in agricultural cooperation

hina and Chile will jointly conduct research on livestock breeding and genetically modified crops, according to a memorandum signed by agricultural officials from the two countries on Tuesday. The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the Chilean Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA) agreed to exchange livestock, including cattle, and cooperate on developing genetically modified crops and fruits. The two countries will also work together to improve irrigation, pest prevention and the mechanization of small agricultural projects.

2006-11-30 |

Deciphering the produce code

Pick a pear at the grocery — or an apple, tomato or banana, for that matter. You’ll notice that it wears a little sticker containing a mysterious number, such as 4035 or 94035. The numbers are codes that tell whether the fruit or vegetable is bioengineered, organically grown or conventionally grown (with pesticides and/or herbicides). [...] Genetically modified produce has a five-digit number beginning with 8. You won’t see many of these, though. Most bioengineered food is found in processed foods.

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