Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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14.12.2017 |

Latest Monsanto GMO seeds raises worries of monopoly

Now some farmers say they are being forced to use the new GMO seeds to guard against dicamba.

Nathan Reed, a farmer in Marianna, Arkansas, whose crops were damaged by dicamba from fields more than two miles away, worries about his business.

"We use overwhelmingly non GMOs, not because we are anti-GMO but because we found some niche markets," Reed said at a public meeting last month. "We are in the business of making money, just like Monsanto is."

"It is going to put that ability at risk for us," he said.

Farming states Missouri, Minnesota and North Dakota have imposed restrictions on dicamba, though they permit farmers to use the herbicide one or two times at the start of the season.

14.12.2017 |

Playing God: are we prepared to use gene drive technology?

New biotech advancement allows scientists to reduce and even eradicate certain species, such as weeds or disease-causing insects, prompting a significant environmental debate.

It’s a technology with incredible potential.

It’s a technology with tremendous risks.

It might put an end to malaria.

It might eliminate the need for insecticides and possibly herbicides.

It could also have tragic consequences for bats and birds.

It could have unpredictable impacts on entire ecosystems.

The technology is called gene drive.

“It is arguably the genetic technology with more social, ethical and policy implications than any other to emerge in the last decade,” Sally Otto, a University of British Columbia zoologist, wrote on the Royal Society of Canada website.

12.12.2017 |

This Is How Badly Monsanto Wants Farmers to Spray Its Problematic Herbicide

Why is Monsanto offering such a sweet deal on its dicamba mix? It’s probably not what the company had in mind when it broke ground on a $975 million expansion of its dicamba plant in Luling, La., earlier this year.

The answer likely lies in the more than 3.6 million acres of non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans that the US Environmental Protection Agency reports were damaged by wayward dicamba applications during the 2017 growing season. In addition, the EPA notes, off-target dicamba hit a variety of fruit and vegetable crops, as well as residential gardens, trees, and shrubs.

12.12.2017 |

Native seeds are key to food security

For better agricultural performance, focus must be on inculcating better farming practices. Farmers must be encouraged to return to zero-budget farming, where they use their own desi seeds

In recent years, enlightened Indian farmers have begun to rethink the suitability of farming practices that involve injecting poison into the earth via fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides, and create problems of soil fertility, soil texture, soil preservation and erosion. There is a pervasive sentiment that unless the current system of intensive and uncontrolled use of chemical inputs is reversed, soil quality will worsen and our centuries-old agricultural biodiversity will be lost forever.

Chemical inputs have permeated our food-chain with deleterious impact on public health, which have not been adequately studied scientifically. But the cumulative loss due to growing expenditure on public health, insecticide resistance, crop-loss, bird-loss, pollution of ground water and pollinator decline runs into billions of dollars.

12.12.2017 |

Commission rejects demands of #StopGlyphosate citizens’ initiative

Press release - December 12, 2017

Brussels – The European Commission has issued its formal response to the #StopGlyphosate European Citizens Initiative (ECI).

It officially recognised the submission of more than one million signatures on 6 October. Today’s response is an answer to the ECI’s three demands for a ban of glyphosate, a reform of the EU pesticide approval process and mandatory EU targets to reduce pesticide use. The Commission proposed action that could fulfil one aspect of one of the three demands.

Reacting to the news, Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The Commission is trying to dress up its rejection of the #StopGlyphosate initiative with vague transparency proposals. Providing access to the data on toxic pesticides won’t make them any less dangerous. As long as the Commission leaves the testing of chemicals in the hands of the manufacturers, it will continue to lose the trust of citizens. We will continue to fight for meaningful measures to reduce pesticide use across the EU and for truly independent pesticide assessments.”

10.12.2017 |

Farmers’ Group Set To Crash Maize Price By 50 Per

The fight to end the importation of food from genetically modified organisms, GMOs and the importation of maize continues to gain momentum as Nigerian farmers have resolved to flood the market with maize and crashed its price of maize iby as much as 50 per cent in a few months time from now.

Speaking with our correspondent, the National Coordinator of Nigerians Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS) Comrade Retson Tedheke said the farmers’ group is putting measures in place to ensure increase productivity of maize if the government continues to provide the necessary farm inputs to support the production of commodity in the country.

Comrade Tedekhe further disclosed that apart from the over two thousand hectares of maize the group is currently harvesting from its on-going dry season maize farming, there is clear projection of hitting five thousand hectares of maize in the next farming season.

09.12.2017 |

Bt Cotton in Burkina Faso: When Theory Does Not Match Reality

About the Book

Genetically modified (GM) crop have been touted as a solution to improve agricultural productivity and lift the lot of farmers in developing countries. However, the reality on the grounds is that the performance and impacts of GM crops have been extremely uneven.

This is starkly illustrated by the experience of Burkina Faso in planting Bt cotton, a variety genetically engineered to be resistant to insect pests. Bt cotton was introduced commercially in the West African country in 2008, only to be phased out just seven years later after showing a marked decline in fibre quality compared with conventional Burkinabé cotton.

Drawing upon research carried out in one of the largest cotton-growing areas in Burkina Faso, this paper documents the country’s shortlived, less-than-successful experience with Bt cotton cultivation, and explores the possible reasons behind the debacle, including commercial interest in pushing the corporate-owned Bt technology. The paper also looks at similar problems faced by other countries growing Bt cotton, before concluding with a call to move away from promoting GM crops towards supporting indigenous varieties and agroecological practices.

09.12.2017 |

GM crop farmers may be held liable if they contaminate other properties

Western Australian growers of genetically modified crops may be held liable if they contaminate non-GM properties and produce in future.

An upper house standing committee parliamentary inquiry is examining compensation mechanisms for farmers who lose money because of contamination from genetically modified material.

Earlier this year, Greens MLC Diane Evers tabled a petition calling for farmer protection legislation to compensate any non-GM farmer who suffers a loss from GM contamination.

The petition was sparked by the Marsh versus Baxter case, where an organic farmer unsuccessfully sued his neighbour for GM canola contamination.

08.12.2017 |

Debate on Glyphosate Use Comes to a Head in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 8 2017 (IPS) - In and around the city of Rosario, where most of Argentina’s soybean processing plants are concentrated, a local law banned the use of glyphosate, the most widely-used herbicide in Argentina. But two weeks later, producers managed to exert enough pressure to obtain a promise that the ban would be overturned.

This episode, which took place in November, reflects the strong economic interests at stake and the growing controversy surrounding the use of agrochemicals and their impact on people’s health and the environment.

“Agriculture in Argentine has undergone major changes in recent decades and consolidated its agroindustrial model, strongly based on soy, which displaced wheat and corn,” explained Emilio Satorre, professor and researcher at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) department of agronomy.

“The sown area climbed from 15 to 36 million hectares, 60 to 65 percent of which are covered with genetically modified (GM) soy, while the use of phytosanitary products increased threefold. This system generated great wealth for the country, but of course it produces greater risks,” he told IPS.

08.12.2017 |

How Monsanto’s GM cotton sowed trouble in Africa

When America’s biotech giant tried to export its know-how to small cotton farmers in Burkina Faso, there was a problem: The quality sank.

BOBO-DIOULASSO, Burkina Faso - In 2000, farmers in Burkina Faso, Africa’s top cotton grower, were desperate. Their cotton fetched top prices because its high-quality fibre lent a luxurious sheen to clothing and bedsheets. But pests – bollworms – were threatening the crop.

Even when you dropped the bollworm larvae into a bucket of poison, farmers said, they kept swimming.

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