Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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24.02.2018 |

Could WA be the genetic testing ground for 'synthetic mice' to end mice?

Louise Sales, a campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, rents a desk at the back of an Edwardian brick building in Hobart. It was there in November that she opened an email to find a trove of digital documents - 1200 emails, contracts and meeting minutes.

"I was shocked," said Sales, who trained as a biologist, with a masters degree in biodiversity and conservation. "And then outraged. But I'd already started to smell a rat."

Months before, an article at The Conversation had described new gene technologies that offered "a humane, targeted way to wipe out alien pest species such as mice … Conservationists are understandably excited."

Sales wasn't. The documents in her inbox, from a Freedom of Information request by an NGO called Third World Network, described a proposal to release "synthetic rodents" on six Western Australia islands and two US sites in the Pacific.

23.02.2018 |

Argentine farmers to begin paying Monsanto royalties

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:

Farmers in Argentina have agreed to pay royalties to seed companies including Monsanto when they replant the companies' genetically modified seeds.

The Argentine Rural Society, representing the farmers, and Argentine Seed Producers' Association, representing the seed companies, confirmed the agreement to Reuters.

A 1973 law allowed Argentine farmers to use seeds from their harvests in later plantings without paying additional royalties. This prompted a long-running dispute with seed companies such as Creve Coeur-based Monsanto.

22.02.2018 |

Movements of Millions Say No to Gene Drives as Brazil Attempts to Legalize Genetic Extinction Technology

Regulatory change would spread modified genetic traits to wild organisms

MONTREAL, MEXICO CITY, SÃO PAULO, February 22, 2018—The largest rural movements in Brazil, representing well over a million farmers, are protesting a new Brazilian regulation that would allow release of gene drives, the controversial genetic extinction technology, into Brazil’s ecosystems and farms.

On February 3rd and 4th, the National Coalition of Farmworkers and Rural, Water and Forest Peoples[1] met near São Paulo, Brazil and sounded the alarm about new Brazilian regulatory changes – a resolution passed on January 15th by Brazil’s National Technical Commission on Biosafety that would allow the release of gene drive organisms into the environment. [2] The effect of this change is that Brazil becomes the first country in the world to establish a legal channel for the release of gene drives into the environment. The new rule could potentially make it even easier to release a living gene drive organism than a GMO seed.

The farmers organizations are concerned about agribusiness giants spreading more transgenic seeds, but also attempts to directly change the nature of wild plants and animals.

João Pedro Stédile, from the National Coordination of the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) which represents over a million landless peasants in Brazil and is part of the global peasant movement La Via Campesina, summarized the concerns expressed in the meeting:

“Brazil is living a serious political, economic, social and environmental crisis, and transnational capital has supported a political coup. Within this context, the government is now changing laws and the Constitution to allow them to take over our natural resources. This decision from CTNBio is illegal, and would allow the dissemination of new transgenic seeds and living organisms without even minimal controls and assessments. We are not staying passive on these assaults, we will fight back against this resolution.”

20.02.2018 |

UK: Help oppose new GM trial

On 20 February Rothamsted Research applied for permission to plant highly experimental GM Camelina Sativa at their farm in Hertfordshire.

GM Freeze has consistently led the opposition to open air field trials in the UK. We have supported hundreds of people to make their feelings known in a constructive way. We would like to do the same this time but we have a problem that we haven’t faced before.

In the past we have used our core funds to cover the cost of responding to trial applications but last year saw a 40% drop in core grant funding. We have found new funders but they will only support specific projects planned well in advance, rather than emergencies like this.

19.02.2018 |

Five reasons not to allow the Bayer - Monsanto merger

Why the Commission should stop this "merger from hell"

In September 2016, German drugs and chemicals group Bayer, and US company Monsanto, owner of the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup and of the only GM plant currently authorised for cultivation in the EU (Mon 810 Maize), announced their intention to merge. If authorised by the European Commission, this would create, in the Commission’s own words, “the world's largest integrated pesticides and seeds company”, and have, as explained below, devastating consequences. Join us in calling on Margrete Vestager, Commissioner for Competition, to stop this “merger from hell” by signing this petition!

https://act.wemove.eu/campaigns/stop-monster-merger-baysanto

16.02.2018 |

Threat to crops and carcinogenic: Farmers welcome move to restrict glyphosate use

The AP government’s order restricting the use of herbicides will also check the illegal use of BT cotton.

In a significant move to prevent the indiscriminate use of herbicides, the Andhra Pradesh Government has restricted the use of herbicides, especially glyphosate, in agriculture.

The order was passed after the Special Commissioner of Agriculture of the state, in a letter to the government, pointed out that “the injudicious use of herbicides particularly non-selective herbicides like glyphosate in agricultural and horticultural ecosystems leads to serious implications in many cultivated crops in Andhra Pradesh.”

According to the order, the herbicides cannot be used in any of the crops in the Kharif season, i.e. June to November. The approval of the Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee is mandatory to recommend/procure/store/use any agro chemical, as per the Insecticide Act, 1968.

The herbicides specified in the order can be used in non-cropped areas, or during the months of December to May, but only with specific recommendations by authorised personnel.

16.02.2018 |

Judge tosses challenge to Arkansas' dicamba ban

An Arkansas judge has dismissed a company's challenge of the state's ban on a controversial weed killer, citing a state Supreme Court ruling that has made it more difficult to sue the state.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by Monsanto challenging the state Plant Board's decision to ban dicamba's use between April 16 and Oct. 31. Monsanto was also challenging an earlier rule that specifically targeted its brand of dicamba.

15.02.2018 |

French Wine Study Shows Humans Can Taste Pesticides

The results of the first ever study on the ability of humans to recognize the taste of pesticides in wine have been published in the Food and Nutrition Journal.

Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and the chef Jérôme Douzelet’s study involved 195 blind tests carried out by professionals from the wine and culinary industry.

14.02.2018 |

Mathematics explains why Crispr-Cas9 sometimes cuts the wrong DNA

Initially the Crispr-Cas9 system seemed to be accurate, but it is now apparent that it sometimes also cuts non-target DNA sequences

Once again we find more honesty about the imprecision of the CRISPR gene editing system in the medical research field, as with the new paper featured below, than in the field of crop biotechnology.

1. Mathematics explains why Crispr-Cas9 sometimes cuts the wrong DNA

2. Hybridization kinetics explains CRISPR-Cas off-targeting rules

12.02.2018 |

CCI must stop the Bayer Monsanto merger

Bayer Monsanto merger

By Dr Vandana Shiva

On 7.1.2018 the Competition Commission of India(CCI), India’s anti-trust body for preventing monopoly,invited comments from the public on the adverse impacts of the Bayer-Monsanto merger. I submitted my objections on the Bayer Monsanto merger to CCI on January 20 2018. There are many reasons why the merger must not be allowed.

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