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05.02.2018 |

Yucatán takes a stand against GMOs

CHACSINKÍN, Yuc. (EL UNIVERSAL) .- After the authorization of the planting of transgenic crops in Yucatan and Campeche in 2011 a judicial struggle started in which producers and civil organizations have warned that they will not allow any GMOs to be grown in their lands, as they assure these will be harmful to the population and the environment in the long term.

The “Guardians of the Seeds” (Guardianes de las Semillas), a fusion of civil organizations and local producers pointed out that they will continue in their fight so that the sowing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is not authorized, and totally forbbiden, even at an experimental level.

In order to address the demanded measures against GMOs and protect the production of honey, of which Yucatan is national leader, decree 418 was issued the in 2016, prohibiting GMOs in the state. Nevertheless, the highest court by the Presidency of the Republic, argued that the State Executive is not authorized to prohibit the crops, as the Biosecurity is responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food: SAGARPA (Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación).

04.02.2018 |

GMO Corn to Blame for Soaring Pesticide Use

VTDigger Editor’s note: This commentary is by Michael Colby, who is a writer and maple syrup producer living in Walden. the former editor of the Food & Water Journal, and the co-founder, along with Will Allen and Kate Duesterberg, of Regeneration Vermont.

Ending its three-year stall on publishing statewide pesticide usage data, Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets finally released the information in January in response to a public records request. The newly released data covers the years 2014-2016, and it shows a dramatic increase in pesticide use on Vermont’s dairy farms, particularly when it comes to managing GMO cornfields. The use of glyphosate, for example, more than doubled in those three years, while overall corn-related pesticide use rose 27 percent.

GMO corn is now grown on more than 92,000 acres in Vermont, making it – by far – the state’s number one crop. And all of it is being grown for the state’s 135,000 cows, mostly now confined as the large, mega-dairy model increasingly takes over, seen most dramatically in Franklin and Addison counties, where “farms” are now warehousing thousands of cows.

02.02.2018 |

Judges to FDA: Government Must Pull Aside Curtain on Genetically Engineered Salmon

Appeals court rejects Trump administration’s attempt to withhold information from the public related to the approval of GE salmon.

Last week, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the FDA’s latest attempt to hide thousands of pages of key government documents related to the agency’s first-ever approval of genetically engineered (GE) salmon for human consumption. The court’s decision is a big win for public transparency and a firm rejection of the Trump administration’s position that it can unilaterally decide whether to withhold government documents from public and court review.

In 2015, the FDA approved a GE salmon made from the DNA of three different animals: Atlantic salmon, deep water ocean eelpout, and Pacific Chinook salmon. The GE version is intended to grow faster than conventional farmed salmon, reportedly getting to commercial size in half the time.

Even though this is the first time any government in the world has approved a GE animal for commercial sale and consumption, so far the FDA has taken a lackadaisical approach to evaluating the salmon’s potential for harm to wild salmon and the environment. If the GE salmon were to escape, it could threaten wild salmon populations by outcompeting them for scarce resources and habitat, by mating with endangered salmon species, and by introducing new diseases.

02.02.2018 |

Monsanto Faces Farmer Antitrust Suit on Dicamba, Resistant Seed

Monsanto Corp. faces a treble damages class action alleging that its pesticide Dicamba poses such a risk to farmers they are forced to purchase resistant seed — marketed under patent at high prices by Monsanto — to avoid catastrophic damage to their crops from pesticide drift.

A North Dakota farm alleges it bought and Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant soybean seeds to avoid damage from nearby farms using the pesticide. The complaint, filed Feb. 1 in Missouri federal court, says that Monsanto recklessly marketed a pesiticide shown to be very volatile and very mobile from target fields to neighboring areas. As a result, it alleges, farmers with no intention to use Monsanto’s dicamba pesticide still must purchase its marketed resistant cotton and soybean seeds or risk heavy crop damage.

“Monsanto’s monopolization and attempted monopolization of the seeds market stymies competition, hurts producers, and harms the public at large,” the plaintiff Forest River Farms alleges. It alleges a class of “all individuals and entities who directly purchased seeds containing Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant trait.”

31.01.2018 |

European Commission: Following the Trump Administration's Retreat from Science-Based Regulation?

In January, European Union agencies published three documents concerning government oversight of nanotechnology and new genetic engineering techniques. Together, the documents put in doubt the scientific capacity and political will of the European Commission to provide any effective oversight of the consumer, agricultural and industrial products derived from these emerging technologies. Instead, it appears that the Commission will allow product developers, including university scientist/entrepreneurs, to be the judge of whether their products pose unacceptable and, indeed, perhaps unmanageable, risks to the public, the environment and to workers manufacturing emerging technology products.

For U.S. public policy advocates, long accustomed to The Republican War on Science and the Trump administration’s Abandoning Scientific Advice, the European Union agency documents amount to a shocking and yet not wholly unexpected déja vu. We’ve become accustomed to the ostensibly regulated U.S. industry controlling what science is presented for regulatory review by U.S. agencies. We have not yet become accustomed to the surrender of European agencies before the policy demands and economic rationales of scientist/entrepreneurs to allow them to develop and commercialize their products unimpeded by government regulation.

In January, Chemical Watch reported on the European Chemicals (Echa) Management Board’s meeting in December 2017 to review the European Commission’s implementation of a nanomaterial reporting regulation. The Board concluded that the results of the European Commission implementation plan had provided inadequate information for Echa to determine whether the atomic to molecular scale nanomaterials were being used safely in commercialized products.

30.01.2018 |

Namibia can now trace GMO origins

NAMIBIA will now be able to trace the history of genetically modified organisms' products on the local market.

The National Commission for Research, Science and Technology's (NCRST) biotechnology manager Paulus Mungeyi said yesterday that the traceability of GMO is critical to determine their content.

He said this after the official launch of the NCRST's biotechnology testing, training and research laboratory in Windhoek yesterday. The establishment of the lab, Mungeyi said, is part of the mandate to administer the Biosafety Act which regulates activities involving the research, development, production, marketing, transportation and other uses of GMOs, and specific products from GMOs.

29.01.2018 |

Namibia opens first GMO laboratory

Namibia has opened a laboratory for testing food for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) the first in the Southern African country on Monday.

The Higher Education Minister, Itah Kandjii-Murangi, opened the laboratory, designed by the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology in Windhoek.

Kandjii-Murangi said the laboratory would play a crucial role in testing genetically modified products.

He added that “GMO testing is crucial to ensure that only GMOs and GMO products that are approved for use in Namibia are in the market.”

28.01.2018 |

Rwanda: Debate rages over GMO adoption to raise productivity

Stakeholders are urging caution in the Rwanda’s quest to adopt genetically modified organism technology, with some proposing that other options for increasing agricultural productivity be exhausted before reverting to GMO’s.

Like many countries in East Africa, Rwanda has been apprehensive about introducing GMOs over fears that their impact on the environment and health of human beings is not well known.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, outgoing director-general of the Rwanda Agricultural Board, Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, said it was time for Rwanda to adopt GMO’s.

26.01.2018 |

Armenian parliament holds hearings on GMO products

YEREVAN. – The Armenian parliament is holding hearings on “Genetically Modified Organisms, Alternatives or Compulsion” during the session on Friday.

The hearing was initiated by the standing committee on territorial management, local self-government, agriculture and environment.

The legislation concerning GMO foodstuffs was initiated in 2013, but had no continuation. Minister of Agriculture Ignati Arakelyan told Armenian News-NEWS.am that GMO seed production company Monsanto has assured that it is not importing GMO seeds, and those seed had not been found in the customs offices.

23.01.2018 |

GMOs still banned in Swaziland

MBABANE – The importation of genetically modified crops into the kingdom remains banned.

This strong statement was issued by Minister of Agriculture Moses Vilakati when reacting to what the government’s official stance was following the series of applications presented before the Swaziland Environmental Authority (SEA) for evaluation prior to the granting to either grow genetically modified cotton or import GMO maize into the kingdom.

“As a country we have not approved genetically modified crops it is still being canvassed. No one is legally allowed to import GMO’s into the country,” clarified Vilakati.

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