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09.11.2017 |

EU fails to agree on glyphosate license renewal

The European Commission has again hit a wall in renewing the approval for the weedkiller glyphosate. The vote comes after 18 months of agonizing over the controversial herbicide.

The European Union on Thursday voted on whether to prolong the use of the common but controversial herbicide glyphosate within its borders, but failed to reach a consensus.

The proposal to renew the EU license for glyphosate for another five years failed to a reach a qualified majority, meaning a decision has again been postponed, according to lawmakers. The current license is due to expire on December 15, but there is an 18 month grace period.

Fourteen countries voted in favor of the renewal, nine against, while five, including Germany, abstained from voting. The proposal could now be referred to an appeal committee, or alternatively the Commission could draw up a new proposal to be voted upon.

"No qualified majority for glyphosate renewal in vote today," said Luxembourg's Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg on Twitter. Belgian Agriculture Minister Denis Ducarme confirmed the result.

09.11.2017 |

Unauthorised GMOs : Spain wants to bypass the rules

The Spanish authorities have discovered unauthorised seeds of genetically modified cotton. Spain asked the European Commission whether it could process the seeds to turn them into products for feed and food uses. A pragmatic view which would benefit companies...

The presence of unauthorised GMOs in the European Union is not unusual. In the summer of 2017, unauthorised seeds of two genetically modified cottons (MON1445 and MON531) have been detected in Spain on a shipment from Argentina.

Cottons seeds unauthorised for import

Feed and food « produced from » [1] these two transgenic cottons are authorised on the European market : more specifically, the authorisations concern food and feed additives, feed materials and cottonseed oil. But unlike other genetically modified cottons authorised in the European Union [2], the authorisations do not cover products containing or consisting of these genetically modified cottons [3]. The scope of both applications did indeed only cover the products produced from the genetically modified cottons. Thus, it is clear that the two transgenic cottons detected in Spain are not authorised in the form of seeds in the European Union.

Moreover, in its opinion on the applications of both the particular cottons, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) [4] [5] indicates that there were no requirements for scientific information on environmental safety assessment of accidental release or cultivation of the cottons since the scope of the applications « only includes products produced from cotton » MON 531 and MON1445 which contain no viable plant parts [6].

07.11.2017 |

EU: 4.3% drop in GM crop cultivation

In 2017, not one hectare was sown with genetically modified maize in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia. And in Portugal and in Spain, the surfaces [planting area] of transgenic crops decreased. All in all, throughout the European territory, this surface declined from 136,338 to 13,571 hectares, a decrease of 4%.

Transgenic crops do not exactly have the wind in their sails in the European Union. In 2016, only four countries of the European Union continued to cultivate MON810 maize (the only one allowed for cultivation in the European Union): Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Two of those countries have abandoned these crops in 2017 : the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The crop surfaces strongly decrease in Portugal, and a little in Spain. The drop in the transgenic maize area (-4.3%) is higher than the drop in the total maize cultivation area (including conventional, GM, and organic) (-1.3%) .

01.11.2017 |

Gates Foundation Grants Additional $6.4 million to Cornel's Controversial Alliance for Science

Synopsis: A new grant means that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has now given $12 million dollars to the Cornell Alliance for Science. But according to Claire Robinson of British group GMWatch, the Alliance "is a propaganda machine for the GMO and agrochemical industry?.

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In a presentation yesterday at Cornell, Alliance for Science Director, Sarah Evanega, revealed that her organisation had received “a renewed contribution” of $6.4 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Originally endowed with $5.6 million by the Gates Foundation in August 2014, the new grant takes the total Gates contribution to $12 million.

26.10.2017 |

French Health Regulator Withdraws Licence for Bayer Weedkiller

PARIS — French health and environment regulator ANSES said on Thursday it had withdrawn the licence for Bayer's Basta F1 weedkiller made with glufosinate-ammonium, citing uncertainty over its effect on health following a review.

The product, which is used to spray vineyards, fruit orchards and vegetables, was the only weedkiller containing glufosinate authorised in France, ANSES said in a statement.

25.10.2017 |

Goodbye to Golden Rice? GM Trait Leads to Drastic Yield Loss and “Metabolic Meltdown”

GMO Golden Rice is promoted as a potent tool to alleviate vitamin A deficiency. However, Indian researchers now report that the genes needed to produce it have unintended effects. When they introduced the engineered DNA, their high-yielding and agronomically superior Indian rice variety became pale and stunted, flowering was delayed and the roots grew abnormally. Yields were so reduced that it was unsuitable for cultivation (Bollinedi et al. 2017).

24.10.2017 |

Beneath the Glyphosate headlines, a crucial battle for the future of EU pesticide approvals

“A non-re-authorisation of the substance would be a disaster for the industry”, reads a note from a a March 2016 meeting between pesticide industry lobbyists from the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) and members of Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan’s cabinet.

The “substance” in question? Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the world's most widely-used pesticide and Monsanto's flagship product. True enough, a European Union ban on this key ingredient in many weedkillers would be a major blow to the biotech and pesticide industry, its shareholders and its future owner Bayer.

Since the World Health Organisation's International Agency For Research On Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen in 2015, the decision as to whether this weedkiller deserves another license for the EU market has been closely scrutinised. In addition, lawsuits against Monsanto in the US regarding Roundup’s health effects have enabled the release of internal company documents, which show how the company ghostwrote studies signed by ‘independent’ experts and tried to underplay data indicating health damage.

24.10.2017 |

Monsanto Papers Reveal Company Covered Up Cancer Concerns

Herbicide Health Dangers

Monsanto Faces Blowback Over Cancer Cover-Up

A release of internal emails has revealed that U.S. agrochemical giant Monsanto manipulated studies of the company's herbicide, Roundup. Experts believe the product causes cancer - and the consequences for the company could be dire.

Some companies' reputations are so poor that the public already has low expectations when it comes to their ethics and business practices. That doesn't make it any less shocking when the accusations against them are confirmed in black and white.

Agricultural chemicals giant Monsanto is under fire because the company's herbicide, Roundup (active ingredient: glyphosate), is suspected of being carcinogenic. Permission to sell the chemical in the European Union expires on December 15 with member states set to decide on Wednesday whether to renew it for another 10 years. And now, the longstanding dispute about glyphosate has been brought to a head by the release of explosive documents.

17.10.2017 |

GM Cotton in Africa: Battleground Between US and Chinese Capital

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACBIO), shares with you its new research report titled, GM Cotton in Africa: Battleground between Chinese and US Capital.

The report shows that 13 African countries undertook field trials or granted approval for the commercial growing of genetically modified (GM) crops in 2016. Cotton is the first adopter GM crop to gain entry into countries where there is fierce opposition to eating GM food or using it as animal feed. There is, however, no barrier between fibre, feed and food with cotton as cotton seed oil is used in a range of food products across the continent, and by-products from the milling process is used for animal feed.

While currently, only South Africa and Sudan cultivate GM cotton commercially, commercial growing is expected in Ethiopia, Malawi and Kenya in 2018/19. Various entities supported by the United States (US) government, are also putting pressure on several African countries to relax their strict liability provisions in their biosafety laws. Zambia, Swaziland and Mozambique are in the process of doing so, and Tanzania has already done so. Yet in many countries such as Swaziland, field trials are being conducted without proper regulatory oversight.

12.10.2017 |

Scientists to Journal: Retract Pesticide Review After Revelations of Monsanto Funding, Influence

PORTLAND, Ore.— Scientists from four national environmental-health organizations today called on the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology to retract a review downplaying glyphosate’s cancer risk because the review article was covertly edited and funded by Monsanto, the pesticide’s maker.

As detailed in a recent news report, the article’s conflict-of-interest disclosure stated that a third party hired by Monsanto was independently overseeing the assessment of the popular pesticide. However, Monsanto directlypaid at least two of the scientists who authored the article, and a Monsanto employee substantially edited and reviewed the article prior to publication, in clear contradiction to the disclosure statement.

Today’s letter from scientists at the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network and Center for Environmental Health noted: “These are serious offenses and if left unanswered will ultimately undermine the work of many scientists who view scientific ethics to be sacrosanct.”

The review paper in question was one of a series of five articles published in a 2016 supplemental issue entitled “An Independent Review of the Carcinogenic Potential of Glyphosate.” The review in question was an overview of the four other articles. All five articles were highly critical of the 2015 finding by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, is a probable human carcinogen.

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