Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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18.08.2017 |

Leading expert of EFSA – sponsored by Monsanto?

Confidential emails reveal how Monsanto secretly influences European scientists

A number of emails published by US consumer attorneys show how Monsanto is secretly influencing European scientists behind the scenes in order to have their herbicide glyphosate declared as being non-carcinogenic. It seems that payments by Monsanto can be traced to a leading expert at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): It is likely that Jose Tarazona, head of the Pesticide Unit at EFSA, was funded by Monsanto for his participation at a conference in the US in 2017. According to available information, it can be assumed that the funding was channelled via a British toxicologist. At the conference Tarazona stated that glyphosate should not be considered to be carcinogenic.

According to the emails, in March 2016, Monsanto approached a leading British toxicologist, Allister Vale. In essence, he was asked to publicly defend the authorisation of glyphosate as a herbicide. Allister Vale agreed in principle to cooperate, but did not want to receive funding from Monsanto directly. He, therefore, proposed routing the money via Society of Toxicology (SOT) conferences. This proposal was welcomed by Monsanto.

17.08.2017 |

Nearly 900 farmers complain about controversial herbicide dicamba

MORRILTON, Ark. (KTHV) -- If you find soybeans are harder to find, many fingers will be pointed at dicamba. It's a herbicide that farmers haven't been able to use legally until this year, but already it's banned.

Governor Asa Hutchinson directed a task force to look into its long term effects.

"Dicamba is creating controversy in the largest industry in our state," said Adriane Barnes, Director of Communications for the Arkansas Agriculture Department.

It's creating controversy because some farmers love it, while others say its ruining their crops.

"We can’t use the technology safely with the issues at hand," said farmer and task force member, David Wildy.

17.08.2017 |

Collusion Or Coincidence? Records Show EPA Efforts To Slow Herbicide Review Came In Coordination With Monsanto

Newly released government email communications show a persistent effort by multiple officials within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to slow a separate federal agency’s safety review of Monsanto’s top-selling herbicide. Notably, the records demonstrate that the EPA efforts came at the behest of Monsanto, and that EPA officials were helpful enough to keep the chemical giant updated on their progress.

The communications, most of which were obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, show that it was early 2015 when the EPA and Monsanto began working in concert to stall a toxicology review that a unit tied to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was conducting on glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s branded Roundup herbicide products. The details revealed in the documents come as Monsanto is defending itself against lawsuits alleging that it has tried to cover up evidence of harm with its herbicides.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a federal public health agency that along with the CDC is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is charged with evaluating the potential adverse human health effects from exposures to hazardous substances in the environment. So it made sense for the ATSDR to take a look at glyphosate, which is widely used on U.S. farms, residential lawns and gardens, school playgrounds and golf courses. Glyphosate is widely used in food production and glyphosate residues have been found in testing of human urine.

16.08.2017 |

European Organic Congress: Transforming food & farming – Making it Happen

5-7 September 2017 Tallinn, Estonia

This Congress will look at how stakeholders and policymakers can work together to reach the European Organic Vision 2030, with the launch of a roadmap for making it happen. Over the last two years, IFOAM EU has been working proactively with the organic movement and like-minded groups to devise strategies for developing organics in Europe. In Estonia, we will look at different initiatives already happening throughout Europe that demonstrate how policymakers and stakeholders already work together to inspire others.

Part of this conversation will also look at how such initiatives can flourish, in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the EU Climate Commitments expected to strongly influence the EU’s agri-food policy agenda in the coming years – from the Common Agricultural Policy to the development of food policies at national and regional level.

14.08.2017 |

Cornell Diamondback moth is just another GM failure

Cornell University's plans to release genetically modified (GM) moths in New York State ignore existing evidence of failure, which shows the GM pests will damage the broccoli and cabbages they are supposed to protect.

Diamondback moth caterpillars are agricultural pests which eat brassica crops including cabbages and broccoli. Cornell plans multiple experimental releases of up to 30,000 GM male moths a week, over a two year period, at its New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES). The GM diamondback moths are produced by UK-headquartered company Oxitec, which was bought by Intrexon, Inc. for 160 million US dollars in 2015, despite its lack of revenue and commercial products.

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"Cornell's plans to release these GM moths ignore the only published scientific evidence about them, which shows that significant crop damage will occur" said Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK.

11.08.2017 |

Weedkiller banned by council over cancer fears

A weedkiller that is believed to have the potential to cause cancer will be banned by South Dublin County Council (SDCC) by the new year.

The council has voted to ban the use of glyphosate while negotiations continue at European level over the future of the controversial weedkiller in farming.

The vote was tabled by Sinn Fein councillor Enda Fanning, who said that a 2015 report by the International Agency for Research Against Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate was probably carcinogenic to humans.

11.08.2017 |

Canada: 4.5 tonnes of unmarked genetically modified salmon fillets sold

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- It appears Canadians were among the first diners in the world to eat a genetically modified animal -- and they likely didn't know it.

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Lucy Sharratt, co-ordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, said news of the sales without advance public notice is alarming.

"It's shocking," she said from Ottawa. "Canadians are the first in the world to eat this genetically modified fish, the world's first genetically modified food animal, and they did so unknowingly. And even now that we know (it's) on the market in Canada, we don't know where or how much."

Sharratt said genetically modified foods aren't linked to specific health issues. Still, she described a gaping lack of public information.

"For 20 years, genetically modified foods have been introduced with no transparency in the marketplace but, equally, no transparency in regulation. There's very little public science. There's very little government science.

"Canadians are being asked to trust corporate data and a process that is not open for them to look at."

Sharratt said AquaBounty has moved to expand its research and egg production site in P.E.I. with a new "genetically modified fish factory" at Rollo Bay in the province.

10.08.2017 |

Guinea pig Canadians offered ‘world’s first’ GMO salmon

Food safety activists and environmentalists are concerned over the potential risks from a new US brand of genetically-modified salmon, which has just hit Canadian shelves. Some believe Canadians are being used as guinea pigs for potentially harmful technology.

After trying for two decades, AquaBounty Technologies’ GM salmon was finally approved for sale in Canada in 2016, which led to the most recent developments.

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IGA and Costco supermarkets posted on their websites that they do not intend to sell the salmon.

Environmentalist groups are outraged by the new product.

The Montreal-based organization GMO Vigilance has stated on their website that the sale of the salmon in Canada makes Canadians “guinea pigs,” and they believe that the government should introduce legislation that requires GM foods to be labeled appropriately.

"It's a world first … The first genetically modified animal is on the market, and consumers in Quebec and Canada will become the first guinea-pigs unknowingly. In the absence of mandatory labeling we still cannot make an informed choice,” Thibault Rehn, a coordinator at GMO Vigilance, said, according to CNBC.

09.08.2017 |

Canadians unknowingly eating GM food 

Canada has become the first country where a genetically modified animal is sold for human consumption, and Canadians may have unwittingly been eating it over the past year.

In its latest earnings statement, AquaBounty Technologies Inc., a U.S.-based biotechnology company that holds the licence to produce the GM fish at a hatchery in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island, reported that about 4.5 tonnes of "fresh AquAdvantage Salmon fillets” have been sold in Canada in the second quarter of 2017.

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The company did not indicate where the fish is sold or respond to an interview request.

Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Ottawa-based Canadian Biotechnology Action Network that has called for mandatory labelling of genetically engineered food, said that while some major Canadian grocery chains have no plans to sell the GM salmon, it could have ended up in smaller stores or on restaurant menus.

“Because there’s no labelling in Canada, Canadians who have been buying salmon, haven’t had a choice,’ she said. “There’s no transparency in the grocery store for Canadians. Canada is an easy market for GM salmon.”

09.08.2017 |

Monsanto Was Its Own Ghostwriter for Some Safety Reviews

Academic papers vindicating its Roundup herbicide were written with the help of its employees.

Monsanto Co. started an agricultural revolution with its “Roundup Ready” seeds, genetically modified to resist the effects of its blockbuster herbicide called Roundup. That ability to kill weeds while leaving desirable crops intact helped the company turn Roundup’s active ingredient, the chemical glyphosate, into one of the world’s most-used crop chemicals. When that heavy use raised health concerns, Monsanto noted that the herbicide’s safety had repeatedly been vetted by outsiders. But now there’s new evidence that Monsanto’s claims of rigorous scientific review are suspect.

Dozens of internal Monsanto emails, released on Aug. 1 by plaintiffs’ lawyers who are suing the company, reveal how Monsanto worked with an outside consulting firm to induce the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology to publish a purported “independent” review of Roundup’s health effects that appears to be anything but. The review, published along with four subpapers in a September 2016 special supplement, was aimed at rebutting the 2015 assessment by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. That finding by the cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization led California last month to list glyphosate as a known human carcinogen. It has also spurred more than 1,000 lawsuits in state and federal courts by plaintiffs who claim they contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma from Roundup exposure.

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