Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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07.06.2018 |

Germany expects to see record Non-GMO food sales

It seems demand in Germany for Non-GMO milk and dairy products, eggs and poultry remains unabated.

06.06.2018 |

Pink Bollworm Resistance to Bt Cotton in India

Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders), the pink bollworm, has made a comeback in India, attacking genetically modified (GM) Bt Bollgard-II cotton bolls, the second-generation GM cotton created by Monsanto to confer resistance to the worm.

The pest had first showed up sporadically on Bt cotton in 2010, but by the 2015-16 season, large areas of cotton crop were affected, reducing yields by an estimated 7-8%. Surveys by the state revenue and agriculture departments in November 2017 and February-March 2018 indicate that pink bollworm infestation affected over 80% of the 4.2 million ha under cotton in Maharashtra alone. Each farmer reportedly lost 33% to over 50% of standing crop. In January 2018, Maharashtra’s Department of Agriculture predicted a dip in cotton production and bales by 40%.

The pink bollworm infestation is widespread in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana.This drove the profuse use of pesticides from July to November 2017 across Maharashtra by farmers desperate to save their cotton crop, but no pesticides were reportedly able to control the worm. The Ministry of Agriculture acknowledges the problem but has rejected the demand from Maharashtra and other states to de-notify Bt-cotton, a move that will change its status to regular cotton since Bt cotton’s efficacy is no longer there.

06.06.2018 |

Feed me the Truth … about the GM crops being fed to the animals that produce our meat, eggs and dairy products.

UK supermarkets are using GM animal feed in their own brand supply chains. If you buy non-organic eggs, milk, dairy products, poultry, red meat or farmed fish you are most likely buying GM-fed – without even knowing it.

Take action now

- Show that shoppers want a GM free supply chain by asking your supermarket to feed you the truth about GM-fed products

- Put people in the picture about GM animal feed

- Feed the Truth to your local community by staging a campaign event in your area

Download our Feed me the Truth Action Guide to get more involved, as a group or an individual campaigner.

05.06.2018 |

Genetically-modified salmon is now in Canada, but no one will say where

Canadians ate 4.5 tonnes of unlabelled GM salmon without knowing it this past year

The world’s first shipment of genetically-modified salmon arrived in Montreal last year. After that, it’s impossible to track where it went. Why all the secrecy?

Perched on the coast of Prince Edward Island, in Bay Fortune, a biotechnology company breeds the world’s first genetically modified fish—an Atlantic salmon containing a fish gene that allows it to grow twice as fast as its non-GM cousins. In the past year, without knowing it, Canadians ate 4.5 tonnes of the unlabelled GM fish—the world’s first batches of GM animal sold for human consumption. Where exactly? No one knew, until recently, when Vigilance OGM, a food watchdog in Quebec, obtained import documents via access to information. In a $170-billion global aquaculture industry, Canada in 2016 became the first country to allow human consumption of genetically engineered salmon. Fish-farming companies and consumer groups remained wary, partly because of the controversy around labelling and the secrecy that’s shrouded the fish since research began in Canada in the early 1990s. Since then, taxpayers have forked over $8.2 million in federal grants for the fish’s development, and the Canadian government negotiated a 10 per cent royalty for itself on GM salmon sales.

04.06.2018 |

Bayer to ditch Monsanto name after mega-merger

German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer on Monday said it will discard the name Monsanto when it takes over the controversial US seeds and pesticides producer this week, as environmental groups kept up their criticism of the mega-merger.

The move comes after years of protests against Monsanto's activities by environmental groups that have badly damaged the company's brand.

But Bayer executives insisted that Monsanto practices rejected by environmentalists, including genetic modification of seeds and deployment of "crop protection" technologies like pesticides, were vital to help feed a growing world population.

"The company name is and will remain Bayer. Monsanto will no longer be a company name," chief executive Werner Baumann said.

Bayer's $63-billion (54-billion-euro) buyout of Monsanto -- one of the largest in German corporate history -- is set to close Thursday, birthing a global giant with 115,000 employees and revenues of some 45 billion euros.

04.06.2018 |

The Monsanto Papers: Poisoning the scientific well

Article type: Research Article

Authors: McHenry, Leemon B.

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330, USA. E-mail: leemon.mchenry@csun.edu

Abstract: OBJECTIVE:Examination of de-classified Monsanto documents from litigation in order to expose the impact of the company’s efforts to influence the reporting of scientific studies related to the safety of the herbicide, glyphosate. METHODS:A set of 141 recently de-classified documents, made public during the course of pending toxic tort litigation, In Re Roundup Products Liability Litigation were examined. RESULTS:The documents reveal Monsanto-sponsored ghostwriting of articles published in toxicology journals and the lay media, interference in the peer review process, behind-the-scenes influence on retraction and the creation of a so-called academic website as a front for the defense of Monsanto products. CONCLUSION:The use of third-party academics in the corporate defense of glyhphosate reveals that this practice extends beyond the corruption of medicine and persists in spite of efforts to enforce transparency in industry manipulation.

02.06.2018 |

France will start labelling meat which was fed with genetically modified crops

Sustain member Beyond GM believes that labelling isn’t enough - we need to start producing food that people can trust.

French politicians have backed mandatory labelling for GM animal feed as part of the Food and Agriculture Bill. The bill will also make it mandatory for labels to include details of pesticide use used on fruit and vegetables.

If accepted by the Senate, the new labelling laws will start by January 2023. The on-pack information would have to include information on the conditions in which the animal were raised and whether they have had GM animal feed.

Pat Thomas, the director for Beyond GM (who are part of the Sustain alliance) believes that the UK should take note of the ruling in France:

“At the heart of the French action are the issues of provenance and authenticity of the food we eat, as well as its nutritional quality and safety. France has been very publicly struggling with these issues – and opening the doors to important conversations.

01.06.2018 |

In High Demand, Organic Soy and Corn Farmers Stand to Win

The United States is importing more organic corn and soybeans than it’s producing, according to recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

Despite a steady increase in demand for organic products among consumers, U.S. crop growers have been reluctant to make the switch from conventional crops, even if it could mean higher profits for farmers struggling with low commodity prices.

“Corn, soybeans and cotton have pretty much the lowest (organic) adoption level of any crop we grow in the U.S.,” said Catherine Greene, an agricultural economist at the USDA Economic Research Service. “We’re orders of magnitude lower in the adoption level of feed grains than we are for many of the fruits and vegetables.”

But soybeans and corn, the two crops that dominate much of the agricultural landscape in the Midwest, have become lucrative organic imports since the USDA implemented the National Organic Program in 2002.

(.....)

“We have had three large farms convert from conventional to organic in the last five years,” said Jim Traub, a merchandiser at Clarkson Grain Company near Cerro Gordo, Ill. “In 1992, we did not know what organic meant.”

Clarkson Grain Company processes both non-GMO and organic corn and soybeans. Farmers who sell non-GMO soybeans to Clarkson, even without the full organic distinction, have access to Japanese markets, where Midwestern beans are used in tofu, soymilk, and other food products.

Traub said it’s a relationship Clarkson has had with a Japanese trading company for more than 20 years that provides growers a $1.50 premium per bushel compared to genetically modified beans. Farmers who grow non-GMO corn see a premium of about 75 cents.

The price for organic corn and soybeans is even higher, paying farmers two to three times what they might make on a bushel of conventional grain.

But Traub said making the switch to full organic is not a quick and easy transition.

31.05.2018 |

Parliamentary consultation & decision making on SA’s Corporate Seed Bills a Sham!!

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) is deeply concerned that South Africa’s draconian corporate seed Bills were approved by the Parliamentary Select Committee on the 22nd May 2018, with no substantial changes being made. This despite a number of provinces having rejected the Bills entirely on the basis that they did not adequately serve the interests of smallholder farmers, while other provinces proposed amendments to accommodate concerns before supporting the Bills. Indeed, Provincials came under heavy fire by farmers, non-governmental organisations and the public at large because the Seed Bills ignore and undermine the significant role that smallholders can and do play in the development, maintenance and conservation of genetic and agricultural biodiversity, and in food production and provision. Beyond this, the Bills criminalise the historical practices of saving, exchanging, and selling of farm-saved seed, and farmer varieties, instead of ensuring the protection of these systems, and ensuring that support is provided to strengthen these systems.

Mariam Mayet, Executive Director of the ACB asks “These Seed Bills are still based on apartheid style legislation and do not embed the transformative and empowering policies required by the country. The Seed Bills laws fail to concretely protect and promote smallholders and small-scale seed enterprises, and to support social justice and ecological integrity.”

31.05.2018 |

Academics Review: The Making of a Monsanto Front Group

Academics Review, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization launched in 2012, claims to be an independent group but documents obtained by U.S. Right to Know revealed it is a front group set up with the help of Monsanto and its public relations team to attack agrichemical industry critics while appearing to be independent.

Covert industry funding

The Academics Review website describes its founders as “two independent professors,” Bruce Chassy, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and David Tribe, PhD, senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, Australia. As of May 2018, the website claims, “Academics Review only accepts unrestricted donations from non-corporate sources to support our work.”

However, tax records show that the primary funder of Academics Review has been the Council for Biotechnology Information, a trade association that is funded and run by the largest agrichemical companies: BASF, Bayer, DowDuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta.

According to CBI tax records, the industry-funded group gave Academics Review a total of $650,000 in 2014 and 2015-2016. Tax records for AcademicsReview.org report expenses of $791,064 from 2013-2016 (see 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). The money was spent on organizing conferences and promoting GMOs and pesticides, according to the tax records.

Emails reveal secret origin of academic front group

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