Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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29.03.2018 |

Fruit and Vegetable Producer Del Monte Is Going Non-GMO and Non-BPA

As American consumers find themselves gravitating toward “natural” products, particularly non-GMO and BPA-free products, food industry veteran Del Monte is also taking a hint.

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Del Monte also announced that it would move away from GMO, or genetically modified crops. The company also announced Tuesday that not only would vegetables, fruit cups and most tomato products be non-GMO, so will added ingredients used as sweeteners and soybeans. About 154 products will be non-GMO, and they will be labelled as such. Granted, the benefits and downsides of GMO have long been debated.

29.03.2018 |

Inside Monsanto's Day in Court: Scientists Weigh in on Glyphosate's Cancer Risks

Lee Johnson, a 46-year-old resident of Vallejo, California developed a severe skin rash in 2014, two years after he started spraying Roundup as part of his groundskeeping job at the Benicia Unified School District. “He read the label on the container,” says his lawyer, Timothy Litzenburg, “and he followed all the safety instructions, which were written by Monsanto.”

The rash turned into an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Doctors estimate Johnson has six months left to live; he will leave behind a wife and two children. His is one of 2,400 lawsuits filed against Monsanto by cancer victims in courts across the country, and Johnson’s case is the first one scheduled for a jury trial.

These victims are suing to hold Monsanto accountable, claiming that glyphosate, the listed, active ingredient in its popular herbicide Roundup, caused their non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

27.03.2018 |

Amazon sells GMO Arctic apples unlabelled

GM apples have not been safety tested in animals

GM Arctic apples are being sold on Amazon without disclosing that they are GM. They are engineered not to brown when cut and thus are advertised as "preservative free".

There's nothing illegal about this, since GM foods do not have to carry a GM label on the package in the US and the apples are not being sold outside the US.

However, selling GM Arctic apples unlabelled is irresponsible because they have not been safety tested in feeding trials on animals. Nor have US regulators assessed the health or environmental risks of the GM technique used to develop them.

26.03.2018 |

The Precautionary Principle: Let's Protect Our Food Supply Together!

What is the Precautionary Principle?

Better safe than sorry. Err on the side of caution. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We have many ways to say that it is wise to avoid foreseeable problems whenever possible. This idea is so important that the governments of the world created the precautionary principle: a globally agreed upon system for navigating possible risks in situations where scientific understanding is lacking or incomplete.

The most comprehensive and well-known iteration of the precautionary principle comes from the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). While the precautionary principle itself is not a legally-binding document, it is an important guiding principle found in many international treaties–you can read this document in its entirety to learn more.

In a nutshell, it says that we all have a moral obligation to employ caution when evaluating human activities that could hurt people or the environment.

26.03.2018 |

Meat, animal feed and the EU's unbearable hypocrisy on GMOs

How GMOs enter the EU unnoticed

This morning, the NGO Mighty Earth published a powerful report on the dire consequences of the current EU meat, milk and eggs production system on those countries, especially in Latin America, which produce the feed for farm animals.

The report explains that The EU imports 27.8 million tons of soy from South America every year, and highlights the terrible conditions in which it is produced. Massive deforestation to make room for soy crops - more than 8 million hectares in the last 12 years - released the equivalent of 3.024 million metric tons of CO2 and endangered rare species and fragile ecosystems. According to the World Bank, the use of agrichemicals - especially glyphosate - increased by 1000 % in 20 years due to the cultivation of GM soy; this has resulted in water, air and soil pollution, and has provoked disastrous effects on the health of local populations. A staggering 19 % of deaths in Argentina are caused by cancer, disproportionally located in soy cultivation areas.

This terrible reality is the direct cause of a major, and terribly hypocritical, contradiction at the heart of the EU’s policy on GMOs.

22.03.2018 |

The Bayer-Monsanto Merger is Bad News for Farmers and Everyone Else

A Bayer-Monsanto merger would mean four companies would control about 70 per cent of the world's seed markets. This is bad news for farmers, seed diversity and humanity's capacity to adapt to climate change.

This week, the European Union approved the merger between agribusiness giants Bayer and Monsanto, taking the controversial union one step closer to a reality.

A Bayer-Monsanto merger would mean four companies – accountable only to their shareholders – would control about 70 per cent of the world's seed markets. This is bad news for farmers, seed diversity and humanity's capacity to adapt to climate change.

"Seeds are the heart of our food system. If you control seeds, you control farmers and you control food," says Martin Settle, Executive Director of USC Canada. "This has repercussions for what lands on our plates. But increased corporate control over seeds also has dire consequences for seed diversity and humanity's ability to adapt to climate change."

19.03.2018 |

Emergency Measures Against GMOs - Between Harmonizing and De-harmonizing - Trends

Abstract: This Insight comments on the preliminary ruling in the case Fidenato et al. (judgment of 13 September 2017, case C-111/16), in which the Court of Justice excluded that Member States may rely on the precautionary principle enshrined in Art. 7 of Regulation 178/2002 to adopt emergency measures against the cultivation of GMOs, pursuant to Art. 34 of Regulation 1829/2003. The judgment confirms the strict interpretation of the conditions to adopt such measures, already provided by the Court of Justice in the case Monsanto SAS (judgment of 8 September 2011, joined cases C-58/10 and C-68/10), and the will of the EU to maintain full control over the management of scientific risk related to GMOs. At the same time, the ruling calls for some reflections on GMOs regulation in the EU, which has recently undergone some major changes in the sense of leaving much more freedom to Member States to ban the cultivation of GMOs when non-scientific risks are at stake.

Keywords: precautionary principle – genetically modified food and feed – emergency measures – Regulation 1829/2003 – Regulation 178/2002 – agriculture.

19.03.2018 |

Health Canada gives all clear for GMO Golden Rice

After a thorough scientific assessment, the Canadian government has ruled that Golden Rice poses no greater risk to human health than rice varieties currently available on the Canadian market.

Golden Rice is the name of a rice that has been genetically modified to produce beta-carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A. This beta-carotene gives the rice grains the yellowish color that has inspired its name.

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While this news is a positive step forward for Golden Rice, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has indicated that this product is not intended to be sold in Canada at this time.

17.03.2018 |

Kenya’s top GMO labs filthy and pose serious health risks

Three top laboratories handling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Kenya are highly contaminated with disease-causing germs. A study published early this month (March 7) found the three laboratories highly contaminated with bacteria and harmful fungus.

The study also reports laboratory workers are not observing basic safety measures, hence putting themselves and others in danger. In October, the Biosafety Appeals Board also made similar claims against the same labs, saying workers had become too lax in observing safety measures.

Escaping into environment This, laboratory experts say, raises doubt whether GMO materials held in these facilities are secured well enough to prevent them from escaping into the environment. The new study was led by Dennis Nyachae of the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology at Kenyatta University (KU).

16.03.2018 |

GMO directive : the origins of the mutagenesis exemption

In his opinion on the « Mutagenesis » case [1], the Court of justice Advocate general considered there is no link between the mutagenesis exemption and the recital which states that the directive should not apply to organisms obtained through certain techniques of genetic modification which have conventionally been used in a number of applications and have a long safety record. However, the study of the preparatory work shows the mutagenesis exemption appeared at the same time as the recital in question...

The European Union GMO legislation does not apply to all organisms obtained through genetic modification. Since the first European GMO directive, genetically modified organisms obtained through mutagenesis are exempted, under certain conditions, from the obligations laid down in the directive. As a consequence, these GMOs can, under certain conditions, be cultivated without having been subject to an environmental risk assessment and they can be marketed without traceability or labelling.

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