Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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12.05.2017 |

The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t.

Workers at Laiwu Manhing Vegetables Fruits in China’s Shandong province prepare to pack and ship ginger last June. The crop, though grown organically, doesn't meet U.S. organic standards, because of pesticide residue left after washing. It’s not sold as organic in the United States or Europe, the company said. (Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)

A shipment of 36 million pounds of soybeans sailed late last year from Ukraine to Turkey to California. Along the way, it underwent a remarkable transformation.

The cargo began as ordinary soybeans, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. Like ordinary soybeans, they were fumigated with a pesticide. They were priced like ordinary soybeans, too.

But by the time the 600-foot cargo ship carrying them to Stockton, Calif., arrived in December, the soybeans had been labeled “organic,” according to receipts, invoices and other shipping records. That switch — the addition of the “USDA Organic” designation — boosted their value by approximately $4 million, creating a windfall for at least one company in the supply chain.

09.05.2017 |

International Meetings of the Resistance against GMOs : final declaration

Rencontres Internationales des Résistances aux OGM

Lorient, Brittany, 30th April 2017

Following the international meetings of convergence of Resistance to GMOs in Ouagadougou, April 2016, [organised by the Collectif citoyen pour l’Agroécologie CCAE], following the Peoples Assembly & International Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, October 2016, following the First Seed Olympiad, Paranesti, Greece, April 2017, we, of the Resistance in 28 countries in 5 continents, meeting in Lorient, Brittany, 28-30 April 2017, in order to build convergence, on the occasion of this the second International Convergence of the Resistance againt GMOs, do declare :

Our seed, our knowledge and our know-how are a proud cultural heritage, not merchandise, and we alone decide with whom they are to be shared. We refuse to see them stolen by industry for genetic manipulation and privatisation under patent property rights, proceeding thus to wipe out, in country after country, all the local plant varieties and local livestock breeds. Industrial interests, moreover, cannot fool all the people all the time when they try to pass off their latest (and dissimulated) innovations as traditional varieties.

09.05.2017 |

Apply now: Agri-activism opportunity this summer on an organic farm in Wales!

One remaining place to join the project between July 17th and October 9th – deadline May 15th**

Fed up with the supermarket stranglehold on our food system? Are you active in the fight against the damaging system of corporate-controlled, pesticide-heavy, GM crops – and do you want to push for an alternative?

If you're between 18 and 30 and have a commitment to anti-GM activism and sustainable, local organic farming, Friends of the Earth Europe is offering the chance for you to support a local campaign alongside an experienced activist against GM crops in South Wales, and gain practical, hands-on, experience of working on an organic farm over a period of three months during the summer of 2017.

09.05.2017 |

GM crops stalled in 2016

There’s little to celebrate for the GM crop industry in ISAAA’s latest figures, as China drops GM plantings by 24%

The GMO industry lobby group ISAAA’s latest report says that GM crop cultivation increased globally in 2016, by 3%, after a dip in 2015.

But Gene Ethics points out that two countries — Burkina Faso and Romania — gave up growing GM crops altogether in 2016.

Other countries have registered falls in GM crop production.

07.05.2017 |

U of S, prof under fire for Monsanto ties Documents show agri-business coached Peter Phillips, edited academic articles

The University of Saskatchewan and one of its well-known professors are acting like "sock puppets" for agri-business giant Monsanto, says a U.S. researcher.

Gary Ruskin of U.S. Right to Know has obtained thousands of pages documenting North American university ties to corporations involved in genetic engineering.

Ruskin recently shared with CBC News nearly 700 pages of U of S emails and other material. Ruskin said the documents show Monsanto has recruited a team of top academics in a "Machiavellian" effort to sway public opinion.

06.05.2017 |

Field Test of GMO Algae Sparks Outrage

Scientists from the University of California at San Diego and Sapphire Energy released results Thursday from the first open-pond trials of genetically engineered microalgae.

The study, along with research and development of genetically modified (GMO) algae for biofuels, is occurring ahead of adequate regulatory oversight, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's process to establish and update regulations for genetically engineered algae to protect human health and the environment.

"This study confirmed that genetically engineered microalgae grown in open ponds will escape and spread into the environment. Once this genie is out of the bottle, there is no way to put it back," said Dana Perls, senior campaigner with Friends of the Earth.

04.05.2017 |

Iowa State University agronomist urges farmers to commit to weed control despite added expense

AMES, Iowa – Farmers faced with tight profit margins may consider cutting back on weed control efforts this growing season, but an Iowa State University agronomist said doing so may cost farmers money in the long term.

Robert Hartzler, a professor of agronomy and ISU Extension and Outreach weed expert, said low commodity prices in recent years may lead farmers to tolerate a low population of weeds that might not affect yields.

But doing so may allow enough weeds to go to seed in fields and give rise to the spread of herbicide resistant weeds in the future, a growing concern for corn and soybean producers across the state.

“Farmers might be tempted to do just enough to protect yields but still allow some weeds to survive,” Hartzler said. “They might be unwilling to spend the extra money to get to the next level of weed control, and, in the short term, you can rationalize that. But in the long term, that’s going to lead to further evolution of resistance.”

03.05.2017 |

Bt Cotton in Burkina Faso:When Theory Does Not Match Reality

New Book Release

Bt Cotton in Burkina Faso

When Theory Does Not Match Reality

Juan López Villar

Publisher: TWN

Genetically modified (GM) crop have been touted as a solution to improve agricultural productivity and lift the lot of farmers in developing countries. However, the reality on the grounds is that the performance and impacts of GM crops have been extremely uneven.

This is starkly illustrated by the experience of Burkina Faso in planting Bt cotton, a variety genetically engineered to be resistant to insect pests. Bt cotton was introduced commercially in the West African country in 2008, only to be phased out just seven years later after showing a marked decline in fibre quality compared with conventional Burkinabé cotton.

Drawing upon research carried out in one of the largest cotton-growing areas in Burkina Faso, this paper documents the country's shortlived, less-than-successful experience with Bt cotton cultivation, and explores the possible reasons behind the debacle, including commercial interest in pushing the corporate-owned Bt technology. The paper also looks at similar problems faced by other countries growing Bt cotton, before concluding with a call to move away from promoting GM crops towards supporting indigenous varieties and agroecological practices.

28.04.2017 |

Marriage of death: Protesters oppose Bayer-Monsanto merger

At Bayer's annual general meeting in Bonn, environmentalists and politicians voiced discontent over the proposed takeover. Both companies have come under fire for substandard ethical and environmental practices.

At today's annual general meeting of pharmaceutical company Bayer in Bonn, environmental organizations, politicians from the Greens and concerned citizens were all steadfast in their shared goal: the Bayer-Monsanto merger must be stopped.

Bayer's intention to take over the United States-based seeds and agrochemicals company for just under 59 billion euros ($64 billion) was met with widespread anger due to Monsanto's poor environmental record and the possibility that it may grant it an even broader market for pesticides.

The agriculture minister for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Johannes Remmel, expressed his concerns to DW: "The merger would create a central market position for these two very powerful corporations, pushing smaller farms out of the agricultural sector."

"We cannot allow that."

28.04.2017 |

Health Canada’s glyphosate evaluation flawed, environmental groups charge

WIDESPREAD USE OF WORLD’S MOST EXTENSIVELY SOLD PESTICIDE WILL CONTINUE IN CANADA, DESPITE INTERNATIONAL CONCERNS ABOUT HEALTH AND ECOLOGICAL RISKS

Ottawa - April 28, 2017 — Health Canada has dismissed credible evidence in its re-evaluation of the world’s most extensively-used pesticide, glyphosate, in today’s decision to continue its registration in Canada.

Glyphosate is infamous as the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, and is now used in hundreds of other herbicides manufactured by many of the largest agrochemical companies.

“The widespread use of glyphosate is contaminating the environment and the food we eat,” said Louise Hénault-Éthier, science projects manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. “Research shows that glyphosate is persistent and that buffer zones are not necessarily effective in preventing run-off to streams. Furthermore, nearly a third of our food contains glyphosate, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.’’

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