Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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18.04.2018 |

Taking 'plants' out of North's GMO policy creates total ban

What a difference a word makes.

Animals are now included in the Northland policy banning trials or growing genetically modified organisms, following a successful court case to toughen up the talk.

After nearly five years of conflict, the latest war of words over the soft precautionary language in the anti-GMO policy came down to deleting just one word - plants.

Last week the Environment Court ruled in favour of Whangarei District Council's (WDC) case against Northland Regional Council's (NRC) precautionary stance in the Regional Policy Statement, agreeing the wording should not specify plants only.

16.04.2018 |

Is this tomato engineered? Inside the coming battle over gene-edited food

The agriculture industry, which hopes Crispr technology will transform the business, faces opponents who call it "GMO 2.0"

EXCERPT: Professor Jennifer Kuzma, co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University, says she understands why companies want to stay away from the GMO label, but says referring to the new gene-editing techniques as breeding “seems a little disingenuous”.

“It is a biotech-improved crop,” she says. “Something along those lines would be more honest and is more likely not to come back and bite them in the future if consumers find out it is not really just breeding, it’s something more.”

15.04.2018 |

Two pests targeted by GM Bt toxins hybridise to form global mega-pest

Cotton bollworm and corn earworm have outsmarted GM Bt and chemical insecticides and have now joined forces

The cotton bollworm and corn earworm are two pests targeted by the Bt toxins engineered into GM Bt insecticidal crops. Both pests have in past years become resistant to these GM Bt toxins. Now a new study has found that the two pests have hybridised, meaning that attempts to kill them with GM or chemical toxins are increasingly likely to fail.

Neither the new study (see abstract, item 3 below) nor press articles about it (items 1-2) talk about GM Bt crops as offering any kind of solution to this problem. The study simply mentions GM Bt crops as a former pest control tactic that has since been made redundant by resistant pests.

13.04.2018 |

Another win for a GE-free NZ!

The Soil & Health Association welcomes a decision released today by the Environment Court declining Federated Farmers’ attempt to challenge regulation of genetically modified organisms under the RMA.

In the latest case before the Environment Court, Whangarei District Council appealed the Northland Council’s Regional Policy Statement, asking to delete one word – ‘plants’ so that the policy would require a precautionary approach to be adopted towards introducing genetically engineered organisms generally – not just plants – to the environment.

“The court’s decision is a victory for common sense and for the interests of all Northlanders concerned about the possible introduction of GMOs into the environment, whether they be plants, animals, insects or microorganisms,” said Graham Clarke, Soil & Health’s chair.

12.04.2018 |

New Filings Reveal Enlist Duo Unlawfully Approved by Trump EPA, Will Harm Endangered Species and Non-GMO Crops

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Late Wednesday, a coalition of environmental organizations and farmers represented by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice filed new legal papers in federal court seeking the reversal of Scott Pruitt and the Trump Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) approval of Dow Chemical's toxic pesticide, Enlist Duo. The novel pesticide is a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D, to be sprayed over the top of corn, cotton, and soybeans that are genetically engineered by Dow with resistance to both pesticides.

"Our filing reveals that EPA approved Enlist Duo despite its significant harms to health, environment, farms, water, and endangered species," said Sylvia Wu, CFS attorney and counsel for the coalition. "EPA's job is protecting the environment, human health, and farmers, not blindly do the bidding of pesticide companies. The court must stop its use."

11.04.2018 |

Rural China Economics and Policy: Spring GMO Seed Crackdown in China

With spring planting approaching, Chinese provinces are cracking down on illegal trading, testing, and planting of genetically modified seeds.

A March notice issued by Heilongjiang authorities warned farmers not to buy illegal GMO seeds sold as "pest-resistant or weed-resistant," offered free testing for seeds they already have, and urged farmers to report any merchants selling illegal GMO seeds.

11.04.2018 |

Consumers, farmers demand food labels list GMO ingredients

Hundreds of farmers, consumers and environmental activists gathered in front of the Government Complex in Seoul Tuesday to demand that food labeling list genetically modified organisms (GMO).

About 500 protesters from across the nation criticized the central government for not changing the regulations.

They were concerned that GMOs could be harmful to health and demanded the right to know whether their purchases contained any GMO.

Cooperative group Farmer's COOP said the government imports an average of 2.28 million tons of GMO as ingredients for food products a year and each person consumes 40 kilograms. But a survey by Farmer's COOP, the Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice and consumer group Consumers Korea revealed that none of 438 market products containing GMOs that it searched listed the ingredients on labels.

Farmer's COOP, formerly iCOOP, said unrealistic food labeling regulations and the government exempting too many products are the main reasons behind the protest.

10.04.2018 |

Harvest of greed: Bayer and Monsanto

German pharmaceutical company Bayer wants to acquire US GM seed giant Monsanto, to become the world's largest supplier of agricultural chemicals. The deal is controversial because Monsanto produces the heavily debated toxic pesticide glyphosate.

The marriage of Bayer and Monsanto: A long-established German company with a solid reputation agrees to buy an American company that produces genetically modified seeds and the controversial weed killer glyphosate. Many farmers find glyphosate an effective tool, but critics say it’s carcinogenic. Despite these misgivings, Brussels recently approved the use of glyphosate in the EU for another five years. Agricultural chemicals are a big business, and that shows no signs of changing any time soon.

07.04.2018 |

German environmental minister urges action to prevent decline of insect populations

BERLIN, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Svenja Schulze (SPD), new German minister for the environment, has identified the protection of insect populations as a key goal of her legislative term on Friday.

"Preventing mass species extinction is one of the overriding political tasks of our generation", Schulze told the "Funke" media group. She warned that if "the insects disappear, so will the birds, as well as all of the valuable contributions which insects make towards pollination, water clearing and improving soil fertility."

The minister has consequently announced the launch of a programme, together with Agricultural Minister Julia Kloeckner (CDU), to prevent a further decline in German insect populations. "I want to take the agricultural minister's statement at face value that bees are critical for the functioning of wider ecological systems and need to be protected", Schulze said.

The SPD politician argued that toxic pesticides and herbicides would have to be used with greater moderation in order to avert irreparable damage to the environment. "We need a full exit from glyphosate (a controversial herbicide produced by U.S. agrochemical company Monsanto) during this legislative period. Glyphosate kills everything that is green, depriving insects of their food source", Schulze demanded.

05.04.2018 |

Chinese scientist gets 10 years in U.S. prison over theft of GMO rice

A Chinese scientist in Kansas was sentenced on Wednesday to more than 10 years in a federal prison for conspiring to steal samples of a variety of genetically engineered rice seeds from a U.S. research facility, the U.S. Justice Department said.

U.S. District Court Judge Carlos Murguia in the District of Kansas sentenced Weiqiang Zhang, 51, a Chinese national living in Manhattan, Kansas, to 121 months in prison.

Zhang was convicted in February 2017 on three counts, including conspiracy to steal trade secrets and interstate transportation of stolen property, the department said in a statement.

“Today’s sentence demonstrates the significant consequences awaiting those who would steal trade secrets from American companies,” said John P. Cronan, DOJ’s acting assistant attorney general.

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