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29.05.2018 |

DOJ Approval of Bayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger Hangs Farmers Out to Dry

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice approved the mega-merger of Bayer AG and Monsanto Co.

The Organization for Competitive Markets, which has fought on behalf of U.S. family farmers to block the mega-merger, issued the following statement:

“Today’s news makes it clear that our anti-monopoly laws are completely worthless and the U.S. Department of Justice merger review process is pointless. Economists have well established that there is a strong likelihood of market abuse when four companies control 45% of the market, and the fact that DOJ has now allowed one company to control 77% of all seed corn, 69% of all seed traits and 58-97% of the markets in cotton, soybeans, and canola, means DOJ has just authorized a monopoly.

America’s family farmers will pay the price for this action, and consumers will see fewer choices in the market. Where is the justice in the Department of Justice?”

It is clear to us that our laws don’t work for the people, and therefore our attention and our efforts must be focused on Capitol Hill to call on Congress to take action to stop agricultural mergers until stronger anti-monopoly laws are implemented.

For more information on U.S. farmers’ strong opposition to the merger, see our March 8, 2018 poll results.

27.05.2018 |

Cotton output under threat as non-Bt varieties found contaminated

LAHORE: The official comprehensive tests of cotton seeds have revealed that all non-Bt varieties, including standard elite lines, have been contaminated with Bt genes, leading to productivity losses due to growing resistance against the toxic protein, The News learnt on Saturday.

The Bt cotton has been genetically modified by the insertion of one or more genes from a common soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). These genes encode for the production of insecticidal proteins, and thus, genetically transformed plants produce one or more toxins as they grow.

Pakistan Central Cotton Committee, in a meeting held in Multan, learnt that all the widely cultivated fifteen non-Bt cotton varieties, developed by public and private sector institutions, included in the biochemical test (BCT) under the National Coordinated Varietal Trials (NCVT) 2018 have emerged as contaminated.

According to the BCT results, compiled in accordance with the lab examination of four leading institutions, the standard elite varieties of CIM-620 and CRIS-129 developed by Central Cotton Research Institutes (CCRIs) located at Multan and Sakrand respectively, are also no more conventional seed types.

27.05.2018 |

GR2E Rice: GMO Rice variety meets standards of US FDA

GR2E Golden Rice, a provitamin-A biofortified rice variety, completed its third positive food safety evaluation, this time from the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA), Philippine-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) said.

The regulatory approval could eventually pave the way for the commercialization of what could be the first nutritionally enhanced genetically modified rice in the world.

In the Philippines, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is now developing high-yielding inbred local rice varieties with the beta-carotene producing GR2E Golden Rice trait.

There is now a Joint Department Circular in the Department of Agriculture on Rules and Regulations for the Research and Development, Handling and Use, Transboundary Movement, Release into the Environment, and Management of Genetically-Modified Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology.

25.05.2018 |

Monsanto And Bayer Are Set To Merge. Here's Why You Should Care

Together they will influence markets all over the world on a scale we’ve never seen before.

The U.S. Justice Department this month is expected to approve a merger of two huge corporations ― St. Louis-based seed company Monsanto and German crop-chemical conglomerate Bayer ― and the consequences could be enormous.

The $66 billion deal, already approved by the European Union, will create the world’s biggest pesticides and seeds monopoly. The hookup will confine 61 percent of global seeds and pesticides production in the hands of just three megacorporations ― the other two being newly merged DowDuPont, and ChemChina, which acquired pesticides and seed company Syngenta last year.

Is that a problem?

It depends who you ask. Monsanto and Bayer are pitching their consolidation as a way to develop the technology and innovation necessary to feed a world that in two decades is likely to be home to 10 billion people. For critics ― environmentalists and many farmers ― it’s a terrifying step toward a near-monopoly in agriculture, giving giant companies unprecedented access to farmer data, squeezing out small farmers, and potentially raising food prices for consumers.

25.05.2018 |

Glyphosate Residue Found in Common Foods

Scientists working for the FDA have discovered significant levels of glyphosate in a number of common US foodstuff, including granola, crackers and corn, according to emails intercepted by The Guardian. Glyphosate, which has been in-use for nearly 40 years, has been the center of controversy since 2015, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) labeled the substance a “probable carcinogen.” A two-part report published by Le Monde last year revealed Monsanto’s major effort to suppress the IARC’s findings and other supporting science. According to the prize-winning report, the agrochemical manufacturer has employed methods ranging from ghost-writing glyphosate-friendly research papers to hiring undercover agents to infiltrate the IARC. Now, this most recent batch of intercepted emails could shed some light on the widespread nature of the glyphosate controversy.

25.05.2018 |

Federated Farmers drop legal action around GMOs

Press Release: The Soil and Health Association of NZ

25 May 2018

MEDIA RELEASE

Soil & Health celebrates: Federated Farmers drop legal action around GMOs.

Following years of court action for a precautionary approach to genetically modified organisms (GMO), the Soil & Health Association today welcomed Federated Farmers’ decision to drop legal challenges to several local council resource management plans controlling their outdoor use.

Federated Farmers has run a number of cases before the courts challenging the rights of communities in Auckland, the Far North and Whangarei to manage the outdoor use of GMOs within their own districts and regions. The courts continued to find that territorial authorities have the right under the Resource Management Act (RMA) to set their own policies and rules controlling GMO use, a finding that Federated Farmers repeatedly challenged.

25.05.2018 |

Monsanto And Bayer Are Set To Merge. Here's Why You Should Care

Together they will influence markets all over the world on a scale we’ve never seen before.

The U.S. Justice Department this month is expected to approve a merger of two huge corporations ― St. Louis-based seed company Monsanto and German crop-chemical conglomerate Bayer ― and the consequences could be enormous.

The $66 billion deal, already approved by the European Union, will create the world’s biggest pesticides and seeds monopoly. The hookup will confine 61 percent of global seeds and pesticides production in the hands of just three megacorporations ― the other two being newly merged DowDuPont, and ChemChina, which acquired pesticides and seed company Syngenta last year.

Is that a problem?

It depends who you ask. Monsanto and Bayer are pitching their consolidation as a way to develop the technology and innovation necessary to feed a world that in two decades is likely to be home to 10 billion people. For critics ― environmentalists and many farmers ― it’s a terrifying step toward a near-monopoly in agriculture, giving giant companies unprecedented access to farmer data, squeezing out small farmers, and potentially raising food prices for consumers.

24.05.2018 |

What to expect from the new GMO labels we're getting in 2020

Grocery stores may look a little different.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced their plan for rolling out mandatory labels for all food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). So far they’ve only released potential prototypes for the labels and a proposed set of rules, both of which are subject to future changes, but they offer a preview of what we might all be seeing on cans and boxes come 2020, when the new regulations would go into effect.

(......)

What will the labels say?

Somewhat confusingly, they won’t say “GMO.” The proposed labels use the terms “BE” and “bioengineered” instead to avoid the contentious connotations that GMO carries. They labels look quite friendly, which people in the pro-labeling camp have already criticized, and would only appear as a small icon on the final food product. You can check them out here—they’re mostly the letters B-E inside a happy green and yellow circle. But using those labels is just one of three options. The second is to write out the disclosure (for example: “contains a bioengineered food ingredient”). Companies could also opt to use a QR code that would link to the proper disclosure.

If the current proposal passes, that could mean companies who want to hide their GMO affiliations could easily obscure the information, at least from consumers who aren’t going to take the time to scour the small print or scan a QR code (or can’t). It’s open to comment from the public until July 3, and a final ruling will come out later this year (the USDA hasn’t said exactly when yet). Not much is likely to change at this point, though. Congress has already enacted the standard—this is just figuring out the nitty gritty of enforcement.

24.05.2018 |

GMO Food Labels Are Coming But The Word Will Be ‘Bioengineered’

By 2020, many foods produced with genetic engineering will have to say so on their labels. Earlier this month, the USDA announced their proposal for the rules and accompanying logos, which cleverly sidestep the GMO labeling controversy by not using the letters G-M-O at all.

(.....)

“BE” stands for bioengineered, a term that has been occasionally applied to genetically engineered foods but that was basically unknown to most of us. Dictionaries mostly define the word bioengineering as having something to do with medicine, although Google has caught on and now directs searches for “bioengineered food” toward Wikipedia’s page on genetically engineered food.

The proposed logos go a step further and make bioengineering look appealing. One of the proposed logos is green and leafy, the universal symbol for eco-friendly stuff you should pay extra for. The others hint at smiley faces. Paired with the word bioengineering, you get the impression this is some ecologically conscious European sort of thing. (And in fact, some comments point out that it could be confused with the European version of the organic label.)

23.05.2018 |

As Landmark Glyphosate Case Moves to Trial, Man Dying of Cancer to Have Day in Court With Monsanto

A California man dying of cancer will soon become the first person ever to take agrochemical giant Monsanto to trial over allegations that the company has concealed findings that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the company's popular weedkiller Roundup, causes cancer.

Before DeWayne Johnson, a 46-year-old father of three, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 42, he worked for a school district in California, "where his responsibilities included direct application of Roundup and RangerPro, another Monsanto glyphosate product, to school properties," according to his "landmark" lawsuit.

"Monsanto does not want the truth about Roundup and cancer to become public," Johnson's attorney, Michael Miller, told the Guardian. "We look forward to exposing how Monsanto hid the risk of cancer and polluted the science."

Monsanto attempted to bar Johnson's experts from testifying and his legal team from using certain research to argue that Johnson's cancer is tied to his exposure to Monsanto's products. In an order issued last week, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtin Karnow granted some of Monsanto's requests, but will still allow Johnson's lawyers to use numerous peer-reviewed studies and expert testimonies during the trial, which begins June 18.

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