Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture


01.11.2017 |

Gates Foundation Grants Additional $6.4 million to Cornel's Controversial Alliance for Science

Synopsis: A new grant means that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has now given $12 million dollars to the Cornell Alliance for Science. But according to Claire Robinson of British group GMWatch, the Alliance "is a propaganda machine for the GMO and agrochemical industry?.


In a presentation yesterday at Cornell, Alliance for Science Director, Sarah Evanega, revealed that her organisation had received “a renewed contribution” of $6.4 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Originally endowed with $5.6 million by the Gates Foundation in August 2014, the new grant takes the total Gates contribution to $12 million.

26.10.2017 |

French Health Regulator Withdraws Licence for Bayer Weedkiller

PARIS — French health and environment regulator ANSES said on Thursday it had withdrawn the licence for Bayer's Basta F1 weedkiller made with glufosinate-ammonium, citing uncertainty over its effect on health following a review.

The product, which is used to spray vineyards, fruit orchards and vegetables, was the only weedkiller containing glufosinate authorised in France, ANSES said in a statement.

25.10.2017 |

Goodbye to Golden Rice? GM Trait Leads to Drastic Yield Loss and “Metabolic Meltdown”

GMO Golden Rice is promoted as a potent tool to alleviate vitamin A deficiency. However, Indian researchers now report that the genes needed to produce it have unintended effects. When they introduced the engineered DNA, their high-yielding and agronomically superior Indian rice variety became pale and stunted, flowering was delayed and the roots grew abnormally. Yields were so reduced that it was unsuitable for cultivation (Bollinedi et al. 2017).

24.10.2017 |

Beneath the Glyphosate headlines, a crucial battle for the future of EU pesticide approvals

“A non-re-authorisation of the substance would be a disaster for the industry”, reads a note from a a March 2016 meeting between pesticide industry lobbyists from the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) and members of Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan’s cabinet.

The “substance” in question? Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the world's most widely-used pesticide and Monsanto's flagship product. True enough, a European Union ban on this key ingredient in many weedkillers would be a major blow to the biotech and pesticide industry, its shareholders and its future owner Bayer.

Since the World Health Organisation's International Agency For Research On Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen in 2015, the decision as to whether this weedkiller deserves another license for the EU market has been closely scrutinised. In addition, lawsuits against Monsanto in the US regarding Roundup’s health effects have enabled the release of internal company documents, which show how the company ghostwrote studies signed by ‘independent’ experts and tried to underplay data indicating health damage.

24.10.2017 |

Monsanto Papers Reveal Company Covered Up Cancer Concerns

Herbicide Health Dangers

Monsanto Faces Blowback Over Cancer Cover-Up

A release of internal emails has revealed that U.S. agrochemical giant Monsanto manipulated studies of the company's herbicide, Roundup. Experts believe the product causes cancer - and the consequences for the company could be dire.

Some companies' reputations are so poor that the public already has low expectations when it comes to their ethics and business practices. That doesn't make it any less shocking when the accusations against them are confirmed in black and white.

Agricultural chemicals giant Monsanto is under fire because the company's herbicide, Roundup (active ingredient: glyphosate), is suspected of being carcinogenic. Permission to sell the chemical in the European Union expires on December 15 with member states set to decide on Wednesday whether to renew it for another 10 years. And now, the longstanding dispute about glyphosate has been brought to a head by the release of explosive documents.

17.10.2017 |

GM Cotton in Africa: Battleground Between US and Chinese Capital

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACBIO), shares with you its new research report titled, GM Cotton in Africa: Battleground between Chinese and US Capital.

The report shows that 13 African countries undertook field trials or granted approval for the commercial growing of genetically modified (GM) crops in 2016. Cotton is the first adopter GM crop to gain entry into countries where there is fierce opposition to eating GM food or using it as animal feed. There is, however, no barrier between fibre, feed and food with cotton as cotton seed oil is used in a range of food products across the continent, and by-products from the milling process is used for animal feed.

While currently, only South Africa and Sudan cultivate GM cotton commercially, commercial growing is expected in Ethiopia, Malawi and Kenya in 2018/19. Various entities supported by the United States (US) government, are also putting pressure on several African countries to relax their strict liability provisions in their biosafety laws. Zambia, Swaziland and Mozambique are in the process of doing so, and Tanzania has already done so. Yet in many countries such as Swaziland, field trials are being conducted without proper regulatory oversight.

12.10.2017 |

Scientists to Journal: Retract Pesticide Review After Revelations of Monsanto Funding, Influence

PORTLAND, Ore.— Scientists from four national environmental-health organizations today called on the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology to retract a review downplaying glyphosate’s cancer risk because the review article was covertly edited and funded by Monsanto, the pesticide’s maker.

As detailed in a recent news report, the article’s conflict-of-interest disclosure stated that a third party hired by Monsanto was independently overseeing the assessment of the popular pesticide. However, Monsanto directlypaid at least two of the scientists who authored the article, and a Monsanto employee substantially edited and reviewed the article prior to publication, in clear contradiction to the disclosure statement.

Today’s letter from scientists at the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network and Center for Environmental Health noted: “These are serious offenses and if left unanswered will ultimately undermine the work of many scientists who view scientific ethics to be sacrosanct.”

The review paper in question was one of a series of five articles published in a 2016 supplemental issue entitled “An Independent Review of the Carcinogenic Potential of Glyphosate.” The review in question was an overview of the four other articles. All five articles were highly critical of the 2015 finding by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, is a probable human carcinogen.

11.10.2017 |

Oman already glyphosate free even as issue is hotly contested in EU

EU citizens gathered over one million signatures in an effort to get the European Commission to ban glyphosate, the active ingredient used in some herbicides. The European Commission officially received the petition on October 6. The controversial ingredient has been banned in the GCC since last year.

Eng Saleh al Abri, director general of agricultural development in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF), said, “Glyphosate hasn't been available in Oman since 2016.”

10.10.2017 |

Civil society rejects GMOs at FAO meeting

Civil society representatives firmly rejected genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as a means of addressing world food security at a recent Food and Agriculture Organization meeting in Malaysia. The event was funded by the pro-GM US, Canadian and Australian Governments.

Civil society representatives from the Global South rejected the premise of the event that improved access to agricultural biotechnologies are needed to help defeat hunger, malnutrition and poverty in the Asia-Pacific region.

The focus of the discussion was supposed to be on

sustainable food systems for small farmers – not on increasing yields to generate more money from small pieces of land. However, the majority of the supposed ‘solutions’ presented at the meeting were GMOs including many new GM techniques still at proof of concept stage that have not been subject to any kind of safety assessment.

As civil society delegates pointed out, the current supply of food already exceeds demand, but there are serious issues around good governance and equitable distribution of food. Even if these new GM techniques could produce a higher yield in a few select crops – which is not

demonstrated – this would not solve the problem of hunger nor secure livelihoods for smallholders. Instead, it could lead to greater levels of corporate influence and an increasing reliance of small farmers on cash crops – and fluctuating global commodity markets – rather than food crops.

04.10.2017 |

Are GMO Pesticides Supertoxins? A New Analysis Raises Questions of Food and Environmental Safety

The chief benefit claimed for GMO pesticidal Bt crops is that, unlike conventional pesticides, their toxicity is limited to a few insect species. Our new peer-reviewed analysis systematically compares GMO and ancestral Bt proteins and shows that many of the elements contributing to this narrow toxicity have been removed by GMO developers in the process of inserting Bt toxins into crops. Thus, developers have made GMO pesticides that, in the words of one Monsanto patent, are “super toxins”. We additionally conclude that references to any GMO Bt toxins being “natural” are incorrect and scientifically unsupportable.

New Publication Title: The Distinct Properties of Natural and GM Cry Insecticidal Proteins

Authors: Jonathan R. Latham, Madeleine Love & Angelika Hilbeck (2017), in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews, 33:1, 62-96,

DOI: 10.1080/02648725.2017.1357295.

Available online at:


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