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01.08.2012 |

Philippine GE crop trials will continue despite court challenge

Field trials and commercializing genetically engineered crops to address food security and raise farmer income will continue to be pursued by the government, an official said. Dr. Candida B. Adalla, the Department of Agriculture's biotech program head, also noted in a forum here last week that by integrating technology such as genetic engineering in farming, crops can be improved, become pest-resistant, adapt to climate change and could become nutritious. [...] Despite the Writ of Kalikasan case filed against her group, a court relief to protect the environment, Ms. Adalla shared that the Agriculture department will not stop field trials on genetically engineered crops pending a stay order.

01.08.2012 |

Fighting GMO labeling in California (USA) is food lobby’s ”highest priority”

In case you had any doubt that California's Prop 37 -- which would require labeling of food containing genetically-modified organisms -- is a significant threat to industry, a top food lobby has now made it perfectly clear. In a recent speech to the American Soybean Association (most soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified), Grocery Manufacturers Association President Pamela Bailey said that defeating the initiative ”is the single-highest priority for GMA this year.” [...] According to state filing reports, so far GMA has spent $375,000 on its efforts to oppose the labeling measure, with its members adding additional out-of-state lobbying power in the tens of thousands of dollars.

31.07.2012 |

Monsanto profits from right-wing coup d´etat in Paraguay

Another right-wing coup d'état has toppled a democratically elected president in Latin America. Three years after the coup in Honduras that deposed President Manuel Zelaya in June 2009, the same forces have overthrown President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay. [...] The U.S.-based transnational giant Monsanto is implicated in the events in Paraguay. Monsanto planned to introduce a genetically modified seed for commercial use in the country. Under Lugo's administration, Paraguay's National Service for Plants and Seeds Quality and Health refused to approve the seed's use. The right-wing oligarchs favor the dissemination of Monsanto seeds, while the peasantry has been demonstrating against it. The Union of Associations of Producers, a landowners group tied to Monsanto, was preparing a demonstration for June 25 against Lugo to benefit the giant transnational and the ”liberalization” of its genetically modified seeds. Obviously, they do not need to protest at this point.

31.07.2012 |

GM potato trial ’threatens Ireland’s image’

John Spink is head of crop research at Teagasc, the Irish food development authority that has applied for the licence. ”We need to do this trial in Ireland because our environment is different from other parts of the EU,” Mr Spink told BBC News. ”It's not about commercialising GM potatoes. We're looking at impacts on the environment and on the pathogen itself.” But campaigners believe that the trial is risking Ireland's reputation as a green, clean food-producing island. The Organic Trust in Dublin says that this approval has ”grave ramifications for Irish food and farming”.

31.07.2012 |

UK GE wheat trials: The Rothamsted GM debate

After nearly a decade during which the UK has been substantially GM-free, the government has subsidised Rothamsted, the agricultural research station, to conduct an open-air trial of a GM wheat transgenically engineered to repel aphids. In early May, Rothamsted invited protesters planning to demonstrate against the trial to a public dialogue. The Land responded to Rothamsted proposing a debate by email, the first part of which is published here. The six questions we put to Rothamsted focus mainly on the ethics and wisdom of breaking a de facto moratorium on GM in the UK (and most of Europe), rather than on technical aspects of this particular experiment.

30.07.2012 |

Discussions on strategies for sustainable GMO-free approaches to food security

The second International Biosafety Conference in conjunction with the 6th Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (MOP-6) will be held on Sept 28-29 in Hyderabad, India, right before MOP-6, which is scheduled for Oct 1-5, 2012. The conference titled "Advancing the Understanding of Biosafety GMO Risk Assessment, Independent Biosafety Research and Holistic Analysis" is organized by the European Network of Scientists European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), Tara Foundation and Third World Network (TWN). The topics include: Developments in GMO risk assessment, including discussion of the international standards on risk assessment in the context of the Cartagena Protocol’s “Roadmap for Risk Assessment and Management”; Socioeconomic considerations in GMO decision making; Latest scientific findings generated from independent biosafety research.

26.07.2012 |

Angry reactions to approval of GM potatoes field release in Ireland

Top names from the food, restaurant, and tourism sectors have sharply criticised the Environmental Protection Agency for potentially destroying Ireland's ”clean, green” agricultural image by allowing GM potatoes to be grown in Ireland. The agency has given consent to the Department of Agriculture's research arm, Teagasc, to carry out field trials on a genetically modified potato that could improve resistance to blight. The trial is to be carried out over the next four years, at Oak Park in Co Carlow, on an area up to two hectares. Speaking as a member of Slow Food Ireland, the European Chef's Association, Eurotoques, and the Taste Council, chef and owner of Ballymaloe House, Darina Allen, said she ”felt so let down” by what she described as ”a deeply regrettable decision”.

26.07.2012 |

Texas (USA) field workers sue Monsanto for being exposed to pesticides and underpaid

Monsanto promised seven Texas field workers and their children free housing with kitchens in Indiana, then charged them $300 a room, exposed them to pesticides and underpaid them, the men claim in Federal Court. Lead plaintiff Jose Cardenas sued Monsanto, its recruiter Milo Inc. and Milo Inc.'s president Hermilo Cantu Jr. [...] The recruiter told them there would be plenty of work; they would be paid $80 per acre for detasseling; a bonus for roguing and detasseling; and free housing with kitchens, but it wasn't like that, the men say.

26.07.2012 |

Genetically-modified apples spur debate in the USA

David Bedford, a scientist with the University of Minnesota's apple breeding program, said he thinks it will take modifying a trait more important than browning to change the views of the apple industry and the American public, which currently do not favor genetically modifying apples. The U.S. Apple Association said in a statement they do not want the USDA to allow Okanagan to plant their apples in the United States. ”Ultimately, the future of [genetically modified] apples in the United States will be determined by USDA's decision on the two petitions and by the marketplace” the association said in the statement. ”The market will have time to decide, since new apple trees take years to come into production.”

26.07.2012 |

U.S. farmer becomes disillusioned with GMOs, switches to non-GMO

Wendel Lutz hardly qualifies as an anti-GMO activist. As a conventional corn and soybean farmer is nearly a polar opposite of an environmentalist. Yet, he shares some views with opponents of genetically modified foods based on his experience growing GM crops. [...] In his first year growing RR crops, he says, ”I had nice clean beans” with no weed problems.

But in his second year, he started seeing problems. ”We went from a 32 ounce formulation (with Roundup) to 36 ounces,” Lutz says. ”As time went on we were upping the rates,” he says.

Last year, Lutz grew Monsanto's Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans, but they didn't increase yields as promised. ”They were my worst soybeans,” he says. On top of that, weeds became resistant to Roundup, which was confirmed by lab tests on weed samples he submitted.

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