Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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03.04.2012 |

Put emergency brakes on European Patent Office now! More and more patents on conventional breeding granted

Today, the international coalition of “No Patents on Seeds” is publishing a report on patents connected to the conventional breeding of plants and animals granted by, or applied for at the European Patent Office in 2011. The report gives examples of patents on sunflowers, melons, cucumbers, rice and wheat. Patents were granted despite a decision of the highest court of the EPO in 2010, reaffirming the prohibition of patents on conventional breeding as written in European patent laws. As the new report shows, industry and examiners at the EPO are systematically using legal loopholes to grant patents on seeds, plants and even harvest and food products derived thereof.

26.03.2012 |

Ukraine tightens GE food policy

Ukraine in recent years has been actively discouraging GMOs, with as a result that the proportion of such products has been steadily decreasing: in 2007 about 50% of products in the Ukraine market contained a GMO, while in 2008 this number had reduced to 8%. Now in the Ukraine only 5% of all products contain GMOs, said Vladimir Semenovich, director of Ukrainian experimental food research center at a recent press conference. [...] U.S. and Canada strongly oppose the new definition because effect of the new rule would reduce the export of products with a share of less than 0.9% GMO in Ukraine from these countries by 90%.

19.03.2012 |

France bans strain of Monsanto GM maize

French Agricultural Minister Bruno Le Maire imposed Friday a temporary ban on a genetically modified strain of maize made by US company Monsanto "to protect the environment". The French agriculture ministry said in a statement that the Monsanto maize strain MON 810 had been banned as a "precautionary measure". France's top administrative court in November overturned a government order banning French farmers from planting genetically modified crops from Monsanto. However, President Nicolas Sarkozy swiftly pledged to seek new legal measures after the French ruling as well as a similar decision by the European Court of Justice.

12.03.2012 |

Britain and Spain seen blocking EU deal on GM crop bans

European Union ministers are unlikely to agree draft rules to let countries decide themselves whether to grow or ban genetically modified crops, despite efforts by Denmark’s EU presidency to reach a compromise. [...] ”Things are still looking extremely difficult,” Danish Environment Minister Ida Auken, who will lead the discussions, told Reuters by telephone on Thursday. ”We have a small blocking minority at the moment, but we still hope that we will dissolve it, and it’s going to come down to one or two countries in the end.” While France, Germany and Belgium are unlikely to reverse their opposition, Britain and Spain had initially appeared willing to support the Danish compromise, EU sources involved in the talks said.

01.03.2012 |

Environmentalists challenge Polish GM seed draft law

Environmentalists demonstrated outside Poland’s parliament building on Tuesday before the first reading of an amended law on GM seeds on Wednesday. Last August, President Bronislaw Komorowski vetoed a bill that had been criticised for letting genetically modified crops in through the back door. The August bill had been prepared after a 2006 law banning GM crops in Poland was referred to the EU Court of Justice for failing to comply with EU policy.

21.02.2012 |

Genetically engineered maize: New indication of health risks

Insecticidal Bt toxins such as those produced in genetically engineered plants can be detrimental to human cells. This is a result of recent research led by researchers at the University of Caen (France). Their experiments showed that toxins produced in, for example, the genetically engineered maize MON810, can significantly impact the viability of human cells. The effects were observed with relatively high concentrations of the toxins, nevertheless there is cause for concern. For the first time, experiments have now shown that they can have an toxic effect to human cells.

13.02.2012 |

40% of inspected U.S. farmer fail to comply with refuge requirements for Bt corn

Monsanto Co. and other seed makers reported a threefold increase last year in U.S. farmers caught violating requirements for planting genetically modified corn. The data relates to farmers planting seeds that are genetically modified to produce a toxin derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a natural insecticide. The Environmental Protection Agency requires the growers to plant an adjacent area - a so-called refuge - of non-Bt corn so that bugs don’t become immune. About 41 percent of 3,053 farmers inspected in 2011 failed to fully comply with the refuge requirement

09.02.2012 |

North American non-GMO verified food sales hit USD1bn

Non-GMO Project Verified has become the fastest growing food eco-label in North America, as sales of certified products hit $1bn in 2011, according to findings unveiled at Organic Monitor’s Sustainable Foods Summit in San Francisco last month. The $1bn figure is from SPINS, a market research and consulting firm for the Natural Products Industry. However, it does not include foods sold at Whole Foods or Walmart, so is likely to underestimate the total sales figure by a wide margin – especially considering that Whole Foods’ 365 private label range is Non-GMO certified.

04.02.2012 |

Danish EU Presidency propose compromise on partial GM ban

Biotech companies should be allowed to grow genetically modified crops in some EU countries if they agree to avoid sales into the countries that want to ban them, a draft compromise proposal drawn up by Danish EU diplomats shows. The compromise is designed to break a deadlock in talks among member states on draft EU rules to allow them to decide individually whether or not to ban GM cultivation - a proposal by the European Commission in 2010 that has made little headway so far.

26.01.2012 |

Monsanto says won’t sell GMO maize in France in 2012

U.S. biotech firm Monsanto said on Tuesday it does not plan to sell its genetically modified maize MON810 in France this year, nor after, even though the country’s highest court overturned a 3-year ban in November. “Monsanto considers that favorable conditions for the sale of the MON810 in France in 2012 and beyond are not in place,” the company said in a statement, adding that it had told the French authorities about its intentions.

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