Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

News

08.12.2017 |

GM plants in bird feed found in non-GMO Switzerland

Authorities have identified the presence of genetically modified oilseed rape in bird feed sold in Switzerland. This could provide a pathway for the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment.

Authorities have contacted bird feed importers to ensure GM seeds do not find their way into Switzerland, where a moratorium against all such crops is in place until 2021.

An assessment of bird feed carried out by national agricultural research centre Agroscope has revealed that 24 of 30 samples tested contain genetically modified oilseed rape. Eleven of these showed evidence of multiple contamination, some with up to three varieties of transgenic oilseed rape that are authorised as animal feed in the European Union: GT73, RF3, MS8. The majority showed a contamination rate of less than 0.5%.

07.12.2017 |

WA farmers could get compensation for cross-contamination of genetically modified crops

West Australian farmers whose crops are contaminated by genetically modified material could soon receive compensation for economic losses.

The standing committee on environment and public affairs will conduct a parliamentary inquiry into possible compensation schemes for costs incurred by farmers in cases of GM cross-contamination.

The inquiry was sparked by a petition from European consumer rights organisation Foodwatch, submitted by upper house Greens member Diane Evers in January.

“WA farmers should not lose their right to sell non-GM crops at a higher price due to the actions of another grower,” Ms Evers said on Thursday.

She said the committee had stated its intention to consider broader matters outside the terms of the petition.

07.12.2017 |

Greens/EFA group calls for Commission decision to be annulled

Glyphosate

The Greens/EFA group will try to build a majority in the European Parliament to refer the European Commission’s decision to renew the licence for glyphosate to the European Court of Justice.

The call follows a new report from Professor Olivier De Schutter, who served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food from 2008 to 2014, outlining the reasons why the Commission's renewal should be annulled. The report is available on the Greens/EFA website.

30.11.2017 |

New ‘Glyphosate-Free’ Label for Food and Beverages Is a Big Win for Humans and Bees!

In recent years, consumers have become more conscientious of the products they buy, leading to a number of certifications being added to labels of products, like “Gluten-Free,” “Non-GMO Project Verified,” “Vegan,” etc., and now there is a new label on the shelves — “Glyphosate Residue Free.”

Glyphosate is the world’s most commonly used herbicide that is typically known by the commercial name Roundup (a Monsanto-owned weed killer), and its presence has become a growing concern for conscious consumers. Extensive scientific studies have shown that glyphosate is detrimental to the health of humans, the environment, and animals, particularly bees.

The World Health Organization’ cancer agency declared the chemical to be a “probable human carcinogen” in 2015, and it has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor. Glyphosate is said to pollute up to 75 percent of U.S. air and water resources, and it is present in 90 percent of soybeans and 70 percent of corn grown in the U.S.

30.11.2017 |

Genome-edited foods must be labelled as GMOs – industry body

o preserve consumer transparency, Germany's new government must ensure that genome-edited plants do not escape GMO regulations and labelling, warns GMO-free food industry body VLOG

The "Ohne Gentechnik” (Without Genetic Engineering) sector is growing in Europe. As reported by VLOG, the German Association for Food Without Genetic Engineering, the number of members and licensees of VLOG has risen by 52 percent to over 600 companies in the past 12 months. This year, food manufacturers will turn over more than 4.6 billion euros with more than 7,000 foodstuffs bearing the "Ohne GenTechnik" seal.

Alexander Hissting, executive director of VLOG, warned that this booming industry needs a reliable political framework in order to fully exploit its economic potential. That means, he said, that the new coalition government must ensure that "genetically engineered plants do not make their way without labelling through the back door to the fields and supermarket shelves".

Hissting is referring to the new genetic engineering processes such as CRISPR/Cas. GMO proponents want plants produced by means of genome editing to be excluded from biotech regulations. This would put an end to the transparency and freedom of choice enjoyed by consumers with regard to genetically modified food. "Genetic engineering must be regulated and labelled as genetic engineering", Hissting said.

30.11.2017 |

The time is ripe for a poison-free agriculture

In spite of the EU renewal of glyphosate, herbicides based on the chemical are on their way out and other agrochemicals must follow, says Dr Angelika Hilbeck

The German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt sparked outrage on Monday when he approved a five-year renewal of the EU licence for glyphosate, the active ingredient of Monsanto's flagship herbicide Roundup, in spite of opposition from the environment minister Barbara Hendricks. He apparently acted not only without the knowledge of Chancellor Angela Merkel but also counter to the agreed position of the coalition government.

Germany has abstained in past EU votes on glyphosate in deference to the lack of consensus within the government. Schmidt’s unilateral backing for glyphosate allowed the chemical to be re-approved with the backing of a qualified majority of member states, although the Commission was within its rights to approve it unilaterally if no qualified majority for or against was reached, as was the case in previous votes.

Schmidt and Hendricks belong to different political parties that were brought together in Merkel's last coalition government. In the wake of the recent elections in Germany, Merkel is struggling to form a new coalition. Schmidt's "rogue" behaviour on glyphosate has strained the already difficult negotiation process between the potential coalition partners.

27.11.2017 |

EU to renew glyphosate licence, ignoring concerns

Brussels – A qualified majority of European governments voted to approve the European Commission’s plan to grant a five-year unrestricted licence to glyphosate, a widely used weedkiller that has been linked to cancer and environmental harm.

The European Commission will now issue a formal renewal of the licence for glyphosate in the EU.

Reacting to the news, Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The people who are supposed to protect us from dangerous pesticides have failed to do their jobs and betrayed the trust Europeans place in them. The European Commission and most governments have chosen to ignore the warnings of independent scientists, the demands of the European Parliament and the petition signed by more than one million people calling for a glyphosate ban. The threats of corporate lawsuits are of obviously of much greater concern to them than people’s health and the environment.”

Nine countries voted against the five-year licence (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Malta), while one country abstained (Portugal) and the other eighteen countries voted in favour (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain and the UK).

The Commission plan is based on a flawed health risk assessment of glyphosate, which states there is insufficient evidence of a cancer link, despite the WHO’s classification of the weedkiller as a probable cause of cancer.

27.11.2017 |

EU fails to seize opportunity to end glyphosate

EU Member States today supported a new five-year licence for the controversial weed-killer glyphosate, missing the opportunity to ban it completely and make European food and farming safer and more sustainable.

Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Glyphosate damages nature, probably causes cancer, and props up an industrial farming system that is degrading the land we need to feed ourselves. Today's approval, even if only for five years, is a missed opportunity to get rid of this risky weedkiller and start to get farmers off the chemical treadmill. Five more years of glyphosate will put our health and environment at risk, and is a major setback to more sustainable farming methods."

Glyphosate is the most widely-used weedkiller in the world and is used excessively by non-organic farmers, as well as in playgrounds, parks and other public places. Traces are found in many foods and drinks, as well as in the soil and water. Tests have also found glyphosate in the breastmilk and urine of people. In March 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IACR) concluded that glyphosate was genotoxic (alters DNA) and probably causes cancer.

The EU's food safety watchdog has given glyphosate a clean bill of health but has been accused of plagiarism by copying the main safety arguments from the industry's application. In addition, papers released in the USA reveal that the main producer of glyphosate, Monsanto, has been ghost writing safety studies, covertly paying European scientists and has unduly influenced regulatory authorities to support the continued use of glyphosate.

27.11.2017 |

EU settles dispute over major weedkiller glyphosate

EU countries have voted to renew the licence of glyphosate, a widely used weedkiller at the centre of environmental concerns.

The proposal at the EU Commission's Appeal Committee got 18 votes in favour and nine against, with one abstention, ending months of deadlock.

The Commission says the new five-year licence will be ready before the current one expires on 15 December.

Glyphosate is marketed as Roundup by the US agrochemical giant Monsanto.

22.11.2017 |

MEPs divided on the citizens’ initiative to ban glyphosate

More than a million European citizens have signed a petition to ban glyphosate, a pesticide classed as a probable carcinogen. In the face of European concerns, MEPs are divided. EURACTIV France reports.

Around 1.3 million European citizens want a ban on glyphosate.

The European Parliament, which rejected a 10-year renewal of glyphosate authorisation in October and proposed a total ban by 2022, debated on Monday (November 20th) a European citizens’ initiative entitled “Prohibiting Glyphosate and protecting people and the environment from toxic pesticides “.

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EU Member States will vote on renewal of glyphosate’s licence for five years on 27 November.

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