Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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22.01.2019 |

We are fed up: Protests call for climate smart food as ministers launch UN digital council

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Berlin on Saturday (19 January) to put pressure on political leaders to promote climate smart agriculture, higher animal welfare standards and farming practices that promote biodiversity.

22.01.2019 |

Gene drive mosquitoes and the new era of medical colonialism

African governments are selling out to agribusiness and US military interests, say Mariam Mayet, Lim Li Ching and Eva Sirinathsinghji

The highly contentious issue of gene drive technologies – a novel extreme form of genetic engineering designed to alter or even eradicate entire populations and species – was at the heart of the international negotiations at the biennial UN Biodiversity Conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2018.

On the pretext of supporting scientific innovation for malaria eradication on the African continent, the African Group vociferously defended a techno-fix that does not address the wider determinants of malaria. It loudly supported the latest experiment to be tested on African people – gene drive mosquitoes, which represent the changing face of colonial medicine on the continent.

Consensus on implementing a proposed moratorium on the release of gene drive organisms was not reached due to opposition from many biotech-friendly countries, which included the African Group of Nations – one of five regional negotiating blocs – which strongly advocated for the advancement of gene drive technology. This represents a stark shift away from the African Group’s historical position of being leading defenders of precaution against new technologies that may pose risks to biodiversity and the socio-economic status of their citizens.

In contrast, the global community was acutely concerned about the release of such organisms and their impacts on biodiversity, ecological systems, human health and society.

20.01.2019 |

35,000 Hit Streets of Berlin to Demand Agricultural Revolution

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals, and rural farmers.

Many held placards reading "Eating is political" at the action in Berlin, which coincided with the so-called "Green Week" agricultural fair.

The protest also featured a procession of 170 farmers driving tractors to the rally at the Brandenburg Gate.

20.01.2019 |

Thousands protest in Berlin against industrialized agriculture

BERLIN - Thousands of protesters, backed by a procession of farm tractors, marched in Berlin Saturday for environmental protection and against the industrial agriculture lobby.

Police put the number of demonstrators at over 12,000, while organizers said 35,000 turned out.

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More than 100 organisations took part in Saturday's colorful march, with 171 tractors descending on Berlin from several parts of the country.

The ministerial quarter around Brandenburg Gate remained partially blocked for several hours before the protest broke up peacefully.

19.01.2019 |

German farmers protest agro-industry, back healthy foods

BERLIN -- Thousands of farmers from across Germany and their supporters have protested at Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate, calling for climate-friendly agriculture and healthy food.

Organizers say 170 tractors drove in from farms around the country to join 35,000 other protesters for the Saturday demonstration under the motto "we are fed up with the agricultural industry."

18.01.2019 |

Monsanto Roundup Trial Tracker: New Developments

You can find updates about the ongoing litigation against Monsanto Company in this blog, which we will be updating regularly with tips and tidbits of interest. Discovery documents from the litigation are posted on our Monsanto Papers page, and we provide links to recent news stories and analysis here.

January 18, 2019 – Time flies when a big case approaches. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria has set an evidentiary hearing for Jan 28 at 9 a.m. local time in federal court in San Francisco to be followed by a “Daubert” hearing that day at 2 p.m. The hearings are to consider evidence and experts that will be key to the first-ever federal trial taking up claims that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides can cause cancer and Monsanto has covered up the risks. Video recording of the proceedings is being allowed.

17.01.2019 |

We are fed-up 2019
Call to Action for 19 January 2019

AXE EU FUNDS for argo-industries!

Stand up for low-impact farming, animal welfare, climate justice and good food!

Climate-friendly agriculture, good food and the continuation of small-scale, community-based farming is at stake! In 2019, the German government takes part in decisions that will determine the future of EU agriculture. The EU CAP reform (Common Agricultural Policy) will define what type of agriculture benefits from €60 billion in EU subsidies every year. Under current rules, those owning most land receive most money, regardless of their farming methods. This must end! We cannot continue to prop up agro-industries with public funds.

The transformation of our farming system towards sustainable farming cannot wait. With our pots and pans we sound the alarm for sustainable farming and call on the German government to support only those who are willing to convert their farms to climate-, nature- and animal-friendly farming with public funds.

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You vote with what you eat!

In our cities and rural communities, we show we can do better. More and more farmers are producing food without pesticides and GMOs, and invest in the welfare of their animals. More people take part in foodsharing, community-supported agriculture and choose locally produced food. Together we vote with our wallets and raise our forks for a farming revolution: for diversity, equality and sustainability – and against discrimination, exploitation and fear!

16.01.2019 |

Ecuadorian peasants and ecologists win battle against GM crops

Judge orders Ministry of Agriculture to burn all GM crops found in illegal cultivations

A judge in Quevedo, Ecuador has accepted a protection order in favour of the peasants of the province of Los Ríos, in response to a lawsuit that was filed by two peasant organisations and is sponsored by the Ombudsman's Office. These events were reported by the Network for a GM Free Latin America.

The lawsuit was filed after monitoring by Acción Ecológica and the Ombudsman in the soybean producing areas of the country found that glyphosate-tolerant GM soybeans had been planted, despite the fact that Ecuador is constitutionally a country free of GM seeds and crops.

In a first hearing, the judge had ordered that monitoring be carried out, with the participation of the plaintiffs together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrocalidad, the Animal and Plant Health Regulation Agency. The monitoring confirmed that GM soybean is being planted illegally in the area.

Faced with this evidence, the judge granted the protection order and pointed out that GM crops violate the rights to life, health, work, a healthy environment and the rights of nature.

13.01.2019 |

Bound to fail: The flawed scientific foundations of agricultural genetic engineering

Half a century on from the first promises of wondercrops, GM has delivered little of value – and the same will be true of the new gene-edited GMOs, says researcher Dr Angelika Hilbeck

The GMO food venture is bound to fail because it is based on flawed scientific foundations. This was the message of a public talk given by Dr Angelika Hilbeck, researcher at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and a board member and co-founder of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), on the evening before the 9th GMO Free Europe conference in Berlin this September.

Dr Hilbeck's talk introduced a panel discussion with four other scientists: Prof Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand; Dr Ricarda Steinbrecher of Econexus; Dr Sarah Agapito-Tenfen of Genøk Centre for Biosafety, Norway; and Prof Ignacio Chapela of the University of California Berkeley. The entire discussion can be viewed here.

Below is our summary of Dr Hilbeck's talk, given from her perspective as an ecologist. This article will be followed by a second commentary on the same theme by the London-based molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou, this time from the standpoint of molecular biology.

11.01.2019 |

Updated seed monopoly chart
As four seed companies now control more than 60 percent of the global market, a seed policy expert argues that consolidation poses major risks to our food supply.

The Sobering Details Behind the Latest Seed Monopoly Chart

When Philip Howard of Michigan State University published the first iteration of his now well-known seed industry consolidation chart in 2008, it starkly illustrated the extent of acquisitions and mergers of the previous decade: Six corporations dominated the majority of the brand-name seed market, and they were starting to enter into new alliances with competitors that threatened to further weaken competition.

Howard’s newly updated seed chart is similar but even starker. It shows how weak antitrust law enforcement and oversight by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has allowed a handful of firms to amass enormous market, economic, and political power over our global seed supply. The newest findings show that the Big 6 (Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Dow, Bayer, and BASF) have consolidated into a Big 4 dominated by Bayer and Corteva (a new firm created as a result of the Dow–DuPont merger), and rounded out with ChemChina and BASF. These four firms control more than 60 percent of global proprietary seed sales.

Howard began his annual tracking of seed industry ownership changes in 1998, a year that served as a turning point for industry consolidation. Two years after genetically engineered (GE) varieties were introduced in 1996, by 1998 the large agribusiness companies had accelerated their consolidation by buying up smaller firms to accumulate more intellectual property (IP) rights. By 2008, Monsanto’s patented genetics alone were planted on 80 percent of U.S. corn acres, 86 percent of cotton acres, and 92 percent of soybean acres. Today, these percentages are even higher.

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