Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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03.03.2018 |

Bayer-Monsanto merger plan protests

Campaigners say the proposed Bayer-Monsanto EU deal will create a large conglomerate with too much market share

Sources say the German drugs and crop chemicals maker Bayer is on course to win conditional EU anti-trust approval for its its $62.5 billion bid for world No.1 seed company, Monsanto.

The takeover would create a company with a share of more than a quarter of the world's seed and pesticides market.

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Protests

The Bayer-Monsanto tie-up has sparked criticism from environmentalists and some farming groups.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has received more than 50,000 petition emails and more than 5,000 letters opposed to the deal.

"Approving this merger would create the world's biggest agribusiness company, potentially crushing competitiors and establishing an unprecedented monopoly on lucrative farming data," said Adrian Bebb at environmental lobbying group Friends of the Earth Europe.

"Public opinion is against the merger, and farmers and consumers would have every right to be outraged by the Commission giving it the green light."

01.03.2018 |

What the Monsanto Papers tell us about corporate science

The Monsanto Papers are a treasure trove of internal documents slowly released since March 2017 as part of a US lawsuit by cancer victims against Monsanto over its ubiquitous herbicide, glyphosate. They tell a lot about how Monsanto actively subverts science, both in the company’s practices and the way it abuses science’s moral authority to push for its interests.

The Monsanto Papers make for fascinating reading, all the more since Monsanto constantly uses and abuses the moral prestige of science in its propaganda. See above and below for an example of a recent PR campaign by the company.

That Monsanto performs research is clear. The corporation spends about 10 per cent of its turnover in research & development to keep developing new agricultural technologies, and “believe[s] innovation has the potential to bring humanity’s needs in balance with the resources of our planet”.

But the Monsanto Papers show the company’s real, and rather troubling, approach to science and evidence.

01.03.2018 |

Dicamba Drift Could Put 60 Million Acres of Monarch Habitat at Risk

Dicamba—a drift-prone herbicide linked to millions of acres of off-target crop damage across in 17 states—destroys mostly everything in its path except the crops that are genetically engineered to resist it. It's so damaging that several states, including Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri have introduced temporary bans on the weedkiller.

There's now another reason to worry about the controversial chemical. It's particularly harmful to milkweed, the only host plant for the iconic and already at-risk monarch buttery.

27.02.2018 |

EU citizens reject Bayer-Monsanto merger, says new polling

New polling shows citizens are against the planned merger of agribusiness giants Bayer and Monsanto, with a majority (54%) thinking it is "very" or "fairly important" that the European Commission blocks it – more than three times the number who think it would be unimportant.

The YouGov survey results from Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and the UK also shows that the merger gives 47% of EU citizens "serious" or "very serious" concerns, while just 11% think the merger offers any potential.

Citizens also expressed concerns that the merger would negatively affect the farmers' choices of what crops they would be able to farm, the environment, and the amount of chemical substances used in farming to control pests and weeds.

24.02.2018 |

Could WA be the genetic testing ground for 'synthetic mice' to end mice?

Louise Sales, a campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, rents a desk at the back of an Edwardian brick building in Hobart. It was there in November that she opened an email to find a trove of digital documents - 1200 emails, contracts and meeting minutes.

"I was shocked," said Sales, who trained as a biologist, with a masters degree in biodiversity and conservation. "And then outraged. But I'd already started to smell a rat."

Months before, an article at The Conversation had described new gene technologies that offered "a humane, targeted way to wipe out alien pest species such as mice … Conservationists are understandably excited."

Sales wasn't. The documents in her inbox, from a Freedom of Information request by an NGO called Third World Network, described a proposal to release "synthetic rodents" on six Western Australia islands and two US sites in the Pacific.

23.02.2018 |

Argentine farmers to begin paying Monsanto royalties

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:

Farmers in Argentina have agreed to pay royalties to seed companies including Monsanto when they replant the companies' genetically modified seeds.

The Argentine Rural Society, representing the farmers, and Argentine Seed Producers' Association, representing the seed companies, confirmed the agreement to Reuters.

A 1973 law allowed Argentine farmers to use seeds from their harvests in later plantings without paying additional royalties. This prompted a long-running dispute with seed companies such as Creve Coeur-based Monsanto.

22.02.2018 |

Movements of Millions Say No to Gene Drives as Brazil Attempts to Legalize Genetic Extinction Technology

Regulatory change would spread modified genetic traits to wild organisms

MONTREAL, MEXICO CITY, SÃO PAULO, February 22, 2018—The largest rural movements in Brazil, representing well over a million farmers, are protesting a new Brazilian regulation that would allow release of gene drives, the controversial genetic extinction technology, into Brazil’s ecosystems and farms.

On February 3rd and 4th, the National Coalition of Farmworkers and Rural, Water and Forest Peoples[1] met near São Paulo, Brazil and sounded the alarm about new Brazilian regulatory changes – a resolution passed on January 15th by Brazil’s National Technical Commission on Biosafety that would allow the release of gene drive organisms into the environment. [2] The effect of this change is that Brazil becomes the first country in the world to establish a legal channel for the release of gene drives into the environment. The new rule could potentially make it even easier to release a living gene drive organism than a GMO seed.

The farmers organizations are concerned about agribusiness giants spreading more transgenic seeds, but also attempts to directly change the nature of wild plants and animals.

João Pedro Stédile, from the National Coordination of the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) which represents over a million landless peasants in Brazil and is part of the global peasant movement La Via Campesina, summarized the concerns expressed in the meeting:

“Brazil is living a serious political, economic, social and environmental crisis, and transnational capital has supported a political coup. Within this context, the government is now changing laws and the Constitution to allow them to take over our natural resources. This decision from CTNBio is illegal, and would allow the dissemination of new transgenic seeds and living organisms without even minimal controls and assessments. We are not staying passive on these assaults, we will fight back against this resolution.”

20.02.2018 |

UK: Help oppose new GM trial

On 20 February Rothamsted Research applied for permission to plant highly experimental GM Camelina Sativa at their farm in Hertfordshire.

GM Freeze has consistently led the opposition to open air field trials in the UK. We have supported hundreds of people to make their feelings known in a constructive way. We would like to do the same this time but we have a problem that we haven’t faced before.

In the past we have used our core funds to cover the cost of responding to trial applications but last year saw a 40% drop in core grant funding. We have found new funders but they will only support specific projects planned well in advance, rather than emergencies like this.

19.02.2018 |

Five reasons not to allow the Bayer - Monsanto merger

Why the Commission should stop this "merger from hell"

In September 2016, German drugs and chemicals group Bayer, and US company Monsanto, owner of the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup and of the only GM plant currently authorised for cultivation in the EU (Mon 810 Maize), announced their intention to merge. If authorised by the European Commission, this would create, in the Commission’s own words, “the world's largest integrated pesticides and seeds company”, and have, as explained below, devastating consequences. Join us in calling on Margrete Vestager, Commissioner for Competition, to stop this “merger from hell” by signing this petition!

https://act.wemove.eu/campaigns/stop-monster-merger-baysanto

16.02.2018 |

Threat to crops and carcinogenic: Farmers welcome move to restrict glyphosate use

The AP government’s order restricting the use of herbicides will also check the illegal use of BT cotton.

In a significant move to prevent the indiscriminate use of herbicides, the Andhra Pradesh Government has restricted the use of herbicides, especially glyphosate, in agriculture.

The order was passed after the Special Commissioner of Agriculture of the state, in a letter to the government, pointed out that “the injudicious use of herbicides particularly non-selective herbicides like glyphosate in agricultural and horticultural ecosystems leads to serious implications in many cultivated crops in Andhra Pradesh.”

According to the order, the herbicides cannot be used in any of the crops in the Kharif season, i.e. June to November. The approval of the Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee is mandatory to recommend/procure/store/use any agro chemical, as per the Insecticide Act, 1968.

The herbicides specified in the order can be used in non-cropped areas, or during the months of December to May, but only with specific recommendations by authorised personnel.

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