Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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07.04.2017 |

Monsanto illegally Introduces Round Up Resistant GMO Cotton in India

New Delhi: On the occasion of World Health Day, 7 April, Navdanya along with Swadeshi Jagran Manch appeals to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban Monsanto on account of its illegal introduction of herbicide tolerant GMO Round-up Ready Flex Bt cotton (RR Bt Cotton). Round-up, a glyphosate-based herbicide has been declared a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Sri Lanka and many European countries have already banned glyphosate because of reported and probable deaths as well as diseases directly linked to the use of this herbicide.

07.04.2017 |

Researchers find glyphosate in pregnant women, worry about impact on infants

A team of scientists this week released early results of an ongoing study spotlighting concerns about the rising use of pesticides and reproductive risks to women and children. The researchers tested and tracked, over a period of two years, the presence of the common herbicide glyphosate in the urine of 69 expectant mothers in Indiana.

The team – led by Paul Winchester, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the Franciscan St. Francis Health System and professor of clinical pediatrics at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Ind. – found glyphosate residues in 90 percent of the women, and high levels of those residues appeared to correlate with shortened pregnancies and below-average birth weights adjusted for age. The findings alarmed the researchers because such babies are at increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and lower cognitive abilities. “Gestational age maximizes the size of your brain at birth, and any shortening is essentially a reduction of IQ points,” Winchester said in an interview with FERN’s Ag Insider. “It has not just health, but lifetime achievement implications.”

06.04.2017 |

Farms could slash pesticide use without losses, research reveals | Environment

Virtually all farms could significantly cut their pesticide use while still producing as much food, according to a major new study. The research also shows chemical treatments could be cut without affecting farm profits on over three-quarters of farms.

The scientists said that many farmers wanted to reduce pesticide use, partly due to concerns for their own health. But farmers do not have good access to information on alternatives, the researchers said, because much of their advice comes from representatives of companies that sell both seeds and pesticides.

The work presents a serious challenge to the billion-dollar pesticide industry, which has long argued its products are vital to food production, especially with the world population set to grow to nine billion people by 2050.

04.04.2017 |

New Breeding Techniques and synthetic biology - genetic engineering by another name

Advocates claim that synthetic biology and the so-called New Breeding Techniques (NBTs) are distinct from genetic engineering (GE), write Helena Paul, Elisabeth Bücking & Ricarda Steinbrecher. In fact synthetic biology and NBTs carry similar risks to old-style GE, and even create novel hazards. The 'new GE' techniques - as they should be named - and their products deserve regulation at least as strict as those applying to GMOs.

With the development of new genetic engineering techniques, the ease and speed of creating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has sharply increased, and the costs have gone down.

Scientists have acquired the ability to make deeper and more complex changes to the genetic makeup of living organisms.

Not only can DNA be rapidly sequenced but DNA strands can also be easily synthesised, taking digital sequence instructions directly from computers (and the internet).

This has led to the emergence of two new fields of genetic engineering that overlap with each other: synthetic biology (or synbio) and the so-called New Breeding Techniques (NBTs). In most cases both involve the use of old-style genetic engineering, but they also go much further.

So what precisely are these new techniques?

04.04.2017 |

Moms Exposed to Monsanto Weed Killer Means Bad Outcomes for Babies

Concerns about the world’s most widely used herbicide are taking a new twist as researchers unveil data that indicates pervasive use of Monsanto Co.’s weed killer could be linked to pregnancy problems.

Researchers looking at exposure to the herbicide known as glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup branded herbicides, said they tested and tracked 69 expectant mothers and found that the presence of glyphosate levels in their bodily fluids correlated with unfavorable birth outcomes. The research is still in preliminary stages and the sample size is small, but the team is scheduled to present their findings on Thursday at a conference put on by the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) in Washington, D.C.

“This is a huge issue,” said Paul Winchester, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the Franciscan St. Francis Health system and professor of clinical pediatrics at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana. He said this is the first U.S. study to demonstrate glyphosate is present in pregnant women. “Everyone should be concerned about this.”

03.04.2017 |

Farm consultant concerned over GMOs, use of glyphosate

OSHKOSH – Although supplies of milk and livestock are plentiful in the United States, are today's feed production methods resulting in a loss of nutrient density and breakdown of vitamin availability that's detrimental to dairy cows?

That something pertaining to that question “is going on” has occupied the attention of semi-retired agricultural nutrition consultant Dieter Harle for nearly two decades. One consequence of what he fears is happening served as the title for a presentation titled “Why do Swiss cheese makers report fewer or no holes?” in the seminar series on March 28 at the 2017 WPS Farm Show.

That title was derived from input that Harle indicated he has received on six occasions during the past three years from farmers and cheese makers on significant differences in the quality of milk for making cheese. Milk from certain farms is either preferred or not preferred, he said. In one instance, a cheese plant seeks the milk from a certain farm for its starter batch, he stated.

30.03.2017 |

Bayer-Monsanto: a marriage m
Bayer-Monsanto: a marriage m

Opposition mounts to ‘marriage made in hell’ Bayer-Monsanto mega-merger

Friends of the Earth Europe staged a 'marriage made in hell' outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels today to symbolise the threat to food and farming posed by the planned merger of the agriculture and chemical companies Bayer and Monsanto.

Environmentalists, farmers, farmworkers, beekeepers, and religious and international development groups are all opposed to the deal and are calling on EU authorities to block it. A letter signed by 200 organisations was delivered to European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestage on Monday.

Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Europe's food and farming system is broken and if giant firms, like Monsanto and Bayer, are allowed to merge they will have an even tighter toxic grip on our food. The mergers are a marriage made in hell and should be blocked by regulators. We need to build a fairer and greener food system out of corporate control."

29.03.2017 |

Commission calms Trump by clearing major agro-chemical merger

The European Commission approved on Monday (27 March) the proposed $130 billion merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont. But the decision triggered a strong reaction from environmentalists, who believe that such mergers lead to “major monopolies”.

Dow Chemical and DuPont, two of the oldest US companies, announced their tie-up in December 2015 to create the world’s biggest chemicals and materials group.

“Due to significant commitments on products and the worldwide research and development organisation, the merger of Dow and Dupont can be approved,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The European Commission had been concerned that the merger of two of the biggest and oldest US chemical producers would have few incentives to produce new herbicides and pesticides in the future.

It said that the asset sales would ensure competition in the sector and benefit European farmers and consumers.

“We need effective competition in this sector so companies are pushed to develop products that are ever safer for people and better for the environment,” Vestager said in a statement.

28.03.2017 |

European Nations Vote Against GMO Crops

The majority of European Union governments voted against a proposal to authorize two new strains of genetically modified (GMO) maize today.

The two varieties of maize, DuPont Pioneer's 1507 and Syngenta's Bt11, kill insects by producing its own pesticide and is also resistant Bayer's glufosinate herbicide.

If approved, the varieties would be the first new GMO crops authorized for cultivation in the EU since 1998.

However, as Reuters noted, the votes against authorization did not decisively block their entry to the EU because the opposition did not represent a "qualified majority."

A qualified majority is achieved when at least 16 countries, representing at least 65 percent of the European population, vote in favor or against. (Scroll down for the vote breakdown)

The majority of EU governments also voted against renewing the license for another maize, Monsanto's MON810, the only GMO crop currently grown in the EU. The votes against its renewal was not considered decisive either.

MON810 is banned in 17 EU countries and is grown on less than 1 percent of agricultural land, mainly in Spain and Portugal, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.

28.03.2017 |

Inside the Academic Journal That Corporations Love

A recent Monsanto lawsuit opens a scary window into the industry of junk science.

A recent lawsuit against Monsanto offers a clear and troubling view into industry strategies that warp research for corporate gain. In a lawsuit regarding the possible carcinogenicity of the pesticide Roundup, plaintiffs’ lawyers suing Monsanto charge the company with ghostwriting an academic study finding that Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is not harmful. Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer and is critical for successful cultivation of genetically modified crops such as corn and soybean, which are resistant to the pesticide.

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