Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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26.03.2018 |

Meat, animal feed and the EU's unbearable hypocrisy on GMOs

How GMOs enter the EU unnoticed

This morning, the NGO Mighty Earth published a powerful report on the dire consequences of the current EU meat, milk and eggs production system on those countries, especially in Latin America, which produce the feed for farm animals.

The report explains that The EU imports 27.8 million tons of soy from South America every year, and highlights the terrible conditions in which it is produced. Massive deforestation to make room for soy crops - more than 8 million hectares in the last 12 years - released the equivalent of 3.024 million metric tons of CO2 and endangered rare species and fragile ecosystems. According to the World Bank, the use of agrichemicals - especially glyphosate - increased by 1000 % in 20 years due to the cultivation of GM soy; this has resulted in water, air and soil pollution, and has provoked disastrous effects on the health of local populations. A staggering 19 % of deaths in Argentina are caused by cancer, disproportionally located in soy cultivation areas.

This terrible reality is the direct cause of a major, and terribly hypocritical, contradiction at the heart of the EU’s policy on GMOs.

22.03.2018 |

The Bayer-Monsanto Merger is Bad News for Farmers and Everyone Else

A Bayer-Monsanto merger would mean four companies would control about 70 per cent of the world's seed markets. This is bad news for farmers, seed diversity and humanity's capacity to adapt to climate change.

This week, the European Union approved the merger between agribusiness giants Bayer and Monsanto, taking the controversial union one step closer to a reality.

A Bayer-Monsanto merger would mean four companies – accountable only to their shareholders – would control about 70 per cent of the world's seed markets. This is bad news for farmers, seed diversity and humanity's capacity to adapt to climate change.

"Seeds are the heart of our food system. If you control seeds, you control farmers and you control food," says Martin Settle, Executive Director of USC Canada. "This has repercussions for what lands on our plates. But increased corporate control over seeds also has dire consequences for seed diversity and humanity's ability to adapt to climate change."

19.03.2018 |

Emergency Measures Against GMOs - Between Harmonizing and De-harmonizing - Trends

Abstract: This Insight comments on the preliminary ruling in the case Fidenato et al. (judgment of 13 September 2017, case C-111/16), in which the Court of Justice excluded that Member States may rely on the precautionary principle enshrined in Art. 7 of Regulation 178/2002 to adopt emergency measures against the cultivation of GMOs, pursuant to Art. 34 of Regulation 1829/2003. The judgment confirms the strict interpretation of the conditions to adopt such measures, already provided by the Court of Justice in the case Monsanto SAS (judgment of 8 September 2011, joined cases C-58/10 and C-68/10), and the will of the EU to maintain full control over the management of scientific risk related to GMOs. At the same time, the ruling calls for some reflections on GMOs regulation in the EU, which has recently undergone some major changes in the sense of leaving much more freedom to Member States to ban the cultivation of GMOs when non-scientific risks are at stake.

Keywords: precautionary principle – genetically modified food and feed – emergency measures – Regulation 1829/2003 – Regulation 178/2002 – agriculture.

19.03.2018 |

Health Canada gives all clear for GMO Golden Rice

After a thorough scientific assessment, the Canadian government has ruled that Golden Rice poses no greater risk to human health than rice varieties currently available on the Canadian market.

Golden Rice is the name of a rice that has been genetically modified to produce beta-carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A. This beta-carotene gives the rice grains the yellowish color that has inspired its name.

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While this news is a positive step forward for Golden Rice, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has indicated that this product is not intended to be sold in Canada at this time.

17.03.2018 |

Kenya’s top GMO labs filthy and pose serious health risks

Three top laboratories handling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Kenya are highly contaminated with disease-causing germs. A study published early this month (March 7) found the three laboratories highly contaminated with bacteria and harmful fungus.

The study also reports laboratory workers are not observing basic safety measures, hence putting themselves and others in danger. In October, the Biosafety Appeals Board also made similar claims against the same labs, saying workers had become too lax in observing safety measures.

Escaping into environment This, laboratory experts say, raises doubt whether GMO materials held in these facilities are secured well enough to prevent them from escaping into the environment. The new study was led by Dennis Nyachae of the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology at Kenyatta University (KU).

16.03.2018 |

GMO directive : the origins of the mutagenesis exemption

In his opinion on the « Mutagenesis » case [1], the Court of justice Advocate general considered there is no link between the mutagenesis exemption and the recital which states that the directive should not apply to organisms obtained through certain techniques of genetic modification which have conventionally been used in a number of applications and have a long safety record. However, the study of the preparatory work shows the mutagenesis exemption appeared at the same time as the recital in question...

The European Union GMO legislation does not apply to all organisms obtained through genetic modification. Since the first European GMO directive, genetically modified organisms obtained through mutagenesis are exempted, under certain conditions, from the obligations laid down in the directive. As a consequence, these GMOs can, under certain conditions, be cultivated without having been subject to an environmental risk assessment and they can be marketed without traceability or labelling.

15.03.2018 |

Objection to Application by Dow for general release of GM maize: MON89034 X TC1507 x NK603 with the intention for cultivation in the entire region of South Africa

The ACB has played an essential watch-dog role on new GMO permits in South Africa for a decade now, adding substantially to the discourse about the scientific assessment of GMOs as well as about issues of socioeconomic impacts and democratic decisionmaking, through lodging substantive comments on at least 30 permit applications.

We are objecting to the general release of MON 89034 x TC1507 x NK603, due to concerns surrounding lack of safety to human and environmental health of this GM maize variety and its associated pesticides, glyphosate and glufosinate. This latest variety will serve to further increase exposure by the peoples of South Africa to yet more chemical pesticides, consolidate the corporate control of South Africa’s already corporatized food systems and entrench inequities and food insecurity.

Under these circumstances, we urge the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to decline approval.

14.03.2018 |

Monarch Butterfly Numbers Keep Declining

The annual count of Monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico shows declines from last year’s numbers—a 15 percent decrease –according to figures from an official Mexican government count in the winter of 2017. These numbers underscore how at risk the iconic animal is, with a possible collapse of migration if populations are critically low.

Monarch butterflies (also known as Eastern Monarchs) embark on an impressive migration every year. Roughly 99 percent of all North American monarchs migrate each winter to oyamel fir forests on 12 mountaintops in central Mexico. Scientists estimate the population size by measuring the area of trees turned orange by the clustering butterflies. But for the second year in a row, its numbers are declining — 2.48 hectares of occupied winter habitat is down from 2.91 hectares last winter. Apart from partial rebounds in the winters of 2001 and 2003, numbers have gone down steadily since 1996. Overall monarchs have declined by more than 80 percent over the past two decades.

14.03.2018 |

Japan: 2018 GMO-Free Zone Movement Report

Report from the 2018 GMO-Free Zone Movement Event Held in Nagoya, Japan

The 13th annual event to celebrate the Japanese GMO-Free Zone movement was held in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture, on March 3, 2018. During the past year, many groups participated in the preparation of the event, including members of the Seikatsu Club co-operative movement, local citizens and farmers groups in and around Nagoya, as well as the No! GMO Campaign.

Some 300 people joined this year’s event. We welcomed five participants from South Korea’s National Korean Anti-GMO Movement and two participants from Taiwan’s Anti-GMO School Lunch Movement. Starting From Seed to Otowa Rice, the research council that promotes the Otowa variety of rice, the Aichi Network to Promote Sustainable Organic Agriculture, and the nation-wide grass-root movement to test wild-growing GM canola reported about their respective activities in Japan. Also, the latest figures from Japan’s growing GMO-Free Zone movement were announced.

14.03.2018 |

Saint Lucia strengthens capacity for GMO regulation

THE FRAMEWORK ASSESSES THE SAFETY OF GENETICALLY-MODIFIED FOODS COMPARED TO NON-GMOS.

The Department of Sustainable Development recently hosted a two-day training workshop on the development of Food and Feed Safety Assessments for GMOs currently in trade in Saint Lucia.

The activity is one of many being held to strengthen Saint Lucia’s capacity to regulate GMOs and safeguard human health and the environment from any adverse impacts resulting from GMO use.

Jannel Gabriel, Environmental Officer within the Department of Sustainable Development, said biosafety is one of the department’s main concerns.

“Saint Lucia is a party to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. We signed that protocol in 2005, and since then we have been developing a framework for biosafety in Saint Lucia. The framework will regulate the processes through which genetically modified organisms enter the country, or regulate those that are produced in the country or that are being exported out of the country. So the entire framework seeks to ensure that if a GMO is being used, that it is being done in a way that it is safe to human health and to the environment.”

Ms Gabriel explained that the workshop worked towards examining GMOs already on the global market.

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