News

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.

28.03.2017

Adverse Effects of Glyphosate on the Soil and Environment After 20 Years

Glyphosate is the active ingredient of formulated herbicides including Roundup (manufactured by Monsanto) and is the most widely used herbicide compound in the world. Worldwide use is estimated at 1.35 million metric tons as of 2017. Major crops including soybean, maize, cotton, canola, sugar beet and alfalfa are genetically engineered (GE) to resist the herbicidal action of glyphosate.

Although glyphosate use has increased nearly 15-fold since 1996 when glyphosate-resistant GE crops were first introduced, it is only within the last 5-10 years that assessment of its detrimental effects on soil and environmental health have become the focus of intensive research efforts. A journal article entitled "Soil and Environmental Health after Twenty Years of Intensive Use of Glyphosate"reports that glyphosate and its primary metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) are now frequently detected in ground and surface waters and in some marine environments.

28.03.2017

PR Company Faces More Than 100 Lawsuits for Promoting Monsanto’s Roundup

Osborn & Barr, an advertising firm based in St. Louis, Missouri, is facing more than 130 lawsuits over the link between its former client, Monsanto, and cases of cancer associated with Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide, marketed as Roundup.

The lawsuits were filed last week in the 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis against Creve Coeur-based Monsanto, naming Osborn & Barr as a co-defendant, for its role in promoting the glyphosate-based herbicide.

According to the filings, Monsanto’s Roundup is carcinogenic—a designation the company adamantly disputes–and connected to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which many of the plaintiffs were diagnosed with.

“While existing lawsuits focus on holding Monsanto liable for cancer allegedly linked to glyphosate, the inclusion of the advertising agency that helped market Roundup is a different approach in the legal battle,” St. Louis Today reports.

27.03.2017

EU grants approval to merger of agribusiness corporations and consolidates a global monopoly

Interview with Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe

In light of the approval by the European Commission of the $130 billion mega-merger between agribusiness corporations Dow Chemical and Du Pont, and anticipating similar authorizations for other agribusiness giants, organizations warn that a mega-monopoly has been consolidated with a complete control over agrochemicals and commercial seeds.

The EU´s decision in favor of the merger of US groups Dow Chemical and DuPont was made known today, March 27. The merger is valued at 130 billion dollars, according to a press release issued by the EU.

Although the decision adopted in Brussels includes some “conditions” to ensure it “does not reduce price competition for existing pesticides or innovation”, according to the EU, organizations of peasants, family farmers, pastoralists, environmental activists and rural workers point out that it sets a precedent in favor of agricultural monopolies.

The decision for the abovementioned US corporations foretells the EU´s opinion with reference to two other mega-mergers planned in the same sector: the acquisition by Chinese group ChemChina of Syngenta (Switzerland), a decision expected before April 12, and the merger between Monsanto (US) and Bayer (Germany).

A threat for food and farms

27.03.2017

Resistance to agri-business is rising

Together with 200+ civil society organisations, ASEED has signed an open letter to the EU Commissioner Vestager (responsible for competition and for regulating the mergers) and other relevant Commissioners to voice its opposition to giant agri-business mergers.

According to a Reuters article, the EU antitrust regulators are likely to approve the Dow Chemical – DuPont and ChemChina’s – Syngenta mergers this Monday (March 27th) or Tuesday (March 28th). Friends of the Earth Europe has therefore decided to deliver the open letter to the Commissioners today. The text is pretty straightforward and explains why signers are worried about the possible mergers in six points.

The signers of the letter state: “these mergers risk major monopoly outcomes that would further increase corporate control of agriculture, restrict farmers’ choices, curb consumer choice, increase chemical use and harm the environment, damage Europe’s food sovereignty and harm countries in the Global South and the right to food.”

27.03.2017

Governments and citizens reject GMOs, Commission must follow – Greenpeace

Brussels – Today, national government representatives failed to support the approval of three genetically modified (GM) maize crops for cultivation in Europe: two new ones and the only GM crop currently grown in the EU.

While no qualified majority was reached, the number of rejections shows that GMO opposition clearly outweighs support. It was the second vote by national governments on the European Commission’s proposals to approve the three GM crops. The first vote, held in January 2017, had also failed to deliver a qualified majority. Therefore, it is now up to the Commission to take the final

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “When he was elected, Commission President Juncker promised more democratic decision-making. This vote leaves no doubt that approving these GM crops would break that promise. A majority of governments, parliamentarians and Europeans oppose them, and two thirds of European countries ban GMO cultivation on their lands. Instead of backing risky products peddled by multinational corporations, the Commission should support ecological farming and the solutions it provides for rural areas, farmers and the environment.”

24.03.2017

Glyphosate and the crucial battle for independent science

At its core, the political battle for transparency about the herbicide glyphosate is actually a battle for independent science and for the transparent and democratic functioning of the EU institutions, write five Greens/EFA MEPs

MEPs Heidi Hautala, Philippe Lamberts, Michèle Rivasi, Bart Staes and Benedek Jávor represent the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament.

Given the recent disclosure of the Monsanto Papers in an ongoing US court case on glyphosate, we took the initiative to write a letter to European Commission President Juncker on the issue today (24 March).

We are convinced that strong and truly independent European institutions like the EFSA (the food safety authority), EMA (the medicines agency) and ECHA (the chemicals agency) are crucial for defending public health and building public trust in the EU.

22.03.2017

Cargill Strengthens Non-GMO Traceability

At March's Natural Products Expo West trade show, Cargill (Minneapolis) announced major moves aimed to demonstrate the company’s growing commitment to non-GMO traceability. At the show, the firm announced 13 new Non-GMO Project Verified Ingredients. It also rolled out the branding of its KnownOrigins identity-preservation process.

Growing Commitment to Non-GMO

The company announced that these 13 ingredients have now been verified non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project: stevia sweeteners, dry corn (mill, grits, flour), glucose heirloom syrup, corn syrup solids, dextrin, maltodextrin, modified food starch, native starch, mid-oleic sunflower oil, Clear Valley high-oleic canola oil, soybean oil, chicory inulin, and erythritol (using corn feedstock).

“The significance of this is that this particular group of products getting verified are from high-risk crops,” said Lea Buerman, Cargill’s food safety, quality, and regulatory manager. “The majority of them are from corn or soy, and as you know in the U.S., the majority of corn and soy crops are GM.”

21.03.2017

Is it time to reassess current safety standards for glyphosate-based herbicides?

Abstract

Use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) increased ∼100-fold from 1974 to 2014. Additional increases are expected due to widespread emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds, increased application of GBHs, and preharvest uses of GBHs as desiccants. Current safety assessments rely heavily on studies conducted over 30 years ago. We have considered information on GBH use, exposures, mechanisms of action, toxicity and epidemiology. Human exposures to glyphosate are rising, and a number of in vitro and in vivo studies challenge the basis for the current safety assessment of glyphosate and GBHs. We conclude that current safety standards for GBHs are outdated and may fail to protect public health or the environment. To improve safety standards, the following are urgently needed: (1) human biomonitoring for glyphosate and its metabolites; (2) prioritisation of glyphosate and GBHs for hazard assessments, including toxicological studies that use state-of-the-art approaches; (3) epidemiological studies, especially of occupationally exposed agricultural workers, pregnant women and their children and (4) evaluations of GBHs in commercially used formulations, recognising that herbicide mixtures likely have effects that are not predicted by studying glyphosate alone.