GMO-free news from the Netherlands

2015-05-29 |

USA: Hawaii groups plant coconut trees and engage tourists in protests against Monsanto

Demonstrators planted coconut trees and waved signs in rallies across the Hawaiian Islands as part of an international day of protests against agriculture business Monsanto.

2015-05-29 |

USA: GMO control area proposal revived in Oregon

A proposal to create "control areas" for heightened regulation of GMOs has been resurrected in the Oregon legislature.

2015-05-29 |

Meet the latest phase of genetic engineering: synthetic biology

London-based Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, designer, artist and lead author of the book Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature. In her project Designing for the Sixth Extinction, which after Istanbul is now on display at the Design Museum in London, Ginsberg imagines what a synthetic biology-designed world would look like

2015-05-29 |

Scientists to thrash out rules on genetically modified humans

Scientists in America will collaborate to draw up a set of ethical guidelines around the rights and wrongs of editing the human genome.

2015-05-29 |

UN hunger report: 795 million still chronically undernourished

Rice Most of the world’s hungry live in Asia (Photo: ILO/Joaquin Bobot Go)

About 795 million people in the world, or one in nine, suffer from hunger, according to new estimates published on Wednesday by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP). The vast majority of the world’s hungry - 780 million – live in developing countries. Numbers only declined by 10 million in comparison with last year’s report. While some regions have made significant progress in the fight against hunger, others continue to lag behind. Latin America has been able to reduce the prevalence of undernourishment to 5.5% of the population. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, one in four people remain chronically undernourished and the numbers have even increased to 220 million over the past years. Two thirds of the world’s hungry, 512 million people, live in Asia. Although 55 countries will not achieve the Millennium Development target of halving the proportion of the chronically undernourished, FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva remains optimistic: “The near-achievement of the MDG hunger targets shows us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime.” According to the FAO, inclusive economic growth, agricultural investments and social protection, along with political stability and political will are preconditions for the elimination of hunger. But in recent years, progress towards fully achieving the 2015 food security targets was hampered by extreme weather events, natural disasters, political instability and civil strife. The report estimates that around 19% of the world’s undernourished live in countries enduring protracted crises. In order to meet the MDG hunger target, the prevalance of undernourishment in developing countries would have needed to halve compared to 1990 levels. The proportion declined to 12.9% of the population, down from 23.3% a quarter of a century ago, also due to the fact that the world population has increased since then by 1.9 billion. The more ambitious World Food Summit target of halving the absolute number of undernourished people to 500 million remains out of reach. Today, there are only 216 million fewer people who are suffering from hunger than in 1990-92. In addition, much of the progess made in fighting hunger can be attributed to China where the number of undernourished people fell by 155 million in this period. “If we truly wish to create a world free from poverty and hunger, then we must make it a priority to invest in the rural areas of developing countries where most of the world’s poorest and hungriest people live,” said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze. (ab)

2015-05-27 |

EU Parliament draft report on organic regulation, going in the right direction

EU Organic Logo EU Organic Logo

Brussels, 26 May 2015 – Today the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the Commission’s proposal for a new EU organic regulation, Martin Häusling, has presented his report to the Parliament Agriculture Committee.

“We welcome Martin Häusling’s report, which better reflects the needs of the organic sector, and is in line with the opinion of the Committee of the Regions and the independent evaluation report subcontracted by the Commission in 2012. It is a major step in the right direction, focusing on the needed improvements in the current legislation and clearly showing an understanding that an evolution of the organic regulation is needed, not a revolution”, said IFOAM EU President Christopher Stopes.

“One of the main issues hampering the organic sector is uneven implementation by Member States and the Green’s report adds new elements to the discussion,” stated Marco Schlüter, IFOAM EU Director. “The report also removes the most problematic elements of the Commission’s proposal, including the wrong-headed decertification threshold which would make organic farmers and processors pay for the pollution caused by adventitious contamination. In restoring the control aspects to the organic regulation, MEP Häusling also maintains the understanding that the organic food and farming based on a principled process of production, which cannot be evaluated simply by testing a final product. Import is another area where progress has been made, as the Green MEP corrects the Commission’s flawed compliance-based approach which would be detrimental to developing countries and would affect the availability of products for EU processors and consumers. Overall Häusling’s report is a good basis for discussion, even though some aspects need to be fine-tuned”.

2015-05-27 |

France to ban supermarkets from throwing away unsold food

Food France wants to ban food waste (Photo: USDA/flickr.com)

Supermarkets in France will be forced to give away unsold food to charities in an effort to tackle food waste. On Thursday, the French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation which forms part of a larger environmental bill. Under the new law, supermarkets measuring 400 square metres or more would be forced to give any unsold, but still edible, goods to charities or to farms for use as animal feed or compost. This includes products which would be thrown away because they are damaged or because their best-before dates are approaching but are not dangerous to eat. Big supermarkets will have to sign contracts with charities by July next year or face penalties including fines of up to €75,000. The bill was proposed by Guillaume Garot, a Socialist deputy and former food minister. “It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods,” he told The Guardian. The legislation also includes education programmes about food waste in school cafeterias and businesses. The overall bill will need to go to the senate for final approval. Environmental groups welcomed the vote, but warned that it could also send out all the wrong signals while failing to address the wider issue of overproduction and wastage in food distribution chains. The French measures are part of an effort to halve the amount of food waste in the country by 2025. The Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy estimates food waste to amount to 7.1 million tonnes. According to official estimates, wasted food costs the average French household €400 a year, and the country up to €20 billion. Similar rules could also be put in place in the UK and other countries in Europe. A report earlier this year showed that in the UK, households threw away 7 million tonnes of food in 2012. An online petition started last week is urging the British government to adopt the French proposal. Posted on the 38 Degrees campaign website, the petition is calling for supermarkets to hand over all unsold food to charities and suggest the introduction of a voluntary payment to be added to all online orders to fund a delivery service to those in need. By Wednesday morning, the petition had been signed by more than 123,000 people. (ab)

2015-05-26 |

Russian lawmakers propose strengthening penalties for GMO labeling violations

Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers introduced a bill which contains penalties of up to two years in prison for violations of labeling of genetically modified foods, Izvestia newspaper reported on Tuesday.

2015-05-26 |

Burkina Faso: Anti-GMO protesters march against Monsanto

Thousands activists of the collective citizenship for agro-ecology, of which many Europeans, took to the streets on Saturday at Ouagadougou to demonstrate against genetically modified organism (GMO) and the specialized GMO distribution multinational company, Monsanto. Monsanto

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