GMO-free news from the Netherlands

2014-12-16 |

USA: Congress Gets it Wrong on GMO Labels

The FDA issued voluntary guidance for labeling GMO foods in 2001 and has basically been inactive on the topic ever since. Since the agency has for years neglected citizen petitions to require the mandatory labeling of GMOs, a movement is afoot to introduce bills on the state level. In 2012 and 2013,

2014-12-16 |

EU: Commissioner Andriukaitis welcomes provisional political agreement on GMO cultivation

I am glad to announce that yesterday evening the European Parliament and the Council have reached a provisional political agreement on the draft legislation on GMO cultivation. The proposal, still subject to confirmation by Coreper and by the plenary of the European Parliament, will give Member States the possibility to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs on their territory, without affecting the EU risk assessment.

2014-12-16 |

GM rice doesn’t address poverty, lack of biodiversity

Golden rice is a product of genetically modified technology that is offered as a solution to vitamin A deficiency for poor people in Africa and South Asia. On first glance it is a public relations dream for the GMO community, but I think there are far more benefits in an organic, ecosystem approach.

2014-12-16 |

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO): Profit, Power and Geopolitics

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not essential for feeding the world [1,2], but if they were to lead to increased productivity, did not harm the environment and did not negatively impact biodiversity and human health, would we be wise to embrace them anyhow?

2014-12-16 |

Seeds of Truth: Vandana Shiva and the New Yorker

A response to the article ‘Seeds of Doubt’ by Michael Specter in The New Yorker.

2014-12-16 |

USDA greenlights Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant soybean and cotton

Spraying a soybean field Spraying a soybean field (Photo: United Soybean Board)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) has paved the way for the introduction of Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans. On Friday, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service published its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on varieties of cotton and soybeans that have been genetically modified to survive spraying with several herbicides, including dicamba, concluding that both should be fully deregulated. The decision was heavily criticised by health and environmental groups. “Monsanto’s genetically-engineered dicamba-resistant crops are yet another example of how pesticide firms are taking agriculture back to the dark days of heavy, indiscriminate use of hazardous pesticides, seriously endangering human health and the environment,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety (CFS), a US-based non-profit organisation. CFS estimates that the anticipated widespread adoption of these GE crops would lead to an over 10-fold increase in dicamba use in U.S. agriculture, from 3.8 million lbs. at present to more than 43 million lbs. per year. Dicamba is a selective herbicide used to kill broad-leaved plants. It has been linked to increased rates of cancer in farmers. According to CFS, Monsanto has developed dicamba-resistant crops “as a quick fix” to the epidemic of glyphosate-resistant weeds generated by the massive use of that herbicide with the company’s first generation of genetically modified crops. However, the use of dicamba with the new GE cotton and soybean varieties could give rise to weeds resistant to both dicamba and glyphosate. “Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant crops are the latest fruits of a pesticide industry strategy to increase sales of their toxic herbicides,” said CFS science policy analyst Bill Freese. Monsanto welcomed USDA’s decision that moves them one step closer to the introduction of their new crop varieties. The last step is now the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) registration of the trait’s corresponding herbicides. In October, EPA approved Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Duo herbicide, only two months after USDA issued its final EIS for the corresponding Enlist corn and soybean traits.

2014-12-16 |

Council backs organic sector demands and Commission changes its approach to a new organic regulation

Organic production Organic production

IFOAM EU: Brussels, 15 December 2014 – EU Agriculture Ministers have endorsed a non-binding report summarising the progress made under the strong leadership of the Italian Presidency on the Commission proposal for a new organic regulation. Nevertheless, a legally binding, partial general approach was rejected as concerns with the Commission’s flawed proposal were too great. Speaking at the meeting, Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said that organic is a key sector in Europe for job creation, is growing 9% a year and this must be supported by regulation. He continued: “No one disputes the fact that the current proposal is unacceptable.”

“It is very positive that the Council and Commission acknowledge how problematic the Commission proposal would be to organic food and farming,” said IFOAM EU President Christopher Stopes. “Since the Commission launched the process, IFOAM EU has said that the most effective way to strengthen organic requirements, consumer confidence and market development is to enhance the existing regulation. We are very pleased that, in many respects, the Italian Presidency has brought the Commission proposal for the first 19 articles back into line with the current regulation.”

2014-12-16 |

GMO authorisation in the EU: The Commission once again attacked for undue delays


On 17 October 2014, EuropaBio, Fefac and Coceral filed a complaint to the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, regarding the delay in the authorisation procedures concerning twenty applications for GMOs. This complaint occurs while the European bodies are close to an agreement on the GMO opt-out proposal, an agreement supposedly aimed at “unblocking” the GMO authorisation process.

The Ombudsman’s website does mention the case but does not provide detailed information. The small amount of information that is provided states that the complaint concerns allegations of maladministration by the European Commission of the GMO applications. The European Commission is accused of having breached its duties relating to a “reasonable time-limit for taking decisions”. The Ombudsman’s office told Inf’OGM that the plaintiffs are EuropaBio (European Association for Bioindustries), the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) and the European association representing the trade in cereals, rice, feedstuffs, oilseeds, olive oil, oils and fats and agrosupply (Coceral).

The three associations consider that the European Commission has badly administered twenty applications of GMOs for import, food and feed under regulation 1829/2003 by causing “illegal and unreasonable delays”. They claim that the “Commission should put to vote in the relevant committee and/or adopt a formal decision on the twenty pending applications and abstain from causing any such delays in the authorisation process in the future”.

The Ombudsman’s office told Inf’OGM that they had only published limited information so far as the case is ongoing. They added that they have already “inspected the relevant files in the Commission” and that they are “waiting for the Commission’s opinion on the allegations which they should submit by the end of January 2015”. At the time of publication of this article, Inf’OGM was still expecting requested comments from Fefac, Coceral and EuropaBio.

2014-12-15 |

Europe revises its stance on GM crops

A new agreement in the European Union allows genetically engineered crops to be approved without member-state votes. This represents a U-turn for before all member states needed to agree. The new policy will allow several GMO foods to enter the market.

2014-12-15 |

Off-patent GMO soybeans: What happens now?

The development, testing, and regulation of genetically engineered crops usually takes a significant investment of time and resources, and it comes as no surprise that these crops are patented so that their developers can recoup their investments.

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