GMO-free news from the Netherlands

2015-03-27 |

GMO Science Deniers: Monsanto and the USDA

Perhaps no group of science deniers has been more ridiculed than those who deny the science of evolution. What you may not know is that Monsanto and our United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are among them. That's right: for decades, Monsanto and its enablers inside the USDA have denied the central tenets of evolutionary biology, namely natural selection and adaptation.

2015-03-27 |

Global health experts say glyphosate probably carcinogenic to humans

On March 20th, a scientific working group consisting of seventeen experts from eleven countries released their evaluation of the herbicide glyphosate and four organophosphate insecticides for the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The group classified Monsanto’s glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world, as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

2015-03-27 |

Mexico: Four February court victories uphold ban on GMO corn

The legal battles over the existing ban on the planting of transgenic maize in Mexico continue to unfold with a string of four important court victories by anti-GMO activists. On February 28, 2015, the collective of social movement organizations known as Acción Colectiva del Maíz announced that they had secured four more favorable court decisions involving amparo (shelter) corporate challenges seeking to end the GMO corn ban in Mexico.

2015-03-27 |

Canada: Arctic Apples Receive Canadian Approval

Nonbrowning Arctic® apples have been approved for commercial sale in Canada, as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada (HC) have concluded their respective reviews. In a letter sent to OSF by the CFIA, the Agency concludes that Arctic® apples "are as safe and nutritious as traditional apple varieties..." and states that their official decision document will become publicly available on their website at a later date.

2015-03-27 |

FDA says Arctic Apples and Innate Potatoes are safe for consumption

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completed its evaluation for two varieties of apples genetically engineered by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc., and for six varieties of potatoes genetically engineered by J. R. Simplot Company and concluded that these foods are as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts.

2015-03-27 |

European Patent Office upholds patents on broccoli and tomato

Patents on plants and animals derived from conventional breeding can also be granted in future

Munich 27 March, 2015
The Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) has decided on the precedent cases of broccoli and tomato (G2 / 12 and G2 /13). The EPO made clear that while processes for crossing and selection cannot be patented, plants and animals stemming from these processes are still patentable. This illogical decision was a long awaited outcome of a precedent case on the patentability of plants and animals derived from conventional breeding. The coalition No Patents on Seeds! has heavily criticised this decision. The organisations are warning about the increasing monopolisation of breeding of plants and animals needed for food production.
“The EPO has paved the way for companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and others to take control of resources we all need for our daily lives. We call upon European governments to put political pressure on the EPO to change its practice”, says Christoph Then for No Patents on Seeds! “No company should hold monopolies on sunlight, air or water. The same is true for the resources needed for food production.”

2015-03-26 |

Almost one in 10 of Europe's wild bee species face extinction threat

Wildbee Wild bee at work (Photo: Ombrosoparacloucycle/flickr)

Europe’s wild bee population is declining dramatically. According to the first-ever assessment of all 1,965 wild bee species in Europe, 9.2% are threatened with extinction while another 5.2% are likely to be threatened in the near future. The study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was published last week as part of “The European Red List of Bees” and the “Status and Trends of European Pollinators “ (STEP) project, both funded by the European Commission. Jean-Christophe Vié, of the IUCN Global Species Programme, said the assessment offered the best understanding so far of wild bees in Europe, but knowledge was incomplete due to "an alarming lack of expertise and resources". For this reason, a total of 56.7% of wild bee species are classified as data deficient. The study found that 7.7% of the species have declining populations and 12.6% are stable while population trends for the remaining 79% are unknown. “Our quality of life – and our future – depends on the many services that nature provides for free,” says Karmenu Vella, the EU Commissioner for Environment. “Pollination is one of these services, so it is very worrying to learn that some of our top pollinators are at risk“. Of the main crops grown for human consumption in Europe, 84% depend on insect pollination, including many types of fruit, vegetables and nuts. Pollinators support crops accounting for 35% of global agricultural production volumes. Wild and domesticated bees play an essential role: The pollination services provided by bees alone are estimated to be worth €153 billion globally and €22 billion in Europe every year. The study shows bees are threatened by changing agricultural practices and increased farming intensification which have caused losses and degradation of their habitats. The experts say that important sources of food and forage for pollinators have been lost due to intensive silage production at the expense of hay-cropping, which led to the disappearance of herb-rich grasslands and season-long flowering. The widespread use of insecticides also harms wild bees and herbicides have reduced the availability of flowers on which they depend. Climate change has been another factor in the decline in bee populations, particularly in bumblebees. The report warns a total of 25.8% of Europe’s bumblebee species are threatened with extinction. The authors call for greater attention to bees in the management of protected areas and in agricultural policies in Europe. “We need far-reaching actions to help boost both wild and domesticated pollinator populations. Achieving this will bring huge benefits to wildlife, the countryside and food production,” says Simon Potts, STEP project Coordinator. (ab)

2015-03-25 |

Glyphosate: Study Links Widely Used Pesticides to Antibiotic Resistance

Glyphosate, 2,4-D, and dicamba found to affect bacteria in ways that could promote resistance to common antibiotics.

By Elizabeth Grossman on March 24, 2015

This has not been a good week for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides. On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it had classified glyphosate, the United States’ most widely-used pesticide, as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Now, the chemical has another strike against it. A study published today by the American Society of Microbiology’s journal mBio has linked glyphosate and two other widely-used herbicides–2,4-D and dicamba–to one of the most pressing public health crises of our time: antibiotic resistance.

This study found that exposure to these herbicides in their commercial forms changed the way bacteria responded to a number of antibiotics, including ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, and tetracycline–drugs widely used to treat a range of deadly diseases.

2015-03-25 |

Is there glyphosate in your diet?

No one knows how much of this pesticide is in the produce we eat

The herbicide glyphosate, known by the commercial name Roundup, is the most commonly used agricultural pesticide in the U.S. on farms. (Home gardeners use it too.) Yet we have no idea how much of it is in our food because the government doesn’t regularly test produce for it.

Glyphosate use has increased tenfold in the past 20 years thanks to the rise in genetically modified corn and soy. Most of those crops are engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, which means Roundup will kill the weeds but not the crops. According to Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., of Washington State University, data shows that U.S. farmers used enough glyphosate in 2014 to apply the equivalent of almost three-quarters of a pound on every acre of farmland used to grow crops. “When a single pesticide is used that widely, people can’t help but be exposed to it,” Benbrook says.

2015-03-25 |

EU: Do the new GMO rules comply with its WTO obligations?

On March 2 2015 the Council of the European Union (consisting of representatives of all 28 member states) adopted new rules with respect to the approval of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that allow member states to ban or restrict the cultivation of GMOs in their territory, even if such cultivation has been approved at EU level.

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