GMO-free news from the Netherlands

2014-07-28 |

EU: Beware the omniscient scientific adviser

Are Europe’s polluters demanding more scrutiny of their operations? Well, unsurprisingly, no, but industry lobbyists putting pressure on the European Commission to increase the power of its chief scientific adviser does sound topsy-turvy. What the lobbyists have realised is that the more you concentrate scientific advice into the hands of one person, the easier it is to control the science. If on top of this that person is unaccountable and allowed to keep any advice secret, then that makes the job of anyone who wants to manipulate science even easier.
(.....) The situation in Brussels is no different. In the face of strong public opposition to GM crops and a divided scientific community, the Commission’s scientific adviser has repeatedly claimed that GM crops have no adverse effects on the environment. (.....) Scientific scrutiny in policy-making is essential. The question is how to ensure that policy-makers receive the best representation of wide-ranging and transparent scientific advice.

2014-07-28 |

45% decline in vital invertebrates in last four decades

Butter Moths and butterflies have declined by 35% on average (Photo: Evan Leeson/Flickr)

The number of worms, spiders, butterflies and other invertebrates has declined by 45 per cent on average over the past 40 years, threatening food supplies, human health, and water quality. The study, published on Friday in the journal Science, reviewed past studies, and compiled a global index of all invertebrate species. The researchers found that, while the human population has doubled over the past four decades, 67 per cent of the world’s invertebrates have decreased in numbers by an average of 45 per cent over the same period. In the UK, for example, there has been a 30 to 60 per cent decline in the number of butterflies, bees, beetles, and wasps. “We were shocked to find similar losses in invertebrates as with larger animals, as we previously thought invertebrates to be more resilient,” said Ben Collen of University College London, a co-author of the study. The fall in invertebrate numbers is thought to be linked to the loss of natural habitats. “The richness of the animal world of our planet is being seriously threatened by human activities”, said lead author Rodolfo Dirzo, a process he calls “anthropocene defaunation”. The experts warn that the decline in invertebrates could have serious effects on ecosystems and food production. 75 per cent of the world’s food crops rely on insect pollination. Moreover, invertebrates contribute significantly to agricultural pest control. The cost of pest control without natural predators could amount to more than $4.4 billion dollars in the United States alone. Insects, spiders, and worms also play a decisive role in decomposition, ensuring soils contain nutrients that are needed for plant growth. Invertebrates are also important for the natural purification of water, the study said.

2014-07-26 |

Weed killer Glyphosate found in malformed piglets, breast milk, dairy cows, people's urine...

The more glyphosate in the feed, the higher the number of birth defects in the herd

Glyphosate has been found in malformed piglets. The research study was conducted by a team of researchers from Germany and Egypt in collaboration with the Danish pig farmer Ib Pedersen, whose pigs were analysed for glyphosate content.

The rate of malformations increased to one out of 260 born piglets if sow feeds contained 0.87-1.13 ppm glyphosate in the first 40 days of pregnancy. In the case of 0.25 ppm glyphosate in sow feeds, one out of 1432 piglets was malformed. In this case, therefore, a higher dose of glyphosate led to more malformations.

2014-07-25 |

EU Lawmakers Advance GMO Restrictions

The European Union moved a step closer to tighter controls on genetically modified organisms, after the EU Council voted Wednesday to give member states the power to restrict or prohibit GMOs for any reason.

2014-07-25 |

Zimbabwe: why it should continue to say NO to GM crops and food

GMOs are presented as a magic bullet to the problems of agricultural productivity without seriously examining the alternative route to industrial agriculture. Agro-ecology with an emphasis on ecosystem farming and local knowledge development of African farmers is the alternative that Zimbabwe should adopt

2014-07-25 |

GMOs Have NOT Been Proven Safe

The resounding claim of GMO proponents is that GMOs have been proven safe. Some scientists are quite emphatic about this, such as Dr. Pamela Ronald from UC Davis, who says: "Genetically engineered crops currently on the market are as safe to eat and safe for the environment as organic or conventional foods."

2014-07-25 |

China: new feed grain rule unworkable says U.S. export group

The biggest U.S. grain export association called on China on Thursday to rescind its latest restriction of a GMO corn strain, saying the new demand was unworkable.

2014-07-25 |

USA: Oregon GMO labeling measure certified for November ballot

An Oregon citizens' initiative that would require labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients has garnered more than enough signatures to gain a spot on the state's November ballot, a state government spokesman said on Thursday.

2014-07-25 |

EFSA plays down risks of Monsanto´s GMO oilseed rape MON88302

Testbiotech demands application for the placing on the market to be refused
Friday, 25. July 2014
Testbiotech is accusing the European Food Safety Authority EFSA of deliberately playing down the risks of an uncontrolled spread of genetically modified oilseed rape. The cause for concern is an application filed by Monsanto for the import into the EU of viable transgenic oilseed rape MON88302 kernels, which are to be processed to oil and feed in Europe. Similar rape plants have already spread far beyond the fields in various regions of the world, for example along transport routes. EFSA actually assumes in its opinion that seeds will be lost during transport within the EU, and that the genetically engineered plants will grow in the environment. Nevertheless, EFSA came to the conclusion that the risk of transgenes spreading into the environment is low.

2014-07-24 |

Beef’s environmental impact 10 times that of other meat

Beefburger Beef is bad for the environment (Photo: Charles Henry/flickr)

Beef is around 10 times more damaging to the environment than any other form of livestock, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists from the US and Israel analysed how much land, water and nitrogen fertiliser was needed to produce dairy, beef, poultry, pork and eggs, using data from the US Department of Agriculture among other sources. They found that beef production required on average 28 times more land, 11 times more irrigation water, and 6 times more nitrogen per consumed calorie than other animal-derived calories. Cattle are also responsible for releasing five times more greenhouse gases. The environmental impact of dairy, poultry, pork, and eggs were mutually comparable. Even when pasture resources were excluded, beef still required far more land than other meat and dairy products. When compared to the three staple plant foods potatoes, wheat, and rice, the environmental costs of beef per calorie are even worse, requiring 160 times more land, 19 times more nitrogen and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases. One reason is that cattle make far less efficient use of their feed. While it has already been known that beef has a greater environmental impact than other meats, the researchers say that their study is the first to quantify the scale in a comparative way. By highlighting the meat product with the highest environmental resource burden, the authors wish to empower consumers to make dietary changes that mitigate some of these impacts. The results could also show government agencies the directions corrective legislative measures should ideally take, the authors said.

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