News

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.”

2015-03-25 |

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.

2015-03-24 |

Pesticide Action Week: No Pesticides, No GMOs

Call for a pesticide-free spring Call for a pesticide-free spring

As pesticide action week is set to begin, one may reflect on the fact that GMOs have been sold primarily as a way of reducing the use of pesticides. Shouldn't we then celebrate this way to reduce our pesticide addiction and embrace a great new agricultural technology? The first point to consider is the fact that it is the pesticides companies that make and patent these GMO crops, and that alone should make us rather sceptical about the argument. Is it really logical for a company to try to sell less of its products? Furthermore, let's not forget that these companies have fiercely opposed all EU proposals to reduce the use of pesticides. With economic and pseudo-scientific arguments, they have gone as far as suing the Commission for its moratorium on some uses of certain neonicotinoids, and enrolling scientists to try and minimise the health and environmental impacts of those. This can only make us question their claims that GMOs are safe.

Let's take a quick look at what we're dealing with after 20 years of growing GMO crops:

There are only two main traits which have been engineered in crops: tolerance to herbicides and the production of insecticides.

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