News

2014-12-19 |

AFSA Open Letter Opposing Human Feeding Trials Involving GM Banana

Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa

We, the undersigned, representing diverse constituencies from across Africa and the world, working towards food sovereignty, are strongly opposed to the human feeding trials taking place at the Iowa State University involving the so called genetically modified (GM) ‘super banana’ - GM Matooke, Sweet and Roasting bananas.

These trials funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are being carried out under the leadership of Dr. Wendy White of the Iowa State University, on 12 young students, with the intention of introducing the GM banana first in Uganda and later, to other countries in East Africa. The GM banana, currently undergoing field trials in Uganda, was developed by scientists at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, similarly also funded by the Gates Foundation.

Despite claims to the contrary from the promoters and developers of GM crops, and to reiterate what nearly three hundred global scientists have stated in an Open Letter in December 2013, there is no consensus that GM crops are safe for human consumption. Most of the research carried out by independent scientists on GM crops directly contradicts the results of biotech industry-sponsored studies that claim no evidence of risk or harm.

2014-12-18 |

GMO testing procedure curtails US hay exports to China

GMO Alfalfa GMO Alfalfa

China's booming dairy industry has meant a surge in US hay exports, but the country's resistance to imports of some US genetically-modified crops (GMOs) is reducing US exports of hay modified with biotech alfalfa.

US farmers have embraced the GMO technology that helps to kill weeds, fight pests and improve yields. But China has not accepted all GMO agriculture products and has tight restrictions on imports.

Earlier this year, China started testing to determine if US hay imports contained the genetically modified alfalfa developed by Monsanto Co, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

"China is among the largest markets for US hay; so, of course it will affect exports. Again, it comes back to industry sourcing product as demanded by the customer. It is our understanding the Chinese government is aware of the need for regulatory approval and that it might take at least a year," he said. "In the meantime, we strictly adhere to China's zero-tolerance policy and do our best to please our customers in all markets with properly sourced product."

2014-12-18 |

EU: New scheme fails to change flawed GMO authorisation process

For a GMO-free EU! For a GMO-free EU!

The European Parliament's environment committee today voted to endorse an agreement on a new scheme for the authorisation of genetically-modified organisms in the EU. The Greens voted against the new scheme, as it would renationalise decisions about GMO cultivation instead of reforming the risk assessment process for GMOs, which is urgently needed. After the vote, Green food safety spokesperson Bart Staes said:

“This new scheme risks being a slippery slope for easing EU GMO authorisations, without providing certainty for those wanting to opt-out or say 'no' to GMOs. It fails to provide a legally watertight basis for those countries wishing to opt out and, as such, this 'renationalisation' of decisions on GMO cultivation is a Trojan horse. The agreement would also fail to ensure there are meaningful mandatory measures to prevent the contamination of non-GM crops, with the myriad of issues this raises for growers wanting to remain GM-free. More importantly, it fails to really change the fundamentally flawed EU approval process in itself.

2014-12-16 |

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

Inf’OGM Inf’OGM

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 |

Australia: Who are the GM-Free Farmers?

GM-Free Farmers GM-Free Farmers

The GM-Free Farmers are a not-for-profit farming group with membership currently open to any Western Australian farmer.

The idea to start a new group dedicated to GM-free farming has been in the making for a number of years. The current situation in WA regarding the possible repeal of the GM Crop-Free Areas Act 2003, finally drove a core group of fifteen mostly conventional farmers from all over WA to take the initiative, hold an informal meeting and form the GM-Free Farmers in Sept 2014. A number of objectives were carefully drafted into a Mission Statement by which all future actions will be governed.

The most important issue the group quickly identified was the current lack of representation in the media and government of their views. With a group representing the majority of farmers' opinions on GM crops, a much more balanced debate can be had instead of just relying on industry motivated
statements from a few outspoken individuals as has been the case up until now.

A recent national poll (Farmonline - 9/6/14 "Should Australia embrace GM wheat?") attracted a staggering 1554 votes with a result of 93.2% against the idea. The GM-Free Farmers aim to give this clear majority of farmers a much needed outlet to voice their concerns on GM issues.

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