News

17.10.2017

GM Cotton in Africa: Battleground Between US and Chinese Capital

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACBIO), shares with you its new research report titled, GM Cotton in Africa: Battleground between Chinese and US Capital.

The report shows that 13 African countries undertook field trials or granted approval for the commercial growing of genetically modified (GM) crops in 2016. Cotton is the first adopter GM crop to gain entry into countries where there is fierce opposition to eating GM food or using it as animal feed. There is, however, no barrier between fibre, feed and food with cotton as cotton seed oil is used in a range of food products across the continent, and by-products from the milling process is used for animal feed.

While currently, only South Africa and Sudan cultivate GM cotton commercially, commercial growing is expected in Ethiopia, Malawi and Kenya in 2018/19. Various entities supported by the United States (US) government, are also putting pressure on several African countries to relax their strict liability provisions in their biosafety laws. Zambia, Swaziland and Mozambique are in the process of doing so, and Tanzania has already done so. Yet in many countries such as Swaziland, field trials are being conducted without proper regulatory oversight.

11.10.2017

Oman already glyphosate free even as issue is hotly contested in EU

EU citizens gathered over one million signatures in an effort to get the European Commission to ban glyphosate, the active ingredient used in some herbicides. The European Commission officially received the petition on October 6. The controversial ingredient has been banned in the GCC since last year.

Eng Saleh al Abri, director general of agricultural development in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF), said, “Glyphosate hasn't been available in Oman since 2016.”

04.10.2017

Are GMO Pesticides Supertoxins? A New Analysis Raises Questions of Food and Environmental Safety

The chief benefit claimed for GMO pesticidal Bt crops is that, unlike conventional pesticides, their toxicity is limited to a few insect species. Our new peer-reviewed analysis systematically compares GMO and ancestral Bt proteins and shows that many of the elements contributing to this narrow toxicity have been removed by GMO developers in the process of inserting Bt toxins into crops. Thus, developers have made GMO pesticides that, in the words of one Monsanto patent, are “super toxins”. We additionally conclude that references to any GMO Bt toxins being “natural” are incorrect and scientifically unsupportable.

New Publication Title: The Distinct Properties of Natural and GM Cry Insecticidal Proteins

Authors: Jonathan R. Latham, Madeleine Love & Angelika Hilbeck (2017), in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews, 33:1, 62-96,

DOI: 10.1080/02648725.2017.1357295.

Available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02648725.2017.1357295

28.09.2017

End commercial release of new Bt cotton seeds

The Maharashtra government has asked the Centre to reverse its nod for the commercial release of genetically modified (Bt) cotton seeds grown using Bollgard II (BG-2) technology. The State claimed that the seeds lost their ability to fight diseases and reduced crop productivity.

28.09.2017

Group Presidents to withdraw access to Monsanto lobbyists

At their meeting today, the parliamentary leaders in the European Parliament decided to withdrawn access to lobbyists and other representatives of the Monsanto group from the United States until further notice. The President of the Parliament has been given the task of informing the group accordingly. The Greens/EFA Group had requested this after Monsanto declined to attend Parliament for a hearing on the Monsanto Papers.

Greens/EFA Group president Philippe Lamberts comments:

"Those who ignore the rules of democracy also lose their rights as a lobbyist in the European Parliament. US corporations must also accept the democratic control function of the parliament. Monsanto cannot escape this. There remain many uncertainties in the assessment of the pesticide glyphosate. Monsanto has to face the questions of parliamentarians and should not hinder the clarification process."

28.09.2017

Monsanto banned from European parliament

MEPs withdraw parliamentary access after the firm shunned a hearing into allegations that it unduly influenced studies into the safety of glyphosate used in its RoundUp weedkiller

Monsanto lobbyists have been banned from entering the European parliament after the multinational refused to attend a parliamentary hearing into allegations of regulatory interference.

It is the first time MEPs have used new rules to withdraw parliamentary access for firms that ignore a summons to attend parliamentary inquiries or hearings.

Monsanto officials will now be unable to meet MEPs, attend committee meetings or use digital resources on parliament premises in Brussels or Strasbourg.

While a formal process still needs to be worked through, a spokesman for the parliament’s president Antonio Tajani said that the leaders of all major parliamentary blocks had backed the ban in a vote this morning.

“One has to assume it is effective immediately,” he said.

MEPs had been incensed at a Monsanto decision to shun a hearing organised by the environment and agriculture committees, with academics, regulators and campaigners, on 11 October.

The meeting is expected to hear allegations that Monsanto unduly influenced regulatory studies into the safety of glyphosate, a key ingredient in its best-selling RoundUp weedkiller.

28.09.2017

Products of new GM techniques must be strictly regulated as GMOs, say scientists

Risks of new GM techniques include toxic food crops and ecological harm, says a statement signed by over 60 scientists

The products of new genetic modification techniques (NGMTs) are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and should be strictly regulated as such, according to a statement released today by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER).

The statement challenges claims by proponents that these new GM techniques (often called New Plant Breeding Techniques or NPBTs) are so precise and controllable that their products are not genetically modified organisms in the usual sense and do not pose any greater risks than their non-GMO counterparts. Proponents are arguing for deregulation of the products of new GM techniques at the European level. This would mean that these products would not undergo a mandatory safety assessment and would not carry a GMO label.

However, according to the ENSSER statement, which is currently signed by over 60 international scientists, scientific evidence shows that these techniques (including CRISPR-Cas/Cpf to oligonucleotide directed mutagenesis, cisgenesis, and RNA-dependent DNA methylation) “are highly prone to off-target effects”. In the case of food crops produced with these techniques, that could lead to unexpected toxicity or allergenicity.

25.09.2017

France reaffirms opposition to glyphosate licence renewal

France reaffirmed on Monday (25 September) its opposition to plans by the European Commission to extend its approval for the weed killer product glyphosate, the prime minister’s office said.

“The European Commission has proposed renewing its approval for glyphosate for another ten years. This is far too long, given the concerns that remain over this product, and France will vote against the proposal, as clearly laid out previously in July,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a statement.

Concerns over glyphosate’s risk to human health have prompted investigations by US congressional committees and delayed a relicensing decision in the EU.

The EU executive has proposed extending approval for glyphosate by ten years after the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) said in a study in March it should not be classified as a cancer-causing substance.

A qualified majority is required in the Council in order for the reauthorisation to pass, so France’s veto could prove crucial.

18.09.2017

GM seed choice shouldn’t be dictated: Italian farmers question EU court ruling on Monsanto corn

Not all Italian farmers welcome a European court ruling this week allowing growers to cultivate genetically-modified corn in Italy. Some farmers told RT that the majority reject GM seeds and question the EU interfering in national laws.

The European Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled in favor of Giorgio Fidenato, an Italian activist farmer who faces fines for growing genetically-modified maize MON 810 on his land in 2014, despite a 2013 government decree banning its cultivation.

In 2013, Italy asked the European Commission to adopt emergency measures prohibiting the planting of the Monsanto-produced seeds in light of new scientific studies carried out by Italian scientists.

The Italian government is fearful that genetically-modified foods are less natural than traditional crops and could therefore be dangerous and have lasting negative effects.

“These crops are forbidden because we still do not understand what the consequences are. So far, there has been no proper and in-depth research. For this reason, we do not know in five years, ten years, twenty years, what can happen,” Mauro Uniformi, Vice President of the Association of Agronomist and Forest Doctors, told RT.

15.09.2017

Osage farmer grows non-GMO beans

OSAGE | “I am not mainstream, I am more in the process of growing food,” said Mike Lewis, who farms southeast of Osage. “All my stuff is non-GMO.”

Lewis, an Osage High School and a 1980 Iowa State University with a degree in farm operations, recognizes he has to deal with problems GMO farmers don’t have, but he also acknowledges the production of his food-grade soybeans brings a premium price, which overshadows some of the challenges he faces.

Thirty years ago, Lewis began a limited planting of the food-grade soybeans. Ten years later, he turned to full production of the soybeans.