News

11.08.2017

Weedkiller banned by council over cancer fears

A weedkiller that is believed to have the potential to cause cancer will be banned by South Dublin County Council (SDCC) by the new year.

The council has voted to ban the use of glyphosate while negotiations continue at European level over the future of the controversial weedkiller in farming.

The vote was tabled by Sinn Fein councillor Enda Fanning, who said that a 2015 report by the International Agency for Research Against Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate was probably carcinogenic to humans.

11.08.2017

Canada: 4.5 tonnes of unmarked genetically modified salmon fillets sold

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- It appears Canadians were among the first diners in the world to eat a genetically modified animal -- and they likely didn't know it.

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Lucy Sharratt, co-ordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, said news of the sales without advance public notice is alarming.

"It's shocking," she said from Ottawa. "Canadians are the first in the world to eat this genetically modified fish, the world's first genetically modified food animal, and they did so unknowingly. And even now that we know (it's) on the market in Canada, we don't know where or how much."

Sharratt said genetically modified foods aren't linked to specific health issues. Still, she described a gaping lack of public information.

"For 20 years, genetically modified foods have been introduced with no transparency in the marketplace but, equally, no transparency in regulation. There's very little public science. There's very little government science.

"Canadians are being asked to trust corporate data and a process that is not open for them to look at."

Sharratt said AquaBounty has moved to expand its research and egg production site in P.E.I. with a new "genetically modified fish factory" at Rollo Bay in the province.

10.08.2017

Guinea pig Canadians offered ‘world’s first’ GMO salmon

Food safety activists and environmentalists are concerned over the potential risks from a new US brand of genetically-modified salmon, which has just hit Canadian shelves. Some believe Canadians are being used as guinea pigs for potentially harmful technology.

After trying for two decades, AquaBounty Technologies’ GM salmon was finally approved for sale in Canada in 2016, which led to the most recent developments.

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IGA and Costco supermarkets posted on their websites that they do not intend to sell the salmon.

Environmentalist groups are outraged by the new product.

The Montreal-based organization GMO Vigilance has stated on their website that the sale of the salmon in Canada makes Canadians “guinea pigs,” and they believe that the government should introduce legislation that requires GM foods to be labeled appropriately.

"It's a world first … The first genetically modified animal is on the market, and consumers in Quebec and Canada will become the first guinea-pigs unknowingly. In the absence of mandatory labeling we still cannot make an informed choice,” Thibault Rehn, a coordinator at GMO Vigilance, said, according to CNBC.

09.08.2017

Canadians unknowingly eating GM food 

Canada has become the first country where a genetically modified animal is sold for human consumption, and Canadians may have unwittingly been eating it over the past year.

In its latest earnings statement, AquaBounty Technologies Inc., a U.S.-based biotechnology company that holds the licence to produce the GM fish at a hatchery in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island, reported that about 4.5 tonnes of "fresh AquAdvantage Salmon fillets” have been sold in Canada in the second quarter of 2017.

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The company did not indicate where the fish is sold or respond to an interview request.

Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Ottawa-based Canadian Biotechnology Action Network that has called for mandatory labelling of genetically engineered food, said that while some major Canadian grocery chains have no plans to sell the GM salmon, it could have ended up in smaller stores or on restaurant menus.

“Because there’s no labelling in Canada, Canadians who have been buying salmon, haven’t had a choice,’ she said. “There’s no transparency in the grocery store for Canadians. Canada is an easy market for GM salmon.”

09.08.2017

Monsanto Was Its Own Ghostwriter for Some Safety Reviews

Academic papers vindicating its Roundup herbicide were written with the help of its employees.

Monsanto Co. started an agricultural revolution with its “Roundup Ready” seeds, genetically modified to resist the effects of its blockbuster herbicide called Roundup. That ability to kill weeds while leaving desirable crops intact helped the company turn Roundup’s active ingredient, the chemical glyphosate, into one of the world’s most-used crop chemicals. When that heavy use raised health concerns, Monsanto noted that the herbicide’s safety had repeatedly been vetted by outsiders. But now there’s new evidence that Monsanto’s claims of rigorous scientific review are suspect.

Dozens of internal Monsanto emails, released on Aug. 1 by plaintiffs’ lawyers who are suing the company, reveal how Monsanto worked with an outside consulting firm to induce the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology to publish a purported “independent” review of Roundup’s health effects that appears to be anything but. The review, published along with four subpapers in a September 2016 special supplement, was aimed at rebutting the 2015 assessment by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. That finding by the cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization led California last month to list glyphosate as a known human carcinogen. It has also spurred more than 1,000 lawsuits in state and federal courts by plaintiffs who claim they contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma from Roundup exposure.

09.08.2017

The zoo beneath our feet: We’re only beginning to understand soil’s hidden world

The gardener has a long, touchy-feely relationship with the soil. As every good cultivator knows, you assess the earth by holding it. Is it dark and crumbly, is there an earthworm or beetle in there, is it moist, and when you smell it, are you getting that pleasant earthy aroma?

All these signs are reassuring, and have been through the ages, but they are mere indicators of something much greater and infinitely mysterious: a hidden universe beneath our feet.

This cosmos is only now revealing itself as a result of scientific discoveries based on better microscopic imaging and DNA analysis. There is much still to learn, but it boils down to this: Plants nurture a whole world of creatures in the soil that in return feed and protect the plants, including and especially trees. It is a subterranean community that includes worms, insects, mites, other arthropods you’ve never heard of, amoebas, and fellow protozoa. The dominant organisms are bacteria and fungi. All these players work together, sometimes by eating one another.

08.08.2017

Asia farmers' network resounds strong call to Stop Golden Rice!

Stop Golden Rice! Defend our Farmers‘ Rights! remains the resounding call of Asia farmers‘ network against the impending commercialization of Golden Rice in Asia. Four years after the militant uprooting of Golden Rice, waves of protest mobilizations stirs anew in the Philippines and Bangladesh against its commercialization, while debate rages on in Indonesia, India and other Asian countries where Golden Rice is planned for commercial release.

Today, a protest campaign in front of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) was held by hundreds of farmers and civil society supporters led by the National Women Farmers and Workers Association (NWFA) and Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation (BAFLF). A public forum on GMOs and Golden Rice was also held by NWFA and BAFLF few days back last August 4-5 in Gazipur to bring the public issue to the fore.

02.08.2017

Bayer-Monsanto Merger is a Bad Deal for Vegetable Farmers

OSA continues to join farmer, consumer, and rural advocacy organizations in urging the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to block the proposed merger between Bayer and Monsanto.

In a letter sent today to DOJ two dozen groups detailed the potential anticompetitive effects of the proposed $66 billion merger on the vegetable seed market. The proposed deal would join the world’s largest and fourth largest vegetable seed companies and would further consolidate the already highly concentrated vegetable seed industry (see Table 1). If this merger goes through, farmers will likely pay more for a diminished array of seed options. Vegetable seed prices have increased tremendously alongside mega-mergers in the vegetable seed industry (see Figure 2).

Today, the largest vegetable seed companies are vertically integrated firms that research and breed varieties, multiply and manufacture seeds, and distribute and market seeds to farmers. Only a few vegetable seed companies dominate the market for each commercial vegetable crop (see Figure 1), and these companies are primarily interested in a relatively narrow set of high-value vegetables.

02.08.2017

Donau Soja and ProTerra Join for a European Cooperation

Amsterdam / Vienna -- The ProTerra Foundation, an international organisation based in the Netherlands, and the European Soya Organisation Donau Soja, an international NGO based in Austria, have agreed to work in close cooperation regarding the certification of sustainable soya grown in Europe. ProTerra recognises the Europe Soya Standard as the European interpretation of the ProTerra Standard. Soybean producers and processors within Europe will have their products certified according to the Europe Soya Standard, while soya producers outside Europe will continue to do so according to the ProTerra standard. This will allow all market participants to be certified according to one widely recognised standard and to maximize synergies between Donau Soja's European network and ProTerra's global experience. As the standard holder of Europe Soya, the Donau Soja Association will serve the European market with the support of the ProTerra Foundation.

"I am very pleased for the opportunity to work hand in hand with Donau Soja to provide synergies, alternatives and solutions for market participants who are securing the supply of sustainably grown European soybeans without GMOs that are equivalent to the soybeans and soya derivatives from Brazil and other origins certified against the ProTerra Standard. The pooled efforts with Europe Soya will result in a stronger and unified European soya standard that aims at zero deforestation and will benefit producers, processors, retailers, and – most of all – consumers", comments ProTerra Chairman Augusto Freire.

"I am extremely happy that our two organisations will be joining forces to certify and label sustainable European non-GMO soybeans and soya products according to a combined sustainability standard and quality scheme. We are convinced this will help us promote our mission to make European agriculture more sustainable by deploying legume crop rotation according to best practice standards. It will also be good for the market, there will soon be many more certified products available for all market participants. Thanks to our cooperation with ProTerra, we can have a much greater impact on the market and on sustainability", adds Matthias Krön, Chairman of Donau Soja Association.

EU legislation is the minimum requirement for the Europe Soya Standard and a baseline in all relevant aspects of the production chain, even for non-EU countries, such as Serbia, Bosnia, Moldova, and Ukraine. This is particularly relevant in terms of the use of chemicals, regarding which EU legislation exhibits more strict regulations than many non-EU countries. Europe Soya also forbids desiccation with substances like glyphosate. The Europe Soya Standard includes requirements such as a ban on land use change (e.g. no deforestation), the obligation to respect social and labour rights (ILO conventions), and a non-GMO status according to existing regulations. (For additional details see: www.donausoja.org/downloads.)

The continent of Europe currently imports the equivalent of around 40 million tons of soybeans per year that were grown on approximately 16 million hectares. The mid-term potential for European soy production and cultivation is around 15 million tons in the next ten years. Current production is approximately 9.2 million tons. ProTerra and Donau Soja share a common goal to jointly realise this potential via viable means and by way of sustainable soybeans grown in Europe as well as imported soybeans that are produced sustainably and in accord with the ProTerra Standard.

Augusto Freire and Matthias Krön jointly conclude that, "We are convinced that our new cooperation will allow us to contribute to a healthier and more sustainable agriculture worldwide."

01.08.2017

New 'Monsanto Papers' Add To Questions Of Regulatory Collusion, Scientific Mischief

The other shoe just dropped.

Four months after the publication of a batch of internal Monsanto Co. documents stirred international controversy, a new trove of company records was released early Tuesday, providing fresh fuel for a heated global debate over whether or not the agricultural chemical giant suppressed information about the potential dangers of its Roundup herbicide and relied on U.S. regulators for help.

More than 75 documents, including intriguing text messages and discussions about payments to scientists, were posted for public viewing early Tuesday morning by attorneys who are suing Monsanto on behalf of people alleging Roundup caused them or their family members to become ill with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. The attorneys posted the documents, which total more than 700 pages, on the website for the law firm Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman, one of many firms representing thousands of plaintiffs who are pursuing claims against Monsanto. More than 100 of those lawsuits have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation in federal court in San Francisco, while other similar lawsuits are pending in state courts in Missouri, Delaware, Arizona and elsewhere. The documents, which were obtained through court-ordered discovery in the litigation, are also available as part of a long list of Roundup court case documents compiled by the consumer group I work for, U.S. Right to Know.