News

16.02.2017

I voted against CETA because it does not protect Bulgaria’s national interests

Strasburg. “I voted against CETA, because I do not believe it is in the interest of Bulgaria,” stated MEP Momchil Nekov in plenary after the ratification of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the press office of the MEP announced. For years, agriculture in the country has been shrinking. Removing import duties for Canada would most likely result in Bulgarian production having additional competition, for the local and European markets. A big part of products that have transitional quotas, such as beef and pork, are a threat to these sectors in Bulgaria.

“Last but not least, Canada is the fifth largest producer of GMO foods in the world. The European Commission claims that Canadian foods would have to comply with European law. But this means labelling the foods.

15.02.2017

Activists keep justice afloat as CETA threatens to sink democracy

Campaigners warn EU-Canada trade deal is surrender to corporate takeover

Press release

Strasbourg/Brussels – Eleven activists kept a sinking statue of lady justice afloat in the icy waters surrounding the European Parliament in Strasbourg, ahead of a crucial vote on a controversial EU-Canada trade and investment protection deal.

Photos and video available for download soon.

Activists will stay in the water until the vote.

Environment, health and labour rights campaigners warn that the deal – known as CETA – would hand corporations the power to sue governments and threatens laws that protect nature, public health and social rights.

The swimmers (from France and Germany), wearing survival suits and supported by activists in three inflatable boats, urged members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to reject the deal and displayed banners in English, French, German and Dutch. The English banner read: “Sink CETA, not justice”.

15.02.2017

Deal puts interests of big business first

The European Parliament has today (15 Feb) voted in favour of CETA. Commenting on the vote, Greens/EFA trade spokesperson Yannick Jadot said:

"This is a defeat for the EU and for the prospect of regulating globalization by putting human and social rights and the environment ahead of the interests of big businesses. A majority of MEPs, including the EPP, Liberals and many from the S&D, have shown themselves to be deaf to the well-grounded concerns of civil society, employees, consumers, local authorities, SMEs, lawyers and citizens.

"The European Parliament has failed to learn the lessons from the Brexit vote and Trump victory and has increased the power of the multinationals at the expense of citizens. Let's not forget, CETA was negotiated by former Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper, a well-known climate sceptic, and former Commissioner De Gucht, who had various business interests. This conflict of interest laid the ground for an agreement built by, and for, big businesses.

15.02.2017

BioChecked founder: ‘We knew non glyphosate certification was going to be something people look for’

After observing trade shows, lab test requests, and online forums on food and health, BioChecked executive director Scott Prentice and his team thought the timing was right to launch a 'non glyphosate' certification.

15.02.2017

GMO'Golden Rice': Unexpected genomic effects

Rice plants show reduced growth and irregular gene expression

15 February 2017 / A new publication has reported unintended effects in genetically engineered rice producing precursors of vitamin A, so-called carotenoids. Crossing the manipulated rice with the Indian variety Swarna led to a nasty surprise: The resulting plants showed extensive disturbance in their growth. The researchers identified several reasons for this: The new gene constructs interfere with the plant’s own gene for producing growth hormones, and the additional gene constructs were not, as intended, active solely in the kernels, but also in the leaves. This led to a substantial reduction in the content of chlorophyll that is essential for vital functions in the plants.

These unintended effects were not detected in previous investigations, and it was assumed that the genetically engineered plants used in these trials would show genetic stability. In fact, these detrimental genomic effects remained undetected until the transgenic plants were crossed with the variety called Swarna, which is grown widely in India.

The observed effects are highly relevant for the risk assessment of the plants. Once released, the transgenic plants could spread their gene constructs into populations of weedy rice as well as other cultivated varieties. In addition, genomic effects not found in the original plants can occur in plant offspring. At the stage when the hazards are identified, it can be impossible to remove the transgenes from the environment.

14.02.2017

Italy urged to follow through with ban on glyphosate co-formulant

NGOs are warning Italy that it should not extend a grace period and ensure that pesticides containing glyphosate do not contain the toxic co-formulant POE-tallowamine.

On 29 June 2016, the European Commission decided to extend the licence of weed-killer glyphosate for another 18 months until the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki issues its own scientific assessment of the substance.

With the support of member states, the Commission also set some conditions on the approval of glyphosate. One of them was for the member states to ensure that plant protection products (PPP) containing glyphosate do not contain the co-formulant POE-tallowamine.

13.02.2017

Questions about EPA-Monsanto collusion raised in cancer lawsuits

Now it’s getting interesting.

A new court filing made on behalf of dozens of people claiming Monsanto Co.’s Roundup herbicide gave them cancer includes information about alleged efforts within the Environmental Protection Agency to protect Monsanto’s interests and unfairly aid the agrichemical industry.

The filing, made late Friday by plaintiff’s attorneys, includes what the attorneys represent to be correspondence from a 30-year career EPA scientist accusing top-ranking EPA official Jess Rowland of playing “your political conniving games with the science” to favor pesticide manufacturers such as Monsanto. Rowland oversaw the EPA’s cancer assessment for glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s weed-killing products, and was a key author of a report finding glyphosate was not likely to be carcinogenic. But in the correspondence, longtime EPA toxicologist Marion Copley cites evidence from animal studies and writes: “It is essentially certain that glyphosate causes cancer.”

13.02.2017

Bayer-Monsanto merger: An existential threat to South Africa’s food system

PRESS RELEASE

In December 2016 Monsanto shareholders voted in favour of the sale of the company to Bayer for US$66 billion, making it the largest-ever foreign corporate takeover by a German company.

Both Bayer and Monsanto are major global manufacturers of agrochemicals and seeds, including genetically modified seed. A merged entity would be the world’s largest supplier by sales of both seeds and pesticides, controlling 29 percent of the world’s commercial seed markets and 24 percent of the world’s pesticide markets. Bayer and Monsanto are major actors in South Africa’s seed and agrochemical industries. The deal will require approval from about 30 regulatory agencies around the world, including by South Africa’s Competition Commission.

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, has produced a briefing paper titled, ‘The BAYER-MONSANTO merger: Implications for South Africa’s agricultural future and its smallholder farmers” which outlines that the proposed merger is taking place against a backdrop of other related mega-mergers in the seed and agro-chemicals sectors: between US chemical giants Dow and DuPont in a deal estimated to be worth US$130 billion, and China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) and Swiss-based Syngenta in a deal worth around US$43 billion.

13.02.2017

Gene Drives: A Scientific Case for a Complete and Perpetual Ban

One of the central issues of our day is how to safely manage the outputs of industrial innovation. Novel products incorporating nanotechnology, biotechnology, rare metals, microwaves, novel chemicals, and more, enter the market on a daily basis. Yet none of these products come with an adequate data set of scientific information. Nor do they come with a clear intellectual framework within which their risks can be placed, as disputes over the precautionary principle show. The majority of products receive no regulatory supervision at all. How will the product be disposed of? What populations and which ecosystems will be exposed in the course of its advertised uses? What will be the consequences of accidental, off-label or illegal uses? Typically, none of these kinds of questions are adequately asked by government regulatory agencies unless citizens actively prod them to do so.

In consequence of these defects, we expose our world to unique hazards with every product launch. In comparison with its tremendous importance, this is surely one of the least discussed issues of our day.

09.02.2017

GMO dicamba-resistant soybean - "New" pesticides, same Monsanto story

Last fall, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rubberstamped Monsanto’s newest formulation of the herbicide dicamba for use on the corporation’s genetically engineered (GE), dicamba-resistant soybean and cotton seeds. Expecting that this approval will lead to a dramatic increase in use of the herbicide dicamba, PAN and partners just filed a federal lawsuit challenging the agency's decision to risk farmer livelihoods, community health and the environment.

The original version of dicamba, which is still on the market, has been around for over 45 years and is responsible for the third highest number of drift-related crop damage incidents in the U.S. Monsanto claims that its new formulation, ”XtendiMax," is less likely to drift from the fields where it's applied — although there is no guarantee that this newer, more expensive formulation will be used in place of the older, cheaper option.