2015-05-27 |

EU Parliament draft report on organic regulation, going in the right direction

EU Organic Logo EU Organic Logo

Brussels, 26 May 2015 – Today the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the Commission’s proposal for a new EU organic regulation, Martin Häusling, has presented his report to the Parliament Agriculture Committee.

“We welcome Martin Häusling’s report, which better reflects the needs of the organic sector, and is in line with the opinion of the Committee of the Regions and the independent evaluation report subcontracted by the Commission in 2012. It is a major step in the right direction, focusing on the needed improvements in the current legislation and clearly showing an understanding that an evolution of the organic regulation is needed, not a revolution”, said IFOAM EU President Christopher Stopes.

“One of the main issues hampering the organic sector is uneven implementation by Member States and the Green’s report adds new elements to the discussion,” stated Marco Schlüter, IFOAM EU Director. “The report also removes the most problematic elements of the Commission’s proposal, including the wrong-headed decertification threshold which would make organic farmers and processors pay for the pollution caused by adventitious contamination. In restoring the control aspects to the organic regulation, MEP Häusling also maintains the understanding that the organic food and farming based on a principled process of production, which cannot be evaluated simply by testing a final product. Import is another area where progress has been made, as the Green MEP corrects the Commission’s flawed compliance-based approach which would be detrimental to developing countries and would affect the availability of products for EU processors and consumers. Overall Häusling’s report is a good basis for discussion, even though some aspects need to be fine-tuned”.

2015-05-22 |

Laws regulating seeds in South Africa to entrench hunger and inequality

African Centre for Biodiversity African Centre for Biodiversity

Press Release from the Food Sovereignty Campaign

On 15 May South Africa’s Portfolio Committee on Agriculture held public hearings on two Bills that protect and regulate the commercial seed industry; the Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) Bill and the Plant Improvement Bill. The PBR Bill aims to stimulate innovation in plant breeding by awarding extremely strong intellectual property rights to breeders and the Plant Improvement Bill allows only certified seed to be sold on the commercial market. Several NGOs and smallholder farmers made submissions to the committee, saying that the laws will entrench inequality and deepen the hunger crisis in the country because the Bills are oblivious to seed systems that support smallholder farmers and ecological forms of farming. These laws do not recognise or protect farmer-managed seed systems or agricultural biodiversity but undermine the rights of farmers, including their right to re-use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds.

South Africa is one of the few African countries that is Party to the 1978 International Union for Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV) - an intergovernmental organization that was established to reward breeders for their new plant varieties by granting intellectual property rights (IPRs) on the basis of a set of clearly defined principles. This has resulted in highly industrialised seed sectors where commercial breeders have strong protection, while farmers are restricted from sharing or selling seed that is protected under this regime. The South African PBR Bill (like its current Act), is based on UPOV 1991 and not UPOV 1978. UPOV 1991 has been slammed world-wide for giving private breeders excessive protection; criticisms include that UPOV 1991 protects private breeders IPRs but does not protect farmers’ varieties from misappropriation; that it promotes genetically uniform seed suited to industrial chemical-dependent agricultural systems that are environmentally harmful, that it does not exempt crops that are important for food security from exclusive property rights and critically, that it outlaws the age-old practice of exchanging seed which has resulted in the agricultural diversity that we know today. Seed exchange also provides safety nets amongst communities for food sovereignty. The second Bill, the Plant Improvement Bill, could also outlaw the sale or exchange of seed that does not meet stringent and higly industralised certification standards set out in the Bill, and these standards apply to commercial seed, not farmers’ varieties or seed appropriate for ecological agriculture. This creates a deeply troubling and inequitable situation where only certified corporate seed is allowed on the market.

2015-05-21 |

In unusual move, German scientists lobby for GM labeling

BERLIN—When it comes to labeling genetically modified (GM) food, the battle lines are usually clear: Those who oppose genetic engineering want it labeled, and those who support it see no need. But today, a group of German scientists and other proponents of GM organisms launched a campaign to require labeling of anything that contains or has been produced with the help of GM organisms.

Their unusual plea is a political gamble; rather than making it more difficult for GM products to reach consumers, they hope the new law will show Germans just how widespread such products already are—whether it’s in food, clothes, drugs, or washing powder—and that there is nothing to be afraid of.

The petition to the German parliament, which will go online tomorrow, asks the German government to prepare a law that requires GM labeling for all food, feed, drugs, textiles, chemicals, and other products that have been produced using genetic engineering. The petition also calls on the government to advocate a similar law at the E.U. level.

2015-05-21 |

March Against Monsanto 2015 is set to launch worldwide on May 23

Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) Roundup Greenwash Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) Roundup Greenwash

WORLDWIDE – On May 23, 2015, hundreds of thousands of concerned individuals will gather across 38 countries and 428 cities to join in peaceful protest against the Monsanto Company as a part of the March Against Monsanto grassroots campaign. This movement seeks to raise awareness to the dangers surrounding Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds and cancer-linked herbicide Roundup.

The campaign comes as the demand for GMO labeling and non-GMO food alternatives continues its exponential climb, with states like Vermont enacting mandatory GM labeling legislation that will require food corporations to let consumers know if their products contain GM ingredients.

In polls conducted by the New York Times, Washington Post, Consumer Reports, and many others, over 90% of respondents were in support of national GMO labeling – an initiative that has been defeated time and time again at the state level thanks to heavy spending by Monsanto-backed lobbying groups.

2015-05-20 |

USA: GMO Court Case From The NO-GMO Side

Genetically modified crops--universally called GMO--are not going away, and neither is the controversy over them.

Industry and many regulatory bodies insist they are safe, but many consumers and activists want them tightly controlled, if used at all.

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