News

25.03.2019 |

Gene-silencing GMO dsRNA insecticides can be taken up by soil microbes

Study finds new insecticides don't degrade as efficiently as previously thought

Genetic engineers are developing new types of insecticides based on dsRNA (double-stranded RNA). They are intended to work by reducing (“silencing”) the expression of target genes of insect pests through a mechanism called RNA interference (RNAi), resulting in the death of the pests.

They can either be genetically engineered into the plant or sprayed on.

However, scientists have not understood what happens to these insecticides once they contact the soil. Do they break down easily or persist, potentially affecting soil organisms?

A new study by researchers at Washington University in St Louis, USA and ETH Zurich, Switzerland, gives some answers.

The researchers looked at the fate of dsRNA in different types of soil. They found that in some soils, enzymes in the soil can break down the insecticide and microbes can eat it, meaning that the dsRNA insecticide degrades.

23.03.2019 |

Schulze Klöckner attacks due to glyphosate’s approval

In the dispute over the approval of a glyphosate-containing Unkrautgifts the Federal environment Minister, Svenja Schulze (SPD) has accused the Federal agriculture Minister, Julia Klöckner (CDU) unauthorized Action.

“Normally, we do this together, it has issued without the approval of my authorities, as a permit,” said Schulze, in an Interview the week of the Deutschlandfunk to be broadcast on Sunday. “I can’t.” In the coalition agreement is clearly stipulated that Germany should get out of glyphosate.

22.03.2019 |

Los Angeles bans Monsanto’s Roundup after latest jury ruling in cancer trial

Los Angeles county authorities have banned all use of notorious weed killer glyphosate – the herbicide better known by its Monsanto/Bayer trade name, Roundup – after a second court ruling linking it to a man’s cancer.

“I am asking county departments to stop the use of this herbicide until public health and environmental professionals can determine if it’s safe for further use in L.A. County and explore alternative methods for vegetation management,” Kathryn Barger of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors said.

22.03.2019 |

Weed killer residues found in 98 percent of Canadian honey samples

Study is the latest evidence that glyphosate herbicides are so pervasive that residues can be found in foods not produced by farmers using glyphosate.

As U.S. regulators continue to dance around the issue of testing foods for residues of glyphosate weed killers, government scientists in Canada have found the pesticide in 197 of 200 samples of honey they examined.

The authors of the study, all of whom work for Agri-Food Laboratories at the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, said the prevalence of glyphosate residues in honey samples - 98.5 percent - was higher than what was reported in several similar studies done over the last five years in other countries.

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The Canadian report, published in a journal called Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, said that glyphosate is currently an active ingredient in 181 herbicides registered for use in Canada and its widespread use has made it commonly found in the environment.

The study authors pointed out that Canada, like the United States, does not have a legal standard for how much of the herbicide is considered safe in honey. Regulators in different countries set what are referred to as "maximum residue limits" (MRLs) and tell consumers their food is safe if pesticide residues remain below the MRLs. In Europe, the MRL for glyphosate in honey is 0.05 mg/kg, also expressed as 50 μg/kg.

15.03.2019 |

US example shows why "new GM" crop plants must be regulated

Risk assessments and labelling needed for each "new GMO" to protect people and environment

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already given non-regulated status to more than 20 plants genetically engineered with so-called genome editing techniques, according to research by Testbiotech. None of the applications registered at USDA were referred for further more detailed assessment. The Testbiotech report published today shows that there are, however, significant differences in methods of production, traits, and risks of the non-regulated plants, in comparison to those derived from conventional breeding.

These differences are not caused by the newly introduced gene sequences but by the patterns of genetic changes. "Gene-scissors" such as CRISPR/Cas can delete whole families of gene variants all at once – but this is either impossible or barely possible with current conventional breeding methods. A further specific difference is that in a first step, older methods such as the "gene gun" (biolistic method) or gene transfer via Agrobacterium tumefaciens are commonly used. However, USDA completely ignores these differences to conventional breeding.

15.03.2019 |

Bill Would Ban Late-Harvest Spraying of Roundup Weedkiller on Oats

DeLauro’s Legislation Would Require Tests for Glyphosate on Kids’ Foods

WASHINGTON – Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced legislation today to dramatically limit American children’s exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, in food. The bill would not only ban late-harvest spraying of glyphosate on oats but also require the federal government to test foods popular with children for the herbicide, which has been linked to cancer.

Key provisions in DeLauro’s bill include:

- Prohibiting the spraying of glyphosate as a pre-harvest drying agent on oats.

- Lowering by 300-fold the permissible level of glyphosate residues on oats, restoring the legally allowed level to just 0.1 parts per million, or ppm.

- Requiring the Department of Agriculture to regularly test fruits, vegetables and other foods routinely fed to infants and children for glyphosate residues.

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“It is shocking that USDA’s annual pesticide residue survey fails to include the most widely used pesticide in America,” he said. “Parents deserve to know how much of the food they buy and feed their children could potentially be contaminated with a highly toxic chemical listed by the state of California as a substance known to cause cancer. DeLauro’s bill is an important first step toward providing that information for consumers.”

14.03.2019 |

Am I Regulated? The US example: why new methods of genetically engineering crop plants need to be regulated

New methods of genetic engineering, also known as genome editing, are increasingly at the centre of controversial public debate. One crucial question is, how the risks of organisms resulting from this methods

should be assessed.

In the EU, all genetically engineered organisms must undergo a mandatory risk assessment. In the USA, on the other hand, there are no such legal requirements, instead individual cases are registered at the US Department of Agriculture resp. the APHIS division (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) to assess whether they need to be regulated.

For the purposes of this report, we have chosen organisms already registered with the APHIS division of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which offers a program titled “Am I Regulated?”. The applications filed at APHIS are especially relevant because some of the organisms (mostly plants) are intended for cultivation in the near future, and for use in food and feed production.

14.03.2019 |

Non-GMO Flour Market Growth, Trends, Absolute Opportunity and Value Chain 2018-2028

The non-GMO flour market is likely to remain influenced with growing consumer inclination toward healthy diet worldwide. Various lifestyle diseases have translated in a paradigm shift toward gluten free food products and non-GMO flour is no exception. The non-GMO flour being organic in nature, facilitate removal of bad fat, supporting in maintaining cardio-vascular health of people. In addition non-GMO flour removes obesogens that stack body fat, which results in lower cholesterol levels.

Growing certifications from regulatory authorities are expected to impact the growth of non-GMO flour market. The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and Non-GMO Project Verified are two vital certifications that non-GMO flour must undergo in order to enter the commercial market. Main focus behind these stringent certifications on non-GMO flour is to gain consumer confidence on non-GMO flour and other organic products, largely to push the organic trend worldwide. However, though these certifications ensure zero dent in consumer confidence, it becomes difficult for non-GMO flour producers to fully meet certification requirements.

14.03.2019 |

New cause for concern over weedkiller glyphosate

Study examines how herbicide adds to phosphorus levels in soil and waterways

New research from McGill University reveals an overlooked impact that the widely used herbicide glyphosate may be having on the environment.

First commercialized by Monsanto under the name Roundup, glyphosate has come under scrutiny in the past, mostly in relation to its potential toxicity. This new research, published recently in the Ecological Society of America’s Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, focuses not on direct health risks associated with the herbicide, but on its contribution to environmental phosphorus levels, an issue that has yet to receive much attention.

“No one has thus far investigated the impact of glyphosate use on phosphorus loads in agricultural areas, most likely because pesticides have always been considered a negligible source of nutrients,” says Marie-Pier Hébert, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in the Department of Biology at McGill University.

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“Our study argues that the recent and rapid rise in glyphosate use has magnified its relative importance as a source of anthropogenic phosphorus, especially in areas of intensive corn, soybean and cotton cultivation,” Hébert says.

13.03.2019 |

Domestic supplies of organic, non-GMO crops grow

Mercaris, a market data and auctions startup that is helping to grow organic and non-GMO agriculture in the U.S., released March 13 its monthly market update outlining the current state of organic corn and soybean production and imports in the U.S.

U.S. organic corn production reached nearly 42 million bushels last year, experiencing a 2% year-over-year (y/y) increase that was boosted by acreage expansion in the 2018/2019 marketing year. Yields held mostly even with the prior year, Mercaris noted.

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