News

24.01.2019

French court bans sale of controversial weedkiller

Ruling prohibits sale of a glyphosate product to professionals, citing arguments that chemical is potentially carcinogenic.

A French court has banned the sale of Roundup Pro 360 — a weedkiller that contains the controversial ingredient glyphosate — to professional gardeners and farmers.

The ruling follows the ban enacted on 1 January in France on amateur gardeners buying herbicides that contain glyphosate.

The safety of glyphosate — a widely used herbicide — has been under mounting scrutiny since 2015, when a scientific body of the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that it is “probably carcinogenic” to humans, although other studies disagree.

22.01.2019

We are fed up: Protests call for climate smart food as ministers launch UN digital council

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Berlin on Saturday (19 January) to put pressure on political leaders to promote climate smart agriculture, higher animal welfare standards and farming practices that promote biodiversity.

22.01.2019

Application sent to Defra to conduct GM wheat trials

Researchers have applied to Defra for consent to conduct field trials of genetically modified (GM) wheat and gene-edited Brassica.

The two small-scale field trials are planned to take place at the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park between April and September in each year from 2019 to 2022.

The wheat trial follows research at the John Innes Centre that identified a gene, TaVIT2 which encodes for an iron transporter in wheat.

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In the same application to Defra, researchers have requested consent to trial Brassica oleracea plants, modified using CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology.

22.01.2019

Gene drive mosquitoes and the new era of medical colonialism

African governments are selling out to agribusiness and US military interests, say Mariam Mayet, Lim Li Ching and Eva Sirinathsinghji

The highly contentious issue of gene drive technologies – a novel extreme form of genetic engineering designed to alter or even eradicate entire populations and species – was at the heart of the international negotiations at the biennial UN Biodiversity Conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2018.

On the pretext of supporting scientific innovation for malaria eradication on the African continent, the African Group vociferously defended a techno-fix that does not address the wider determinants of malaria. It loudly supported the latest experiment to be tested on African people – gene drive mosquitoes, which represent the changing face of colonial medicine on the continent.

Consensus on implementing a proposed moratorium on the release of gene drive organisms was not reached due to opposition from many biotech-friendly countries, which included the African Group of Nations – one of five regional negotiating blocs – which strongly advocated for the advancement of gene drive technology. This represents a stark shift away from the African Group’s historical position of being leading defenders of precaution against new technologies that may pose risks to biodiversity and the socio-economic status of their citizens.

In contrast, the global community was acutely concerned about the release of such organisms and their impacts on biodiversity, ecological systems, human health and society.

20.01.2019

35,000 Hit Streets of Berlin to Demand Agricultural Revolution

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals, and rural farmers.

Many held placards reading "Eating is political" at the action in Berlin, which coincided with the so-called "Green Week" agricultural fair.

The protest also featured a procession of 170 farmers driving tractors to the rally at the Brandenburg Gate.

20.01.2019

Thousands protest in Berlin against industrialized agriculture

BERLIN - Thousands of protesters, backed by a procession of farm tractors, marched in Berlin Saturday for environmental protection and against the industrial agriculture lobby.

Police put the number of demonstrators at over 12,000, while organizers said 35,000 turned out.

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More than 100 organisations took part in Saturday's colorful march, with 171 tractors descending on Berlin from several parts of the country.

The ministerial quarter around Brandenburg Gate remained partially blocked for several hours before the protest broke up peacefully.

19.01.2019

German farmers protest agro-industry, back healthy foods

BERLIN -- Thousands of farmers from across Germany and their supporters have protested at Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate, calling for climate-friendly agriculture and healthy food.

Organizers say 170 tractors drove in from farms around the country to join 35,000 other protesters for the Saturday demonstration under the motto "we are fed up with the agricultural industry."

18.01.2019

Monsanto Roundup Trial Tracker: New Developments

You can find updates about the ongoing litigation against Monsanto Company in this blog, which we will be updating regularly with tips and tidbits of interest. Discovery documents from the litigation are posted on our Monsanto Papers page, and we provide links to recent news stories and analysis here.

January 18, 2019 – Time flies when a big case approaches. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria has set an evidentiary hearing for Jan 28 at 9 a.m. local time in federal court in San Francisco to be followed by a “Daubert” hearing that day at 2 p.m. The hearings are to consider evidence and experts that will be key to the first-ever federal trial taking up claims that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides can cause cancer and Monsanto has covered up the risks. Video recording of the proceedings is being allowed.

18.01.2019

Costco to be the First Major Retailer to Dump Monsanto's Roundup and Glyphosate Herbicide from its Shelves

It’s been said that voting with your dollars is the most effective way of creating change in this consumer/capitalist culture, and after years of petitioning major retailers to stop selling products that contain Monsanto’s toxic glyphosate herbicide it appears that Costco may be the first major store to remove this product from its shelves.

The use of glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, has skyrocketed around the globe in spite of research outlining the harmful effects of this herbicide, including liver disease and cancer.

This is big news because in addition to the industrial use of glyphosate, the retail sale of glyphosate direct to consumers for use on home lawns and gardens is also a huge business.

18.01.2019

From gene editing to robotic honey bees: the pollinator crisis and new technology

A tightening of restrictions on the insecticides known as neonicotinoids has brought hope that the decline in honey bees and wild pollinators can be reversed. Yet concerns are growing as to how new technology could radically change the landscape. Are we heading towards a world of ‘frankenbees’, in which gene-edited bees are resistant to pesticides and where only the rich can afford to pay for pollinated crops?

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ROBOT SWARMS

Technological advances are likely to shift the parameters of the debate. Depending on your perspective, the potential opportunities offered by robotics and genetic engineering will either be reassuring or deeply disturbing.

At least five companies are working to develop robot bees that could be controlled in swarms to pollinate crops and be impervious to insecticides. Last year scientists at Delft University of Technology developed a prototype bee-like drone, whose wings beat 17 times per second to generate the lift needed to stay airborne. The robotic insect has a 33cm wingspan and weighs 29 grams, making it 55 times the size of a fruit fly. Harvard is also looking at such developments. ‘If we’re not careful we could end up with a situation where we have an environmental market for something we get for free,’ says Matt Shardlow of Buglife. ‘It could be in some companies’ financial interests to keep that going.’

Other researchers are studying whether it is possible to genetically engineer bees to be resistant to pesticides. By using CRISPR technology – a molecular tool that can amend an organism’s genetic code – it is possible to insert a desired trait into the specimen in question, such as a honey bee. Inevitably, bee keepers have labelled these ‘frankenbees’. The first genetically modified honey bee queens were born in a laboratory at Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf in 2014.

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