News

26.02.2020 |

Bayer’s Chairman to Leave After Monsanto Purchase Turns Sour

Bayer AG Chairman Werner Wenning is leaving the German drugs and chemicals company before his term expires, capping a half-century of dealmaking that culminated in the contentious Monsanto acquisition and a blizzard of lawsuits over its Roundup weedkiller.

Wenning, 73, will be succeeded in April by Norbert Winkeljohann, 62, who joined Bayer’s supervisory board in May 2018 just before the Monsanto deal closed. The $63 billion purchase was the brainchild of Wenning and Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann, who was censured by shareholders at last year’s annual meeting.

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Winkeljohann is the first outsider to head the Bayer board. While the new chairman is relatively new to Bayer, he is no stranger to companies in turmoil. He joined the Deutsche Bank AG board in August 2018, as part of a management shakeup amid tensions between Chairman Paul Achleitner and then-CEO John Cryan. He has also sat on a Bayer board committee charged with overseeing the Roundup litigation response since last June.

26.02.2020 |

Bangladesh Food safety body plans GMO labelling on products

Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) is planning on making declaration of genetically-modified (GM) crop in food products mandatory, said its chairman yesterday.

A genetically modified organism, or GMO, is an organism that has had its DNA altered or modified in some way through genetic engineering. In most cases, GMOs have been altered with DNA from another organism, be it a bacterium, plant, virus or animal; these organisms are sometimes referred to as "transgenic" organisms.

There is a huge distrust amongst the public about the safety of GMO crops.

"Every product, be it packaged, processed or imported, must have a declaration stating whether this is GM or not. We will issue a directive in this regard soon," said BFSA Chairman (in charge) Manbub Kabir.

25.02.2020 |

EU mulls faster genetically modified food approvals for Trump

Such a move could shift focus to the approvals process at food safety watchdog EFSA.

Brussels is ready to offer to speed up the approval process for genetically modified organisms imported into the EU, as part of a mini trade agreement with Washington.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to strike such a deal with U.S. President Donald Trump by March 18.

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Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU’s agriculture policy director, said that if turbo-charged GMO approvals were what the Commission meant by a Green Deal, “it boils down to business-as-usual greenwashing for the sake of defending the German car industry.”

“Of course, they’re ready to give the U.S. what they want, despite a clear decades-long rejection by EU citizens,” he continued. “This Commission seems to be acting just like the past one. It’s scary news.”

25.02.2020 |

Researchers Are Substantially Undercounting Gene-Editing Errors, Concludes a New Paper

The standard gene-editing tool, CRISPR-Cas9, frequently produces a type of DNA mutation that ordinary genetic analysis misses, claims new research published in the journal Science Advances. In describing these findings the researchers called such oversights “serious pitfalls” of gene editing (Skryabin et al., 2020). In all, the new results suggest that gene-editing is more error-prone than thought and, further, that identifying and discarding defective and unwanted outcomes is not as easy as generally supposed.

20.02.2020 |

Health, environment and climate are not negotiable

More than 100 civil society organisations demand a stop to trade talks with the US that will further endanger EU rules on health and the environment and aggravate the climate crisis. A change of course is needed.

We have followed the recent talks between the European Commission and the US authorities on a new trade agreement with disbelief and disappointment. It has become clear that the Commission is prepared to accommodate Trump’s demands for a reduction of EU food safety levels, to the detriment of public health, animal welfare and the environment, and also undermining EU commitments on climate change.

Fear of threats made by the US President to impose high tariffs on European cars cannot be an excuse for retreating on basic public interest. The apparent paradigm shift within the Commission, emerging after months of negotiating behind closed doors and largely shielded from public scrutiny, is highly alarming. We call on governments and parliamentarians in the EU to push the Commission to alter its course. It must be made clear to the US Administration that our public health and environmental protection levels are not for sale.

16.02.2020 |

Toxic residues through the back door

Pesticide corporations and trade partners pressured EU to allow banned substances in imported crops

Pesticide corporations and trade partners have put immense pressure on the EU to allow residues of certain hazardous pesticides - banned in Europe - to be present in food and feed imports. Facing an endless number of visits, letters and reports, complaints and threats at the WTO by the US, Canada and others, the European Commission dropped its original plan to ban residues of these dangerous chemical substances in imports. It is now up to the new Commission - with its ambitious European Green Deal - to change this approach and stand up for public health.

EU pesticide rules include a ban on particularly hazardous substances in pesticides, for instance those that are carcinogens or endocrine disruptors. These substances are so dangerous that EU regulators believe that, unlike other chemicals, there is no safe level of exposure to them.

14.02.2020 |

Farmer vs. Bayer, BASF: Farmer Awarded $15M in Dicamba Drift Trial

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MISSOURI: Late this afternoon, a jury in a U.S. District Court in Cape Girardueu, Missouri issued a verdict finding Bayer and BASF liable for plaintiff Bader Farms’ 30,000+ damaged peach trees due to drifting of the broad spectrum herbicide dicamba. Bader Farms was awarded $15 million in damages, with the amount of punitive damages to be decided Saturday.

This verdict was issued amidst reports of an ongoing dicamba drift crisis — reported cases of dicamba drift are up in Indiana, Arkansas, Iowa, and Illinois.

Linda Wells, Pesticide Action Network Organizing Director, issued the following statement:

“This verdict is just the tip of the iceberg — there is a long queue of farmers who have been impacted by dicamba drift and deserve their day in court. The internal Monsanto (now Bayer) documents uncovered in this case show that the company released a highly destructive and intentionally untested product onto the market, and used its influence to cheat the regulatory system.

14.02.2020 |

Genetic forcing: EFSA caught by industry

The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) association has carried out meticulous investigative work which enables it to affirm that "half of the experts responsible for assessing the potential risks of the technology have financial links with organizations developing this technology and others with conflicts of interest with a company developing genetically modified insects”. These conflicts of interest, recurrent within the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), are likely to compromise the scientific quality and the neutrality of the opinion it will publish.

13.02.2020 |

Epic battle over green farming divides EU departments

DG ENV officials reckon DG AGRI is out to block real change.

Two European Commission departments are at war over how much action is needed to make the EU's farming system more environmentally friendly.

Agriculture is one of the most fundamental components of the EU budget and receives about €59 billion of subsidies each year. Politically protected farmers, however, have long avoided tough, binding targets to go green, despite producing about 10 percent of Europe's emissions.

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Though it is unclear whether it is an official policy position, much of the document appears to be a response to a draft of DG ENV's biodiversity strategy, obtained by POLITICO earlier this month. That strategy called for a 2030 target to slash the use of pesticide and fertilizers by 30 percent.

But DG AGRI's document suggests the EU should not set targets for reducing the use or risks of pesticides, and instead focus on "providing alternatives and enhancing the introduction of alternative pest management." It says it would be "meaningless" from a public health perspective to reduce the "volume or value of a long set of very diverse substances."

The EU has committed to measures to "significantly reduce" the risk and use of agricultural chemicals in the Green Deal.

12.02.2020 |

Three Big Battles for Global Food Policy Looming

World Food Systems Summit is part of a three-pronged corporate food policy power grab

February 12, 2020—A corporate alliance (consisting of Big Ag, the World Economic Forum, philanthro-capitalists and others) have spearheaded three separate initiatives (the Food Systems Summit, restructuring research institutions, acceleration of data collection) which threaten to converge and utterly transform the multilateral food and agriculture system.

If successful, these initiatives would further force-feed the failed industrial food system to the public sector and world agriculture, binding governments to a corporate agenda that marginalizes farmers, civil society, social movements and agroecology.

In a new Communiqué, The Next Agribusiness Takeover, ETC Group describes in detail the history and implications of the three initiatives – for which the World Food Systems Summit is setting the framework.

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