Sunday, July 15, 2012

Scientists win Gates grant

British GM crop scientists win $10M grant from Gates
BBC
July 15, 2012

A team of British plant scientists has won a $10m (£6.4m) grant from the Gates Foundation to develop GM cereal crops.

It is one of the largest single investments into GM in the UK and will be used to cultivate corn, wheat and rice that need little or no fertiliser.

It comes at a time when bio-tech researchers are trying to allay public fears over genetic modification.

The work at the John Innes Centre in Norwich is hoped to benefit African farmers who cannot afford fertiliser.

Agricultural fertiliser is important for crop production across the globe.

But the many of the poorest farmers cannot afford fertiliser - and it is responsible for large greenhouse gas emissions.

The John Innes Centre is trying to engineer cereal crops that could get nitrogen from the air - as peas and beans do - rather than needing chemical ammonia spread on fields.

If successful, it is hoped the project could revolutionise agriculture and, in particular, help struggling maize farmers in sub-Saharan Africa - something the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is keen to do.

[Read More…]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

House panel advances bill

House panel advances bill that accelerates biotech crop reviews
By Jack Kaskey
Business Week
July 12, 2012

A U.S. House committee advanced a bill today that would accelerate approval of genetically modified crops from Monsanto Co. and other seed makers by limiting environmental reviews and setting decision time limits.

The provisions, part of a farm-policy overhaul approved 35-11 by the House Agriculture Committee, would limit the ability of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider most environmental laws in determining the safety of new biotech crops. The crops would be approved automatically if no decision is made within 18 months.

Grain and food providers are concerned the bill ignores the threat of “premature commercialization” of biotech crops, which may affect domestic and export markets, according to the National Grain and Feed Association, which represents more than 1,000 companies. Environmental groups also objected.

The bill “weakens the already woefully inadequate federal oversight of genetically engineered crops, livestock and food,” Anna Ghosh, a spokeswoman for Washington-based Food & Water Watch, said today in a statement.

[Read More…]

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ocean-farmed fish

Ocean-farmed fish, brought to you by Monsanto and Cargill
Press Release
Food & Water Watch
July 07, 2012

Soy Industry Stands to Gain Hundreds of Millions Annually from Open Ocean Aquaculture

Washington, D.C. and Brussels - If proponents of soy in aquaculture have it their way, soy will be used to feed fish in open ocean pens in federal waters, a move that would negatively impact the marine environment as well as the diets of both fish and consumers.

Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe’s new report, ”Factory-Fed Fish: How the Soy Industry is Expanding Into the Sea,” shows how a collaboration between two of the most environmentally damaging industries on land and sea —the soy and open ocean aquaculture industries, respectively—could be devastating to ocean life and consumer health. And since much of the soy produced in the United States is genetically engineered (GE), consuming farmed fish would likely mean eating fish that are fed GE soy.

”Our seas are not Roundup ready,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. ”Soy is being promoted as a better alternative to feed made from wild fish, but this model will not help the environment, and it will transfer massive industrial farming models into our oceans and further exacerbate the havoc wreaked by the soy industry on land—including massive amounts of dangerous herbicide use and massive deforestation.”

[Read More…]

Richmond passes ban

Richmond resists pitch from biotech group, passes ban on GE crops
The Vancouver Sun
July 07, 2012

Richmond council stuck to its guns, ratifying its ban on genetically modified plants and crops.

Biotech lobby group CropLife Canada sent a representative to speak to council before the vote. Several hundred people turned out for the meeting, many of them carrying signs opposing genetically modified organisms — popularly known as GMOs or GE crops — and calling for labelling of foods with GE ingredients.

CropLife spokeswoman Janice Tranberg told council that biotech crops and foods are carefully regulated in Canada and are tested by scientists around the world.

“I don’t feel that they consulted all the experts that they could have to get a balanced point of view,” she said after the meeting.

In addition to banning GE plants and crops from Richmond, council’s motion calls on senior levels of government to require such foods to be labelled to support informed consumer choice. Richmond will also include fact-based information about GMOs in its own communications with the public.

[Read More…]

Friday, June 29, 2012

Illegal papaya in EU

Expert warns of illegal GM papaya on EU market
Food Navigator
June 29, 2012

The food and fruit industries to be vigilant against a banned variety of genetically modified papaya coming into the EU from Thailand, say experts.

The warning comes after a ‘wave’ of genetically modified (GM) papaya was rejected by European Union Border Controls in June.

Richard Werran, Managing Director of Cert ID Europe, noted that Thailand is an important global producer of papaya – with a significant percentage exported primarily to Europe.

“Although genetically modified crops are not permitted in Thailand, there is support for GM technology and it would appear that GM seeds for an EU banned variety of papaya have been illegally distributed to farmers across Thailand,” he suggests.

[Read More…]

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