Thursday, June 28, 2012
Monsanto faces $7.5 billion payout to Brazilian farmers
by Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero
June 28, 2012
Monsanto, the largest seed corporation in the world, may have to pay as much as $7.5 billion to five million Brazilian soy farmers.
The company has long dealt out severe legal sanctions against farmers it suspects of “pirating” its seed. But now the farmers have turned the tables on Monsanto, by suing the company and winning.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Mexican farmers block new law to privatize plants
By Alfredo Acedo
May 19, 2012
Progressive small farmer organizations in Mexico scored a victory over transnational corporations that seek to monopolize seed and food patents. When the corporations pushed their bill to modify the Federal Law on Plant Varieties through the Committee on Agriculture and Livestock of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies on March 14, organizations of farmers from across the country sounded the alarm. By organizing quickly, they joined together to pressure legislators and achieved an agreement with the legislative committee to remove the bill from the floor.
What’s at stake is free and open access to plant biodiversity in agriculture. The proposed modifications promote a privatizing model that uses patents and “Plant Breeders’s Rights” (PBR) to deprive farmers of the labor of centuries in developing seed. The small farmers who worked to create this foundation of modern agriculture never charged royalties for its use.
Although the current law, in effect since 1996, pays little heed to the rights of small farmers, the new law would be far worse. Present law tends to benefit private-sector plant breeders, allowing monopolies to obtain exclusive profits from the sale of seeds and other plant material for up to 15 years, or 18 in the case of perennial ornamental, forest, or orchard plants–even when the plants they used to develop the new varieties are in the public domain.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
GM cotton genes found in wild species
By María Elena Hurtado
January 17, 2012
SANTIAGO, CHILE - Genetically modified cotton genes have been found in wild populations for the first time, making it the third plant species - after Brassica and bentgrass - in which transgenes have established in the wild.
The discovery was made in Mexico by six Mexican researchers investigating the flow of genes to wild cotton populations of the species Gossypium hirsutum.
They found transgenes from cotton that had been modified to resist insects, herbicides or antibiotics in just under a quarter of the 270 wild cotton seeds assessed for that purpose. One of the contaminated seeds came from a wild plant located 755 kilometres away from the nearest GM cotton plantation. Others were beyond first-generation hybrids because they carried multiple and different transgenes.
According to the researchers, the GM seeds could have been dispersed by long distance lorry drivers transporting seeds for animal feed or oil extraction; by mild or strong winds; by fresh or salt water; or by birds and animals that had eaten them.
Norman Ellstrand, professor of genetics at the University of California, Riverside, United States, said this is the first study that finds transgenes in unmanaged cotton populations. He added that this is third system, after Brassica and bentgrass, in which transgenes have established in the wild.