Monday, July 11, 2011

Dealings with the Panda

Dubious Dealings With the Panda
By Stephan Börnecke
Frankfurter Rundschau
July 10, 2011

Can genetically altered soybeans be sustainable? The discussion is heating up over a shipment of this raw material that is to arrive in Europe these days. There are accusations against the environmental organization WWF, which issues its certificate for genetically modified plants.

The attempt by the international agriculture and foodstuff industry to brush up its image is entering a new phase. After years of preparations, the first shipment of allegedly sustainably produced soybeans is to reach Europe in the next few days by ship: 80,000 tons of soybeans produced by the Brazilian producer André Maggi, destined for the farmers of the large-scale dairy enterprise Friesland-Campina and the meat-processing company Vion, both Dutch companies. Another 5,000 tons are going to the US, to the food manufacturer Unilever.

The dispute about whether these soybeans were actually produced in a sustainable manner has been ongoing for months and is now about to start in earnest because this raw material, allegedly grown in an environmentally friendly manner, contains genetically modified soy. In Europe, that is not considered sustainable at all, especially since there are more and more reports about the health risks involved in the growing of genetically modified soybeans. Because of the Brazilian shipment, genetically modified oil and meal will end up in milk, in feed for pigs and chickens, or even in margarine and dressings - and the companies pretend to be green.

Behind this shipment is the RTRS Association (Round Table on Responsible Soy Association), which was founded in 2006 in Switzerland with the help of the international environmental organization WWF, and which is supported by companies such as Monsanto, Unilever and Bayer Crop Science. Their certificate, which could soon also be on German food products, expressly allows the growing of genetically altered soy. Genetically altered soy, however, has a significant impact on the environment due to the use of the total herbicide Round-Up, which contains glyphosate. Recent studies confirmed that it also affects human health. Says Heike Moldenhauer, expert for genetic engineering of one Germany’s most respected nature protection organizations (BUND), “this has nothing to do” with sustainability.

[Read More…]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

EU GM crop bans?

EU lawmakers give backing for national GM crop bans
By Charlie Dunmore
July 05, 2011

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - European Union lawmakers voted on Tuesday to strengthen proposals to let governments decide whether to grow or ban genetically modified (GM) crops, designed to break a deadlock in EU GM crop approvals.

Despite the majority backing of the European Parliament for the plans, continued opposition from several large EU member states means the draft legislation is unlikely to be finalized this year, if at all.

EU lawmakers agreed that governments should be free to ban the cultivation of GM crops based on environmental concerns, such as to protect biodiversity or prevent the spread of “super weeds” that are resistant to herbicides.

Critics of GM crops say herbicides used in conjunction with the plants — such as Monsanto Co’s Roundup Ready — promote widespread resistance among weeds, or super weeds.

In its original proposal the EU’s executive, the European Commission, said governments should not use environmental or health grounds as a justification for bans, as these are already taken into account during the EU safety approval process.

In a statement, the European Parliament said allowing countries to justify bans on environmental grounds would ensure such restrictions were more likely to survive legal challenges in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Lawmakers added an amendment to the proposals that would force all EU countries to adopt rules to prevent GM contamination of conventional and organic crops.

[Read More…]

Saturday, June 4, 2011

No dismissal for researcher!

No dismissal for researcher Barbara Van Dyck!
June 3, 2011

On Friday June 3th 2011, the Catholic University of Leuven sacked researcher Barbara Van Dyck because of her public support for the actions of Field Liberation Movement (FLM) in the context of an action against a genetically modified potato field in Wetteren, Belgium on Sunday May 29th. Whether one agrees with the aim and tactic of this action or not, the sanction is disproportionate and a breach of academic freedom and freedom of speech. We appeal to academics worldwide to resist this dismissal and to sign this open letter.

On Friday June 3th we learned that Barbara Van Dyck was sacked because of her solidarity with the activists of the Field Liberation Movement in the context of an action against a test field with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), in this case potatoes, in Wetteren on May 29th. We are shocked by this sanction, because it is disproportionate and a breach of labour law and the principle of academic freedom and freedom of speech.

Barbara Van Dyck participated in the action in Wetteren during her private time (on a Sunday) and not during service. Moreover she is not discharged for committed actions or trespassing, but because of her solidarity with the activists and her public support for their actions. We question the reasons of the University to dismiss her.

[Read More…]

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Clone meat allowed (UK)

Unlabelled clone meat allowed on shop shelves as food safety proposals are ripped up
By Sean Poulter
Mail Online
May 26, 2011

Food from the offspring of cloned animals, including meat and milk, has been approved for sale without labels.

The Food Standards Agency yesterday tore up proposals that would have required it to go through a safety assessment.

It comes despite research showing eight in ten shoppers oppose the cloning of farm livestock.

Unlabelled food produced using the offspring of clones, such as dairy products, meat pies and ready meals, can now go on sale without any threat of legal action.

But animal welfare groups say the cloning technique is cruel, with a high number of miscarriages, deformities and gigantism.

And consumer groups say labels are essential to give shoppers choice.

The FSA’s decision is in line with Government policy, which supports clone farming and clone food without labels.

[Read More…]

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Negative on GM foods

Half EU states negative on GM foods
Agence France Press, France
April 16, 2011

BRUSSELS — Half of all European Union states see no benefit from genetically modified crops according to an internal survey, the European Commission said Friday.

The commission said 13 out of the 27 member states gave an unfavourable response to the impact of developing GM crops while others such as Italy did not give an opinion.

A spokesman for EU health commissioner John Dalli voiced disappointment at the lack of detail, especially as the study was originally requested by states concerned at what they saw as a Commission drive to open up the GM food market.

The Commission is caught between strong popular opposition to GM foods and pressure from major American GM producers such as Monsanto who say that European bans on such products are illegal as they breach global trade rules.

[Read More…]

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