Thursday, September 29, 2011

Judge sides with Bunge

Judge sides with grain company
By Mateusz Perkowski
Capital Press
September 29, 2011

Elevator will not be forced to accept biotech crop

A major biotech seed developer won’t be able to force a global grain elevator company to accept its genetically engineered crop.

A federal judge has refused to order the Bunge North America grain company to accept insect-resistant corn developed by Syngenta Seeds.

A conflict erupted between the two companies this summer when Bunge announced it wouldn’t accept Syngenta’s “Agrisure Viptera” corn at its elevators, since the variety hasn’t been approved for shipping to China.

Syngenta countered by filing a legal complaint against Bunge, alleging the firm had violated a 95-year-old warehousing law that prohibits elevators from unfairly discriminating among farmers who seek storage.

The company sought a preliminary injunction that would stop Bunge from exercising its policy of rejecting Agrisure Viptera corn from its facilities.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett in Iowa has rejected Syngenta’s arguments, ruling that the company has wrongly interpreted the 1916 United States Warehouse Act.

[Read More…]

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Date for biotech arguments

Judge sets date for biotech arguments
By Mateusz Perkowski
Capital Press
August 25, 2011

A federal judge has split the difference between biotech critics and the sugar beet industry in a dispute over scheduling a lawsuit.

Though the recent order relates to procedural steps, it may have consequences for the planting of transgenic sugar beets next year.

U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington, D.C., has ordered the two sides to finish submitting court briefs by Jan. 6 — later than recommended by biotech critics but earlier than preferred by the industry.

Once those documents are submitted, the judge may hold oral arguments in the case before deciding whether the USDA violated environmental law by partially deregulating the transgenic crop earlier this year.

It’s unknown how soon that decision would come down after arguments conclude, said Nancy Bryson, an attorney for Syngenta, a biotech developer involved in the lawsuit.

“You can never predict when a district court is going to rule,” Bryson said, adding that she’s satisfied with the judge’s briefing schedule.

The Center for Food Safety, which sued the USDA to block the partial deregulation of glyphosate-resistant Roundup Ready sugar beets, had argued for an expedited schedule for submitted court documents.

The group claimed the sugar beet industry was stalling the litigation to ensure sugar beet seedlings, or stecklings, are in the ground early next year. Stecklings are usually transplanted from greenhouses in January and February.

The Center for Food Safety alleges that sugar beet companies want to delay any court decision about the legality of partial deregulation — making it easier to claim that destroying the already-planted stecklings would be inequitable.

Paul Achitoff, an attorney representing the group, characterized the legal strategy as “get it in the ground, then argue it should stay in the ground.”

Achitoff said the group may still seek relief that would prevent planting but said he couldn’t talk about specific legal motions.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ConAgra sued

ConAgra sued over GMO ‘100% natural’ cooking oils
by Michele Simon, Opinion
Food Safety News
August 24, 2011

If you use Wesson brand cooking oils, you may be able to join a class action against food giant ConAgra for deceptively marketing the products as natural.

These days it’s hard to walk down a supermarket aisle without bumping into a food product that claims to be “all-natural.” If you’ve ever wondered how even some junk food products can claim this moniker (witness: Cheetos Natural Puff White Cheddar Cheese Flavored Snacks - doesn’t that sound like it came straight from your garden?) the answer is simple if illogical: the Food and Drug Administration has not defined the term natural.

So food marketers, knowing that many shoppers are increasingly concerned about healthful eating, figured: why not just slap the natural label on anything we can get away with? That wishful thinking may soon be coming to an end if a few clever consumer lawyers have anything to say about it.

While various lawsuits have been filed in recent years claiming that food companies using the term natural are engaging in deceptive marketing, a suit filed in June in California against ConAgra could make the entire industrial food complex shake in its boots.

The plaintiff claims he relied on Wesson oils “100% natural” label, when the products are actually made from genetically modified organisms.

[Read More…]

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wildlife refuge GMO suit

Enviros sue USA for allowing genetically engineered crops in wildlife refuges
By Ryan Abbott
Courthouse News
August 15, 2011

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Secretary of the Interior ignored environmental dangers to let private parties grow genetically engineered crops on National Wildlife Refuges, environmental groups say in Federal Court.

The Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility say Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its Director Daniel Ashe violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The plaintiffs challenge the “cooperative farming agreements with private parties that allow National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) land to be farmed, some with genetically engineered (GE) crops. “In order to support its decision to enter into the cooperative farming agreements, FWS prepared a six-page environmental assessment and issued a finding of no significant impact, despite evidence that growing GE crops on refuge lands is a major federal action which significantly impacts the quality of the human environment, is highly controversial, and which has potentially harmful effects on human health, the environment, and wildlife,” the complaint states.

The plaintiffs say the farming agreements will affect the Southeast Region, or Region 4, of the National Wildlife Refuge System, 4 million acres in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

[Read More…]

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Brinjal piracy

Heat on Monsanto over brinjal piracy
Dinesh C Sharma
India Today
August 12, 2011

New Delhi - American seed giant Monsanto and its Indian collaborator, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) are to be prosecuted for allegedly ’stealing’ indigenous plant material for developing genetically modified brinjal variety known as Bt brinjal.

The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), a statutory body set up under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, has decided to initiate legal proceedings against the two companies and their collaborators for using indigenous brinjal germplasm without necessary permission.

Taking plant material without any permission and using it for commercial purposes is considered an act of biopiracy.

“The authority has decided to proceed legally against Mahyco and Monsanto, and all others concerned to take the issue to its logical conclusion”, NBA secretary C Achalender Reddy said. The decision on the complaint filed by the Bangalore- based Environment Support Group (ESG) was taken in June by the authority and it was formally confirmed during its meeting held in New Delhi this week.

[Read More…]

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