Sunday, November 27, 2011

Approving the GM potato

Approving the GM potato: conflicts of interest, flawed science and fierce lobbying
Corporate Europe Observatory
November 2011

How EFSA and BASF paved the way for controversial GM crops in the EU

In March 2010, the European Commission approved BASF’s genetically modified Amflora potato for cultivation in the European Union. CEO has investigated the background to this decision, including the controversial scientific advice provided by the European Food Safety Authority on the use of antibiotic resistant marker genes. CEO found that more than half of EFSA’s GMO panel had conflicts of interest, as defined by the OECD. Their advice, which contravened WHO guidelines, contributed to the approval of the GM potato - and is likely to lead to the approval of similar GM crops in the near future.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Japan approves GM papaya

Japan approves genetically modified papaya
By Brendan Shriane
West Hawaii Today
September 1, 2011

Japanese consumers will likely be seeing genetically modified papayas on their grocery shelves beginning in December.

The Japanese government’s Consumer Affairs Agency on Thursday approved rainbow papayas for sale in that country.

The papayas had previously been approved by Japan’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and Health, Labour and Welfare ministries. The strain was approved for sale in the U.S. in 1998 and in Canada in 2003.

The Japanese labeling approval was the last step to get the papayas introduced into Japan — there will be a three-month waiting period before the papayas are available.

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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.

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.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Floods wash away GM canola

Floods wash away GM canola crop, sparking contamination concern
By Laura Poole from Natimuk 3409
ABC Rural
March 18, 2011

The debate over genetically modified seed contamination has reignited, with floods spreading GM canola onto a non GM property.

At the base of Mt Arapiles in Western Victoria two broadacre farmers go about their day to day work, making cropping decisions best suited to their businesses.

They both grow cereal crops and oilseed crops, including canola.

On his boundary fence Lyall Hedt grew GM canola.

In January flooding rains washed part of the GM canola crop, over the boundary fence, into Bob Mackley’s paddock.

“Well I’ve got here a stubble left over from last year’s wheat crop, but it’s had a lot of water flow through it after a rain event in January.

“What’s happened is I have a neighbour who has grown a crop of GM canola, windrowed it and before it was harvested we had this rain event and it’s washed the GM canola material from his block, broken the fence and into my paddock.

“I now have GM canola material in this paddock on my block.”

Mr Mackley says he’s concerned a decision his neighbour has made, will cost him money.

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