Friday, March 18, 2011

US growers fight GE apples

U.S. growers fight GE apples
By Dan Wheat
Capital Press
March 18, 2011

Industry says public perception of the fruit could hurt sales

The U.S. apple industry is asking USDA not to allow genetically engineered, non-browning apples from Canada to be produced in the United States.

The U.S. Apple Association in Vienna, Va., voted unanimously at a March 12 board meeting to oppose the Okanagan Specialty Fruits application, said Nancy Foster, association president.

The association has been tracking the issue and has listened to presentations from Okanagan President Neal Carter in the past, Foster said.

[Read More…]

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Flax Testing Urged

Flax council urges GM testing
By Cassandra Kyle
The StarPhoenix
January 11, 2011

Get it tested — that’s the message the country’s national flax association is trying to get out to producers about seed this year as concerns linger over genetically modified (GM) traits.

“It’s the best way we have in the short term of managing the situation the best we can,” said Barry Hall, president of the Flax Council of Canada.

“We’re not saying this is going to cure the problem, but it will at least allow us a little bit (of a reprieve) until there’s a more practical solution.”

Since the European Union (EU) found small amounts of GM material contaminating samples taken from Canadian flax shipments in September 2009, little has changed for the better for flax producers in Canada, Hall said Monday at Crop Production Week in Saskatoon.

Triffid — the GM flax variety that caused the initial concern overseas — remains unapproved by the EU, which has zero tolerance for positive GM tests. Developed in Saskatoon, Triffid was approved for human and animal consumption, but was never commercialized and was never approved in Europe.

While changes are slow in coming, progress is being made on several fronts, including increasing GM tolerance to 0.1 per cent from the current 0.01 per cent. It’s a sign, said Hall, that the issue is being taken seriously by the EU.

“That’s encouraging in that it shows they’re at least attempting to come to grips,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of political will to change this.”

The short-term measure of asking farmers to test the seed they hope to plant this spring should help to drop the occurrence of Triffid in flax shipments, Hall said. The long-term solution of convincing the EU to allow the low-level presence of GM in tests is in the works, “but we don’t know how long that’s going to take,” he said.

“It is moving — not nearly as rapidly as we’d like to see — but at least it is moving,” he said.

About nine per cent of Canadian flax tests positive for Triffid, or about one in every 40,000 seeds, Hall said.

The good news is that market prices for flax — which contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids and fibre — are on the rise and currently trading at about $15 to $16 per bushel.

After a wet 2010 growing season which saw about 440,000 tonnes of flax harvested in Canada, Hall said a harvest of 500,000 to 600,000 tonnes in 2011 would be a realistic goal.

Saskatchewan produces about 80 per cent of Canada’s flax.

[Rest of article is meteorological and planting advice.]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Toxicity in GE Eggplant

Signs of Food Toxicity in Genetically Engineered Eggplant (Brinjal)
January 14, 2011

Commercial planting in India currently barred

Plans for India’s first genetically engineered crop for human consumption have triggered a safety report that reveals signs of food toxicity. According to this study prepared independently from industry, there are serious indications that the consumption of this genetically engineered (Bt) eggplant (also called brinjal in India) can cause inflammation, reproductive disorders and liver damage.

The Monsanto subsidiary, Mahyco, applied for GE eggplant to be commercially grown in India and the Philippines. Eggplant is genetically engineered to produce insecticidal proteins (called Bt toxins) that target certain pests. Brinjal is one of India´s most important vegetable crops. The report was requested by Aruna Rodrigues of ‘Sunray Harvesters’ to inform both India´s Government and Supreme Court. In February 2010 India´s Minister for Environment & Forests had revoked the approval for genetically engineered eggplant and imposed a moratorium citing the need for independent risk studies. The report evaluates data from feeding studies on rats commissioned by Mahyco to demonstrate the safety of the genetically engineered eggplant.

Lou Gallagher, the epidemiologist from New Zealand who prepared the report says that “The safety claims made for these plants are not supported by existing data. On the contrary, there are alarming signs that the consumption of food derived from these plants could result in adverse health effects. In addition the feedings studies show major deficiencies in the protocol used for the feeding trial and do not meet international standards.” Dr. Gallagher concludes that on the basis of the existing data genetically engineered eggplant cannot be recommended for human consumption.

Testbiotech supported the evaluation of the data in cooperation with the GEKKO Foundation. “This independent expert assessment provides a critical counter to the Monsanto-sourced analyses, which deny any health safety risks: It exposes deficiencies in the risk assessment that was presented to the Indian government. We must ensure that safety standards are not sacrificed to satisfy commercial interests.” says Christoph Then, on behalf of Testbiotech.

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