Jan 15

Hawaii-Spraying

- Big Biotech Sues Little Island of Kaua’i Over GMO Law (Waking Times, Jan 14, 2014):

As was expected, Big Biotech’s legal juggernaut has rolled into action in Hawai’i. On Friday afternoon, three big agrochemical companies—Pioneer-DuPont, Syngenta and Agrigenetics Inc. (a subsidiary of Dow Chemical)—filed a suit in a federal court in Honolulu seeking to block Kaua’i County’s new genetically modified organism (GMO) regulatory law. Two other big agribusiness concerns on the island that will be affected by the law—Kaua’i Coffee and BASF—haven’t joined the suit.The law, Ordinance 960 (formerly known as Bill 2491), was passed in November after surviving a veto by Kaua’i Mayor Barnard Carvalho. It requires agricultural companies and large farms to disclose the type and volume of pesticides they are spraying and the location of their genetically modified crop fields. It also requires the companies to set up buffer zones between fields growing GM crops and public places like schools, hospitals and parks. The law is scheduled to go into effect Aug. 16.

similar regulatory bill was introduced on the island of Maui in December, just days after the mayor of Hawai’i Island, Billy Kenoi, signed into law a bill restricting biotech companies and farmers from growing any new genetically modified crops on that island.

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Jun 06

A version of this article appeared in print on June 4, 2013, on page B4 of the New York edition with the headline: Connecticut Approves Genetic Labeling.

- Connecticut Approves Labeling Genetically Modified Foods (New York Times, June 3, 2013):

Connecticut on Monday became the first state to pass a bill that would require food manufacturers to label products that contain genetically modified ingredients — but only after other conditions are met.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he would sign the bill into law, after reaching an agreement with the legislature to include a provision that the law would not take effect unless four other states, at least one of which shares a border with Connecticut, passed similar regulations.

The Connecticut bill also hinges on those states including Northeastern states with a total population of at least 20 million.

“This bill strikes an important balance by ensuring the consumers’ right to know what is in their food while shielding our small businesses from liability that could leave them at a competitive disadvantage,” Mr. Malloy said in a statement issued over the weekend after negotiations on the necessary provisions.

The legislature passed the bill on Monday, 134 to 3.

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Jan 03

- Poland bans cultivation of GM maize, potatoes (France 24, Jan 2, 2013):

Poland on Wednesday imposed new bans on the cultivation of certain genetically modified strains of maize and potatoes, a day after an EU required green light for GM crops took effect.The centre-right government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk imposed farming bans on German BASF’s Amflora strain of potato and US firm Monsanto’s MON 810 maize or corn, according to a government statement Wednesday.

The ban on specific strains essentially uses a legal loophole to circumvent the EU’s acceptance of such products.

Global environmental watchdog Greenpeace hailed the move, which will take effect on January 28.

“The government has kept its promises,” Greenpeace Poland said in a statement.

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Jul 09

- German Franken Potato Co. Wants To Set Up Shop Here (Health Freedom Alliance, July 7, 2011):

The largest chemical maker, BASF SE, might remove their GM crop research firm of 700 people from Germany due to heated, growing political opposition. Where can they go and be welcomed with open arms? The US, of course. Even Monsanto is paring down in Germany because its “basic framework doesn’t lend itself to further products.”

Germany is not too keen on nuclear reactors any more and the German Green Party likens the instability and risk of nuclear power to that of GMOs. The fear is that when things go wrong, it’s the people who have to deal with damages and costs.

The EU is allowing individual states to ban GMO cultivation which also allows the speedy approval process for the states that favor GMOs. Clive James, founder of nonprofit International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications argues that Germany will suffer economic damage to lose the scientists and firms. That they are not cooperating with “‘an essential element’ to help reach the United Nation’s goals of cutting poverty and hunger.”

~Health Freedoms

- BASF Said to Consider Genetically Modified Crop Exit in Germany (Bloomberg, July 6, 2011):

BASF SE (BAS), the world’s biggest chemical maker, may withdraw genetically modified crop research from Germany in response to growing political opposition, three people familiar with discussions said.

The maker of the Amflora scientific potato is considering the future of its research facility in rural Limburgerhof in southwestern Germany, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. A move to the U.S. is possible for the plant biotechnology operations, which employ 700, said one of the people.

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Nov 26

This year, your bread dishes are probably not genetically modified — consumer and food industry opposition has so far prevented any GM wheat from making it to your table. So your biscuits, thickened gravy and turkey stuffing are made with flour from traditionally bred wheat.

But several seed companies, including Monsanto, Syngenta, BASF and others, are working on transgenic wheat. U.S. Wheat Associates, an industry group, said in early 2010 that GM wheat is still several years away, but efforts are ongoing to improve its acceptance among international consumers.

Monsanto Co., the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seed, backed off commercialization of “Roundup Ready” wheat several years ago, amid concerns it could hurt the U.S. wheat market. But earlier this month, the firm said it’s the “right time” to pursue development of drought-resistant and high-yielding wheat.

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Jun 09

Related Articles:
Exposed: the great GM crops myth

- The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see

- At stake is no less than control of the world’s food supply.

- BIODIVERSITY: Privatisation Making Seeds Themselves Infertile

Companies accused of ‘profiteering’ as they attempt to patent crop genes

Giant biotech companies are privatising the world’s protection against climate change by filing hundreds of monopoly patents on genes that help crops resist it, a new investigation has concluded.

The study – by the authoritative Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group), based in Ottawa, Canada – has found that nine firms have filed at least 532 patents around the world on about 55 different genes offering protection against heat, drought and floods. If granted, the companies would be given control of crucial natural raw material needed to maintain food supplies in an increasingly hungry world.

Last week, as world leaders met in Rome to discuss the food crisis, GM companies promoted their technologies as the answer to hunger. On Thursday, Monsanto – the biggest and most controversial firm – announced a “commitment” to increase food production, partly by developing crops that need less water.

“Together we must meet the needs for increased food, fibre and energy, while preserving the environment,” said the company’s head, Hugh Grant. “These commitments represent the beginning of a journey that we will expand on and deepen in the years ahead.”

The ETC Group calls this “an opportunistic public relations strategy”, adding: “Monsanto’s business is selling patented seeds for industrial agriculture – not addressing a humanitarian food crisis.”

The report of its investigation shows that Monsanto and BASF – which last year announced a $1.5bn “collaboration” to develop new GM crops, including “ones more tolerant to adverse environmental conditions such as drought” – have between them filed patents for 27 of the 55 genes. Others had been filed by companies such as Bayer, Syngenta and Dow.

The reports says some of the applications are sweeping. One would cover more than 30 crops from oats to oil palms, triticale to tea, and potatoes to perennial grass – “in other words, virtually all food crops”.

It says the “corporate grab on climate-tolerant genes” means that “a handful of transnational companies are now positioned to determine who gets access to key genetic traits and what price they must pay”.

Small farmers in developing countries will be particularly hard hit by such “climate-change profiteering”. Patenting will make the crops expensive and ensure that poor farmers have to buy them every year, by prohibiting them from saving seeds from one harvest to grow for the next.

According to the report, conventional, non-GM breeding techniques are making remarkable progress in developing crops that can tolerate heat, floods and drought. A new Asian rice, due to go on the market next year, can stand being submerged for two weeks without affecting yields, while a new African one flowers early in the morning, escaping the heat of the day.

But, it says, “the patent grab is sucking up money and resources that could be spent on affordable, farmer-based strategies for survival”.

It concludes: “These patented technologies will ultimately concentrate corporate power, drive up costs, inhibit independent research and further undermine the rights of farmers to save and exchange seeds”.

But Croplife, which represents the world’s plant-science industry, retorts; “Patenting is very important. That is how we protect intellectual property and ensure we continue to bring new innovations to the marketplace.” It denies that biotechnology companies are seeking to monopolise world food supplies. Continue reading »

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May 27

BONN, May 22 (IPS) – Seeds were once for ever. After harvest, a few from the crop would be planted for the following year, and so it went on.

Now, biochemical industry giants are making seeds themselves infertile. You sow them this year, and that’s it. For next year’s crop, you need brand new seeds — you would have to buy them, of course.

Twenty-five years ago, there were at least 7,000 seed growers worldwide, and none of them controlled more than one percent of the global market. Today, after a takeover spree, 10 major biochemical multinationals, including Monsanto, DuPont-Pioneer, Syngenta, Bayer Cropsciencie, BASF, and Dow Agrosciences, control more than 50 percent of the seeds market.

“The goal of these companies is, of course, to make profits,” Benedict Haerling, researcher at the German non-governmental organisation Future of Agriculture, told IPS. “In order to improve their profits, they all apply one strategy to increase their control of the market: they impose upon farmers worldwide the so-called vertical integration of inputs, from seeds to fertilisers to pesticides, all from one brand.” Compulsory customer loyalty, you might call it.

And through biochemical manipulation, including genetic modifications, many companies have made sure the harvest you obtain cannot be sown again.

Such “vertical integration of agricultural inputs” has transformed agriculture in developing countries into a two-class business, Angelika Hillbeck, researcher on bio-safety and agriculture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich told IPS.

“In the developing countries there is a class of farmers with large plantations and enough money who can afford to buy all inputs from the major biochemical companies, from seeds and fertilisers to pesticides and conservatives.” But there are small farmers for whom the biochemical markets are out of reach.

Hillbeck and Haerling are scientific counsellors to non-governmental organisations and associations of small farmers in developing countries who are attending the UN conference on biological diversity in Bonn.

The conference aims at reviewing international compliance with the targets adopted in 2002 to significantly reduce the rate of decimation of species at the global and national level by 2010. It is also set to formulate binding international rules on legal measures to stop the loss of biodiversity. Continue reading »

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