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Monthly Archives: February 2016

Gates Foundation push GMO on African countries

The Foundation is the world’s biggest funder of GM crop research, a new report says. Huge corporations including Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, and Dupont, are major beneficiaries of its projects. “The Gates Foundation is, in effect, preparing the ground for them to access new profitable markets in hitherto closed-off developing countries, especially in Africa. The Foundation is especially pushing for the adoption of GM in Africa,” it warns.
Kenya is considering allowing the cultivation of GM cotton and maize seeds following pressure from agribusiness giant Monsanto, USAID, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But plans by the government to officially announce the release of the first ever GM maize variety in Kenya – which would have paved the way for its commercialization – were cancelled at the last minute.
 Source GM Watch Review 364 Jan 2016
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FDA to start testing Glyphosate in Food

‘Finally,’ FDA Will Start Testing Food for Presence of Monsanto’s Controversial Glyphosate

“It’s shocking that it’s taken so long, but we’re glad it’s finally going to happen.”

Photo Credit: EPA

The Food and Drug Administration will begin testing food for glyphosate, the world’s most commonly used pesticide, according to Civil Eats. This marks the first time a U.S. agency will routinely test for glyphosate residue in food. It comes after the Government Accountability Office released a report condemning the FDA for failing to disclose its failure to test for glyphosate in its annual pesticide residue report.

The World Health Organization found that glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, was a probable human carcinogen and has been named as a leading cause of massive declines in monarch butterflies.

“In the wake of intense scrutiny, the Food and Drug Administration has finally committed to taking this basic step of testing our food for the most commonly used pesticide. It’s shocking that it’s taken so long, but we’re glad it’s finally going to happen,” Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “More and more scientists are raising concerns about the effects of glyphosate on human health and the environment. With about 1.7 billion pounds of this pesticide used each year worldwide, the FDA’s data is badly needed to facilitate long-overdue conversations about how much of this chemical we should tolerate in our food.”

Leading scientists published an article about the exploding use of glyphosate around the world in yesterday’s issue of the journal Environmental Health. Pointing to concerns over rapidly increasing use, outdated science and the WHO’s finding, the authors called on regulatory agencies to take a fresh look at the real-world impacts of glyphosate and to start monitoring its levels in people and in food.

“The alarm bell is ringing loud and clear. The current cavalier use of glyphosate and lax regulation, cannot remain in place,” Donley said. “It’s long past time to start reining in the out-of-control use of this dangerous pesticide in the United States and around the world.”

Just last week 35 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy expressing concerns regarding the potential negative health and environmental impacts of a pesticide, Enlist Duo, that combines glyphosate and 2,4-D. EPA is currently reanalyzing its decision to register the dangerous pesticide following a remand order from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Monsanto is also now embroiled in a legal battle with the state of California over the state’s move to list glyphosate as a carcinogen under Proposition 65 law. As the legal battle plays out California, a new report from the Center for Biological Diversity found that more than half of the glyphosate sprayed in the state was applied in the state’s eight most impoverished counties.

Barcelona bans Glyphosate in parks

Barcelona bans glyphosate in public parks

Published: 23 December 2015

Several environmental organizations requested the ban due to health risks

Barcelona’s public parks and green spaces will no longer be treated with the herbicide glyphosate. Ecological alternatives that are more respectful of the health of people and the environment will be sought, according to the city’s municipal Commission for Ecology, Planning and Mobility. The municipality has established a maximum transition period of one year to reach the target.

The Barcelona in Common citizens’ group took up the proposal, which was originally put forward by organizations including Ecologistas en Acción, the Association of People Affected by Environmental Chemicals and Radiation, and the works council of the Parks and Gardens of Barcelona. Their representatives said they were pleased after the meeting and were confident that the measure will spread to other cities.

Glyphosate, says a briefing note of the City Council, “is a total non-selective herbicide used to kill weeds and shrubs. It infiltrates into the ground, is very soluble in water, and persists in the environment. It pollutes aquifers and is toxic to aquatic wildlife, pets and livestock.”

Glyphosate has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. According to the groups that asked for the ban, scientific studies “link the use of glyphosate with an increased risk of various conditions and diseases”. The patent for glyphosate expired in 2000, and the chemical is currently marketed under several brands.

The City Council’s briefing note continues by saying that work will begin towards a publicly managed ecological style of gardening, according to criteria for quality and sustainability, and avoiding the use of pesticides, excessive pruning, and the use of species that are not adapted to the environment or that have excessive need for water.

The City Council’s note says it will also inform the public of the reasons for avoiding the use of glyphosate and the benefits to the urban landscape. In addition, plants that benefit biodiversity and the quality of the urban environment will be encouraged.

Source: elperiodico.com (Spanish) – http://www.elperiodico.com/es/noticias/medio-ambiente/barcelona-prohibe-uso-herbicida-glifosato-jardines-publicos-4773205

Switzerland extends GMO moratorium

Swiss cattle

Moratorium expected to remain in place until 2021

The Swiss Federal Council, meeting in Bern on 18 December 2015, has declared that it is in favour of continuing the country’s moratorium on the cultivation of GM plants until 2021.

The Federal Council said it ”has decided to maintain the ban on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The current moratorium should be extended until 2021 under the Gene Technology Act (LGG).”

Currently, GMO cultivation is only permitted in Switzerland for research. The Swiss moratorium has been extended twice and expires in December 2017. Several cantons already have already indicated their interest in an extension of the moratorium and have adopted decisions to ban GM crops on their territory.

The Federal Council also asks that ”principles guaranteeing the protection of conventional crops as well as the free choice of consumers (coexistence) are specified.”

A draft law and a draft ordinance on the issue of coexistence of GM and non-GM crops are also under consultation. The Federal Council notes that “the vast majority of sectors invited to the consultation procedure expressed their opposition to the cultivation of GMOs in Switzerland, at least at present, and have criticized the proposed provisions.”

Thus extending the moratorium will be an opportunity, says the Federal Council, for ”a thorough and objective debate on the future use of GMOs in Swiss agriculture. The discussion should be based on considerations which are not confined to the issue of biosafety, but also take into account the economic and agricultural aspects.”

Source (French): Christophe Noisette, Inf’OGM http://www.infogm.org/5883-Suisse-ogm-vers-prolongation-moratoire

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FDA waits for Labelling laws before approving GM fish in USA

FDA bans the import of GM fish until labelling laws in place, a process that could take years

PEI Frankenfish protest
Sharon Labchuk, Mary Boyd and Council of Canadians vice-chairperson Leo Broderick protest outside AquaBounty’s facility in Bay Fortune, Nov. 19, 2015. Photo by V. Broderick.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an alert banning the import of genetically modified (GM) salmon just months after approving it safe to eat.

The CBC has previously reported, “The fish are genetically modified to grow at twice the rate of regular salmon.” The Washington Post has explained, “AquAdvantage, produced by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty, is an Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon and has been given a gene from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish. The result is a fish that is large enough for consumption in about a year and a half, rather than the typical three years.” And CBC adds, “The eggs for the salmon are raised in a facility in the eastern P.E.I. community of Bay Fortune and exported to Panama, where they’re grown in above-ground tanks.”

Now, FIS reports, “Last November, the FDA had given green light to AquaBounty Technologies Inc. to start marketing its AquAdvantage salmon [as a food product]. This new restriction [by] the agency follows [the FY 2016 omnibus spending bill] that became law on 18 December by which FDA must issue the new guidelines before the fish can be sold.” APRN adds, “The agency, citing bill language, says it can’t allow the fish to be sold as food until it writes consumer labeling guidelines. There’s no word yet on when the FDA expects to have those guidelines completed.”

The Washington Post reports that finalizing how the fish would be labelled is “a process that potentially could take years”. It adds, “The effort marks a victory – though perhaps a temporary one – for activists and commercial fishermen who have raised concerns about whether the AqauaBounty fish is safe to eat and whether potential environmental harms could result if any of the modified salmon made their way into ocean waters and mated with wild salmon.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski (Republican-Alaska) says, “[The alert] is a huge step in our fight against ‘Frankenfish’.”

It was Murkowski who pushed for the language in the omnibus spending bill. She has also been stalling on the appointment of Robert Califf, currently the deputy commissioner of the US FDA, as the agency’s new commissioner as a way to get an assurance that genetically modified salmon would be labelled as such (a measure the FDA did not require when it approved GM fish safe for consumption).

In Nov. 2015, Health Canada confirmed that it is reviewing the possible sale of genetically modified salmon as food in Canada.

The Council of Canadians has opposed genetically modified salmon for years, for more on that please click here.