lunes, junio 27, 2016

The Industrial Food Chain's Recipe for a Box Lunch

Who’s going to eat whose lunch … the Hardware Grunts or the Software Gurus? The Battle for the control of agricultural inputs is just beginning. Time for a “Kickboxer” Campaign?

A report by the ETC Group

Bayer’s $62 billion bid for Monsanto, as of this writing, has been rejected, but both parties say they are continuing to negotiate. That the “Joy of Six” agricultural input companies may soon become a ménage à trois has been a matter of speculation in ETC Group since mid-2014. If (and it is a big “if”) the marriages of Dow with DuPont, ChemChina with Syngenta, and Bayer with Monsanto are consummated, the only wallflower left on the dance floor, BASF, will either have to hook up or give up. Agriculture is, relatively speaking, small potatoes for the German chemical giant, but, still, it brought home $7.2 billion in crop chemical sales in 2014 and commands a hefty 11.5% of the global pesticide market. Although BASF invests in plant breeding and breeding technologies, it doesn’t directly sell seeds. Instead, the company collaborates on R&D all along the food chain – with Monsanto  (developing GMO traits), with Yara (producing ammonia for fertilizers), with synbio company Evolva (developing biosynthetic pesticides), with Cargill (developing oils high in omega-3), with Deere & Co. (selling crop insurance, precision agriculture) – and it has cross-licensing deals with major seed companies including Monsanto, DuPont and Dow.[1] BASF could give Bayer a run for its money wooing Monsanto, or it may decide its dance card is full enough. Or, the company may choose to spin off its Plant Science business altogether. If so, one of the top three farm machinery companies could be a buyer: Deere & Co., CNH or AGCO (in order of sales).

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domingo, junio 26, 2016

¿Quién es GMO?

sábado, junio 25, 2016

Vermont's GMO labeling law: DuPont, Syngenta fight disclosure of internal studies

By Robert Audette

BRATTLEBORO — The Vermont Attorney General's Office is asking a federal judge to force Syngenta Corporation and Dupont to turn over internal studies relating to the safety of genetically modified organisms.

The state is asking the manufacturers of genetically engineered seeds — such as DuPont, Syngenta, Dow, Monsanto and Bayer — to turn over any studies conducted into the health and environmental impacts of those products and the producers of foods containing GE ingredients — such as Frito-Lay, Kellog's and ConAgra — to release consumer surveys to see if these companies know what their consumers think when they see the word "natural."

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Rector del RUM defiende acuerdo colaborativo con Monsanto

Por José Encarnación

Para el doctor John Fernández Van Cleve, rector del Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez (RUM), el hecho de que Monsanto forme parte de un acuerdo colaborativo con esa institución no representa algo negativo. Al contrario. Para el académico, este tipo de empresas dedicadas a la biotecnología agrícola en la Isla y otros países del mundo son consistentes con la misión de la Universidad de Puerto Rico y el perfil profesional que el país y el mundo necesita.

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viernes, junio 24, 2016

Consumers Union Opposes New Senate GMO Labeling Proposal

Thursday, June 23, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced a deal on legislation related to genetically engineered ingredients, or GMOs. The new bill would nullify state laws requiring clear, on-package labeling of food with GMOs and replace them with an ineffective national standard to be set two years from now by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, issued this statement in response:

“This deal is unacceptable to the nine out of ten Americans who support mandatory GMO labeling. Consumers deserve to know what’s in their food and to be able to make informed decisions. They have been clear that they want straightforward GMO labels that they can read and understand at a quick glance when shopping. This law would instead allow GMO disclosure to be done through scannable codes, phone numbers, or websites – making it difficult, if not impossible for the average consumer to find out what they want to know as they try to decide which kind of cereal or snack to buy.

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lunes, junio 20, 2016

Stop The Gene Bomb! ETC Group Comment on NAS Report on Gene Drives

First study on gene drive governance avoids the explosive issues: Militarization, Commercialization, Food Security. ETC Group urges that gene drive patents and governance be handed to the United Nations. 

Coming in at over 200 pages, today’s National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, 'Gene Drives on the Horizon’ is weighty but disappointing. It fails to properly address three of the most pressing issues raised by the controversial new technology of CRISPR-CAS9 gene drives. Dubbed, the ‘mutagenic chain reaction’ by its inventors, RNA-guided gene drives are a high-leverage synthetic biology technology invented only last year. They are designed to relentlessly drive a specific genetic trait through an entire species or population - potentially driving species to extinction. This capability to reshape entire natural populations and ecosystems raises significant threats to peace, biodiversity and food security which is why a high profile study of this kind was mobilized in such record time. Yet, inexplicably the NAS’s report entirely fails to address the problems that will follow from agricultural commercialization of the technology and gives short shrift to the military and security implications of gene drive development. Since commercialization, food security and militarization are among the most explosive issues raised by these developments, their near absence in the report is puzzling. The NAS study was co-funded by DARPA (a US military agency) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (a global agricultural funder). Both institutions are heavily invested in gene drive research.

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domingo, junio 19, 2016

Detengamos la bomba genética

Comentarios del Grupo ETC al informe de la Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Estados Unidos sobre los conductores genéticos

De casi 200 páginas, el informe de investigación de la Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Estados Unidos (NAS, por sus siglas en inglés) “Gene Drives on the Horizon” (Los conductores genéticos en el horizonte) es voluminoso pero superficial. No trata los temas más urgentes que plantea la controvertida tecnología de conductores genéticos a partir de CRISPR-Cas9. Sus inventores la apodan “reacción mutagénica en cadena”. Los conductores genéticos guiados por ARN son un poderosa técnica de biología sintética inventada apenas el año pasado. Están diseñados para introducir a toda costa un rasgo genético a través de toda la población de alguna especie, por lo que puede ocasionar la extinción de dicha especie. Esta capacidad para manipular y rediseñar totalmente las poblaciones y los ecosistemas plantea serias amenazas bélicas, a la biodiversidad y la seguridad alimentaria, por lo cual este estudio de alto perfil se divulgó en un tiempo récord.
Inexplicablemente, el informe no habla de los problemas que surgirán a partir de la comercialización de dicha tecnología y queda corto al referirse a las implicaciones militares y para la seguridad del desarrollo de los conductores genéticos. Dado que la comercialización, la seguridad alimentaria y la militarización se encuentran entre los temas más explosivos que plantean estas técnicas, su escasa mención en el informe científico resulta incomprensible. El estudio fue financiado por DARPA (una agencia de investigación militar de Estados Unidos) y la Fundación Bill y Melinda Gates (que financia temas de agricultura). Ambas instituciones están muy involucradas en la investigación sobre conductores genéticos.
“Los historiadores podrían considerar este desarrollo científico del 2015, —los conductores genéticos— como el momento ‘nuclear’ de la biología. Así como la primera reacción nuclear en cadena hace tres cuartos de siglo, la “reacción mutagénica en cadena” muestra  un potencial de destrucción de amplio espectro con ramificaciones geopolíticas muy significativas”, explica Jim Thomas, Director de Programas del Grupo ETC. “Actualmente hay un puñado de pioneros que desarrollan conductores genéticos, que argumentan que su nueva herramienta podría eliminar la malaria o salvar aves en peligro de extinción, sin embargo es claro para todo mundo que las promesas que hacen los que tienen sus propios intereses en la tecnología no son de confiar; esta técnica  implica riesgos enormes.”

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sábado, junio 18, 2016

Monsanto in Mexico Update | Indigenous farmers threaten to end consultations if GMO planting continues

Comment by Devon Peña:

When we last reported on the situation with GMOs in the southern Mexican states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán, there were many reasons to celebrate since a federal judge had overturned the approval of GMO soy plantings in this region as a threat to the indigenous beekeepers of the region (see our posts of March 16 2014and July 24, 2014).

Those rulings profoundly recognized Mayan indigenous autonomy. As quoted in our report of March 2014:According to press reports…(Mar 11, 2014) the court “determined that the effective protection of indigenous rights requires the exercise of certain human rights of a procedural nature, mainly the access to information, participation in decision-making and access to ensure justice.” 

You would think this was a clear victory. It apparently is not. This is, after all, Mexico, a place where the state of economic exception remains just as brutal and anti-indigenous as always. Here is the problem: While the courts have ruled that consultation with indigenous peoples is required as part of the process for reviewing permits for GMO crops, the planting of transgenic soybean (and maize) apparently continue unabated, without the proper legal permissions and in defiance of standing federal court orders prohibiting transgenic crops until the indigenous consultation process runs its course, and then presumably only if there is indigenous consent.

I am posting a report from the Mexican site, Desinforménos, that discusses the current situation in the peninsular Mexican state of Campeche. It is vital that nonGMO movement activists remain aware of and engaged with the continuing indigenous struggle against transgenic soybeans which remain an active threat to bees and beekeepers. This struggle is far from over and if we disengage and take the pressure off, then the Mayan beekeepers struggles will have been for naught. The translation is mine.

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Permanently changing a species: What could go wrong?

by Dana Perls, Food and Technology campaigner

While the NAS report offers thoughtful insights and useful warnings about gene drives, it falls far short of offering a blueprint for responsible governance to ensure that the technology will not be used for hostile purposes, reckless corporate profit or at the expense of health and the environment.

There is only one responsible path forward for gene drives — we need a moratorium on commercial or environmental releases of this technology. There must be strong and clear international regulations and oversight. We must ensure that corporations and governments (particularly militaries) are not developing gene drives and cannot misuse this technology in ways that could have profound ecological, health or socio-economic impacts. There must be strict regulations on lab research, especially given the risk of accidental escape of gene drive organisms, even from high security labs.

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