viernes, enero 29, 2016

Nuevo freno a Monsanto en Argentina, por Darío Aranda

La multinacional del agronegocios intentó nuevamente avanzar en la construcción de su planta de semillas transgénicas. Está frenada desde hace tres años por el rechazo de la población y la movilización de asambleas socioambientales, organizaciones sociales y activistas.

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miércoles, enero 27, 2016

Pat Mooney, Executive Director of the ETC Group

Pat Mooney has more than four decades experience working in international civil society, first addressing aid and development issues and then focusing on food, agriculture and commodity trade. In 1977 Mooney co-founded RAFI (Rural Advancement Fund International, renamed ETC Group in 2001). He received The Right Livelihood Award (the "Alternative Nobel Prize") in the Swedish Parliament in 1985 and the Pearson Peace Prize from Canada's Governor General in 1998. He has also received the American "Giraffe Award" given to people "who stick their necks out."

The author or co-author of several books on the politics of biotechnology and biodiversity, Pat Mooney is widely regarded as an authority on issues of global governance, corporate concentration, and intellectual property monopoly. Although much of ETC's work continues to emphasize plant genetic resources and agricultural biodiversity, the work expanded in the early 1980s to include biotechnology. In the late 1990s, the work expanded more to encompass a succession of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, geoengineering, and new developments in genomics and neurosciences.

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ETC's Irreverent Review of 2015...

The Year that Ended Dangerously

If El Niño weren’t enough, the extraordinary winds that struck Yemen and Mexico’s Pacific Coast were matched by record-breaking forest fires in the Indonesian archipelago, droughts, torrential rains and floods from Australia to the British Isles and heat-waves on the east coast of North America (in winter). Much of this was El Niño, of course, but some of it was climate change – and all of it wound up in Paris with calls for geoengineering …2015 was the year that ended dangerously.

Realpolitik in Paris. 

ETC Group feels like the Grinch Group that stole Christmas when we complain about Paris. Yes, there was a heightened level of awareness and commitment palpable among governments and civil society and, yes, governments are committed to reporting back every five years creating a space in which many believe it will be self-evident that they need to up their game and commit to bigger and faster GHG cutbacks. As importantly, 2015 was the year in which CSO Climate Change Campaigners worked together better than ever before and often supported one another even when we didn’t entirely agree with the tactics. From the World Social Forum in Tunis in March on through the preparatory sessions in Paris and Bonn and then right through Paris again at COP21, folks were trying to understand each other’s positions, agreeing on many points even though not everybody spoke out. Sadly, some CSOs and online clicktavism brands felt they owed their followers a victory and resolved to celebrate regardless of reality. False optimism is still lying to your friends – a very high-risk tactic. For industrialized countries at least, climate change continues to be a distant disaster and politicians are still punting the ball down the road an election or two. The realpolitik defense - that Paris was the best it could be – needs a reality check. 

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Monsanto is dead, long live Monsanto

By Carmelo Ruiz

The much-detested Monsanto biotechnology corporation will likely change its name this year following its imminent merger with its European counterpart Syngenta. Such a merger would beget an unprecedented behemoth that would control 45% of the world commercial seed market and 30% of the global agrochemical sector.(1)

The US-based Monsanto, which began in 1901 as a chemical company, is currently the world’s largest seed company, with some 26% of the world market. In the 1970s Monsanto invented the systemic herbicide glyphosate. Sold by the company under the brand name Roundup, it is the most lucrative agricultural poison in history. This company dominates the world market for genetically modified (GM) seed, trouncing its competitors by a broad margin. The majority of its GM seeds have been modified to tolerate being sprayed with glyphosate, and are thus called Roundup Ready seeds. This particular use of GM technology allows Monsanto to sell the seed and the herbicide as one integrated package. 


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martes, enero 26, 2016

Why is Cornell University hosting a GMO propaganda campaign?, by Stacy Malkan

Cornell University has abandoned scientific objectivity, writes Stacy Malkan, and instead made itself a global hub for the promotion of GM crops and food

EXCERPT: CAS [Cornell Alliance for Science] offers journalism fellowships with cash awards for select journalists to "promote in-depth contextualized reporting" about issues related to food security, crop production, biotechnology and sustainable agricultural. Are these journalists also GMO advocates? How ethical is it for journalists to represent the policy positions of a pro-agrichemical-industry group?

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lunes, enero 25, 2016

What's a GMO?

 Dr Janet Cotter
The food writer Nathanael Johnson recently published an article called “It’s virtually impossible to define ‘GMOs’”, while an article in Embo Reports argued that GMO is a “meaningless pseudo-category”. Dr Janet Cotter of Logos Environmental cuts through the confusion and explains what a GMO is – and isn’t

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jueves, enero 21, 2016

NPR: Should Farmers Give John Deere And Monsanto Their Data?

Dan Charles


Companies that are collecting these data may be able to see how much grain is being harvested, minute by minute, from tens of thousands of fields. That's valuable information,"They could actually manipulate the market with it. They only have to know the information about what is actually happening with harvest minutes before somebody else knows it..."

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Cine agroecológico en Rio Piedras este viernes

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martes, enero 19, 2016

Syngenta In Play: Who Will Win the Prize?

Last year, Syngenta’s then management board rejected a $47 billion takeover attempt by Monsanto. And while the St. Louis, MO-based manufacturer of Roundup is still attempting to engage Syngenta, various reports indicate that the Swiss company is inching closer to a deal with China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina). According to one business report, a formal agreement between these two companies could be in place within the next few weeks. However, other reports say that one group of Syngenta shareholders remains opposed to any deal with ChemChina.


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Canibalismo corporativo: lo que sigue

Por Silvia Ribeiro

La fusión entre Monsanto y Syngenta, dos de las más grandes y combatidas empresas de semillas transgénicas y agrotóxicos a escala mundial, parecía una mala fantasía. Hoy es probable y sólo una de las fusiones espectaculares que están ocurriendo. Aunque Syngenta rechazó por segunda vez a Monsanto –quiere más dinero–, otras dos gigantes, DuPont (dueña de Pioneer) y Dow Chemicals, acordaron apenas hace unos días fusionarse. Monsanto sigue intentando con Syngenta. Es apenas un rincón del escenario: los planes de las corporaciones van más allá, en pos de controlar sectores claves y cada vez más grandes de la producción agroalimentaria.

En 1981, el Grupo ETC (entonces llamado RAFI) denunció que las empresas de agroquímicos estaban comprando las semilleras y que su objetivo era desarrollar cultivos que toleraran los tóxicos de las propias empresas, para crear dependencia de los agricultores y vender más veneno, su negocio más lucrativo. Nos llamaron alarmistas, dijeron que tal tecnología nunca iba a existir; hasta que en 1995 la industria comenzó a plantar transgénicos: exactamente ese tipo de semilla.

En ese entonces había en el mundo más de 7 mil empresas que producían semillas comerciales, la mayoría familiares, y ninguna controlaba más de uno por ciento del mercado; 34 años después, seis trasnacionales controlan 63 por ciento del mercado global de semillas y 75 por ciento del mercado global de agrotóxicos. Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow, Bayer y Basf, todas originalmente fabricantes de veneno, son las seis gigantes que controlan agrotóxicos, semillas y 100 por ciento de los transgénicos agrícolas, expresión de la fusión de ambos negocios. Como casi no quedan empresas, se dedican ahora al canibalismo. Syngenta es la más grande productora de agrotóxicos a escala global, por lo que hasta la empresa china de agrotóxicos, ChemChina, ofertó por ella, pero no le llegó al precio.

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sábado, enero 16, 2016

Javier Souza: Impactos del uso de glifosato

Monsanto + Syngenta, Agribusiness giants get even bigger

By Carmelo Ruiz

A merger between agricultural biotech giants Monsanto and Syngenta is becoming likelier by the minute. The proposed merger has generated much commentary and speculation in the business world as well as among anti-GMO activists since the resulting corporation would control 45% of the global seed market and 30% of the agrochemical market (1).

In 2015 the US-based Monsanto tried to buy Syngenta twice, and was twice spurned by the European corporation. But Monsanto is not the only suitor. Syngenta has also been courted with similar buyout bids by Germany’s BASF and Asian corporate colossus ChemChina.

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viernes, enero 15, 2016

Reuters: Syngenta Weighing Options With ChemChina, Monsanto, Other Corps


Syngenta is in talks about a possible merger and is weighing a number of options, the Swiss agrichemicals group's chairman said on Wednesday.

Michel Demare said last month that the crop chemicals and seeds company was in talks with China's state-owned ChemChina, U.S. seeds giant Monsanto and others.

When asked about the prospect of Syngenta possibly becoming a Chinese company, Demare said: "We are at a stage where we are looking at different combinations. I'm just saying it's one of them. Everybody has spoken to each other."

ChemChina, which is being advised by HSBC, is seeking a loan package by several large Western banks to fund a possible Syngenta takeover deal, which later may be refinanced by Chinese banks, several sources familiar with the matter said.

A takeover of Syngenta by ChemChina would underpin an effort by the Chinese government to boost farming productivity, as it seeks to cut reliance on food imports amid limited farm land, a growing population and higher meat consumption.

ChemChina has a 5 percent share of the global crop chemicals market through its ownership of Israeli generic pesticides maker Adama.

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jueves, enero 14, 2016

Folta, again

Kevin Folta accused of lying and hiding corporate contributions 

Nature Biotechnology has just published a powerful letter that demolishes the journal’s recent attempt to defend University of Florida scientist Kevin Folta. The letter says, “Just because it is legal to lie and hide corporate contributions doesn’t make it ethical.”

The author is Stacy Malkan, co-director of the consumer group US Right to Know (USRTK), which first exposed the controversial scientist’s close ties to the agrichemical industry.
Malkan points out that in its pro-Folta editorial, the journal had falsely accused USRTK of “a ‘smear campaign’ in investigating the food and agrichemical industries, their public relations firms and front groups, and the professors who speak for them.” Not so, says Malkan – all USRTK has been doing is bringing to light the largely undisclosed ties that the public has every right to know about.

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lunes, enero 11, 2016

Maíz transgénico atenta contra patrimonio genético del grano: experta

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domingo, enero 10, 2016

Venezuela: Ley de semillas es una victoria del pueblo

Hoy tenemos una ley que prohíbe y sanciona el cultivo, multiplicación y comercialización de transgénicos, así como también prohíbe y sanciona las formas perversas de privatización de las semillas; desde las patentes y certificados de obtentor, hasta la biopiratería y bioprospección. Este esfuerzo colectivo le pone un freno magistral a las estrategias neoliberales hegemónicas, que gracias al multimillonario lobby de las transnacionales del agronegocio y sus aliados locales, se han venido implementando con mayor fuerza en los países de Nuestramérica en los últimos 5 años.

Nuestra ley, resultado de luchas ancestrales,  no solo prohíbe y se alza en contra del sistema de producción y reproducción de la vida alienante y destructor que pretende imponernos el capitalismo, sino que también construye y delimita un sistema alternativo y múltiple para su cuidado, reconociendo e impulsando de forma diferenciada los métodos de selección y producción de las semillas de las ciencias agronómicas convencionales por un lado - con sus sistemas de certificación formal-  y por el otro, los métodos generados por los sistemas de conocimientos campesinos indígenas y afrodescendientes, lo cuales han manejado de generación en generación una amplia diversidad de semillas.

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GM Crops Fail to Deliver on Promises After 20 Years

Greenpeace has released a new report reviewing evidence of GM environmental risks, market failures, and increased pesticide use for the past 20 years. It says, "Two decades on, the promises are getting bigger and bigger, but GM crops are not delivering any of them." Around 85% of GM crops are cultivated in just four countries in the Americas (US, Brazil, Argentina and Canada), representing only 3% of global agricultural land. 

The report effectively debunks seven myths about GM crops showing that: (1) GM crops are not feeding the world, do not increase yields, can negatively affect the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, and reinforce the industrial agriculture model that has failed to feed the world so far; (2) genetic engineering lags behind conventional breeding in developing plant varieties that can help agriculture cope with climate change; (3) long-term environmental and health monitoring programmes on GM crops either do not exist or are inadequate; (4) GM crops increase pesticide use and herbicide-resistant weeds and super-pests have emerged in response to herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant GM crops, requiring additional pesticide use; (5) GM seed prices are protected by patents and their prices have soared over the last 20 years; (6) GM crops can contaminate non-GM crops; and (7) GM crops are not only an ineffective type of innovation but they also restrict innovation due to intellectual property rights owned by a handful of corporations.  

The report also stresses that there is no scientific consensus about the safety of GM crops. The paper puts forward ecological farming practices as a proven and sustainable solution to the challenges facing farming and food security. For instance, Western European countries have achieved higher average maize yields per hectare than the GM maize systems in the US and also outperformed GM rapeseed yields in Canada.  

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viernes, enero 08, 2016

Breaking Bad: Big Ag Mega-Mergers in Play

A report by the ETC Group

December 2015. In this new report, ETC Group examines corporate consolidation in four agricultural input sectors: seeds, pesticides, chemical fertilizers and farm equipment. With combined annual revenue of $385 billion, these companies call the shots. Who will dominate the industrial food chain? And what does it mean for farmers, food sovereignty and climate justice?


The Big Six agrochemical corporations (BASF, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta) that dominate commercial seed and pesticide markets worldwide now insist they must get bigger, faster if the world wants food security in the midst of climate chaos. According to agribusiness, the extreme pressures of population, demand for meat, and climate crisis require Big Science and Big Money – and that means extreme Mergers all along the industrial food chain.

At Stake

The fate of the six dominant pesticide and seed companies (and their $93 billion market) is in play. For all the talk of “Climate-Smart Agriculture,” their R&D strategies are collapsing and, among them, there are more sellers than buyers. Simultaneously, the much bigger ($175 billion market) greenhouse gas-intensive fertilizer industry is caught in the headlights of climate change negotiators and is wrapping itself in the mantle of Climate-Smart Agriculture to protect its assets. The four companies that control 56% of the $116 billion farm machinery industry already have the robotics hardware; are acquiring the software (Big Data, satellite surveillance) technologies; and are thinking about adding the bio-based software (seeds and pesticides) to their shopping cart. It’s too soon to tell which companies or sector will become the one-stop shop for farm inputs – but farm machinery, seeds, fertilizers and chemicals are now linked like never before. Monsanto collaborates with the world’s three biggest farm equipment companies (Deere & Co, CNH Industrial, AGCO). Deere has strategic alliances with five of the Big Six companies. Ultimately, the company that controls the data on soil, historical weather and crop yield, as well as the Big Box robot that deposits the seeds, pesticides and fertilizers will be the company that can gain most from crop insurance contracts that increasingly dictate inputs to the farmer. In the short term, the big shifts will likely be among the existing seed and pesticide enterprises, but even in the mid-term, watch out for the muck and machinery majors to rule the roost.

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lunes, enero 04, 2016

GM Crops Bring Bare Benefit to Farmers

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network has released the fourth report of its GMO Inquiry 2015 project entitled “Are GM crops better for farmers?” Farmers are the main customers for GM crops, but are generally not consulted before GM crops are approved for field trials or commercial release.  

The main GM crops grown are corn, canola, soy and cotton, mostly bearing either or both traits of herbicide tolerance and insect resistance. Six major companies— Monsanto (US), DuPont (US), Syngenta (Switzerland), Dow (US), Bayer (Germany), and BASF (Germany)—develop GM crops. They control 63 percent of the global commercial seed market and 75 percent of the agrochemical market. In 2007, their GM crops accounted for 98 percent of global GM acreage, with Monsanto's traits accounting for 85 percent.  

The report finds that this high level of corporate concentration in the seed market has meant higher prices, limited choices for farmers, a narrowing of genetic diversity in crops, and stagnating innovation. Meanwhile, net farm incomes in Canada have not increased because farm expenses, including the cost of GM seed, have increased substantially. Legal control over seeds, in the form of patents that prevent farmers from saving, exchanging and reusing seed, has also increased. In addition, there are no clear patterns to show that GM crop yields have increased more than those of non-GM crops; in fact, there is evidence to the contrary. Moreover, the so-called benefits of herbicide tolerance are now being overturned due to the new costs of managing the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds. In Canada, there is no assessment of the potential economic consequences of introducing new GM crops including the costs of GM contamination, which farmers have had to bear in past episodes.  

The report concludes that 20 years of GM crops have benefitted the companies that sell GM seeds, but have not always benefitted farmers. It calls for a democratic decision-making process to assess what role, if any, GM crops should play in our food and farming systems. The summary of the report is reproduced below.


domingo, enero 03, 2016

USDA whistleblower claims censorship of pesticide research

Jonathan Lundgren, an entomologist with the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service, filed a whistleblower complaint Wednesday alleging the federal agency suppressed his research on a popular class of pesticides. (Photo courtesy USDA)
Jonathan Lundgren, an entomologist with the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service, filed a whistleblower complaint Wednesday alleging the federal agency suppressed his research on a popular class of pesticides. (Photo courtesy USDA)

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sábado, enero 02, 2016

Outsmarting nature?

Many of the world's largest agro-industrial corporations are pushing forward the poorly-defined idea of "Climate-Smart Agriculture"(CSA) to re-market industrial agriculture as 'climate-ready'. This report uncovers how some advocates of CSA are embracing the extreme genetic engineering tools of synthetic biology ("Syn Bio") to develop a set of false solutions to the climate crisis.
The 20-page report includes:
-       An overview of the Players lining up behind the “Climate-Smart” brand and the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA).
-       Details and critique of public and private research projects to alter photosynthesis pathways in plants and microbes, theoretically to increase the carbon sequestration of plants.
-      Details and critique of Synthetic Biology projects that aim to increase nitrogen fixation in plants and create ‘self-fertilizing plants,’ theoretically to reduce fertilizer applications.
-      An exposé of new Syn Bio applications developed by agrochemical giant Syngenta that make the activation of ‘climate-tolerance’ traits dependent on the application of proprietary pesticides – thereby tying farmers closer to agrochemical use.
-      Proposals to release controversial ‘Gene Drive’ technology into the wild to make weed populations more susceptible to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, altering ecosystems to extend the commercial viability of that agrochemical.

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