By Lorraine Chow for Eco Watch – The majority of European Union governments voted against a proposal to authorize two new strains of genetically modified (GMO) maize today. The two varieties of maize, DuPont Pioneer’s 1507 and Syngenta’s Bt11, kill insects by producing its own pesticide and is also resistant Bayer’s glufosinate herbicide. If approved, the varieties would be the first new GMO crops authorized for cultivation in the EU since 1998. However, as Reuters noted, the votes against authorization did not decisively block their entry to the EU because the opposition did not represent a “qualified majority.” A qualified majority is achieved when at least 16 countries, representing at least 65 percent of the European population, vote in favor or against. (Scroll down for the vote breakdown). The majority of EU governments also voted against renewing the license for another maize, Monsanto’s MON810, the only GMO crop currently grown in the EU. The votes against its renewal was not considered decisive either.
By Staff of Sustainable Pulse – Increasing consumer demand for organic and non-GMO foods led to a sharp rise in organic grain imports in 2016—prompting food manufacturers to explore new incentives for U.S. growers transitioning to organic production, according to a new report from CoBank. While U.S. production of non-GMO crops has risen, domestic production of organic corn and soybeans remains well short of demand. “Domestic supplies of non-GMO corn and soybeans increased steadily in 2016, as growers converted acreage and captured moderate market premiums,” says Dan Kowalski, director of the Knowledge Exchange Division at CoBank. “Transitioning to organic production, however, is a multi-year, risk-reward calculation that’s likely holding some U.S. growers back from taking advantage of the market opportunity.” Imports of organic grains, particularly corn, from countries such as India, Ukraine, Romania, and Turkey surged in 2016 to meet the burgeoning U.S. demand for organic food products. Organic corn imports more than doubled from 2015 to 2016 and accounted for nearly one-half of the U.S. organic corn supply.
By Stephen Fox for Op Ed News – “It’s going to take a long while for all the evidence to be presented. I think we’re talking years.” Monsanto’s yellow corn imports will increase by 20+ percent the next season, because of increasing production costs and the weakening peso. Mexico is self-sufficient when it comes to the country’s white corn, they rely on GMO corn that comes from the United States to feed livestock. As reported by Reuters’ David Alire Garcia in Mexico City: Mexico is the birthplace of modern corn, domesticated about 8,000 years ago and today the planet’s most-produced grain.
By Staff of Sustainable Pulse – A unique new study published Monday in the scientific journal Nature has used molecular profiles to reveal major differences in composition between a GMO corn and its non-GMO parent. These findings question industry and regulatory position of “substantial equivalence” and have serious safety implications. The new peer-reviewed study led by Dr Michael Antoniou at King’s College London describes the effects of the process of genetic engineering on the composition of a genetically modified Roundup-resistant GMO corn variety, NK603.
By Staff of Sustainable Pulse – Farmers in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, China’s top grain producer, will be prohibited from growing Genetically Modified (GM) crops, according to a provincial regulation passed on Friday. The regulation will become effective on May 1, 2017. Growing of GM corn, rice and soybean will be banned, while illegal production and sales of GM crops and supply of their seeds will also be prohibited. The new regulation also bans illegal production, processing, sale and imports of edible GM farm produce or edible farm products that contain GM ingredients.
By Staff of Sustainable Pulse – The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) informed Sustainable Pulse on Monday that they will allow multi-ingredient products, which include GMO fed animal products, such as eggs, meat or poultry, to be labeled Non-GMO. Sustainable Pulse requested further details on the FSIS guidelines published in August, due to ‘confusing’ language regarding which products will be able to be labeled non-GMO. FSIS confirmed that for “single ingredient products, such as a steak, plain chicken breast or ground beef, and the animal that the meat came from was fed GMO feed, that product cannot be labeled as non-GMO.”
By Staff for Center for Food Safety. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its decisions on whether federal and Hawai‘i state laws preempt Hawai‘i counties’ authority to regulate genetically engineered (GE) crops and pesticide use. Of significance to state and local communities throughout the United States, the Ninth Circuit ruled that federal law—specifically, the Plant Protection Act—does not prohibit states and counties from passing local laws to regulate and ban commercially-grown GE crops. “Today’s decision to allow states and counties to ban or regulate GE crops is an important victory for GE-free seed sanctuaries and small communities and farmers around the country,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety. In granting its decision the Court recognized potential harm to farmers and environment from the widespread planting of GE crops, asserting, “the cultivation and testing of GE plants raise several well-documented concerns.” Notably, the Court affirmed, “transgenic contamination has previously caused significant economic impacts on farmers of conventional, non-GE crops.”
By Staff of GMA – OLYMPIA — In a historic decision, a Thurston County Superior Court judge today ordered the Grocery Manufacturers Association to pay $18 million in penalties and punitive damages, after Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit revealed GMA intentionally violated Washington campaign finance laws. The case arose from Ferguson’s investigation of the finances of opposition to voter Initiative 522, which would have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in food sold to consumers.
By Ronnie Cummins for Organic Consumers Association – We are today in the midst of a battleground for two very different approaches to agriculture. One is the agro-ecological approach based on the use of open source traditional seeds based on biodiversity and living in harmony with nature. The other is the mechanistic world of an industrial system based on monocultures, one-way extraction and the use of pesticides, poisons and GMOs, where chemical cartels compete to take over our agriculture and food systems, destroying our ecosystems along the way.”
By Staff for Sustainable Pulse. According to new research from University of Virginia in the U.S., widespread adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops has decreased the use of insecticides, but increased the use of weed-killing herbicides as weeds become more resistant, leading to serious environmental damage. Ciliberto attributes this increase to the proliferation of glyphosate-resistant weeds. Commentators and other peer-reviewed studies have even stated that the rise in pesticide use on GM crops has gone up much further since the 1998-2011 data that was reviewed in this new University of Virginia study. The period from 2011-2016 is when glyphosate-resistant weeds have become a major economic problem for U.S. farmers based on the increase of use and thus money spent on pesticides cutting in to their bottom line. “In the beginning, there was a reduction in herbicide use, but over time the use of chemicals increased because farmers were having to add new chemicals as weeds developed a resistance to glyphosate,” Ciliberto said.
By Ken Roseboro for Nation of Change – Last year, Kade McBroom launched a non-GMO soybean processing plant in Malden, Missouri, and was optimistic about the potential to serve the fast-growing non-GMO market. But now McBroom sees a potential threat to his new business from herbicide drift sprayed on genetically modified crops. This past spring, Monsanto Co. started selling GM Roundup Ready Xtend soybean and cotton seeds to farmers in Missouri and several other states.
By Ryan Rifai for Al Jazeera. Food safety organisations in the US have condemned a new law they say will allow food producers to obscure the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in their products, despite widespread health concerns over the effects of GMOs and the pesticides associated with them. Signed into law on Friday by President Barack Obama, the legislation permits manufacturers to inform consumers of GMO content through the use of Quick Response or QR codes, which require a device – such as a smartphone – to read. The law was passed despite opposition from environmental and food safety groups, as well as national polls which show that some 90 percent of Americans surveyed favoured clear labeling. The Organic Consumers Association, which has long lobbied for clear GMO labeling, has created an app that lists companies it says people should avoid due to their support for the new legislation. The app, titled Buycott, also lists companies that were in favour of clear GMO labelling.
By Lydia Wheeler for The Hill – Members of the Organic Consumers Association threw money from the Senate gallery onto the floor on Wednesday to protest a vote on a bill to block states from issuing mandatory labeling laws for foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The protesters yelled “Monsanto Money” and “Sen. Stabenow, listen to the people, not Monsanto” while $2,000 fell to the floor. The disturbance came during a procedural vote to advance the bill in the Senate.
By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams – The pending “compromise” GMO labeling bill has food safety and consumer advocates both in and out of government scrambling to block the legislation, which they warn will destroy popular efforts to label products made with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. Sen. Bernie Sanders has vowed to put a hold on the legislation, which would prevent it from coming up for debate unless proponents can muster 60 votes.
By Jean Halloran and Michael Hansen for Consumers Union. 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.