Friday, February 25, 2011
Monsanto wins in latest US sugar beet ruling
By Carey Gillam
February 25, 2011
- Sugar beet stecklings can stay in the ground
- Ruling involves only “thin slice” of larger case
- Likelihood of irreparable injury not found
SAN FRANCISCO - In a partial win for global biotech seed maker Monsanto Co (MON.N), a U.S. appeals court reversed a lower court’s order that called for the destruction of young genetically modified sugar beet plants, according to a ruling released on Friday.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found permits issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for juvenile biotech sugar beet “stecklings” should be given “full force and effect” and the plants need not be destroyed as a federal judge in San Francisco had ordered late last year.
Broader issues about the legality of broad commercialization of biotech sugarbeets are still undecided as the USDA works to complete a court-ordered environmental impact assessment of the crop.
But the 9th Circuit held in its decision Friday the young seedlings that were planted in September do not pose an imminent risk. The stecklings are designed to produce seed that ultimately might be made available for root crop growers in the 2012 season, or for breeding purposes.
But the ultimate use will be tied to the outcome of the arguments over commercialization of the crop. In its ruling Friday, the 9th Circuit said this issue was but a “thin slice of a larger litigation.”
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Scientists make transgenic fungus to fight malaria
By Kate Kelland
February 24, 2011
LONDON - Using genetically modified fungi to infect mosquitoes that harbor malaria parasites could be an effective way to control the spread of malaria, researchers said on Thursday.
Scientists from Britain and the United States inserted the genes of human antibodies or scorpion toxins into a fungus called Metarhizium anisopliae that infects mosquitoes. They found that certain combinations of them were able to stop the development of malaria-causing parasites in the mosquitoes.
Writing in the journal Science, the researchers said the approach could become an environmentally friendly way of fighting malaria, and might also be used to control other insect- or bug-borne diseases such as dengue fever or Lyme disease.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Why Monsanto’s GM seeds are undemocratic
By Christopher D. Cook
The Christian Science Monitor
February 23, 2011
San Francisco – Question: Would you want a small handful of government officials controlling America’s entire food supply, all its seeds and harvests?
I suspect most would scream, “No way!”
Yet, while America seems allergic to public servants – with no profit motive in mind – controlling anything these days, a knee-jerk faith in the “free market” has led to overwhelming centralized control of nearly all our food stuffs, from farm to fork.
The Obama administration’s recent decision to radically expand genetically modified (GM) food – approving unrestricted production of agribusiness biotech company Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” alfalfa and sugar beets – marks a profound deepening of this centralization of food production in the hands of just a few corporations, with little but the profit motive to guide them.
Even as United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials enable a tighter corporate grip on the food chain, there is compelling evidence of GM foods’ ecological and human health risks, suggesting we should at very least learn more before allowing their spread.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Emergency! Pathogen New to Science Found in Roundup Ready GM Crops?
By Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
February 21, 2011
Please distribute widely and forward to your elected representatives
An open letter appeared on the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance founded and run by Judith McGeary to save family farms in the US. The letter, written by Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, warns of a pathogen “new to science” discovered by “a team of senior plant and animal scientists”. Huber says it should be treated as an “emergency’’, as it could result in “a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies.”
The letter appeared to have been written before Vilsack announced his decision to authorize unrestricted commercial planting of GM alfalfa on 1 February, in the hope of convincing the Secretary of Agriculture to impose a moratorium instead on deregulation of Roundup Ready (RR) crops.
The new pathogen appears associated with serious pervasive diseases in plants - sudden death syndrome in soybean and Goss’ wilt in corn – but its suspected effects on livestock is alarming. Huber refers to “recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45%.”
This could be the worst nightmare of genetic engineering that some scientists including me have been warning for years (see Genetic Engineering Dream or Nightmare, ISIS publication): the unintended creation of new pathogens through assisted horizontal gene transfer and recombination.
Huber writes in closing: “I have studied plant pathogens for more than 50 years. We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increasing plant and animal diseases and disorders. This pathogen may be instrumental to understanding and solving this problem. It deserves immediate attention with significant resources to avoid a general collapse of our critical agricultural infrastructure.”
The complete letter is reproduced below:
EU moves to allow traces of GMO in feed
February 22, 2011
BRUSSELS (AP) — A European Union committee on Tuesday approved rules that would allow the import of animal feed contaminated with small traces of genetically modified crops.
The EU Commission and Parliament are expected to accept the rule by this summer, which would change the bloc’s attitude toward biotech food.
Tuesday’s decision by a panel of experts from the 27 EU countries could be a breakthrough for such major exporters such as the United States, Brazil and Argentina. It was immediately welcomed by the European feed industry and condemned by environmental groups.