Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Why Is Damning New Evidence About Monsanto’s Most Widely Used Herbicide Being Silenced?
By Jill Richardson
April 27, 2011
Dr. Don Huber did not seek fame when he quietly penned a confidential letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in January of this year, warning Vilsack of preliminary evidence of a microscopic organism that appears in high concentrations in genetically modified Roundup Ready corn and soybeans and “appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals and probably human beings.” Huber, a retired Purdue University professor of plant pathology and U.S. Army colonel, requested the USDA’s help in researching the matter and suggested Vilsack wait until the research was concluded before deregulating Roundup Ready alfalfa. But about a month after it was sent, the letter was leaked, soon becoming an internet phenomenon.
Huber was unavailable to respond to media inquiries in the weeks following the leak, and thus unable to defend himself when several colleagues from Purdue publicly claiming to refute his accusations about Monsanto’s widely used herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) and Roundup Ready crops. When his letter was finally acknowledged by the mainstream media, it was with titles like “Scientists Question Claims in Biotech Letter,” noting that the letter’s popularity on the internet “has raised concern among scientists that the public will believe his unsupported claim is true.”
Now, Huber has finally spoken out, both in a second letter, sent to “a wide number of individuals worldwide” to explain and back up his claims from his first letter, and in interviews. While his first letter described research that was not yet complete or published, his second letter cited much more evidence about glyphosate and genetically engineered crops based on studies that have already been published in peer-reviewed journals.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Half EU states negative on GM foods
Agence France Press, France
April 16, 2011
BRUSSELS — Half of all European Union states see no benefit from genetically modified crops according to an internal survey, the European Commission said Friday.
The commission said 13 out of the 27 member states gave an unfavourable response to the impact of developing GM crops while others such as Italy did not give an opinion.
A spokesman for EU health commissioner John Dalli voiced disappointment at the lack of detail, especially as the study was originally requested by states concerned at what they saw as a Commission drive to open up the GM food market.
The Commission is caught between strong popular opposition to GM foods and pressure from major American GM producers such as Monsanto who say that European bans on such products are illegal as they breach global trade rules.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Real costs of GM crops concealed
By Friends of the Earth Europe
April 15, 2011
Brussels - A study released today by the European Commission has been criticised for downplaying the costs of GMO contamination in the food sector.
Friends of the Earth Europe says the document, which assesses the economic impacts of growing genetically modified (GM) crops, is fundamentally flawed. Estimates of the potential price of GMO contamination cannot be based on current figures when GM crops cover less than 0.1% of Europe’s arable land, the group says.
Friends of the Earth Europe is warning that the real costs of segregating GM from conventional crops is far higher and could push up food prices.
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “The Commission’s analysis fails to account for the true environmental and economic costs of GM crops. With this report Commissioner John Dalli fails once more to protect the environment and the food sector against ongoing GM contamination. The biotech industry must be held accountable for damage caused by contamination – the costs must not be unfairly pushed onto farmers, consumers and taxpayers.”
Previous research by Friends of the Earth Europe has shown the hidden costs of GM crop cultivation that are being unfairly pushed onto the conventional and organic sectors – risking further GM-contamination and increased food prices.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
New seed corn technology comes with risks, entomologist says
By Steve Leer
Purdue University News Service
April 13, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Bags of corn seed that mix genetically modified hybrids with and without Bt toxins that kill insects provide farmers easier compliance with federal regulations but could, over time, hasten insect resistance to Bt, a Purdue University entomologist said.
Although “refuge-in-a-bag” seed technology has been approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, questions still remain over its long-term effect on corn rootworms, the main pest targeted by the technology, said Christian Krupke.
“Is a guarantee of 100 percent grower compliance with refuge regulations for corn rootworms worth a bit of a risk in terms of resistance development?” he said. “For many the answer is yes, because compliance has been declining in recent years.”
MEPs back national freedom to ban GM crops
April 13, 2011
The European Parliament’s environment committee yesterday (12 April) backed proposals by the EU executive to give member states a choice of whether to ban cultivation of GM crops on their territory, adding environmental impacts to a list of grounds on which restrictions could be imposed.
In July, the European Commission proposed an overhaul of the EU’s policy for approving genetically-modified crops, which would give countries freedom to ban cultivation on their territory, in the hope of drawing a line under years of controversy regarding GMO approvals.
The proposal has drawn widespread criticism from both supporters and opponents of GMOs, who argued that the new system will create legal uncertainty for farmers and agri-businesses and lead to distortions in the internal market.
At present, EU member states are only able to restrict genetically modified (GM) crop cultivation under strict conditions, as authorisation licences are valid across the 27-country bloc in accordance with the principles of the EU’s single market.
After initial heavy criticism of the Commission proposal, the Hungarian EU Presidency said last month that it would be possible to make progress by restricting or prohibiting GMO cultivation in EU countries, or particular regions, for “well-grounded reasons”.
MEPs voted on Tuesday to amend a Commission proposal for an EU regulation that would allow member states to restrict or ban the cultivation on their territory of GM crops, which have been given safety approval at EU level.
The Commission’s initial proposal suggested that member states could restrict or ban the cultivation “on grounds other than those related to the assessment of the adverse effect on health and environment which might arise from the deliberate release or the placing on the market of GMOs”.
But the proposals have sparked a wave of criticism, with stakeholders fearing they could lead to fragmentation of the internal market and legal uncertainty for farmers. Some of the proposals are also deemed incompatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
The Commission’s indicative list of grounds upon which member states could restrict or prohibit GMO cultivation includes public morality - such as religious, philosophical and ethical concerns over GM technology - public order and avoiding GM contamination of other products or GM-free schemes.