Sunday, December 18, 2011
Feds’ GM food proposal compromises food safety, say groups
By Omid Ghoreishi
December 18, 2011
A federal government proposal that would allow low levels of contamination from genetically modified foods from other countries is raising concerns among activist groups.
The proposed policy on “low level presence” (LLP) relates to the unintended presence in low amounts of unapproved genetically modified (GM) material in imported food.
“We think that’s a huge concern from a health safety standpoint. There is no justification for this policy from a public health point of view,” says Lucy Sharrat, coordinator of Ottawa-based Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), which is taking part in a government stakeholder consultation on the policy.
“The government is very clear that this is trade policy, and our position is that this is clearly trade policy that sacrifices food safety,” she says.
The proposal stems from an industry concern that the inevitable presence of traces of GM in imported food that has been approved in one country but not in the country of import could disrupt international trade.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Modified plants found outside laboratories
December 16, 2011
Spot checks conducted in 2011 found “isolated examples” of genetically modified plants near research laboratories and a station in different places in Switzerland.
The Federal Environment Office said on Friday that the plants had been dug up immediately, and there had been no contamination.
The plants found near laboratories belonging to the universities of Lausanne, Basel and Zurich were thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), which is often used in studying plant biology, since any changes in it are easily observed.
The universities were informed and asked to discover how the plants got out.
Genetically modified rape was found at the station in Lugano. The canton was asked to discover where it came from.
A statement by the environment office said the discoveries were “no great surprise”.
“Laboratories and communications routes are possible ways in which genetically modified plants are spread,” it pointed out.
They were detected by a monitoring system set up by the office to discover any early release of such plants into the environment. The system is being introduced ahead of the planned lifting of a moratorium on growing genetically modified crops in November 2013.
Bayer: Threshold met for rice settlement
By Jeannie Nuss
December 16, 2011
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Rice growers met a threshold to move forward with a $750 million settlement over genetically modified rice, the company blamed for the problem said Thursday.
Bayer CropScience had agreed to the settlement this summer, five years after the company inadvertently introduced a strain of genetically altered long-grain rice into the U.S. market. As part of the settlement, Bayer set a threshold of 85 percent of rice acreage involved and could have opted out of the deal if not enough farmers signed up.
“Although Bayer CropScience believes it acted responsibly in the handling of its biotech rice, the company considered it important to resolve the litigation so that it can move forward focused on its fundamental mission of providing innovative solutions to modern agriculture,” spokesman Greg Coffey said in a statement.
Farmers in Arkansas — where about half of the nation’s rice is grown — as well as Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas sued Bayer after the German conglomerate developed an experimental strain of rice called LibertyLink to withstand its Liberty herbicide. U.S. regulators had not yet approved it for human consumption when trace amounts were found with conventional rice seed in storage.
No human health problems have been associated with the contamination, but that wasn’t known at the time.
The fear that the rice was unsafe, along with the notion that genetically altered rice was somehow impure, quashed sales in major markets. The mistake also left growers with huge losses as prices fell.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Arkansas court affirms $50M verdict for rice farmers
By Jeannie Nuss
December 08, 2011
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed a nearly $50 million verdict for farmers who say they lost money because a company’s genetically altered rice seeds contaminated the food supply and drove down crop prices.
Bayer, the German conglomerate whose Bayer CropScience subsidiary produced the seeds, had argued that Arkansas tort laws set a limit on punitive damages and that courts should set aside jury awards that “shock the conscience.” In the April 2010 verdict, a Lonoke County jury awarded $42 million in punitive damages and $5.9 million in actual damages.
The company said a lower court erred last year in ruling that a cap on punitive damages is unconstitutional.
But in its 24-page opinion released Thursday, the state Supreme Court agreed with the lower court that the cap on punitive damages was unconstitutional. Associate Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson wrote that the cap “limits the amount of recovery outside the employment relationship,” while the Arkansas constitution only allows limits on compensation paid by employers to employees.
The latest decision comes years after Bayer developed an experimental strain of rice called LibertyLink to withstand its Liberty herbicide. Federal regulators had not yet approved it for human consumption when trace amounts were found mixed with conventional rice seed in storage bins in Arkansas and Missouri.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Genetically modified crops - contamination without representation
By April Scott
November 17, 2011
If Oregon allows GM sugar beets to be deregulated, we may not stand a chance against full federal deregulation of all GM crops
(SALEM, Ore.) - A public hearing is being held in Corvallis, Oregon this Thursday, November 17th to determine if Genetically Modified sugar beets will be deregulated in Oregon.
Meanwhile, the public comment period maybe just a local distraction giving way to full federal deregulation without any representation of organic and conventional crop farmers.
Let us not forget that the U.S House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture held a formal hearing on Genetically Modified (GM) Alfalfa on Jan 20, 2011.
The hearing corresponded with an open 30-day comment period, designed to provide relevant testimony with regard to deregulation of Genetically Modified Alfalfa.
The democratic process neglected to include a single organic or conventional farming representative. Throughout the two hour hearing various legislators publicly humiliated the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsak for even suggesting any compromise through talks with the organic and conventional communities. They all but ordered him to stand down his conversations with anyone but pro-GM enthusiasts.
Representatives left no seed unturned in honor of their allegiance to biotech crops and complete penetration into all foreign and domestic markets. In fact, Minnesota’s Representative Collin Peterson referred to organic producers and consumers as “our opponents”.