Tuesday, December 13, 2011
EFSA admits Bt maize threat to butterflies, gives green light regardless
December 13, 2011
The European Food Safety Authority GMO Panel’s new opinion on Pioneer Hybrid/Mycogen Seed’s insect resistance GM maize (known as 1507) acknowledges the crop puts non-target species at risk, including iconic butterflies, but disregards both these risks and big gaps in the applicant’s data in recommending the crop for EU cultivation. 
In contrast to a 2005 opinion giving 1507 the all clear, the EFSA GMO Panel now says, “Highly sensitive non-target Lepidoptera populations might be at risk,” if they ingest pollen from the GM maize that falls on plants used by their larvae for food.
Many common and iconic butterflies could be harmed because their food plants are frequently found in and around arable fields, so their larva may consume 1507 pollen on these plants. The “at risk” list includes the Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue and Orange Tip.
However the Panel nevertheless supports the approval of 1507 maize, saying the potential harmful effects can be mitigated.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
More Monsanto corn showing pest damage
By Georgina Gustin
December 3, 2011
Corn plants genetically engineered by Monsanto to repel pests are suffering severe damage from insects in more areas than previously reported, according to government scientists, who called the company’s monitoring of the problem “inadequate.”
In a memorandum posted this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, scientists reported that corn plants genetically engineered to kill the corn rootworm are showing signs of severe damage in Minnesota and Nebraska fields.
This past summer, researchers from Iowa State University and the University of Illinois reported damage in their states. At the time, those appeared to be the only states with reported damage. But the EPA memo, dated Nov. 22, said that reports of severe damage in Minnesota and Nebraska actually surfaced three and four years ago.
“Producers are reporting greater-than-expected damage, and investigators are trying to pinpoint the cause,” said Mike Gray, an entomologist with the University of Illinois, who this summer found evidence of damage in Illinois fields. “EPA is saying: ‘Hey. What’s going on? We need to take these reports seriously.’”
Monday, November 28, 2011
French court annuls ban on growing Monsanto GMO maize
By Sybille de La Hamaide
November 28 2011
PARIS - France’s highest court on Monday overturned France’s ban on growing a strain of genetically modified maize (corn) developed by U.S. biotech firm Monsanto, saying it was not sufficiently justified.
The decision follows a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in early September saying France had based its decision to impose a moratorium on the growing of Monsanto’s insect-resistant MON810 maize on the wrong EU legislation.
Suspension or banning measures ought to be taken at European Union level unless a member state can demonstrate a potentially serious risk to human or animal health or the environment, the courts said.
“Drawing on the consequences of the ECJ’s ruling, the State Council finds that the agriculture ministry could not justify its authority to issue the decrees, failing to give proof of the existence of a particularly high level of risk for the health and the environment,” the highest French court said.
The French agriculture ministry declined to comment.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Judge sides with grain company
By Mateusz Perkowski
September 29, 2011
A major biotech seed developer won’t be able to force a global grain elevator company to accept its genetically engineered crop.
A federal judge has refused to order the Bunge North America grain company to accept insect-resistant corn developed by Syngenta Seeds.
A conflict erupted between the two companies this summer when Bunge announced it wouldn’t accept Syngenta’s “Agrisure Viptera” corn at its elevators, since the variety hasn’t been approved for shipping to China.
Syngenta countered by filing a legal complaint against Bunge, alleging the firm had violated a 95-year-old warehousing law that prohibits elevators from unfairly discriminating among farmers who seek storage.
The company sought a preliminary injunction that would stop Bunge from exercising its policy of rejecting Agrisure Viptera corn from its facilities.
U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett in Iowa has rejected Syngenta’s arguments, ruling that the company has wrongly interpreted the 1916 United States Warehouse Act.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
EU court says French GM maize ban was illegal
By Charlie Dunmore and Julien Toyer
September 08, 2011
- Says France based its decision on wrong EU legislation
- France says GMO maize ban still in place despite ruling
- Monsanto says allow French farmers choice to use the maize
LUXEMBOURG - France acted illegally when it imposed a ban on the cultivation of a genetically modified (GM) maize variety developed by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto in 2008, Europe’s highest court ruled on Thursday.
The French authorities did have the right to impose a moratorium on the growing of Monsanto’s insect-resistant MON810 maize, but based its decision on the wrong EU legislation, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice said.
In reaction to the ruling, France said its embargo on MON810 maize was still valid and that it would restart a procedure if needed.
To impose such a ban, member states must demonstrate a potentially serious risk to human or animal health or the environment, and notify EU authorities of the need to take emergency measures, the court said.
Emergency measures must be based on science and backed by an assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), according to the European Commission.
France imposed its safeguard clause against MON810 maize in February 2008, citing a “serious risk to the environment.”
Six other EU countries — Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg — have similar safeguard clauses in place.