Monday, December 19, 2011
Complaints against Bt cotton grow
By Suhail Yusuf
December 19, 2011
TOBA TEK SINGH - Farmers have complained that cottonseed cakes available in the market are harming their cattle as their animals are suffering from diseases, specially lack of appetite, and decline in milk production, premature deliveries and sudden deaths due to unknown cause.
A progressive farmer, Arshad Warraich, of Chak 328-JB said the taste of milk, yogurt, lassi, butter and desi ghee had also been affected as a result and the bitterness was found in them.
Agriculture department deputy district officer Khalid Mahmood said that nearly 90 per cent of the cotton sown in the district was of BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) type and cotton ginning factories supplied most of cottonseed cakes produced from its seed (banola).
He claimed that farmers had left old types of cotton varieties and turned to the most profit-earning crop.
Earlier, the per acre yield of cotton crop was 30 to 40 maund and with the use of BT cotton the per acre yield has increased between 50 and 60 maund.
Cottonseed cake sellers said that farmers lodged complaints with them that their animals were facing varied types of diseases due to cottonseed cakes.
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
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 15, 2011
Database on the Risks Of Genetically Engineered Crop Plants
December 15, 2011
Munich - Testbiotech is today publishing a database designed to give an overview of the risks associated with genetically engineered plants allowed for marketing in the European Union, or being about to be authorised soon. The current version of the database, called PlantGeneRisk, gives an overview of thirteen genetically engineered crops, four soy plants and nine maize plants. Ten of these plants already have EU authorisation for use, import and usage in food and feed, one of them is also allowed for cultivation. The plants produce insecticides or are tolerant to herbicides, and many also have a combination of both. So far, thirty eight genetically engineered crops have been authorised within the EU for use in food and feed, but no public database is available giving an overview of their risks. In the existing databases provided by state authorities or by institutions which have a close affiliation with industry, the actual risks are mostly marginalized.
“Genetically engineered plants raise similar problems to the finance sector: Everybody is concerned by the problems, but hardly anybody has an overview of the actual risks, says Christoph Then from Testbiotech. “So far, most information comes from industry. By establishing this new database we are offering some much needed counter-expertise.
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.