The EU Commission and a few pro-GMO member states are trying to sneak through approvals for new GM crops to be grown in Europe's fields – and they seem to be hoping that the public, press, NGOs, and even MEPs won’t notice. The Commission is putting forward two new GM insecticidal maize varieties for cultivation in the European Union – Pioneer’s 1507 and Syngenta’s Bt11 – as well as a reauthorization request for MON810. If passed, these would be the first new GM crops legally authorized for cultivation in the EU in 18 years.
The German toxicologist Dr Peter Clausing has accused the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) of committing scientific fraud by twisting scientific facts and distorting the truth, with the aim of concluding that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.
Five papers defending the safety of glyphosate herbicides have been published in the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology. All are funded by Monsanto via the industry consultancy firm Intertek. Many of the authors have links to Monsanto, other chemical companies, and industry consultancy firms. The Monsanto-funded papers are designed to counter the World Health Organisation cancer agency IARC’s evaluation of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen and as genotoxic (damaging to DNA).
A people's tribunal against Monsanto took place in October in The Hague, with representatives from hundreds of organizations coming together to put Monsanto on trial for crimes against humanity and ecocide. The chair of the Monsanto Tribunal, Judge Françoise Tulkens, hopes to contribute to the development of international law by the inclusion of new issues, in particular ecocide.
With increasing public scrutiny on the health risks of glyphosate, Monsanto is pulling out all the stops to exonerate its herbicide — including attacking the credibility of scientists reviewing glyphosate for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a letter to the US EPA, Monsanto claims that scientists participating in the agency’s Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) on glyphosate are biased because they have publicly expressed concerns about the legitimacy of industry-funded studies — or have previously raised concerns about the chemical’s connection to cancer. In short, Monsanto is attempting to silence those who don’t toe its line. And EPA responded to these bully tactics by postponing the SAP meeting. Tell EPA to keep its glyphosate review on track and take a close look at independent, peer-reviewed science — even if Monsanto doesn’t like it.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has re-approved – and proposed a dramatic expansion of the use of – the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo after only a cursory review of troubling data showing the two chemicals in the pesticide combine to have "synergistic" effects that are potentially harmful to endangered species and the environment. If approved, the pesticide cocktail could be used on corn, soy, and cotton in 34 states – up from 15 states where the product was previously approved for just corn and soy.
As Bt cotton experiences high levels of pest damage in Texas and other US states, the era of Bt crops “seems to be ending”, according to experts. The pests have become resistant to the Bt toxins in the crops.
GM in the US and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides, finds an investigation by the New York Times. The chief message of the article will not be news to GMWatch readers. But it’s nothing short of astonishing that it should be spelled out so clearly by that bastion of the mainstream press, the New York Times. Don’t miss the remarkable charts on a separate page.
The European Court of Justice will rule whether or not new GMO techniques, including ODM, ZFN1, TALENs, and CRISPR-Cas, fall under EU GMO law. The ruling will come in about 18 months, at the request of the French Council of State.
In a long-awaited statement, the EU Commission has taken the view that plants and animals that are obtained by means of “essentially biological” breeding are non-patentable. This statement is in strong contradiction to the current practice of the European Patent Office (EPO), which has already granted more than 100 patents on conventionally bred organisms, e.g. tomatoes and broccoli.
Waitrose supermarket is dropping GM feed for its pork products, in a huge blow to the GMO industry. It is switching to non-GM soy from the Danube region. It is also using other alternatives, such as clover for sheep and cattle, and faba beans for pigs, chickens and ducks. Critics of GM hailed the decision as the “beginning of the end of the last large-scale use of GM crops in the UK”.
The firm Soylent had to recall its meal replacement bars because people kept getting sick from eating them, suffering diarrhoea and vomiting. Now the company's nutritional powder is causing the same problems and sales have been stopped. Soylent prominently advertises its products as “proudly made with GMOs”. Oddly, however, since news of the sicknesses broke, the mainstream media hasn’t mentioned the GM word, even though they had previously hyped Soylent’s public embrace of GMOs.
The Indian government must begin obeying the law in its consideration of GM mustard commercialization, writes Aniket Aga, assistant professor at the School for Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
The simplicity and low cost of tools to edit the genetic code means “garage scientists” can now perform their own experiments, posing a potential risk from the release of GM bugs, a report suggests.
A Canadian farming federation and an anti-GMO network are separately calling on the federal Competition Bureau to review the possible implications of Bayer's $66 billion US takeover of seed giant Monsanto.
Court documents reveal Oxitec’s GM mosquitoes could cause surge in different disease-carrying mosquitoes
GMO mosquito company Oxitec has admitted a major risk of its technology – reducing one mosquito species may increase the numbers of a second disease-carrying species. The information surfaced when NGOs released court documents from the Cayman Islands. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, commented, “It might be a good business model for a company to sell a technology to reduce one mosquito species, so then they can also sell a technology to deal with the species that replaces it. But it’s not worth the effort, expense and potential risk for communities in the US to start down this path.”.
On 26 October 2016 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its annual report on pesticide residues found in food in the EU member states. The latest report is based on analyses conducted in 2014. Year upon year, the proportion of food without detectable residues is decreasing while the proportion of food that contains residues from multiple pesticides is increasing.
Grocery group fined $18M in fight against GMO food labelling initiative
The Grocery Manufacturers Association has been ordered to pay a record-setting $18 million penalty for violating Washington campaign laws over an effort to defeat a 2013 GMO food labelling initiative.
The US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) and five other Big Ag lobby groups have sent a letter to dairy company Dannon’s chief executive officer criticising the company for requiring its farmers to use non-GMO feed. But something that’s not mentioned in press coverage of the letter is that all of the groups have reportedly taken money from Monsanto and other big GMO firms.
Congress has handed over $200 million in tax dollars to a private foundation, FFAR, to steer agricultural research toward the goals of its industry partners, like Monsanto.