Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

GMO progress in Europe, 08.2010

The biggest danger of GMO crops is their escape to the wild. And this is happening right now. Check the first article. Two types of GM canola have escaped and the MATED producing plants with both genes! Monsanto is of course playing down the problem, but it's HUGE. And I hope our so-called leaders finally start grasping it. Once it's in the wild, it's very hard to control it, because it will do anything to survive. So it will be either very expensive or very hard to control the population and to bring it back on the fields. This is precisely why GMOs should be very carefully cultivated if at all - in a controlled environment, making very sure that the risks are worth the outcome. So far I don't see any crop for which the profits are worthy the trouble - the only reason why farmers prefer the GM seeds is because their price is artificially kept lower than the organic seeds. And of course, because nobody tells them what exactly means growing those seeds in terms of money and herbicides. Oh well.
The other articles are older and they are about the great European will to get involved in the dirty GMO business. My comments are after the articles.
Enjoy! (if you can, if not, try a way to stop those idiots)

  1. Canola, Pushed by Genetics, Moves Into Uncharted Territories
  2. Paper reveals EU plan to boost GM crop cultivation
  3. Commissioner slams green 'scaremongers' in GM debate
  4. MEPs restate opposition to food derived from cloned animals
  5. EU wants to put GMO dispute to an end

Canola, Pushed by Genetics, Moves Into Uncharted Territories

August 9, 2010
Genetically engineered versions of the canola plant are flourishing in the form of roadside weeds in North Dakota, scientists say, in one of the first instances of a genetically modified crop establishing itself in the wild.
Critics of biotech crops have long warned that it is hard to keep genes — in this case, genes conferring resistance to common herbicides — from spreading with unwanted consequences.
Canola, whose seeds are pressed to make the popular cooking oil, is a type of oilseed rape developed by breeders in Canada. In the United States, it is grown mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota, though cultivation is spreading. In the plains of Canada, where canola is widely grown, roadside biotech plants resistant to the herbicide Roundup have become a problem, said Alexis Knispel. Some farmers, she said, have had to return to plowing their fields to control weeds — a practice that contributes to soil erosion — because they can no longer use Roundup to control the stray canola plants.

Monsanto, the developer of Roundup Ready canola, one of the modified plants, said the new findings were neither surprising nor worrisome. Even before biotech crops were developed, canola grew on roadsides, it said; now that 90 percent of the canola planted by farmers is engineered, it would be reasonable to expect a similar percentage in roadside samples.
For the North Dakota study,
Of the 604 plants collected, 80 percent were genetically engineered, Dr. Sagers said. Some were Roundup Ready, with a gene conferring resistance to Roundup, also known as glyphosate. Others were Liberty Link crops, with a gene conferring resistance to glufosinate.
Two plants were found to have genes conferring resistance to both herbicides, suggesting that the crops resistant to each herbicide had mated.
The biotech canola has also been found growing in Japan, which does not even grow the crop, only imports it. source
My comment: More "Transgenic Canola Plants Break Free of Farm". Note the Monsanto comment - they say it's normal to have GM canola on the roads. Yeah, sure, that's normal, why not. Then, that canola will go to someone else's fields and the nice guys of Monsanto will come asking for money. And note - they don't care at all about keeping the GMO crops contained. Not to mention that it's not normal two GM crops to mate and to give plants with doubled resistance. Because in the end, destroying those plants will get harder and harder. Not to mention what will happen if they give their nice genes to some of the weeds. The herbicides used to kill the weeds will become USELESS! Is this the point? I suppose not. I think this article is VERY IMPORTANT, because it shows us that GM crops are not something harmless. They do escape in the wild and when they do it, they cross with other plants to create something different! It's hard to even think about all the possible outputs that can happen. And this is not counting for mutations, which also do happen. So dear European leaders, please, please, do your homework and stop blindly following USA. You have a responsibility to your citizens, not to US corporations. Please do the job you were chosen for.

Paper reveals EU plan to boost GM crop cultivation

04 May 2010
Europe faces a major overhaul of the way it deals with genetically modified (GM) crops, after the European Commission sparked controversy with new plans to circumvent its cumbersome legislative review process.
The EU executive wants to let national governments decide whether or not to grow genetically-modified crops without a long drawn-out review of the bloc's current GM legislation, an initial impact assessment seen by Reuters showed.
Details of the plan, which would open the door to widespread GM cultivation in Europe, provoked a furious reaction from environmentalists already angry at the EU executive's decision to approve the commercial growing of a GM potato in March (EurActiv 03/03/10).
But the plan will be a boost to biotech companies in the EU, where blockages in the current approval system have confined commercial growing to less than 100,000 hectares across the 27-nation bloc.
It could also ease trade tensions between the EU and the United States, which launched a World Trade Organisation dispute against the EU in 2003 after countries including Austria and Germany banned the cultivation of an approved GM maize (EurActiv 22/11/06).
The paper outlines several options for implementing the proposal within the existing legislative framework, and makes it clear that a key consideration will be the likely reaction of WTO countries, particularly the US.
The first and most likely option set out in the paper is that approval for GM cultivation requests would continue to be granted at EU level following a safety assessment, but countries would then decide individually whether to grow them or not.When it comes to how member states will justify their decision whether or not to cultivate, one option is to revise non-legislative EU guidelines on the 'co-existence' of GM and non-GM crops, according to the paper.
This would allow countries to specify a five or 10 kilometre 'buffer zone' between GM and non-GM fields, which would effectively make cultivation of GM crops impossible in practice.
Another option in the paper is to allow countries to cite "socio-economic" factors as the basis for their decisions, such as protecting organic production, increasing farmers' yields, or reducing the use of herbicides and pesticides (EurActiv 09/12/08). source
My comment: It's important to note that as stated the policy actually gives the power over GMOs back to the member-states, which I think it's good. The problem is that if the states decide for themselves, then there should be a EU-wide politics on labeling the GMO products so that we all can eat the same food. Otherwise, in a free market, it will be very hard to know the GM-content of the food. And of course, last but not least, the EC should protect the organic farmers by setting a big-enough buffer zone so that the organic production is safe.

Commissioner slams green 'scaremongers' in GM debate

Published: 05 May 2010
Europe's biotech industry must engage with the public on controversial issues like genetically-modified foods and cloning, according to John Dalli, the EU's health commissioner.
In his first appearance before the European Parliament since his confirmation hearing in January, he said he is in favour of science-based policymaking and "sustainable innovation".
However, he warned that an "instinctive fear and suspicion" had taken hold among European consumers due to scaremongering and a reluctance of industry to explain the science behind their products.
He said that whenever all the legal criteria have been met, there is no need to delay progress
He said the Commission will produce a report on cloning by the end of the year, and will also revise legislation on tobacco, clinical trials and veterinary medicine to address shortcomings. Medical devices legislation will also be reviewed including in vitro diagnostics.sourceMy comment: I don't think "legal" is the correct word. People decide what is legal and what is not. Here we talk about safety and this involves much more than merely willing to support innovation. Just as with medicaments, you cannot just sell something, because you invested a lot in it. You have to prove that it's safe. Which in the case of GMOs is much more complicated.

MEPs restate opposition to food derived from cloned animals

 07 May 2010
The European Parliament's environment committee has voted not to authorise the entry of any food derived from cloned animals onto EU markets, putting MEPs on a collision course with the European Commission and the EU's Council of Ministers.
The Parliament's environment, public health and food safety committee reaffirmed yesterday (4 May) the House's first-reading decision to entirely exclude food derived from cloned animals and their offspring from the EU's novel foods regulation.
Instead, MEPs asked the Commission to present a separate legislative proposal on the matter.
MEPs also voted to exclude foods produced by nanotechnology processes from the EU authorisation list until they have undergone a specific risk assessment regarding their possible impact on health.Once approved, all food containing nanomaterials will need to be clearly indicated on the ingredients list, MEPs said.
Back in 2008, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found no clear safety concerns related to food products from clones of cattle, pigs or their offspring. But its scientific opinion underlined that there was not enough scientific data on the subject and that the practice has major repercussions on animal health and welfare (EurActiv 25/07/08).
The European Group on Ethics for Science and New Technologies (EGE) has also advised against cloning animals for food.
A new Testbiotech report prepared for German MEP Martin Häusling (Greens), published on 4 May 2010, concludes that cloning could have adverse human health effects.
German MEP Martin Häusling said "higher rates of infection, along with diseases and malformations in liver and brains of mice, sheep and cows, have been reported".
"Furthermore, these effects could also be detected in subsequent generations of these cloned animals. From a consumer perspective it is alarming that US research has shown in a few cases that even the composition of milk can differ between a cloned and non-cloned animal," he added.  source
My comment: Yeah, one smart move from the side of the Parliament. I personally don't get why would farmers prefer to use cloned animals than normally bred ones. Cloning should be more expensive than breeding and in the end, breeding can always produces something better, why cloning cannot. It's strange...

EU wants to put GMO dispute to an end

13 July 2010
The European Commission will tomorrow (13 July) propose an overhaul of the EU's policy for approving genetically modified (GM) crops, which will allow countries more freedom to ban cultivation on their territory while retaining an EU-wide authorisation system.
The new policy for GM crop cultivation, to be unveiled tomorrow, aims to draw a line under years of stalemate between countries that support GMOs and those opposed to their cultivation.
The initiative aims to deliver on a promise made by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso before his reappointment last year (EurActiv 03/09/09).
At present, EU member states are only able to restrict GM crop cultivation under strict conditions, as authorisation licences are valid across the 27-country bloc, in accordance with the principles of the EU single market.
The plans would allow large-scale commercial planting in pro-GM countries such as Spain, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, opening up new markets for major biotech companies, while at the same time legally endorsing existing GM bans in countries like Italy, Austria and Hungary.
 sourceMy comment: I didn't find more details on this one, so I don't know if they made the proposal or they postponed it. When I find out, I will post it :)


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