News

2019-01-18 |

Costco to be the First Major Retailer to Dump Monsanto's Roundup and Glyphosate Herbicide from its Shelves

It’s been said that voting with your dollars is the most effective way of creating change in this consumer/capitalist culture, and after years of petitioning major retailers to stop selling products that contain Monsanto’s toxic glyphosate herbicide it appears that Costco may be the first major store to remove this product from its shelves.

The use of glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, has skyrocketed around the globe in spite of research outlining the harmful effects of this herbicide, including liver disease and cancer.

This is big news because in addition to the industrial use of glyphosate, the retail sale of glyphosate direct to consumers for use on home lawns and gardens is also a huge business.

2019-01-18 |

From gene editing to robotic honey bees: the pollinator crisis and new technology

A tightening of restrictions on the insecticides known as neonicotinoids has brought hope that the decline in honey bees and wild pollinators can be reversed. Yet concerns are growing as to how new technology could radically change the landscape. Are we heading towards a world of ‘frankenbees’, in which gene-edited bees are resistant to pesticides and where only the rich can afford to pay for pollinated crops?
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ROBOT SWARMS

Technological advances are likely to shift the parameters of the debate. Depending on your perspective, the potential opportunities offered by robotics and genetic engineering will either be reassuring or deeply disturbing.

At least five companies are working to develop robot bees that could be controlled in swarms to pollinate crops and be impervious to insecticides. Last year scientists at Delft University of Technology developed a prototype bee-like drone, whose wings beat 17 times per second to generate the lift needed to stay airborne. The robotic insect has a 33cm wingspan and weighs 29 grams, making it 55 times the size of a fruit fly. Harvard is also looking at such developments. ‘If we’re not careful we could end up with a situation where we have an environmental market for something we get for free,’ says Matt Shardlow of Buglife. ‘It could be in some companies’ financial interests to keep that going.’

Other researchers are studying whether it is possible to genetically engineer bees to be resistant to pesticides. By using CRISPR technology – a molecular tool that can amend an organism’s genetic code – it is possible to insert a desired trait into the specimen in question, such as a honey bee. Inevitably, bee keepers have labelled these ‘frankenbees’. The first genetically modified honey bee queens were born in a laboratory at Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf in 2014.

2019-01-17 |

AXE EU FUNDS for argo-industries!

We are fed-up 2019 Call to Action for 19 January 2019

Stand up for low-impact farming, animal welfare, climate justice and good food!

Climate-friendly agriculture, good food and the continuation of small-scale, community-based farming is at stake! In 2019, the German government takes part in decisions that will determine the future of EU agriculture. The EU CAP reform (Common Agricultural Policy) will define what type of agriculture benefits from €60 billion in EU subsidies every year. Under current rules, those owning most land receive most money, regardless of their farming methods. This must end! We cannot continue to prop up agro-industries with public funds.

The transformation of our farming system towards sustainable farming cannot wait. With our pots and pans we sound the alarm for sustainable farming and call on the German government to support only those who are willing to convert their farms to climate-, nature- and animal-friendly farming with public funds.
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You vote with what you eat!
In our cities and rural communities, we show we can do better. More and more farmers are producing food without pesticides and GMOs, and invest in the welfare of their animals. More people take part in foodsharing, community-supported agriculture and choose locally produced food. Together we vote with our wallets and raise our forks for a farming revolution: for diversity, equality and sustainability – and against discrimination, exploitation and fear!

2019-01-16 |

Ecuadorian peasants and ecologists win battle against GM crops

Judge orders Ministry of Agriculture to burn all GM crops found in illegal cultivations

A judge in Quevedo, Ecuador has accepted a protection order in favour of the peasants of the province of Los Ríos, in response to a lawsuit that was filed by two peasant organisations and is sponsored by the Ombudsman's Office. These events were reported by the Network for a GM Free Latin America.

The lawsuit was filed after monitoring by Acción Ecológica and the Ombudsman in the soybean producing areas of the country found that glyphosate-tolerant GM soybeans had been planted, despite the fact that Ecuador is constitutionally a country free of GM seeds and crops.

In a first hearing, the judge had ordered that monitoring be carried out, with the participation of the plaintiffs together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrocalidad, the Animal and Plant Health Regulation Agency. The monitoring confirmed that GM soybean is being planted illegally in the area.

Faced with this evidence, the judge granted the protection order and pointed out that GM crops violate the rights to life, health, work, a healthy environment and the rights of nature.

2019-01-13 |

Bound to fail: The flawed scientific foundations of agricultural genetic engineering

Half a century on from the first promises of wondercrops, GM has delivered little of value – and the same will be true of the new gene-edited GMOs, says researcher Dr Angelika Hilbeck

The GMO food venture is bound to fail because it is based on flawed scientific foundations. This was the message of a public talk given by Dr Angelika Hilbeck, researcher at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and a board member and co-founder of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), on the evening before the 9th GMO Free Europe conference in Berlin this September.

Dr Hilbeck's talk introduced a panel discussion with four other scientists: Prof Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand; Dr Ricarda Steinbrecher of Econexus; Dr Sarah Agapito-Tenfen of Genøk Centre for Biosafety, Norway; and Prof Ignacio Chapela of the University of California Berkeley. The entire discussion can be viewed here.

Below is our summary of Dr Hilbeck's talk, given from her perspective as an ecologist. This article will be followed by a second commentary on the same theme by the London-based molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou, this time from the standpoint of molecular biology.

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