Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the chair of the Agriculture Committee, pointed out that labeling is against a science-based regulatory process and could also create a barrier to the positive impact GM crops are having worldwide.
“This particular amendment would interfere with the FDA’s science-based process to determine what food labeling is necessary for consumers,” Senator Stabenow said.
“It’s also important to note that around the world now we are seeing genetically modified crops that have the ability to resist crop diseases and improve nutritional content and survive drought conditions in many developing countries,” she added. Read more.]]>
“While there are some changes that could make the bill more defensible from a constitutional standpoint, the bill would remain subject to significant challenge in the courts,” she warned.
Maine L.D. 718 would require that all genetically engineered food offered for retail sale in the state would have to carry a label, or be accompanied by a sign, that states “Produced with Genetic Engineering.” The bill would not go into effect unless similar legislation is adopted in at least five other states or in states with a combined population of at least 20 million.
“If enacted, L.D. 718 is certain to face legal challenges on constitutional grounds and these constitutional issues are significant,” Mills wrote to legislative leaders. “To date, no other state has enacted a law requiring the labeling of genetically engineered food. Litigation on constitutional grounds will be costly, and the outcome is far from certain.”
The legislature’s Agriculture Committee endorsed the bill on a 12-4 vote, sending it to the House of Representatives for a floor vote. Read more.]]>
“Bowman planted Monsanto’s patented soybeans solely to make and market replicas of them, thus depriving the company of the reward patent law provides for the sale of each article,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the full court. “Patent exhaustion provides no haven for that conduct.”
The industry’s trade association, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), applauded the ruling.
“The Supreme Court’s commitment to uphold valid intellectual property rights in this case creates business certainty that will benefit all of biotechnology - as well as the patients, farmers, and consumers who benefit from biotechnology’s help in healing, feeding and fueling the world,” BIO President Jim Greenwood said.
The text of Justice Kagan’s opinion is available here: http://1.usa.gov/16ursLm]]>
Farmers on the Hawaiian island of Kauai recently took out an ad in the local newspaper to answer questions about the genetically engineered crops they raise. “We want to set the record straight about how we farm on the Garden Island,” the ad says.
The farmers address concerns over the use of pesticides, the impact on the local environment, the regulation of genetically engineered crops, and former practice of saving seeds.
See the ad on this page for the facts about modern farming in Hawaii and other areas.
CHICAGO- If business wants to communicate effectively with consumers, it must be sensitive to their values and their language, according to Charlie Arnot of the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).
Speaking at the recent BIO 2013 International Convention, Arnot said business shouldn’t waste time arguing with consumers over terminology, such as whether “genetic engineering” is a better term than “genetic modification.”
“‘GM’ has become the cultural nomenclature for this issue,” he said, “and we have to say that to be in the debate. The conversation is about food safety. It is not about language.”
“Don’t debate the language. If we debate the language, we are missing the point,” he said. Arnot said his observations are based on extensive research with consumers and on a peer-reviewed research model.
Appearing with Betsie Estes and Roxie Beck of BestFoodFacts.org, Arnot said that food safety is the key issue for consumers.
“Food safety trumps everything else. If we can’t pass the food safety threshold, we can’t do anything else.”
Arnot urged companies and industries to be open to public concerns and to proactive “authentic transparency - the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
“Authentic transparency reduces fear of the unknown,” he said.]]>
The CEO of Okanagan Specialty Fruits in Summerland, British Columbia, is awaiting regulatory approval of the genetically modified Arctic® Apple, which doesn’t turn brown after being cut or sliced. The company is starting with Granny and Golden apples and plans to branch out into eight to ten other varieties after United States regulators sign off, he said.
“We can make any variety of apple non-browning,” he said in an interview during the BIO 2013 International Convention.
Carter says he hopes to commercialize the Arctic® Apple in the fall of 2015 in both retail and foodservice channels. He said that he expects to have an international market as well and has had expressions of interest from people in the United Kingdom, South Africa and China.
In the pipeline, he said, are traits that could deal with problems such as fire blight, a major disease of apples that is currently treated with antibiotic sprays, in both conventional and organic production.
Carter predicts that genetic engineering in plants, now found mainly in commodity crops, will soon spread into specialty crops - fruits and vegetables.
“The grocers are expecting it to happen,” he said.]]>
CHICAGO — Farmers worldwide enjoyed nearly $20 billion in net economic benefits from the adoption ofgenetically modified crops in the year 2011 alone, according to a new report.
“The economic benefits farmers realize are clear and amounted to an average of over $130/hectare in 2011,” said Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics, and co-author of the report. “The majority of these benefits continue to increasingly go to farmers in developing countries. The environment is also benefiting as farmers increasingly adopt conservation tillage practices, build their weed management practices around more benign herbicides and replace insecticide use with insect resistant GM crops. The reduction in pesticide spraying and the switch to no till cropping systems is continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.”
Insect-resistant traits have been especially important in the developing world, Brookes told CBI in an interview, while herbicide tolerance has provided the largest benefit in North and South America.
“Insect resistance has delivered increased yield from increased control of pests in cotton,” he said, which has been very beneficial in countries such as India where pest control has traditionally exposed farmers to pesticides.
“IR technology has solved a lot of the problem,” he said. “We’ve put insect resistance in the seed, and this has delivered health and safety benefits to farmers.” Farmers in India and China have enjoyed $25 billion in net economic benefits -a staggering amount considering India adopted Bt cotton only in 2002. Cotton yield in India has shot up 40 percent since biotech cotton was introduced, making India a major exporter of cotton, he said.
In North and South America, herbicide tolerance has had economic benefits but also “non-pecuniary benefits” in making it easier for farmers to manage their operations and has encouraged no-till farming, which has had environmental benefits such as more carbon sequestration and less soil erosion, Brookes said.
The report can be viewed here: http://www.pgeconomics.co.uk/]]>
“Whether it is to provide an overview of the science or respond to a media inquiry, the guide provides communicators with key facts and resources on food biotechnology to help tailor the message to the specific audience,” IFIC said.
The guide includes key messages and a menu of science-based supporting points on food biotechnology as it relates to food safety, consumer benefits, sustainability, and feeding the world; ready-made handouts that can be shared with audiences; and guidelines for working effectively with journalists and bloggers on food biotechnology stories.
The new version reflects the latest developments in food biotechnology research, regulation, and product availability, as well as new consumer insights and changing communications methods, most notably the advent of online media.
An electronic version of the full guide and PDF files of the individual chapters are available here. The PowerPoint slides are also available on the homepage of www.whybiotech.com.]]>
Water in the form of irrigation and rainfall is essential for all food production. And agriculture accounts for about 70% of global freshwater usage, according to the United Nations, and as much as 90% in some fast-growing economies.
Fresh in our memory is last summer’s record drought, the worst experienced in the United States since 1988. About 87 percent of the nation’s corn crop and 85 percent of soybeans experienced drought conditions last July and August, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The result was lower corn, soybean and other crop yields across the Midwest and South, generating less income for farmers and farm communities.
Amidst last year’s drought, there was hope offered by new biotechnology technologies that can help farmers cope with drought. Farmers who planted new varieties of drought-tolerant corn last year found these crops to be more resilient to drought conditions than other varieties. There are other promising biotech seed varieties in the research and development pipeline that will help farmers get “more crop per drop” of precious water.
For farmers, the reality is that every day is World Water Day, because crops will always need water. But any technology that enables plants to use it more efficiently can give our farmers an edge - even a small one - to grow the food we need to feed America and export to others around the world.]]>