TRADE WARS- World Trade Organization Forces Russia To Import GMO Seeds


World Trade Organization Forces Russia To Import GMO Seeds 

By CHRISTINA SARICH  Nationofchange.org

If you have ever wondered just how far up the political food chain the GMO industrialists throw their bloated weight, you can look to the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is here that regulations which define membership with the WTO will now force Russia to import genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Russia has been trying to become a part of the WTO for 18 years with multiple heated negotiations, but you can bet they weren’t prepared for the small print in the WTOs member documents.  What’s worse is that, in line with WTO regulations, Russia will have to enable producers of GMO to sell and label the product as any other – without a specific GMO label, which states that the product contains genetically modified ingredients.

Image taken from sustainablepulse.com

Activists and environmentalists are practically choleric about this new development. Anti-GMO rallies are at an all time high in the country with the release of this news. Not unlike the country of Bhutan – many would like to make Russia a GMO-free zone. Activists plan to present President Vladimir Putin with over a million signatures requesting a non-GMO country. In recent planned demonstrations Moscow authorities would only allow people to picket, but not formally march to protest the WTO’s GMO poison being politically asserted into their food supply.

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Comments :  Power of corporations are clearly visible. We cannot go against GMO in one nation alone and accept in another one. Today we are dependent a lot on imports as well.

 

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India to confront Monsanto in US


SOURCE : http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/india-confront-monsanto-us

by: Jyotika Sood

Issue Date: Jun 15, 2013

Biodiversity Authority will oppose Monsanto’s patent application involving Indian melon.

Image taken from theproduceguide.com

TAKING the lead in another biopiracy case after Bt brinjal, the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) has decided to challenge the alleged misappropriation of the germplasm of Indian melon, Cucumis melo, by US agri-biotech giant Monsanto Company. NBA plans to file a pre-grant opposition (an application opposing the patent before it is granted) to the patent application of Monsanto before the US Patent Office.

Monsanto has applied for a patent for the breeding of melon seeds resistant to closterovirus using molecular biology. The virus causes cucurbit yellow stunting disorder in melons, turning the leaves yellow and stunting the plant growth. First detected in 2006 in cantaloupe and honeydew melons, watermelon and squash in the US, the virus has since spread across North America, Europe and North Africa.

NBA’s decision has come after the 31-member Expert Committee on Agrobiodiversity, headed by E A Siddiq, recommended taking legal action against the alleged violators of the Biodiversity Act. C melo’s resistance to the virus is already registered in international seed banks as P13 13970.

Sources in NBA say the authority has also decided to serve notice to the Indian subsidiary of Monsanto. NBA is waiting for commitment of funds from the Union environment ministry as opposing such cases in US courts is a costly proposition, they say. However, most committee members were initially reluctant to challenge the patent application of Monsanto despite evidence, Debal Deb, a member of the expert committee, told Down To Earth. “We had to push hard to convince them,” says Deb, adding that even NBA is reluctant to pursue the case. The committee submitted its report last year. Being the apex authority for biodiversity, NBA should have immediately taken action. But it has failed to act till date, he adds. “The irony is,” Deb says, “the patent is being given to a hybrid developed with normal hybridisation.”

Monsanto has already obtained a European patent on this seed breeding through its Dutch subsidiary, Monsanto Invest N V. The patent was originally filed by DeRuiter Seeds Group in the EU in 2005. In 2008, Monsanto Invest acquired DeRuiter and thus received the EU patent—EP1962578—granted in May 2011. NBA sources say by the time they learnt of the patent the time for opposing it was over.

A Monsanto spokesperson says any allegation of misappropriation of the Indian melon germplasm is factually incorrect and grossly misleading. “We understand that the public germplasm melon (Cucumis melo) line P13 13970 germplasm was included into the Russian VIR database (plant genetic resources database of Russia) in 1961 and was transferred to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1966 by Russian research institute, N I Valvilov Research Institute of Plant Industry. DeRuiter Seeds Group lawfully obtained samples of this line from USDA in the 1990s and the subsequent development work relating to the Cucurbit Yellow Stunting Disorder Virus resistant allele was conducted by DeRuiter Seeds using these materials (obtained from) outside India. Thus, the inventors accessed the melon from a public source in accordance with the applicable laws.”

The spokesperson adds that since the scope of the patent is limited, the germplasm line from which the innovation was achieved remains available for all breeders and seed researchers. The patent does not restrict further research and development efforts with the germplasm line, he adds.

No Patents on Seeds, an international coalition of non-profits and advocacy groups like GeneWatch and Greenpeace, however, fears that with this patent Monsanto can block access to all breeding material inheriting the resistance derived from C melo. Melon breeders and farmers could be severely restricted by the patent as it might discourage future breeding efforts and the development of new melon varieties.

Drought Accelerates Use of Drugs to Beef Up Cattle


SOURCE : http://www.foodmanufacturing.com/news/2013/05/drought-accelerates-use-drugs-beef-cattle

Drought Accelerates Use of Drugs to Beef Up Cattle

By ROXANA HEGEMAN, Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Cattle feeders in the U.S. are coping with reduced herds and high corn costs in part by increasing their use of growth-inducing drugs designed to bulk up animals, get more pounds of beef from each carcass and circumvent the drought’s withering effects on the food cycle.

Accelerated use of the drugs, known as “beta-agonists,” is defended by producers who say they are essential to withstanding the drought and their pharmaceutical creators who insist the additives are safe. But their use is drawing new scrutiny both at home and abroad, especially now that Russia and other key markets for U.S. beef has banned their use and some domestic producers worry about the additives’ potential effect on beef tenderness and flavor.

In February, Russia joined the European Union, China and other countries banning the import of beef raised on the additives.

The United States — which along with other countries such as Mexico and Canada which allow the supplements — blame politics, not food safety fears, for the export bans. But some U.S. consumer groups are also taking notice. In December, the Center for Food Safety and the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a petition with FDA urging the agency to conduct comprehensive studies on the long-term effects of human consumption and animal health.

Initially used to treat respiratory ailments in humans, the additives — fed to livestock in the last days of their lives — are mixed in with normal feeds and work at a cellular level to more efficiently convert the feed’s nutrients into lean muscle instead of fat. Their use has fueled annual increases in carcass weights that result in larger cuts of meat in stores — a pharmaceutical end-run around a drought that has not only driven up the cost of feed grains but has forced cattlemen to sell off their livestock.

Image taken from http://www.inlander.com

Statistics kept by the Agriculture Department prove what consumers are seeing: In 2000, the average fed carcass weight was 772 pounds. By 2011, with the use of beta-agonists picking up speed, weights had grown to an average 816 pounds. During the 2012 drought the average beef carcass weighed 835 pounds.

“Drought and tough times makes a producer use all technology that is available,” CattleFax analyst Kevin Good said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two beta-agonists: ractopamine, marketed for cattle under the brand name Optaflexx by Elanco Animal Health; and more recently zilpeterol, sold under the brand name Zilmax by Merck Animal Health. The more potent zilpeterol has been available in the United States for cattle since 2007.

While hormone implants have been widely available to cattle producers for decades, newer technologies like beta-agonists did not become commercially available in the U.S. until 2004 after ractopamine was approved for cattle. FDA approved ractopamine for pigs in 1999.

The federal government considers them safe, and their makers contend the additives increase productivity and have no noticeable effect on the beef’s taste if producers follow feeding guidelines.

When corn was cheap, feedlot operator Steve Landgraf could afford to feed enough grain to his cattle and he only put in one time-released growth hormone implant in each animal’s ear to help them gain weight. The drought has him inserting two hormone implants in the ears of each animal that comes into his Lakin Feed yard in southwest Kansas — plus he is now feeding them beta-agonists. While those drugs cost a lot of money, he says he can afford to spend a little more for them when feed grain costs are so high.

“We are feeding the cattle less corn and making them bigger,” Landgraf said.

Cattle fed ractopamine reach slaughter weight eight days earlier than those who do not get the supplements, each animal consuming an average 2.3 fewer bushels of corn, according to study prepared by Global AgriTrends, a private agricultural analysis firm.

If beta agonists were removed from the 70 percent of U.S. cattle which are now estimated to use them, it would require an additional 41 million bushels of corn to beef up cattle for slaughter. Removing it from the 90 percent of pigs grown on the supplement would require another 50 million bushels. That is not a significant amount of corn for most years, but that amount taken out of last year’s drought-plagued corn production would have reduced estimated ending stocks to the lowest level in history, Global AgriTrends said.

In June, Cargill Beef became one of the last major meatpacking companies to accept cattle fed beta-agonists at its slaughterhouses — despite its earlier misgivings stemming from its own research finding that there can be “a negative impact overall beef quality” on marbling and tenderness if “best production practices” are not followed. Without the policy change, the company would not have been able to buy enough cattle to keep its plants running and meet customer commitments. An estimated 70 to 75 percent of U.S. beef cattle are fed such growth promoters, Cargill spokesman Michael Martin said.

“While Cargill has not completely embraced the use of growth promotants due to the potential resulting lower quality of meat, the vast majority of the beef cattle we harvest come from third party ranchers and feedlots that we have little control over,” the company said.

Merck and Elanco both contend their beta-agonists feed additives are safe and help producers optimize productivity with no noticeable effect by consumers on beef quality.

But Michael Hansen, senior scientist at the Consumers Union, which publishes “Consumer Reports” magazine, disagrees.

“It makes meat unpalatable,” Hansen said. “These steaks get so large, the meat gets so tough.”

Advocates of their use say other international markets allow in U.S. beef raised on the additives, noting Taiwan last summer agreed to adopt international standards for ractopamine residues in a move that cleared the way for beef exports from the U.S. But Taiwan still bans ractopamine from pork imported into the country. Critics contend that contradiction is more about protecting that country’s pork industry. Taiwan doesn’t have a domestic cattle industry.

Brett Stuart, a founding partner of Global AgriTrends, contended those trade impact estimates are overblown because the beef Russia doesn’t buy is either sold domestically to U.S. consumers or to other countries. He estimated the actual market impact of the closure of the Russian market to be closer to $2.84 per head in value.

Back home, producers fear the additives may create a reputation for producing tougher beef by sharply reducing the marbling that keeps meat tender when it’s cooked.

The marbling adds essential fats and thus flavor, and the criticism troubles John Stika, president of Certified Angus Beef, a group owned by the 30,000 members of the American Angus Association. He says the additives are safe, but he’s concerned their potential effect on taste could eventually hurt consumer demand.

“We have concerns about anything that jeopardizes our brand’s ability — and even our industry’s ability — to deliver upon that promise of taste that consumers use as their primary purchasing decision on, ‘Should I buy beef or should I buy pork or poultry,'” Stika said.

 

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