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GENET GE free Newsletter 02/09



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----------------------------- October 01, 2002 -------------------------

                      GENET GE free Newsletter 02/09

- CRITICAL VOICES ON GE CROPS FROM AFRICA
- GE CANOLA TRIALS IN THE UK CAN CONTINUE
- FARMERS IN VICTORIA CALL FOR GE CROP MORATORIUM
- PEST-RESISTANT NON-GE MAIZE DEVELOPED FOR SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
- LOW-PHYTATE NON-GE RICE DEVELOPED IN THE USA
- EU COMMISSIONER  WANTS TO END GE CROP MORATORIUM
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CRITICAL VOICES ON GE CROPS FROM AFRICA

On Aug 29, small farmers from around the world made their voices heard at 
the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and revealed their 
frustrations, problems and expectations during the Small Farmers 
Convergence at Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg. The Sustainable 
Agriculture and Rural Development Initiative (SARD), a multi-stakeholder 
umbrella framework designed to support the transition to people-centred 
sustainable agriculture and rural development invited them to paticipate at 
the commission on agriculture, a part of the WSSD. The theme for the Small 
Farmers Convergence was "Increasing Visibility of Small Farmers in 
Sustainable Development." The highly emotional meeting fiercely opposed 
dissemination and commercialization of genetically modified seeds, crops, 
plants and livestock. Small farmers pointed out that genetically modified 
organisms do not meet precautionary standards, as they have not been 
independently proven safe for humans and the environment. Small farmers 
from Africa and across the world vehemently opposed patenting of genetic 
seeds saying it is a direct threat to and violation of the rights of 
farmers to preserve, use and exchange their agricultural resources, which 
will eventually lead to the loss of indigenous farming methods. The pointed 
out that poverty and starvation in some parts of Africa is being used to 
justify dumping of genetically modified food and as a channel to introduce 
genetically modified seeds in Africa. They called on governments to 
introduce labeling of genetically modified foods. The small farmers urged 
for a policy support for research and extension on sustainable agriculture 
aimed at the small farmers and family farmers, adding that investment in 
research of modern and latest agricultural methods available to farmers 
that promote food sovereignty and markets is needed. They also opposed 
privatization of water, which they consider as a valuable commodity in 
agriculture, and called for full access of farmers to land and water. Small 
farmers unanimously opposed liberalization of markets saying that it will 
have negative results when they are placed in unequal competition with 
industries, when the United States and Europe subsidies have a negative 
impact on farmers from developing countries. On Sep 4, the interim 
president of Ugandan National Agricultural Council (NAC), also presidential 
adviser on agriculture, Dr John Joseph Otim, says govern-ment is totally 
against genetically-modified organism seeds. He had written a brief to the 
president Yoweri Museveni, telling him that allowing GM seeds into the 
country would enslave the peasant farmers to multinational companies, who 
propagate the seeds. He explained that the problem of GM or terminator 
seeds is that you plant only once in one season and you go back to the 
company that sold them new to buy. As NAC sounded the warning, various 
organisations dealing with food security and the environment in Uganda have 
started consultative meetings to discuss the dangers posed by the GM seeds. 
Mr Sam Watasa, an executive member of the Uganda Consumer Protection 
Association (UCPA), said they had held several meetings with ActionAid, 
Accord, VECO Uganda and DENIVA to acquaint themselves with the key issues 
on GM foods. We have information that a new company is planning to start 
distributing genetically modified maize seeds in some parts of western 
Uganda. A company with connections with the US-based Monsanto is producing 
the seeds.

  Sep 12: African farmer resistance to GE crops
  Sep 16: Uganda's President Museveni warned on GM foods


GE CANOLA TRIALS IN THE UK CAN CONTINUE

Britain's government gave farmers the green light to start planting for the 
last phase of its GE rapeseed trials. The Department of Environment, Food 
and Rural Affairs explained: "We've been through all the seeds for all the 
forthcoming Field Scale Evaluations and they are not contaminated." 
Environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth said the government's 
response to the affair was inadequate and not enough information had been 
released. "If DEFRA want to convince the public that Aventis seeds are what 
it says on the can then they should have published the results of the 
analysis in full and the outcome of their investigation into the 
contamination of the spring oilseed rape seeds," the group said. "The 
latest analysis was carried out by the GM Inspectorate, the very people who 
failed to spot the original contamination," it added.

  Sep  2: UK farmers get green light for GM rapeseed trials


FARMERS IN VICTORIA CALL FOR GE CROP MORATORIUM

Farmers in Northern Victoria are calling for a three-year moratorium on the 
release of genetically modified crops. The Kerang members of the Victorian 
Farmers Federation will argue the need for the moratorium at tomorrow's 
general council meeting. The move echoes the sentiments of a group of 
Kyabram dairy farmers who last week tried to push the same motion at a 
United Dairyfarmers of Victoria district council meeting.
  
  Sep 16: Victoria (Australia) farmers call for GE crop moratorium


PEST-RESISTANT NON-GE MAIZE DEVELOPED FOR SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

In Eastern Africa, two major pests - maize weevil and larger grain borers - 
cause ruinous losses, consuming as much as 15 percent of stored grain in a 
few months. David Bergvinson, CIMMYT maize entomologist, his associates, 
and partners at the University of Ottawa have developed experimental maize 
that resists these damaging pests. Their research is leading to a better 
understanding of the biochemical bases of pest resistance, important for 
both food safety and determining the potential limitations of resistance 
factors. Based partly on studies by graduate students concerning the 
inheritance of weevil resistance in maize, Kevin Pixley, a CIMMYT breeder 
based in Zimbabwe, and his associates have also identified maize lines that 
serve as sources of resistance not only to weevils, but also to grey leaf 
spot and maize streak virus, two diseases that seriously limit maize 
productivity in sub-Saharan Africa. CIMMYT scientists hope eventually to 
combine DNA marker assisted selection with conventional breeding to speed 
the development of high yielding, pest resistant maize for Africa.

  Sep 15: Non-GE maize that resists storage pests


LOW-PHYTATE NON-GE RICE DEVELOPED IN THE USA

Cereals like rice store most phosphorus in the grain as phytic acid, which 
can't be digested by one-stomached animals like fish, chickens, pigs, and 
humans. It binds to minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc in 
the slightly acidic conditions in our intestines. Because phytic acid is 
poorly digested and used, the minerals it binds to are less available to 
our bodies. Rice grains that contain less phytic acid could mean better 
nutrition for the world's malnourished peoples, more nutritious animal 
feed, and less potential for water pollution from manure. J. Neil Rutger, 
director and supervisory geneticist at the Dale Bumpers National Rice 
Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas (USA), produced new rice varieties with the 
expert assistance of geneticist Victor Raboy, who developed the patented 
technique that yields grains with lower amounts of phytic acid. ARS and the 
University of Arkansas released the new rice to breeders and researchers 
earlier this year.

  Sep 17: Non-GE rice could benefit malnourished populations


EU COMMISSIONER  WANTS TO END GE CROP MORATORIUM

Speaking at the end of a three-day informal gathering of EU farm ministers, 
Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection David Byrne said on Sep 10, 
the time had now come for the EU to give people the choice whether they 
wanted to consume GE food or not. "We cannot continue forever with this 
moratorium, it must end at some stage," Byrne told a news conference. "We 
are now getting to the point very soon where we have enough legislatio in 
place for consumers to be satisfied that they are adequately an 
sufficiently informed and protected as a result of the legislation that we 
have put in place," he said. Byrne's remarks, repeating the Commission's 
known stance on GE crops and food, were the strongest line that the 
Commissioner has taken so far on a possible end to the EU's official 
opposition to GE crops. "I believe that then we will have to look into the 
situation very carefully, bearing in mind that we have legislation in the 
pipeline on labelling and traceability," he said. "This is not a public 
health issue, this is a consumer choice issue."

  Sep 15: EU's Byrne says keen to end moratorium on GM crops

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