News

25.05.2009 |

Interview with UNEP Director Achim Steiner

At the opening plenary of the Apr. 7-12 IAASTD meeting, Achim Steiner - executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - addressed delegates about the need for new agricultural strategies. UNEP is one of the sponsors of the Johannesburg gathering.

Acknowledging that certain changes might be difficult to embark on, Steiner nonetheless called on delegates to "Draw inspiration from South Africa to do something that no one thought was possible...(take on) the difficult challenge of walking forward together."

25.05.2009 |

Agri-practices failed to alleviate food situation

Modern agricultural practices have failed to alleviate the food situation despite increasing production and it is time to look back to traditional and natural methods of cultivation, a new United Nations report says.

"Modern agricultural practices have exhausted land and water resources, squelched diversity and left poor people vulnerable to high food prices, even though they are also highly productive," a report by International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), to be released on April 15, says.

25.05.2009 |

Agriculture must revert to more natural, local production

Modern agricultural practices have exhausted land and water resources, squelched diversity and left poor people vulnerable to high food prices, even though they are also highly productive, according to a report announced by the United Nations scientific agency today.

“Business as usual is no longer an option,” states the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), which will be formally launched on 15 April by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

25.05.2009 |

How the Science Media Failed the IAASTD

History tells that the most common reason participants abandon important but frustrating multi-party negotiations is when they believe they can better achieve their aims by abandoning, and therefore delegitimising, whatever agreement is eventually reached. And for maximum effect delegitimisation has to occur in public.Monsanto and Syngenta have so far won the media battle, but the real test of their strategy is still to come: will they attempt, and if they do, will they succeed, in derailing adoption (or modifying the text) of the final report. If they were to succeed that really would be a tragedy for the poor, because the IAASTD, at least in its draft form, is a potentially world-changing document. It offers a lot and it asks a lot: a chance to make a real improvement to livelihoods and sustainability in return for rethinking agriculture as usual. It is a shame that the science media would rather support (big) business as usual.

25.05.2009 |

Scientists sound-off on the IAASTD process

Conceived in 2002 by the World Bank and the UN's Food and Agriculture

Organization, the IAASTD began work under Bob Watson's command in 2004

with the aim of improving life, health and prosperity for millions of poor

farmers. The haggling will be fierce, however, because the draft strays into divisive economic, ideological,

legal and political territory - way beyond its original brief of simply showcasing science and

technology that can help poor farmers.

For some delegates, the proposed options for change are too radical to stomach. Representatives

of the biotechnology industry, for example, stormed out of the negotiations earlier this year,

arguing that the potential of genetically modified crops to help poor farmers and combat global

warming was being overlooked, and undue weight given to alternatives such as organic farming.

25.05.2009 |

Bob Watson gets AAAS Award

Robert Watson, chair of environmental science and science director of the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, U.K., was cited for his outstanding contributions to promoting international scientific cooperation in scientific research, communication, and training, and his work on environmental and sustainable development. Watson also holds the position of chief scientific adviser to the United Kingdom's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

25.05.2009 |

Monsanto, Syngenta withdraw from IAASTD

Claiming that the final report of the IAASTD was "unbalanced" and not sufficiently supportive of the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, two major agro-chemical and biotech companies, Monsanto and Syngenta, have withdrawn from the process. It appears that they did not like the results and findings of the approximately 4000 scientsts involved and prefer to ignore the advice of the very lead scientists, which they jointly selected with governments and non-governmental organisations three years ago.

11.05.2009 |

GM Crops: The European Context and Legal Precedents from Canada

The article explores the background to the current push towards the introduction genetically modified (GM) crops into the EU. The most significant aspects of the current state of the legislation regulating the marketing of foods which inadvertently contain a GM element are described. The main protagonist in the industry, Monsanto is identified and its business model examined. The activities of this company are outlined and certain aspects of its legal and extra-legal activities are set-out. The article then examines two seminal cases, both of which were decided in the Canadian courts. Monsanto v Schmeiser and Hoffman v Monsanto are described and analysed. The conclusion is drawn that as precedents, these bode ill for the future of the regulation of the GM industry, particularly, in respect of their effect upon the legal redress available to conventional farmers who may be adversely affected by the unwanted presence of GM seeds and crops on their land.

22.04.2009 |

New U.S. bill supporting patented seeds divides aid groups

A new push for federal funding of genetically-modified crops has touched off a battle among non-profit organizations seeking to help developing countries and ease world hunger. On one side is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Chicago Council for Global Affairs, which supported a study calling for the federal government to finance new agricultural biotechnology research. Using this study, Senators Richard Lugar and Robert Casey have introduced the Global Food Security Act (SB 384), which would direct more than $7 billion in government subsidies to biotech companies for development of new GM crops.

02.12.2008 |

A fruitless campaign

The global food crisis that came to the fore last spring may have been overshadowed by the global financial crisis that erupted this autumn, but it has certainly not been solved. That is one reason why many governments and philanthropic foundations are now looking to agricultural biotechnology to improve future food production. Despite the virulent opposition to genetically modified (GM) crops in some quarters, many believe that progress in areas such as drought-tolerant or nutritionally fortified plants could make a big difference in many of the poorest countries.

Donors

Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
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