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use of genetic engineering in agriculture, two major agro-chemical and biotech companies, Monsanto and Syngenta, have withdrawn from the process.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.

01.09.2008 |

Both sides are probably wrong on GE crops and food

Back in 1994, the industry was promising crops that resist cold weather, drought, pests and disease, as well as plants that reduced the need for fertilisers. The world is still waiting. Last month, Hugh Grant said he now expected drought-resistant crops to be ready in the US ”within six years”; it seems the science is more complicated than was thought. That hasn’t stopped the industry enjoying an expansionist phase as agribusiness takes advantage of the food crisis, but anyone trying to assess the success or failure of GM can find themselves in a snake pit of claim and counterclaim.

15.04.2008 |

IAASTD Report Released Today

The results of a painstaking examination of global agriculture were formally presented today with the release of the final report for the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD).

The assessment explores how agriculture can be reinvented to feed the world's expanding population sustainably in an era of multiple challenges - not least those presented by climate change and a growing food crisis that has led to outbreaks of violence in a number of developing countries.

14.04.2008 |

UN biofuel warning, call for return to traditional farming

Despite being highly productive, modern agricultural practices have exhausted land and water resources, squelched diversity and left poor people vulnerable to high food prices, according to a United Nations scientific report. [...] The report recommends that agricultural science place greater emphasis on safeguarding natural resources and on ’agro-ecological’ practices, including the use of natural fertilizers, traditional seeds and intensified natural practices, and reducing the distance between production and the consumer.

08.04.2008 |

IAASTD draft proposes significant changes to status quo

The IAASTD draft report proposes a fundamental re-thinking of our approach to agriculture and essentially calls for a new paradigm that gives farmers a central role. It recognizes that market forces alone cannot deliver prosperity and food security to the poor, and that trade rules unfairly favouring rich countries and multinational corporations must be reformed. Similarly, intellectual property laws need to be reformed to prevent patents on novel crops from stifling new research and agricultural innovation. The report is critical of the power and resources of the multinational companies that dominate world seed and fertiliser markets. The report also calls for a systematic redirection towards agroecological strategies, particularly to realize environmental sustainability. It is notably muted in relation to the claimed benefits of genetically modified crops, highlighting instead the lingering doubts and controversies surrounding GM crops.


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