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December 16, 2004


Mexican Law; Harvesting Controversy; Illegal GM Market Grows in Brazil; Triple-stack Corn for 2005


Today in AgBioView from www.agbioworld.org : December 16, 2004

* RE: Mexican Lawmakers Approve Controversial GM Law
* Harvesting Controversy: Genetic Engineering and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa
* Illegal Seed Industry Gains Market Share In Brazil
* 'Triple stack' corn clear for '05
* Genetically modified crops grow from spilled seeds in Japan
* Focus on biotechnology research, scientists told
* Fresno County Board of Supervisors Support Agricultural Biotechnology

Date: 15 Dec 2004
From: Greg Conko
Subject: RE: Mexican Lawmakers Approve Controversial GM Law

New Mexico Biotech Law

To date, I have seen several news items reporting that the Mexican government passed a new biosafety law on Tuesday, which would regulate the introduction of bioengineered plants. Greenpeace and the opposition PRI party call it a "Monsanto Law" and say it is insufficient to protect the Mexican maize landraces. Representatives of the PAN government say it will protect human health and the environment. But in no case, have any of the news reports mentioned what the law will require. Is anyone on this list familiar enough with the language of the law to provide a brief summary? Or, can anyone supply a news report or other document that is more comprehensive and descriptive?

And, nearly all the news reports I have seen mention that the NAFTA CEC report released last month recommended restricting imports of maize from the US and Canada. Just out of curiosity, has anyone seen a news report that also mentions that same report found no reason to be worried about imported maize?

Thank you,
Greg Conko
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Date: Wed, 15 Dec 2004 11:18:01 -0600
From: "Jim Martin-Schramm" Add to Address Book
Subject: Harvesting Controversy: Genetic Engineering and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Dear Colleagues at AgBioView,

Last week you alerted your readers to a new social policy resolution developed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on genetically modified organisms in agriculture. I chair the board of the Division for Church in Society which produced this document and I appreciate you alerting others around the world to its availability.

The purpose of this e-mail is to alert your readers to some of my own work on this subject. I am the author of "Harvesting Controversy: Genetic Engineering and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa," a chapter in Christian Environmental Ethics: A Case-Method Approach published by Orbis Books in 2003. An electronic version of this chapter has also been published in the on-line Journal of Lutheran Ethics. Your readers can use the following link to access the document:


I welcome any feedback readers may wish to share. The chapter actually contains a case and then a commentary on the case. This format is unusual among scholarship in agricultural biotechnology, but it is useful in ethics.


Jim Martin-Schramm
Associate Professor of Religion
Luther College
700 College Drive
Decorah, IA 52101
Office (563) 387-1251; Fax (563) 387-2158; E-mail marschja@luther.edu
Web Page: http://academic.luther.edu/~marschja


Illegal Seed Industry Gains Market Share In Brazil

- Reuters, December 16, 2004

SAO PAULO - Brazilian soybean, cotton and corn seed producers are being swamped by a rapidly growing black market in illegal seeds, the Seed Producers Association (Abrasem) said Tuesday.

Brazil is one of the world's last major agricultural exporters to ban genetically modified (GMO) crops, although soybean producers in the south have long ignored the ban. Virtually all the soybean crop in No. 3 soy producing state Rio Grande do Sul is grown from illegal GMO seeds.

"We have had healthy growth by any standard in grain output, but the seed industry is being destroyed," Ivo Carraro, research director at Abrasem, told Reuters.

Carraro said the spread of smuggled, pirated or illegal conventional and genetically modified seeds has jumped to 12.5 million hectares of the country's area planted with grains in 2003/04 from 7.5 million the year before.

"Illegal sales are growing more quickly," said Carraro, who is also executive director of the Central Cooperative of Agricultural Research (Codetec).

One reason is the cost of government certified seeds compared with pirated products, which Carraro estimated were perhaps 30 percent cheaper, but also yield about 10 percent less than certified seeds.

Carraro said the other reason is the lack of clear laws and enforcement of existing legislation. The government has failed to penalize unauthorized producers for selling or distributing part of their crop as seed.

Brazil's soybean market is where the black market seeds market has grown most quickly. Abrasem said the area planted illegally jumped from 2.8 million hectares to 7.4 million in 2003/04, or from 15 percent of the crop area to 35 percent.

For the past two crops, the government has granted amnesty to producers who had already planted GMO soy, but it requires them to register their crops as GMO and forbids them from distributing GMO soy seeds to others.

The governor of No. 2 soybean state Parana, Roberto Requiao, threatened to prosecute soy producers in his state who had not registered past crops as GMO, but were now registering in the hope of benefiting from the government amnesty.

The federal government said even these producers would be protected and would not have to prove they had the GMO soy from a previous harvest.

Producers of crops such as cotton, corn, wheat and rice do not have permission from the government to plant GMO seeds. But this does not stop the cotton growers from using GMO seeds and other producers from selling or buying uncertified conventional seeds on the black market, Carraro said.

The situation with Rio Grande do Sul GMO soy producers has grown to such a level that Carraro said the state "has become a home to an industry of illegal GMO soy seeds that are being shipped across the country."

"There is practically no over-the-counter seed industry in Rio Grande do Sul anymore," Carraro added.


'Triple stack' corn clear for '05

- Farm Week, December 14, 2004

With final Japanese approvals now in place, Monsanto plans to offer herbicide- and insect-resistant “triple stack” GMO corn varieties to Midwest growers in 2005.

The St. Louis-based company received Japanese environmental approval late in November for YieldGard Plus with Roundup Ready 2 corn.

The product, which provides Roundup herbicide tolerance and resistance to both Western and Northern rootworm larvae and the European corn borer, is the industry’s first commercial triple-trait offering.

Monsanto already had obtained Japanese food and feed approvals and all U.S. clearances, but the environmental OK was necessary for the company to release the triple-stack product in the U.S.

“Now, we’re commercial,” Monsanto global director of industry affairs Doug Schemmer told FarmWeek.

Yieldgard Plus with Roundup Ready 2 nonetheless will be marketed under the “Market Choices” certification mark, which identifies GMO products that are fully approved for U.S. and Japanese food and feed use but currently lack approval in the European Union (EU).

That’s an important distinction, especially for Central Illinois corn producers whose grain is processed or exported to European markets.

The EU this year approved importation of Syngenta’s GMO sweet corn and Roundup Ready 2 borer-resistant corn — the first European approvals of biotech crop products since 1998.

Last week, the EU regulatory committee, which represents EU member states, failed to reach a majority on approval of Monsanto’s Yieldgard Rootworm corn, and the European Commission’s request for the product’s approval now goes to the EU Council of Ministers for a formal decision.

Even if Yieldgard Rootworm approval comes through — completing EU approvals for the three individual traits that comprise YieldGard Plus with Roundup Ready 2 corn — Schemmer noted the EU reviews multiple-trait products separately from single-trait “events.”

And EU officials have indicated they plan to address single-trait products before reviewing “stacks.”

If all goes well, Schemmer said Monsanto’s triple stack corn could clear the EU approval process within two years.


Genetically modified crops grow from spilled seeds in Japan

- Agence France Press, December 16, 2004

TOKYO (AFP) - Genetically modified plants have been found in the wild in Japan after seeds spilled at a port despite an unofficial national ban on growing scientifically altered crops, a researcher said.

The discovery shows the urgent need for Japan to take measures to stop the spread of genetically modified plants, said Masaharu Kawata, a Yokkaichi University lecturer.

Eight soybean plants engineered to resist a herbicide and one corn plant resistant to insects were found growing near roads at Shimizu port 150 kilometers (95 miles) west of Tokyo, Kawata said in his paper posted on the Internet.

"Spontaneous growth has been seen clearly in port areas and effective counter-measures must be addressed urgently," he wrote.

Japan imports genetically modified food mainly for feed or to make oil and soy sauce. But no farmer has planted the crops in Japan amid consumer fears about their safety.

While there were no further details about how the seeds spread, the agriculture ministry said it was not overly alarmed. "Corn and soybean need to be raised in a human-managed environment or they do not prosper," said ministry official Masato Fukushima. "It is possible that spilled seeds take root but it has not been known that they spawn a next generation."

In June the ministry said it had found that some imported genetically modified canola seeds had taken root in the wild in Kashima port, 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of the capital.


Focus on biotechnology research, scientists told

- SunNetwork Online, 16 Dec 2004

Dharwad, Dec 16 - The Minister for Agriculture, K Srinivasa Gowda, said here on Wednesday that research on Bt cotton conducted by the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad, had received recognition by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research which had recommended it for commercial use.

Inaugurating the Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology at the UAS and the conference of International Agricultural Biotechnology, he suggested to the agricultural scientists to achieve greater success in biotechnology research.

He said the Government had been extending crop loan at 6 per cent rate of interest through cooperative societies and called upon farmers to make use of it. He emphasised the need for agricultural scientists and the Department of Agriculture to make concerted efforts to take the fruits of agricultural research to the farmers.

Referring to the demand for greater financial assistance to the Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology, the Minister said the Government would arrange for the release of additional funds through the National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development.

He, however, said that the Government could release Rs. 1 crore to the institute immediately if it was in urgent need of funds.

Delivering the keynote address, the former Vice-Chancellor of UAS, Dharwad, M Mahadevappa, suggested that agricultural information be included in the curriculum of primary and secondary school level to make students aware of the strides made in the field.

He hoped that the rapid strides made in agricultural research by the UAS would help the small and marginal farmers get higher output.

Emphasising the need to take up extensive research in seed technology, Dr. Mahadevappa said the land in Karnataka was ideal for research in seeds and sought the Government's help for it in a bigger way.

The Minister for Municipal Administration and district in-charge, S R Morey, expressed happiness over the progress made by the Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology.

Stating that the Government was making efforts to implement the recommendations of the D.M. Nanjundappa Committee to ensure all-round development of north Karnataka, he said that the establishment of the Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology was a notable attempt in this direction.

The Vice-Chancellor of UAS, Dharwad, S A Patil, who presided over the conference, said that Rs. 5 crores sanctioned by the S M Krishna Government had been fully utilised for the creation of infrastructure at the Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology.

The Principal Secretary (Information Technology and Biotechnology), M K Shankarlinge Gowda, in his welcome address, said the achievements of the Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology had attracted the attention of researchers all over the country.

Agricultural scientists of national and international repute participated in the technical sessions held as part of the conference.

Fresno County Board of Supervisors Support Agricultural Biotechnology


The Fresno County Farm Bureau recently led a successful effort to gain approval by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors of a resolution supporting the use of biotech crops in the county. The resolution was based on the benefits biotech crops have brought to the county. The resolution includes the following proclamations:

* The County of Fresno affirms that the right for farmers and ranchers to choose to utilize the widest range of technologies available to produce a safe, healthy, abundant and affordable food supply, and that the safe, federally regulated use of biotechnology is a promising component of progressive agricultural production.

* Fresno County affirms that biotechnology is a bright light in the future of agriculture and the ability to use biotechnology in agriculture is a key factor by which farmers and ranchers can stay competitive in the global marketplace.

* The County of Fresno affirms that the environmental and health benefits of biotechnology are important to the long-term sustainability and enhancement of our communitys way of life.

* And lastly, Fresno County will make every effort to preserve the choice of using biotechnology in its county and encourage the establishment of a state or national biotechnology policy.

The pro-biotech resolution was pursued in response to the many biotech ban initiative measures which have been on election ballots recently in a number of counties (Mendocino (approved by voters), Butte (defeated), Marin (approved), San Luis Obispo (defeated), Humboldt (defeated) and which are being circulated currently in other counties (Yolo, Sonoma). Also, Trinity County has adopted an agricultural biotechnology ban by ordinance.