21 March 2003
DROP IN GM TRIALS – GM PROJECTS CANCELLED/STARBUCKS RENEGED ON PROMISE/GM MEANS 'LONG-TERM LOSS'
because of GM 'markets for canola collapsed, and prices dropped' – item 1
'In the four years since European governments introduced a moratorium on the commercial growing of GM plants, the number of applications for field trials of new GM varieties has fallen by two thirds, while 61 per cent of private companies and 39 per cent of research institutes and universities said they had cancelled GM projects.' – item 3
*'GE would mean short-term gain and long-term loss'
*Consumer Groups Target Starbucks
*DROP IN GM TRIALS – GM PROJECTS CANCELLED
'GE would mean short-term gain and long-term loss'
21 March 2003
By HOWARD KEENE
Willick is one of nearly 1000 organic farmers taking a class action against Monsanto and Bayer, seeking to recover damages associated with the release of GE canola in Canada.
Canadian farmer Bob Willick has tried conventional crops, genetically modified crops, and no-till cultivation.
But he has ended up an organic farmer.
He was in New Zealand last week with his wife, Barbara, to warn against lift ing the moratorium on GE release.
Their visit was supported by Greenpeace.
On his 1000ha Saskatchewan property, he farmed conventionally for 22 years before becoming involved with no-till cultivation using Roundup to burn off the weeds, and following that GE crops.
Because the growing season was relatively short, he was always looking for new crops and techniques.
"We always looked for technology to come up with solutions to our low income problems."
He grew genetically-engineered LibertyLink canola, which is resistant to Liberty herbicide.
He said the first year the crop was "terrific", but in following years a weed problem gradually developed, especially a viney weed, cleavers.
"We probably lost $30,000 to $40,000 in the third year, the cleavers population just exploded."
They then tried Roundup Ready canola from Monsanto.
"I found this package very expensive, and it threatened markets. Roundup Ready didn't yield as heavily as a normal crop.
"I could see Roundup wasn't going to control cleavers in the long term."
He said markets for canola collapsed, and prices dropped.
Mr Willick's "whole thinking changed" after he went to an organics conference.
He is one of nearly 1000 organic farmers taking a class action against Monsanto and Bayer, seeking to recover damages associated with the release of GE canola in Canada.
They are also seeking an injunction to prevent the introduction of GE wheat to Canada.
He said organic and non-GE canola could not be grown any more in Saskatchewan because of GE spread.
Mr Willick said that if New Zealand farmers embraced GE it would be a short term gain for a long term loss.
"As proud farmers pay attention to the quality of food you are sending to the world. Understand what they want, and why they want it."
While he was her Mr Willick talked to Federated Farmers.
The federation's grains council chairman Hugh Ritchie said Mr Willick's experience was of no particular relevance to New Zealand growers.
He said New Zealand farmers currently had little interest in growing GE crops that were available to Canadian farmers. "However we believe there could be considerable benefits to New Zealand farmers from the use of GE for specialist pharmaceutical use.
"Just as Mr Willick had the choice to move to organic production,whilst other farmers have continued to grow GE crops, New Zealand arable growers should be able to retain the option of growing GE crops if they see commercial advantage in it."
He said that unlike Canada, New Zealand had a rigorous approval process that would apply once the moratorium was lifted.
Steve Abel of Greenpeace said Mr Ritchie had totally missed Mr Willick's point. "Once you release a GE crop the evidence is that it spreads, thereby stealing the right of conventional farmers to grow GE-free and ultimately the right of consumers to eat GE-free produce."
Consumer Groups Target Starbucks; Denounce Genetically Engineered Ingredients, Failure to Support Fair Trade Coffee, Chocolate Farmers; Starbucks Reneged on Promise to Change; National Day of Action to Coincide
SEATTLE, March 19 (AScribe Newswire) – Dozens of consumer, environmental, and Fair Trade activists will descend on the Starbucks' annual shareholders meeting in Seattle on March 25 where they will distribute leaflets, lobby shareholders and call for a global boycott of the transnational coffee corporation. Concerned shareholders will introduce a resolution calling on Starbucks to label or remove recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) and other GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) from its products. At the same time Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a national network of half a million organic consumers, will launch a "virtual march" on Starbucks' headquarters, encouraging consumers all over the world to phone, fax, or email the company, informing them they will boycott Starbucks until campaign demands are met. They will also announce an ongoing campaign in which local initiatives will be launched in cities across the country will also be announced.
The purpose of the rally outside the shareholder meeting and the ongoing campaign is to spotlight Starbucks' continued use of "Frankenfoods" and its consistent failure to offer Fair Trade and organic coffee and chocolate on a regular basis despite pledges to consumer and advocacy groups to do so.
"Starbucks promises are like a cup of coffee that's sat too long – hard to swallow," Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association said. "We demand action from Starbucks and other coffeehouse chains, not false guarantees and greenwashing. Despite repeated pledges, Starbucks is still loading up its coffee drinks with rBGH-tainted milk, and buying coffee and chocolate produced under exploitative labor conditions and in the case of cocoa plantations in Africa, workers who are actually slaves."
At the press conference outside the meeting, the OCA and Global Exchange will also outline an expanded international marketplace pressure campaign which will include ballot initiatives and local legislation in dozens of cities requiring that cafes offer the option of fair-trade, organic and shade grown coffee. In November Starbucks spent thousands of dollars to defeat an initiative in Berkeley, CA that would have required all their brewed coffee to be Fair Trade, Shade Grown, or Organic. "We learned a great deal from that first initiative about what is and isn't possible and we are confident we can now take this to other cities. Our grassroots network is already energized on this." Connie Minowa, Fair Trade coordinator for the OCA added.
"Starbucks buys over 100 million pounds of coffee each year, yet less than 1 percent is purchased from coffee farmers who are guaranteed a living wage under Fair Trade regulations," said Valerie Orth, Fair Trade Organizer at Global Exchange. "Until Starbucks lives up to true social and environmental standards, coffee drinkers should instead only give their business to locally-owned, socially responsible companies."
For Full Background see: http://www.organicconsumers.org/starbucks/
PUBLIC FEARS LEAD TO DROP IN GM TRIALS
March 20, 2003
Charles Arthur [via agnet]
The number of research projects into genetically modified plants and animals has plunged in the wake of public safety fears, according to a Europe-wide survey to be published this month.
In the four years since European governments introduced a moratorium on the commercial growing of GM plants, the number of applications for field trials of new GM varieties has fallen by two thirds, while 61 per cent of private companies and 39 per cent of research institutes and universities said they had cancelled GM projects.
"The longer the moratorium goes on in Europe, the more likely it is that biotech companies will move their research to countries outside the European Union," said Dr Klaus Menrad, of the Fraunhofer Institute in Karlsruhe, Germany, who wrote the report for the European Commission.