Gene Campaign's GM Forum is a [New Delhi-based] news service providing information on national and international developments in agricultural biotechnology and genetic engineering. The aim of this news service is to promote an informed debate on this new and controversial technology, which can impact food and livelihood security in our region.

GM Forum

1. Brazil approves Bayer's GM cotton seed

CTNBio, Brazil's biosafety regulator, has approved the use of Bayer's herbicide tolerant GM cotton seed. However the seed must still be approved by Brazil¬Ęs Agriculture Ministry before can be used for cultivation. Any objections to the decision would  be examined by the National Biosafety Council and can be raised within 30 days,

2. Court upholds ban on GM alfalfa

In a recent decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld a nationwide ban on the planting of GM Roundup Ready alfalfa pending a full Environmental Impact Statement. The Court ruled that the planting of GM alfalfa can result in potentially irreversible harm to organic and conventional varieties of crops, damage to the environment, and economic harm to farmers. The Circuit Judge concluded that the harm to growers and consumers who wanted non-GM alfalfa outweighed the financial hardships to Monsanto and Forage Genetics (who were respondents in the case) and their growers. Civil society groups term this ruling a major victory for consumers, organic and conventional farmers.

3. Clueless G-8 food policy for food crisis

In June, the G-8 countries met in Japan with the world food crisis in the spotlight. However there are many unanswered question like: Does the G-8 really understand the food crisis? Does the G-8 propose anything in the way of solutions to the food crisis, or what caused the problem in the first place? Critics point to  failed policies like removing export restrictions and increased access to GM crops in food-deficit countries etc.

4. Farmers file lawsuit over GM rice

While GM opponents are fighting for a liability regime for damages arising from GMOs,  farmers in one US  county have filed a lawsuit against several chemical companies alleging loss of money because of GM rice. The lawsuit alleges that Bayer  planted and tested GM rice including LL601, to help   farmers battle weeds that negatively affected their profit margins.  From 1996 to 2001, Bayer planted and tested LL601 and other GM rice varieties. Then in 2001 decided not to market LL601 because of concerns that the GM rice would not be accepted by consumers in the US and other countries.

5. Gulf nations to draft new rules for GM foods

The Gulf countries are drafting rules to govern foods containing GM ingredients, marking their first attempt to regulate the industry. In a recent meeting of a GCC sub-committee, delegates set the agenda for the drafting of regulations to control the testing, production and entry into the region of GM foods. The Gulf States are expected to endorse the rules by late 2009, including one that would require supermarkets and grocery shops to label any foods containing GM ingredients.

6. GM vegetables in Ghana to benefit farmers?

A discussion paper from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) finds that genetic modification of tomato, cabbage, and African eggplant (Solanum aethiopicum) has the potential to alleviate poverty in Ghana by reducing yield losses from pests and diseases, and by reducing health risks from the application of hazardous chemicals. Tomatoes, cabbage, and  egg plants are important crops for small-scale farmers and migrants in the rural and semi-urban areas of Ghana.
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7. Data of transgenic brinjal made public

GEAC has published information on biosafety studies of Bt brinjal, developed by MAHYCO, on its official website. According to media reports quoting Department of Biotechnology officials,  the data was sent by the company which was analyzed by the department and forwarded to the GEAC. Greenpeace, which had filed an RTI application to make biosafety data public says the data looks comprehensive. However there is no official notification    nor any assurance of its completeness from the authorities.

8. Poland's environment ministry prepares bill on GMOs

Poland's Ministry for the Environment has prepared a draft bill on GMOs, allowing the creation of GMO-free zones in this country and introducing close monitoring of GM plantations. According to the Environment Minister the draft is an attempt to reconcile liberal EU legislation with Polish scepticism towards GMOs.

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