General Court annuls Commission’s decision regarding GM potato

Many will welcome the recent decision by the EU General Court annulling the EU Commissions authorisation to market BASF’s genetically modified potato (GM), Amflora.  The General Court found that by granting authorisation of the potato, the Commission “departed from the rules of the authorisation procedure”, and that if “if the Commission had complied with those rules, the result of the procedure or the content of the contested decisions could have been substantially different.”  Following this blatant failure to follow procedure, Greenpeace are now calling for the European Commission to withdraw its proposal to approve the cultivation of insect resistant BtGM maize 1507.  GM Freeze Director, Helena Paul, supports this plea saying, “Given the disastrous rollout of Amflora, which had to be rolled back almost immediately after bad seed contaminated fields with a different unauthorised GM potato, it is also reasonable to reject any GM crop that is not properly assessed, authorised and controlled. Pioneer1507 GM maize is just such a crop, and since we would risk ending up with glufosinate resistant GM maize pollen spreading across European fields it should be rejected.”

Russian scientists push for more testing on GMOs

Vice president of Russia’s National Association for Genetic Safety, Irina Ermakova, believes that there has not been enough safety testing on GM food, and is concerned about a wide rollout of GM products onto the market. She is urging for a 10 year moratorium on genetically modified products to give more time to “plan experiments, tests, or maybe even new methods of research could be developed”.  She believes that until proven safe, “…at this stage, all GMOs are dangerous” and “should be stopped.”

New study suggests Hepatitis B vaccination ineffective for newborns

A new study published in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis has raised questions about the current practice of Hepatitis B vaccinations for newborns – often without parental consent. The researchers found that the vaccination, with or without Hepatitis B immunoglobulin, may not be effective in preventing occult Hepatitis B virus infection in babies born to hepatitis-B-positive mothers. The researchers found that whilst the vaccine may help prevent overt HBV transmission, it was not effective in preventing HBV infection in babies, which may occur in up to 40% of babies born to infected mothers. However, rather than using this study to call for investigation into vaccinating pregnant women with hepatitis B immunoglobulin, surely the question needs to be asked as to why babies born to healthy mothers are routinely vaccinated mere hours after birth?  With the effectiveness of the hepatitis B vaccinations being called into question, it’s important to consider that serious side effects and deaths have also been reported after receiving the vaccine.  

Connecticut gov signs first GMO labeling law in US

Voters in Connecticut were the first to approve a bill in June this year to ensure that all foods containing GMOs be labelled as such.  However, for this law to officially go on the books, it requires that at least 4 neighbouring northeastern states approve similar acts.  At the ceremonial signing on Wednesday 11th December, Governor Dannel Malloy stressed “that people need to demand GMO labeling”.  Tara Cook-Littman, the director of GMO Free Connecticut, is optimistic that other states in the northeast will follow suit. Rep. Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield-Trumbull)believes “Consumers may or may not wish to purchase foods that they know to be genetically modified, but they need the information made available to them to make those informed choices.”

Schoolgirls’ discovery about WiFi effects on plants makes headlines

The UK Daily Mail has, this week, published an article headlined: ‘What's wifi doing to us? Experiment finds that shrubs die when placed next to wireless routers’. The article explains how a group of 15-year-old schoolgirls set out to test whether mobile phone signals could be harmful, by experimenting with cress. Most of the seedlings grown next to two wifi routers, turned brown and died after 12 days. All the seedlings in the control group thrived. Whilst the paper reports on similar findings elsewhere, readers are assured that there is little evidence to suggest that wifi can damage human health. Really? We beg to differ — mounting evidence for harm does exist and is being widely reported.

Proposed GM maize authorisation must be rejected say MEPs

A resolution to reject a proposal by the European Commission to authorise the cultivation of a type of GM maize in the EU for the first time in 15 years was adopted today after 35 MEPs voted in favour. This resolution was tabled by the Greens and voted on by the European Parliament's environment and public health committee. Health and food safety spokesman Bart Staes commented “Today's resolution is a slap on the wrist to the European Commission and gives a clear democratic mandate to EU governments to reject the proposed authorisation of this GM maize variety. The gung-ho approach by the Commission to this controversial and unpopular technology is simply not acceptable and EU governments in Council must now deliver a clear response.”

Urgent action needed to help save New Zealand’s heritage seeds and trees

New Zealand's largest organic heritage seed and tree collection is under threat. The Koanga Institute is urgently appealing for support by 2nd January 2014, and will appreciate any donation you are able to give. If you care about conserving our planet’s biodiversity, you can adopt 20 or more square metres of land to enable the Koanga Institute to continue their vital work. This is not just about New Zealand’s eco heritage. As an international seed bank, the Koanga Institute is also about future biodiversity on this planet as an invaluable resource for regenerative agriculture and health.


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