GMO Corn Rejected By China, This Could Be Huge

Illegal genetically modified organisms are a problem that raise regulatory concern. I wonder if Japan has tested for the GMO corn that China recently rejected. The biotech corporations that promote their GMO seeds appear to not have the situation under control, which is of course worrying. We all hope we can avoid the kind of food safety scandals that emerged when GMO potatoes and other illegal GMOs were found in the market.

Consumers want better labels to be able to avoid this all together, but we learn that TPP and other trade agreements may be used to block such information. Who benefits?

Bloomberg.com: China May Halt Corn Imports From U.S. on GMO Cargoes, Yigu Says

Buyers in China, the second-biggest corn consumer, may halt purchases from the U.S. as quarantine officials reject more shipments with a non-approved genetically modified variety,said Yigu Information Consulting Ltd.  

UPI.com: China rejects 60,000 tons of genetically modified U.S. corn


BEIJING, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- China rejected 60,000 tons of U.S. corn because the crops had been genetically modified in violation of regulations, Beijing's quality watchdog said Friday.
Authorities in the southern port city of Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong, found a variety of insect-resistant transgenic corn within more than 60,000 metric tons of maize imported from the United States, a spokesman for China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said.
The agency is in charge of entry-exit commodity inspection and import-export food safety certification and accreditation.
The insect-resistant MIR 162 transgenic corn was developed by Syngenta AG to provide growers with maize hybrids that are resistant to feeding damage caused by moths, butterflies and other lepidopteran insects.

Seems Syngenta (a Swiss corporation) has worked closely with Sanbei, since 2007.

Foodnavigator.comhttp://www.foodnavigator.com/Financial-Industry/Syngenta-eyes-Chinese-corn-potential-with-Sanbei-investment has more but the story is copyright protected, like a lot of important news about this kind of issue. Do search for the 2007 deal between Syngenta and Sanbei... if the link does not work. Much details about these topics cannot be easily found; corporations keep their data closed to the general public.

China rejecting US and EU foods from patented and potentially illegal genetically modified sources... Japan and South Korea also have strict rules... This could be huge news.

And in 2014, South Korea is host to the UN Convention of Biological Diversity, CBD COP 12 MOP 7, a forum for issues that also will deal with GMOs and their potential harm...

BT corn is a controversial issue in the Philippines, where farmers have experienced financial hardships, according to Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 25th, 2013
http://opinion.inquirer.net/61977/gmo-corn-farmers-in-debt

GM corn farmers lose lands, increase debts says new research
1.GMO Corn Farmers in Debt
2.GM Corn Farmers Lose Lands, Increase Debts Says New Research
---
---
1.GMO Corn Farmers in Debt
Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 25th, 2013
http://opinion.inquirer.net/61977/gmo-corn-farmers-in-debt

From the start, there had always been concern about the havoc GMO-agricultural crops might create in the environment and the adverse health effects they might have on end-consumers. (GMO means genetically modified organisms.) The financial/material aspect — higher yields, more hungry people fed, etc. — seemed to be the redeeming factor.
There always had been protests against the “invasion” and production of Bt-corn and Bt-talong (eggplant). Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis, the donor organism in the genetically modified plants. The protestors were sometimes labeled as “purists” who were getting in the way of the advancement of science.
Among the advocates of GMO-free agricultural products are Masipag (Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-Unlad ng Agrikultura) and Greenpeace. Masipag is a network of farmers’ groups, scientists and NGOs that aim to improve the farmers’ quality of life “through their control over genetic resources, agricultural technology and associated knowledge”. And there are the consumer groups that are now raising their voices to make sure the food on their table are GMO-free. I wrote about the consumers groups’ concerns some weeks ago.
Masipag has just come out with a book which explains the adverse effects of GMO-corn on farmers and shows “evidence of failure” of what was supposed to have given farmers increased yields and better income. The book, “Socio-economic Impact of Genetically Modified Corn in the Philippines”, is an eye-opener for those who seem enamored with so-called high-yielding varieties that promise to feed the hungry of this world.
Dr. Chito Medina, Masipag national coordinator, says in the book’s foreword: “Promoters of GM crops always recite a litany of benefits including better yield, use of less pesticides, (being) less labor-intensive and improved income of farmers despite lack of sufficient evidence.” These supposed benefits are promoted without consideration for other socio-economic factors, he added. And while evidence of the adverse effects of GMOs on health and the environment are accumulating, data on the socio-economic impact of GMOs are rarely and dramatically laid bare, he stressed.
The book exposes the exploitation of poor farmers by local corn traders who, Masipag claims, “play a role in the proliferation of GMOs and changes in the structures of ownership and control over land, natural and genetic resources as a result of GM corn production.” The book also exposes how agrochemical transnational corporations are raking in huge profits from GM seeds and chemical inputs.
The Philippine government approved the commercial propagation of Bt corn some 10 years ago, Masipag says, and “since then eight GMO corn varieties had been approved for commercial propagation in the form of Bt corn, RR corn and a combination of pyramided and stacked traits of the same GM transformation events. Over the same period, 59 GMO crops/ events were also approved for importation for direct use as food, feed and for processing.”
Masipag adds and warns that GM foods such as the Bt eggplant and Golden Rice have also been “field-tested” and are said to be up for commercialization.
In 2000, the book says, farmers were enticed by the introductory price of GM corn which was almost the same as the regular hybrid corn. It cites the case of Cuartero, Capiz, where the Roundup Ready GM corn (RR corn) used to cost only P2,800 per 18-kilo bag which is good for a hectare. In 2008, the cost ballooned to P4,600 for a 9-kilo bag and P9,200 for two bags of RR corn seeds. Prices of fertilizers and pesticides also increased.
Farmers turned to traders and money-lenders for loans with interest ranging from 20 to 40 percent during the four months of the cropping season. They were also bound to sell to the traders at prices lower than the market price.
In the end, inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) would eat up about 40 to 48 percent of the farmers’ total expenses per season. And all these go to the corn traders/financiers and agrochemical companies. Farmers who cannot pay end up losing control over their lands, or lose them entirely to evade legal actions.
As a farmer from Pangasinan said, “Nakain mo na, di mo pa naani.” (You’ve already consumed what you have yet to harvest.) They end up holding empty bags. To again quote a farmer who made an audience explode into laughter and rage: “Kaming magsasaka, naging magsasako.”
The Masipag research was conducted from February to March 2012. Masipag conducted focused group discussions (FGDs) with corn farmers and interviews with key informants (community leaders, local and national government officials, municipal agriculturists and Department of Agriculture regional officials). A total of 166 farmers participated in FGDs in case areas composed of 12 barangays and seven GM corn-producing provinces in Luzon (4), Visayas (4) and Mindanao (4). The provinces of Isabela, Pangasinan, Bukidnon, Sultan Kudarat, and South Cotabato belong to the top 10 corn-producing provinces, with Isabela having 34 percent of the total hectarage of GM corn areas in the Philippines.
For more on Masipag’s disturbing research findings, go to their website.
Greepeace is waging its own battle against Bt talong (eggplant), Golden Rice and other “GMO invasions” in, of all places, the courts (Greenpeace, Masipag et al. versus UPLBFI, UPLB-IPB, DENR-EMB. DA-BPI and PFA).
I am slowly learning the legal procedures for environmental cases adopted by the Supreme Court in 2012. “First in the world,” I am told, the writ of kalikasan was inspired by the more popular writ of amparo, writ of habeas data and writ of habeas corpus.
More on this another time.
---
---
2.GM Corn Farmers Lose Lands, Increase Debts Says New Research
Masipag, 20 September 2013
http://masipag.org/2013/09/gm-corn-farmers-lose-lands-increase-debts-says-new-research/

“A vicious cycle of poverty” may sound clichéd, but in the case of Filipino farmers planting genetically modified corn, no statement is more apt and true. Small-holder farmers who were lured by promises of good yields and sure markets pay as much as 20-40% interest per cropping season to financers and traders who also buy the produce at a much cheaper price. But as the promised resistance to pests and tolerance to herbicides have decreased over time — as well as natural disasters and calamities – farmers found themselves with poor harvest and incomes. Thinking that they could probably recover by the next cropping season, they borrow loans once again, incurring compounded interests to their unpaid debts.
These are uncovered by a new research “Socio-economic Impacts of Genetically Modified Corn in the Philippines” by MASIPAG which was formally launched on Monday, September 16. MASIPAG is a nework of farmers’ groups, scientist and non‐government organizations in the Philippines seeking to improve the farmers’ quality of life through their control over genetic resources, agricultural technology and associated knowledge.
“Promoters of GM crops always recite a litany of benefits including better yield, use of less pesticides and less labor-intensive, and improved income of farmers despite lack of sufficient evidence. In other times, the benefits are drum-beaten in isolation with other important socio-economic factors,” Dr. Chito Medina, MASIPAG national coordinator writes in the book’s foreword. “While evidences on the health and environmental effects of GMS are accumulating, the data on socio-economic impacts of GMOs are very few.”
The book discusses the effects of GM Corn production on farmers’ incomes, health and environment. The research also sheds light on the exploitation of local corn traders among the poor farmers, as well their role in the proliferation of GMOs and changes in the structures of ownership and control over land, natural and genetic resources as a result of GM corn adoption. A section of the book also discusses how agrochemical transnational corporations are reaping huge profits off GM seeds and chemical inputs.
Evidence of Failure
In the early 2000s, farmers were attracted to the introductory price of GM corn which was almost the same as the conventional hybrid corn. In Cuartero, Capiz for example, the Roundup Ready GM corn (RR corn) used to cost only Php2,800.00 per 18‐kilo bag which is good for a hectare. In 2008, the cost increased to Php 4,600.00 for every 9‐kilo bag and hence corn farmers have to spend Php 9,200.00 for two bags of the RR Corn seeds alone. Prices of other production inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides have also gone up.
Because of the expensive inputs, farmers turn to traders or financiers to avail of loans. In the study, farmers would incur loan interest ranging from 20% to 40% during the four months of cropping season. They are also bound to sell their produce to the traders at a price usually lower than the prevailing market price.
In all, external inputs (seeds, fertilizers and pesticides) eat about 40‐48% of the total expenses that a farmer spend per season, and all of these goes to the corn traders/financiers and agrochemical companies. “They say that with GM corn such as the herbicide‐tolerant variety, farmers can cut cost from weeding. But on the contrary, farmers are now spending more in order to use the technology,” said Medina.
Self-financed small‐holder farmers earn from Php 1,225.00 to Php 19,160.00, but loses can amount to as much as Php 6,611.00. Though farmers may earn as much as Php19,160.00 per season, they said that in reality, nothing really comes back because almost all of their production needs are financed by the traders/financiers including their food, tuition and other expenses. According to one farmer in Bayambang, Pangasinan – “nakain mo na di mo pa naaani” (we’ve already consumed what we have yet to harvest). Far worse, the small‐holder farmers that borrowed from traders ended up with negative incomes.
For farmers who are not able to pay, they usually end up losing control over their lands – what crops to plant, decision making over which crop or variety to plant because traders would not lend to farmers unless they use GM corn. In some cases, farmers are forced to leave, lease or give up their land in order to evade legal actions such as arrests from not paying their debts.
Methodology
The research, which was conducted from February to March 2012 was a combination of desk and field research. Focused group discussion (FGD) among GM corn farmers and key informant interview (KII) methods were utilized in the field research. Community leaders, local and national government officials including, municipal agriculturists, and Department of Agriculture (DA) regional officials were interviewed as key informants.
A total of 166 farmers participated in the FGDs in all case areas which are composed of 12 barangays in seven GM corn producing provinces in Luzon (4), Visayas (4) and Mindanao (4). Isabela, Pangasinan, Bukidnon, Sultan Kudarat, and South Cotabato belong to the top 10 corn producing provinces in the country with Isabela comprising 34% of the total hectarage of GM corn areas in the Philippines
Stop GM Commercialization
The Philippine government approved the commercial propagation of Bt corn about ten years ago. Since then, eight GMO corn varieties had been approved for commercial propagation in the form of Bt corn, RR corn and a combination of pyramided and stacked traits of the same GM transformation events. Over the same period, fifty nine GMO crops/events were also approved for importation for direct use as food, feed, and for processing.
GM foods such the Bt eggplant and Golden Rice have also been field tested and are said to be geared for commercialization.
“Globally, negative health and environmental impacts of GMOs have already been documented and reported,” said Dr. Medina. “With the evidence that GM corn have also failed to improve the socio-economic standing of poor farmers and in fact driven them further into poverty should be stronger reason to stop the commercialization of GMOs.”

Image from Advocates Against GMO in Davao

Dr. Chito Medina of farmers support network MASIPAG (left) and Atty. Lee Aurelo of Third World Network (center) call for local and national laws to stop genetic-modified crops in the country for its negative effects on health, income and organic crops. They were resource persons in a forum last Thursday at Lispher Inn with City Councilors to discuss the banning of GMOs.

Update: The GMO Seralini case is just another issue, as the so-called scientific community retracts a study by a team that shows severe adverse affects to rats exposed to GMOs. Why? Turns out the so-called scientific journal just had a new member joining its board. He came straight from the biotech industry, to deal with this issue. Many scientists now support Seralini. Part of the problem is that GMO crops are doused with Roundup, and the toxicity was always determined on GMO crops not exposed to herbicides. BT crops are another issue where GMO safety studies never looked carefully about the real effects in the field. Also, science-based trade issues in WTO and other fora will become increasingly caught up in these kinds of debates, with Monsanto and Syngenta and BASF trying to overrule common sense and any effort to protect biological diversity.

Update 2: ENSSER (European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility), 30 Nov 2013 Journal’s retraction of rat feeding paper is a travesty of science and looks like a bow to industry

Who did the reevaluation?
Even more worrying than the lack of good grounds for the retraction is the fact that the journal’s editor-in-chief has not revealed who the reviewers were who helped him to come to the conclusion that the paper should be retracted; nor has he revealed the criteria and methodology of their reevaluation, which overruled the earlier conclusion of the original peer-review which supported publication. In a case like this, where many of those who denounced the study have long-standing, well-documented links to the GM industry and, therefore, a clear interest in having the results of the study discredited, such lack of transparency about how this potential decision was reached is inexcusable, unscientific and unacceptable. It raises the suspicion that the retraction is a favour to the interested industry, notably Monsanto.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

TPP Documents Leaked, Huffington Post, Activists Huff

World Social Forum Arakawa, Tokyo