News items related to ag tech, biotech, trade – and perhaps some other interesting items out there related to agriculture – will be posted on this page throughout the week (as the week progresses newest items will be in green at bottom of sections).  Be sure to check in regularly.

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Regarding the first story below, on the IMF ‘warnings’ of US protectionism and the retort by US Commerce Sec. Ross that the US is less so that Europe, China or Japan…  Put it under things that make you go “hmm” and categorize it under the old saying of “the pot calling the kettle black”.

What’s the proper response, other than to react by going”duh” and wonder why doesn’t everyone just look in the mirror at themselves.  The various list of barriers and impediments from all involved is rather lengthy to say the least.  Guess that’s why negotiations take so long…

TRADE, TRADE RELATED, INFRASTRUCTURE:

IMF warnings of US protectionism ‘rubbish’, says Ross – Financial Times (UK) – By Shawn Donnan and Demetri Sevastopulo (Apr 16)

“They [Europe, Japan and China] talk free trade. But in fact what they practise is protectionism. And every time we do anything to defend ourselves, even against the puny obligations that they have, they call that protectionism. It’s rubbish” – Link – OR see at Irish Times 

Japan looks to revive moribund TPP, sans US – Nikkei Asian Review (Apr 15)

“11-member pact would give Tokyo lead on Asian trade – Japan is mobilizing the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact to resurrect the agreement without the United States, seeking a path forward for free trade in Asia with Tokyo as the senior partner.” – Link

Japan rejects U.S. request for bilateral trade negotiations – The Asahi Shimbun (Apr 13)

“There is a possibility that Japan will eventually agree to hold bilateral trade talks under strong U.S. pressure, the sources said.” – Link

China remains Africa’s top trading partner – Xinhua (China) – Apr 16

“Bilateral trade between China and Africa reached 149.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2016” – Link

Trump’s Chinese Trade Tension Claims Grain as Latest Victim – Bloomberg (Apr 13)

“Still, falling prices for DDGs have proved alluring to buyers other than China.” – Link

China’s economic picture brightens as trade beats forecasts, Trump softens tone – Reuters (Apr 13)

“Washington’s improving ties with Beijing were underscored when Trump told the Wall Street Journal in an interview on Wednesday that he would not declare China a currency manipulator as he had pledged to do on his first day in office.” – Link

Canadian milk pricing scheme causes major disruptions in U.S. dairy – Feedstuffs – By Jacqui Fatka (Apr 14)
“Dairy groups continue to make case for Trump to intervene in Canadian dairy trade disruptions.” – Link
Trump’s Trade Plans Spell Uncertainty for Mexican Port – Wall Street Journal – By Robbie Whelan (Apr 16)

“Shippers weigh impact of trade barriers on new high-tech terminal at Lázaro Cárdenas” – Link

Japan Wants to Keep Trade Hardliner Wilbur Ross Away From Some Economy Talks – Bloomberg – (Apr 17)

“During his confirmation hearing in January, Ross was outspoken about barriers to U.S. exports of autos and agricultural products. While he didn’t single Japan out for criticism, he said some countries used non-tariff barriers like environmental standards and inspections to stymie U.S. imports…” – Link

Cornell professor of agricultural economics: US took advantage of ‘loophole’ in dairy trade with Canada – Dairy Reporter – By Mary Ellen Shoup (Apr 19)

“Multiple US dairy groups have blasted Canada recently saying that the country is blatantly violating terms of the NAFTA trade agreement and that US dairy processors are suffering due to lost Canadian purchases of ultrafiltered (UF) milk.” – Link

Mexican official ready to start NAFTA talks – Southwest Farm Press / Bloomberg – By Eric Martin (Apr 19)
“U.S. waiting for Lighthizer to be confirmed before starting formal talks.” – Link
Pence: US, Indonesia to Trim Trade Barriers – VOA, Reuters (Apr 21)

“Indonesia and the United States agreed Friday to find ways to reduce barriers to U.S. companies operating in Southeast Asia’s largest economy…” – Link

AG, AG TECH, PRODUCTION, PROTECTION, RELATED ISSUES:

To Save Florida’s Famous Oranges, Scientists Race to Weaponize a Virus – WIRED – By Megan Molteni (Apr 12)

“Florida’s citrus growers are running out of time. Since 2005, when a deadly disease called citrus greening first showed up in the state, they’ve been fighting a losing battle to slow the spread of the sugar-sucking bacterium behind the scourge. Today, it has infected 90 percent of Florida’s citrus groves. Fifth-generation farmers are abandoning their acres, packing factories are shuttering their operations, and the state is hemorrhaging a billion dollars every year.” – Link

Sorghum Breeding Research Cuts Time in Half – AgWeb – By Sonja Begemann (Apr 13)

“For the past several years sorghum research has lagged behind that of corn and soybeans, but that could soon change with technology advances.” – Link

Ag tests new precision tech – The Land (Australia) – By Mike Foley (Apr 12)

“The technology, which is new to Australia, could improve a range of applications for agriculture, such as monitoring, precision machinery and yield mapping.” – Link

Let Farmers Decide – Financial Chronicle (India) – By V Ravichandran (Apr 17)

“I assure you, farmers are always looking for new ways to enhance their productivity and improve their income and standard of living. I strongly feel we need to be given the opportunity of accessing modern technologies, and allow demand and supply to determine prices including rational policies to promote export markets…” – Link

*Note – the author was the 2013 Kleckner Award recipient and recently joined the GFN board of directors.

‘Treatment-free’ Beekeepers Give Varroa Mite Free Rein – Thoughtscapism blog (Apr 10)

“…honey bee colony survival depends on beekeeper education and disease control. It shows that it is first and foremost hobby beekeepers, who have trouble with epidemics…” – Link

Project builds capacity of fish farmers to raise yields – SciDevNet – By Sarah Ooko (Apr 11)

“An initiative is enabling fish farmers in Kenya boost their production through training in good management practices.” – Link

With DroneDeploy’s Fieldscanner, pilots can create maps as they fly – Techcrunch – By Lora Kolodny (Apr 18)

“…makes it possible to draw a low-resolution satellite map in real time with a drone, in the field, even where there’s no internet connectivity.” – Link

Ethiopia: Smart Technologies to Ensure Sustainable Farming – allAfrica / The Ethiopian Herald – By Homa Mulisa (Apr 17)

“We would like to employ a strategy of ‘one village at a time’. For a reason that agriculture requires the collective action of all actors which actually are equally important, the deployment of an integrated approach is very important.” – Link

From corn to cattle, gene editing is about to supercharge agriculture – Digital Trends – By Dyllan Furness (Apr 17) – Link
Nutrient-Poor Farms Get a Vitamin Boost From Zinc Mines – Bloomberg – By Danielle Bochove (Apr 18) – Link
Converting native land to organic farms has ‘unintended consequences’ on biodiversity, economies – Food Navigator USA – By Elizabeth Crawford (Apr 19)

“To increase supply of organic and avoid the financially challenging three-year transition period necessary to convert conventional farm land, some producers are converting native ecosystems to organic farms – a practice that the National Organic Standards Board wants to discourage.” – Link

U.S. Farmers, Who Once Fed the World, Are Overtaken by New Powers – Wall Street Journal – By Jess Newman and Jacob Bunge (Apr 20)

“Bumper soybean and wheat harvests in Brazil and Russia push down global prices, imperiling America’s growers; ‘hard for our psyche’” – Link

POLICY, REGULATORY, ACTIVISM, OTHER:

Clearance for genetically modified mustard to be delayed – Livemint (India) – By Mayank Aggarawal (Apr 13)

“If genetically modified mustard wins approval from the nodal regulator, it will become the first transgenic food crop to be commercially cultivated in India” – Link

Bills reversing GMO pre-emption die in Oregon – Capital Press – By Mateusz Perkowski (Apr 13)
“A battle over Oregon’s statewide pre-emption of local GMO regulations has died in the House and Senate.” – Link
Dannon attacks ‘daisy-chained’ logic in all-natural lawsuit over GM feed and dairy products – Food Navigator USA – By Elaine Watson (Apr 14)

“Should brands making dairy products from cows that may have consumed GM feed be allowed to market their wares as ‘all natural’? Absolutely, insisted Dannon in court papers filed this week urging the judge to dismiss the “daisy-chained” logic of a false advertising lawsuit filed in New York.” – Link

Bio-politics of GM Crops: A Counter Point to “The Big Business of Genetically Modified Food” – Kashmir Reader – By Dr. Amjad M. Husaini (Apr 13)

“It is not the difference of “scientific” opinion that has hindered large scale acceptance of biotech crops, but the prejudiced campaign by vested interests and NGO’s.” – Link

Glyphosate Vs. Caffeine: Acute and Chronic Toxicity Assessments Explained – Food and Farm Discussion Lab – By Alison Bernstein, PhD (Apr 13)

“Fear of chemicals in our food has taken on an outsized role in the food discussion. Too much of the debate have become … let’s say – a bit light on the facts and long on emotion. While these are important conversations to have, confusion and misinformation about these issues abound as sound bites are traded as evidence for each “side” and everyone talks past each other.Whether it’s fear of additives in processed food or pesticides used in growing crops, too many people are needlessly wondering if we are slowly poisoning ourselves. This has come to overshadow many useful innovations.” – Link

Young Africans chart new path for agriculture as climate heats up – Reuters – By Pius Sawa (Apr 18) – Link
Resettled Zimbabwe farmers left high and dry – IRIN – By Tawanda Majoni (Apr 21)

“Ten years ago, former bricklayer Samuel Musengi was allocated a nine-hectare plot to cultivate in Zimbabwe as part of an accelerated phase of land reform that saw tens of thousands of black families resettled on what were once vast, mostly white-owned commercial farms. It’s not going so well for him; nor for many others.” – Link

Biotech Blog—Shopping for Honesty: Sorting Out Non-GMO Claims – CSPI, Center for Science in the Public Interest – By Greg Jaffe (Apr 17)

“Some companies market their food product as “non-GMO” to create a nonexistent distinction that gives them a competitive advantage (sometimes at a premium price).  For example, Tropicana Orange Juice includes the “Non-GMO Project” seal on its package, yet its sole ingredient is oranges, and there are no commercially grown, genetically engineered oranges.  Every brand of orange juice is naturally “non-GMO,” provided the only ingredient is oranges.  The same can be said for Emerald Natural Almonds or Woodstock Peanut Butter, which both have “Non-GMO Product” seals even though their only ingredient is almonds or peanuts, and there are no GM varieties of those nuts.” – Link