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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If you’re wondering how the title of this week’s news postings ties into the news, it was inspired and borrowed from Kevin Folta’s recent post from Apr 2 at Medium, Risky Whiskey or Science Under the Influence?  In short, you have to read Folta’s piece on whiskey and non-GMO marketing.  First, it’s good.  Second, he is gifted at explaining things that may be complicated in a way most of us can more easily understand.  Three, it ties into another piece, Globally, consumers ‘confused’ about food labels and claims, says study – which boils down to what some consumers think food labels mean versus what they actually do mean.  Ahhh, the problems some people manufacture to make a buck (or millions).

 

TRADE, TRADE RELATED, INFRASTRUCTURE:

Mexico Ready to Play the Corn Card in Trade Talks – New York Times – By Kirk Semple (Apr 2)

“Now corn has taken on a new role — as a powerful lever for Mexican officials in the run-up to talks over Nafta, the North American Free Trade Agreement.” – Link

As the world sours on trade, the EU sweetens on it – The Economist (Mar 30 edition)

“What a difference a few months makes. Barely half a year ago the European Union’s (EU’s) trade policy was a mess. A much-touted trade and investment partnership (TTIP) with the United States was on life support, trashed by NGOs and consumer groups, and disowned by some of the politicians who had asked for it in the first place..” – Link

Trade After the Trans-Pacific Partnership – The New York Times – By Herald Munoz (Apr 3)

“The countries in the Pacific Alliance will continue to work with the United States on a bilateral basis, but the Asia-Pacific region is ready to lead the new age of globalization in the 21st century by continuing the pluralistic approach to trade envisioned in the T.P.P., even though the accord no longer exists as we knew it.” – Link

Asia’s Dilemma: China’s Butter, or America’s Guns? – Stratfor, Geopolitical Weekly – By Rodger Baker (Apr 4)

“It is interesting that the theme of the “easternization” of the global system — the assertion that China is set to usurp the leadership role of an inward-turning United States — is not nearly as pronounced in the region as it is in the West.”  – Link

Why trade continues to make headlines under Trump – USA Today – By Roger Yu (Apr 4) – Link

 

WTO Chief: Don’t Blame Free Trade For Populism – Handelsblatt Global (Apr 6)

 

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

A ‘bionic leaf’ could help feed the world – Phys.org (Apr 3)

“In the second half of the 20th century, the mass use of fertilizer was part of an agricultural boom called the “green revolution” that was largely credited with averting a global food crisis… To help spur the next agricultural revolution, researchers have invented a “bionic” leaf that uses bacteria, sunlight, water and air to make fertilizer in the very soil where crops are grown.” – Link

Soybean farmers in east and southern Africa get a boost – SciDevNet – By Baraka Rateng’ (Apr 3)

“Smallholder farmers in east and southern Africa could benefit from a project to innovate ways to help unlock barriers in regional soybean value chains.” – Link

New plant breeding techniques – opportunity or death knell for organic feed and food? – Feed Navigator – By Jane Byrne (Apr 5)

“There have been public debates about whether certain novel plant breeding techniques (NPBTs) such as CRISPR, could be used within the organic farming model to close the productivity gap, or whether they should be categorised as genetically modified organisms and risk assessed in that context.” – Link

Japan Has a Bunch of New Tech Ideas—Including Nine Breeds of Carrots – Wall Street Journal – By Eleanor Warnock (Apr 4)

“Abe administration pushes foodmakers to follow the route of other science-based export sectors like high-speed rail” – Link

New GM technology paves the way for northern Australia’s cotton dreams – ABC Rural (Australia) – By Matt Brann (Apr 5)

“CSIRO researcher Stephen Yeates said the cotton industry may have finally found a plant that could withstand the insect pressures of northern Australia’s wet season.” – Link

POLICY, REGULATORY, ACTIVISM, OTHER:

Risky Whiskey or Science Under the Influence? – Medium – By Kevin Folta (Apr 2)

“This is a story about how poorly humans understand risk. This is also a story about the power of marketing. It also is a pathetic tome of misplaced energy, twisted values, and the Ultimate First-World Problem.” – Link

Globally, consumers ‘confused’ about food labels and claims, says study – Food Navigator USA – By Adi Menayang (Mar 31)

“A new survey found that there was disconnect between what consumers think labels like organic, antibiotic-free, or ‘no added hormones’ mean, and what the labels actually mean… A majority of consumers think organic means chemical and pesticide free…” – Link

FMC Corporation buys DuPont Crop Protection Business – Delta Farm Press – By Willie Vogt (Mar 31)
“Deal includes insecticide business, cereal broadleaf herbicides and future R&D pipeline.” – Link
Farmers outraged at 65 percent CVP allocation – Western Farm Press – By Todd Fitchette (Mar 30)
“Reclamation blames farmers for 65 percent Central Valley Project allocation.” – Link
EU Court Adviser Sets High Bar for States’ GMO Bans – Courthouse News Service – By William Dotinga (Apr 3)

“An EU high court adviser on Thursday gave member states a very limited go-ahead to ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops, but only if they can prove the crops are “a serious and evident risk likely to endanger health and the environment.”” – Link

GM case: legal expert rejects ‘precautionary principle’ grounds – Feed Navigator – By Jane Byrne (Mar 31)

“An opinion from an advocate general (AG) about a European Court of Justice (ECJ) case found EU states should only adopt emergency measures regarding genetically modified feed and food if they can establish a clear and serious risk to health and the environment.” – Link

“…farmers continue to suffer tremendous economic losses yet researchers are developing varieties and shelving them because there is no law.” – Link

Why the U.S. should help other nations’ farmers – Des Moines Register – By Doug Bereuter and Dan Glickman (Apr 5)

“As incomes rise and these countries’ economies grow, their commodity imports often grow, too, as consumers demand higher-quality food products, which greatly benefits U.S. farmers by expanding their markets. And as smallholders farmers become more productive and move beyond subsistence farming, they also become customers of agricultural inputs and technology, including fertilizer, seeds, and farm machinery.” – Link