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 come back and check the page during the week.

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TRADE, TRADE RELATED, INFRASTRUCTURE:

China invests $124bn in Belt and Road global trade project – BBC News (May 14)

“Mr Xi used his speech to assure Western diplomats that the plan, described as the new Silk Road, was not simply an attempt to promote Chinese influence globally.” – Link

See also:
Why Trump’s Scorn for Pacific Trade Pact May Have Been Hasty – The Wall Street Journal – By Bob Davis (May 14)

“While the 12-nation pact drew fire during the election, it would have fulfilled some U.S. trade goals” – Link

US inks ‘historic’ beef deal with China – GlobalMeatNews – By Oscar Rousseau (May 12)

“America and China have inked landmark deal to promote shipments of US beef that may also cool fears of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.”Link

See also:  U.S., Chinese leaders announce progress on beef trade, biotech (Agri-Pulse, May 11)

Latest trade indicator signals sustained momentum in second quarter – World Trade Organization (May 15)

“The WTO’s latest World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI) suggests that global trade will continue to expand moderately in the second quarter of 2017. The latest reading of 102.2 is the highest since May 2011, but strength in the overall index is tempered by weakness in certain component indices.” – Link

US dairy sector prioritizes market expansion as new US Trade Representative steps in – Dairy Reporter – By Mary Ellen Shoup (May 15)

“The US dairy industry aims to work with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on a number of trade policy issues including the renegotiation of NAFTA, expanding market access channels in Asia, and preventing the loss of common food names.” – Link

How to revive TTIP – Politico, Europe Edition – By Anthony Gardner (May 9)

“Under Trump, the aborted Washington-Brussels trade deal may not be in ‘deep freeze’ after all.” – Link

Abe says Trans-Pacific Partnership hasn’t lost momentum, but considering bilateral trade pact with US – Strait-Times (Singapore) / Reuters (May 16)

“In a sign of hope for Japan, new US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will attend a meeting of trade ministers from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) countries on Thursday (May 18) and Friday (May 19) in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.” – Link

‘Collective interest’ in keeping TPP attractive to US – PM – Radio New Zealand – By Chris Bramwell (May 17)

“The United States is set to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership despite having withdrawn from the agreement, Trade Minister Todd McClay has conceded.” – Link

Trump trade officials prefer tri-lateral NAFTA deal: U.S. senators – Reuters – By David Lawder (May 16)

“Several members of the Senate Finance Committee said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and new U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told them in a closed door meeting that they would prefer the current three-nation format but left open the possibility of parallel bilateral agreements with Canada and Mexico.” – Link

Trump Administration Notifies Congress of Intent to Launch Nafta Talksj – Wall Street Journal (By William Mauldin (May 18)

“U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer says goal is to complete talks this year” – Link

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

Compelling reasons why India needs agricultural biotechnology – Deccan Herald (India) – By Shivendra Bajaj (May 15)

“10 compelling reasons as for agri-biotechnology and GM technology to be incorporated are as below…” – Link

Edible oil industry cheers GEAC nod for GM mustard – The Economic Times (India) – By Jayashree Bhosale (May 12)

“India’s edible oil industry has welcomed the clearance given by Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) for commercial cultivation of genetically modified mustard seeds.” – Link

The Crop That Ate America – Bloomberg – By Alan Bjerga, Jeremy Diamond and Cindy Hoffman (May 11)
“[C]orn’s spread is unstoppable, he said—the economic case remains too strong, even with prices now less than half what they were five years ago.” – Link
Next Phase of High-Tech Crops: Editing Their Genes – Wall Street Journal – By Jacob Bunge (May 7)

“Monsanto and other seed companies turn to gene-editing tools such as Crispr; one possibility: tastier bell peppers” – Link

Researchers able to reverse resistance of pink bollworm to Bt cotton – Southwest Farm Press (May 9)

“Collaborative effort by researchers in China and the University of Arizona find unique method to reverse resistance of pink bollworm to Bt cotton. Implications exist for transgenic corn and soybeans as well.” – Link

More evidence of the benefits of mechanized grape production – Western Farm Press – By Greg Northcutt (May 9)
“The study was designed to identify ways for San Joaquin Valley growers to reduce the cost of producing a marketable crop using less water.” – Link

“The field trials are part of TSL’s Potato Partnership Project to develop a Maris Piper potato that is blight and nematode resistant, bruises less and produces less acrylamide when cooked at high temperatures.” – Link

Move Over GMOs? Monsanto Experimenting With Gene Editing – Fox Business (May 17)

“I see gene editing very differently [than GMOs] because it’s being used today broadly by pharmaceutical, agricultural companies, universities and hundreds of startup companies — and I think there is broad support for this science and I think that is going to make a big difference…” – Link

GM Mustard could open door for 100-odd crops in pipeline – Business Standard (India) – By Sanjeeb Mukherjee (May 13)

“Activists, others question yield and bio-safety data; GM mustard can improve yields by 25-30%” – Link

Ex global agribiz leader says market ready for biological insecticides – Southeast Farm Press – By John Hart (May 15)
Thirty years ago, most of the major agricultural chemical companies looked at venom from inspects and spiders and believed it would make great insecticides. But every venture failed.” – Link
Farm Babe: Take a look inside an organic ‘factory farm’ – Ag Daily – By Michelle Miller (May 16)

“Regardless of label, it’s thanks to modern barn technology, vaccine innovation, improved cleanliness, genetics and feed efficiency, that today’s modern broiler chickens are raised with minimal risk, in the best living conditions as ever before.” – Link

Why S&T could raise Africa’s agricultural productivity – SciDevNet – By Paul Boateng (May 18)

“On my way straight from Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi… my taxi driver began a conversation about the lack of rain… A veteran of countless conversations with his counterparts in London, which normally end up with a rant against the government of the day, I was wary. This one, however, was different. It was wide-ranging, comprising a discourse from him on the merits of drought-resistant maize seed and the challenges of accessing it…” – Link

EU to propose 10-year licence renewal for weed killer glyphosate – Reuters (May 18)

“The EU body, which regulates chemicals and biocides, said glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, should not be classified as a substance causing cancer.” – Link

POLICY, REGULATORY, ACTIVISM, OTHER:

Canadian GMO labeling debate heats up ahead of May 17 vote – Food Navigator USA – By Elaine Watson (May 15) – Link

UPDATE:

GMO labeling bill defeated in Canadian parliament – Food Navigator USA – By Elaine Watson (May 18)

“Members of the Canadian Parliament voted against [significant margin of 216 nays and 67 yeas] approving mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods in a vote in the House of Commons yesterday.” – Link

Perdue announces creation of undersecretary for trade as well as USDA reorganization – Ag Update (May 12)

“Our plan to establish an undersecretary for trade fits right in line with my goal to be American agriculture’s unapologetic advocate and chief salesman around the world,” Perdue said. – Link

The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t. – The Washington Post – By Peter Whoriskey (May 12)

“Regardless of where organics come from, critics say, the system suffers from multiple weaknesses in enforcement… Gauging the extent of fraud in imported organics is difficult because there is little incentive for organic companies to advertise their suspicions about suppliers.” – Link

See also:  Should the boost in funding for organic farming survive in the new administration? (Food Safety News, By Mischa Popoff and Jay Lehr – Apr 21)

8 Food Words That Sneakily Mean Nothing – Refinery29 – By Marshall Bright (May 11)

“While certifications and regulations control some of what has to be (or can be) said about certain food, other words have fuzzier meanings…” – Link

Canadian Distinguished Professor Under Attack — For Doing His Job – Medium – By Kevin Folta (May 9)

“US-RTK [US-Right to Know] is an activist organization in Oakland, CA that leads abusive attacks against academic leaders they want removed from the public discussion of biotechnology and food.” – Link

The Left Is Rebranding Environmental Regulations As Environmental Protections – Reason.com – By Ronald Bailey (May 12)

“Cloaking government control in the language of benevolence.” – Link

Fiction to fact with biotechnology – Mail & Guardian (South Africa) (Apr 28)

“Most people don’t realise that GMO technology has been taken up very quickly compared with other technologies — there are hectares of crops in South Africa that are GMO already,” he says. “Interestingly, there are some plants, such as sweet potato, which are naturally GMO. A lot of public concern is driven by misconception and politics, but as scientists we recognise that we must pay attention to what we do.” – Link

Emails Reveal Why Whole Foods Lowered The Bar For Organic Farming Environmental Standards – The Method – By Stephan Neidenbach (May 10)

“A former Washington State University researcher, Charles Benbrook has been in the news recently for promising an Australian organic industry leader that he could “ramrod” through research to question the safety of biotech crops. Acting as a consultant and advisor for the multi billion dollar industry comes off as quite hypocritical for a man who says public scientists who accept grants for biotech outreach smell like “skunks”.” – Link

The Right to Agricultural Technology – Project Syndicate – By Henry I. Miller (May 12)

Beyond saving lives, the Green Revolution saved the environment from massive despoliation… Yet some seem eager to roll back these gains. – Link

ChemChina poised for swift completion of Syngenta deal – Food Navigator Asia – By RJ Whitehead (May 15)

“Now with the support of some 82% of Syngenta shareholders, ChemChina’s US$43bn bid to take over the Swiss pesticides and seeds group appears to be heading for fast completion.” – Link

Biotech Blog: USDA Should Establish a Science-Based Regulatory System to Address Genetically Engineered and Gene-Edited Crops – Center for Science in the Public Interest – By Greg Jaffe (May 15)

“USDA should regulate GE and gene-edited crops proportionally based on their potential risks to agriculture and/or the environment.  Such a system would not regulate solely based on how the product was made or the inclusion of plant-pest DNA, but rather primarily on the newly introduced characteristic” – Link

Attitudes towards GM food vary throughout Asia – Farm Online (Australia) – By Gregor Heard (May 17)

“Each market has its own idiosyncrasies” – Link

Shadows and mirrors: GMOs in China – Cornell Alliance for Science – By Mark Lynas (May 17)

“Everyone knows that Chinese agriculture is fearsomely unsustainable, heavily chemical-dependent and contributes to pollution of both air and water. Yet “food safety” activists have focused on demonizing GMOs more than addressing real safety issues, meaning that genetic approaches to reducing the environmental impacts of farming in China have been foreclosed.” – Link

American Heart Association: A clean label doesn’t necessarily make for a ‘healthy’ product – Food Navigator USA – By Elaine Watson (May 16)

“Consumer research indicates that for many shoppers, ‘healthy,’ is all about foods that are organic, minimally processed, natural, non-GMO, or free of artificial ingredients. But such factors should not be included in the legal criteria for ‘healthy’ claims on pack, argues the American Heart Association (AHA).” – Link