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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Almost assuredly there are some folks who read “flying cows” in the title and reactively snapped to the thought of some nefarious ‘big ag’ plot or scientific experiment…

Well, if you did, then go ahead and settle down.  Just having some fun with you.  The ‘plot’ is actually current trade issues and disruptions, and some dairy cattle are simply hitching a ride on Qatar Airlines (see story below).

Also, there’s some pretty important news that came out mid-week via Reuters:

Glyphosate Battle – Cancer agency left in the dark over glyphosate evidence (By Kate Kelland, Reuters – June 14, 2017)

“The World Health Organization’s cancer agency says a common weedkiller is “probably carcinogenic.” The scientist leading that review knew of fresh data showing no cancer link – but he never mentioned it and the agency did not take it into account.” – Link

 

TRADE, TRADE RELATED, INFRASTRUCTURE:

Flying Cows to Qatar Is One Man’s Way to Beat the Saudis – Bloomberg – By Mohammed Serge and Donna Abu-Nasr (June 13)

“The showdown between Qatar and its neighbors has disrupted trade, split families and threatened to alter long-standing geopolitical alliances. It’s also prompted one Qatari businessman to fly 4,000 cows to the Gulf desert in an act of resistance and opportunity to fill the void left by a collapse in the supply of fresh milk.” – Link 

U.S. business group urges trade fixes ahead of China’s party congress – Reuters (June 8)

“Social and economic stability is seen as a top priority for China’s ruling elite ahead of a 5-yearly party congress this fall. Diplomats suggest that turmoil in relations with the United States would be an unwanted distraction for Xi ahead of a tricky leadership transition within the party.” – Link

Canada’s premiers leave D.C. hopeful – The Hamilton Spectator / The Canadian Press (June 8)

“…expressing hope that the upcoming renegotiation of NAFTA will be quick and relatively pain-free, rather than a drawn-out bargaining slugfest.” – Link

Azevêdo: We must ensure trade contributes to solving problems faced by leaders today – WTO (June 8)

“[Azevêdo] expressed the hope that this success could signal the start of a “new era” – “one which works to spread the benefits of trade in the way we all want to see” – Link

Africa Corn Silos Overflow in South as Food Crisis Hits East – Bloomberg (May 29)

“Transport costs, import-export bans, restrictions on genetically modified grain and local politics all hinder trade…In Africa, you can only move so much produce.” – Link

Trump Stumps for Infrastructure Plan – AgWeb – By Ben Potter (June 7) – Link
Trump Expected To Restrict Trade, Travel With Cuba – NPR (June 12) – Link
US dairy groups urge prioritizing trade with Mexico when NAFTA renegotiation begins – Food Navigator USA – By Mary Ellen Shoup (June 13)

“When US negotiators begin the process of modernizing and updating NAFTA, US dairy groups have stated maintaining a dependable trade relationship with Mexico and removing trade barriers in Canada remain priorities.” – Link

‘Britain 0, Insanity 2’: How the U.K. Election May Play Out – Knowledge@Wharton (June 9)

“The only certainty about this week’s British election is the uncertainty it has created over Brexit — on top of all the uncertainty that preceded it.” – Link

Shipping Giants Are Looking to Self-Piloting Boats to Shift Cargo – MIT Technology Review – By Jamie Condliffe (June 9)

“Millions of containers could be hauled by robotic ships within the next decade.” – Link

Is Trump Becoming More Friendly To Trade? – Fortune – By Alan Wolff (June 12)

“Lost in this high-profile series of steps where America was seemingly distancing itself from its allies in dealing with issues of common economic and security concern, was a positive statement on trade policy that the U.S. and its major allies issued at the G7 Summit…” – Link

 

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

CROP BIOTECHNOLOGY HAS A PROVEN TRACK RECORD: WHY ARE SOME COUNTRIES STILL DENYING FARMERS ACCESS? – Chicago Council on Global Affairs – Guest Commentary by Graham Brookes (June 12)

“Crop biotechnology, often referred to as genetically modified (GM) crops, has now been widely used by farmers in 26 countries, for over 20 years. Despite it providing many global environmental and economic benefits over this period, many farmers, in many countries, continue to be denied access to this innovative agricultural tool. This needs to change.” – Link

Robots Wielding Water Knives are the Future of Farming – WIRED – By Matt Simon (May 31)

“…robots will definitely support the dwindling farming workforce. Fewer immigrant workers are coming to the fields, and their demographics are shifting.” – Link

POLICY, REGULATORY, ACTIVISM, OTHER:

Brazil approves world’s first commercial GM sugarcane: developer CTC – Reuters – By Ana Mano (June 8)

“…first time such permission has been granted anywhere in the world.” – Link

Court stays Whitewave almondmilk lawsuit: ‘Whether plant-based ‘milk’ should be deemed an ‘imitation’ fits squarely within the FDA’s authority – Food Navigator USA – By Elaine Watson (June 12)

“A lawsuit alleging Silk almondmilk is falsely advertised as nutritionally equivalent to dairy milk has been stayed by a judge on primary jurisdiction grounds, while a near-identical case filed by the same law firm over Almond Breeze has been thrown out after a different judge found the same allegations to be “patently implausible.”” – Link

*Also see related news from EU:

European Court of Justice says purely plant-based products can’t use dairy names – Dairy Reporter – By Jim Cornall (June 14)

“The Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg today announced purely plant-based products cannot, in principle, be marketed with designations such as ‘milk’, ‘cream’, ‘butter’, ‘cheese’ or ‘yogurt’, which are reserved by EU law for animal products.” – Link

Farewell to Fairtrade: Sainsbury’s defends in-house sustainable sourcing certification – Food Navigator – By David Burrows (June 9)

“UK supermarket Sainsbury’s, the world’s biggest retailer of Fairtrade goods, has launched its own sustainable sourcing programme for more than 35 key commodities and ingredients. Campaigners, farmers and some manufacturers have cried foul, but are they being fair?” – Link

Activists, AGs file appeal of EPA denial of chlorpyrifos petition – Western Farm Press – By Forrest Laws (June 6)
“Environmental and labor groups claim EPA has reversed its decision on chlorpyrifos safety during change of administrators.” – Link
Scientists back GM mustard, say will help create better hybrids – Deccan Herald (India) (June 6)

“The National Academy of Agriculture Sciences (NAAS), with 625 members, adopted a resolution on the commercialisation of GM mustard, seeking immediate release of the crop in the field.” – Link

USDA Helps Expand Rural Broadband Infrastructure in Four States – SouthWest Farm Press (June 8)
“Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that USDA is making those loans, totaling $43.6 million, available in hopes that better internet access can stimulate rural economies.” – Link
Attack of the Killer Petunias – Wall Street Journal – By Henry I. Miller (June 12)

“Harmless flowers are destroyed since they were genetically modified but not Washington-approved.” – Link (Subscription-based)

Words matter: Goodbye ‘GMO’? – Genetic Literacy Project – By 

“…actual scientists rarely (if ever) use the “GMO” designation in technical parlance. It first regularly was highlighted in rhetoric opposing the technology, and since has sadly been adopted by mainstream media.” – Link

Forget GMOs. The next big battle is over genetically ‘edited’ foods – The Washington Post, Wonkblog – By Caitlin Dewey (June 13)

“According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 40 percent of Americans believe GMOs are bad for their health. This assertion is not supported by science, which has concluded that the genetically modified crops on the market are safe for consumption.” – Link