News items related to ag tech, biotech, trade – and perhaps some other interesting topics 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).  Check the page during the week for updates.

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For the non-Shakespearean readers unfamiliar with the phrase, “Et tu, Brute?” – basically it’s Latin for “Even you, Brutus” from the play Julius Caesar.  The dying words of the dictator as he realizes his friend Brutus is one of the assassins who has stabbed him. The phrase is meant to “express surprise and dismay at the treachery of a supposed friend.

Hence, the purpose of “Et tu, New Zealand” in this week’s title.  The island nation has been one of the stalwarts for international free trade.  But after a recent change in coalition government, the new 37 year old Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, also a former president of the International Union of Socialist Youth, has joined recent protectionist sentiments and immediately proclaimed she will seek to renegotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Much as after the United States withdrew following President Trump taking office at the start of 2017, the remaining 11 nations may now face another obstacle from a nation once seen as a leader on trade.

 


TRADE, TRADE RELATED, INFRASTRUCTURE:

NZ Prime Minister heads to trade talks with foreign investment ban on her mind – Nikkei Asian Review/Reuters (Oct 26)

“New Zealand previously touted itself as a champion of free trade and was a key backer of the TPP…” – Link

NZ minister says big changes to Pacific trade deal may not be possible before APEC meeting – Reuters – By Charlotte Greenfield (Oct 30)

“…would not confirm whether New Zealand was willing to walk away from the TPP over the issue, saying that would undermine the country’s negotiating position.” – Link

EU, Mercosur press for year-end trade deal despite resistance – Food Navigator – By Katy Askew (Oct 26)

“A trade deal between the European Union and the Latin American countries represented by Mercosur are could be concluded by the end of the year, despite resistance from European agricultural interests.” – Link

Canada Warns Nafta Talks Can’t Be ‘Winner Take All’ – Bloomberg – By Josh Wingrove and Eric Martin (Oct 26)

“The previous round wrapped up… with ministers trading barbs amid 5 key impasses on dairy, automotive content, dispute panels, government procurement and a sunset clause. Mexico and Canada are effectively dismissing U.S. proposals on all five.” – Link

Fears grow that EU glyphosate ban could disrupt global trade – Politico Europe – By Simon Marks and Giulia Paravicini (Oct 30)

“Some of Europe’s biggest trade partners fear a potential EU ban on glyphosate could hit exports of crops ranging from Australian wheat to Brazilian soybeans.” – Link

Ban on beef to China lifted – The Land (Australia) – By Shan Goodwin (Oct 31)

“…six Australian meat processors can now resume exporting their beef to China” – Link

Russia widens meat import ban – GlobalMeatNews.com – By Keith Nuthall and Eugene Vorotikov (Oct 27)

“The Russian government has expanded the range of meat and livestock imports it has blocked from the US, EU and other countries imposing sanctions on Moscow.” – Link

US in India trip to rip down trade barriers – GlobalMeatNews.com – By Oscar Rousseau (Oct 30)

“Five animal feed and genetic firms have joined the US government on an agribusiness mission to India to grow exports and tackle trade issues.” – Link


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

Dairy farmers use technology in effort to cut greenhouse gas production by 25% by 2020 – Food Navigator USA – By Elizabeth Crawford (Oct 26)

“Animal agriculture in the US is often criticized for its heavy environmental impact, but data from the National Dairy Council tells a very different story – one of farmers using technology to improve the sustainability of their lands and dairy production.” – Link

CRISPR Bacon: Chinese Scientists Create Genetically Modified Low-Fat Pigs – NPR – By Rob Stein (Oct 23)

“It demonstrates a way that you can improve the welfare of animals at the same as also improving the product from those animals — the meat.” – Link

Viewpoint: European anti-tech groups threaten to derail CRISPR gene editing in agriculture – Genetic Literacy Project – By 

“…powerful voices, including activist environmental NGOs, want to ban this new methodology, and these NGOs spread their often-unsubstantiated opinions about the supposed risks of “unintended effects or unproven safety…” – Link

New Strain Of Saltwater Rice Could Feed 200 Million People In China – Science Trends – By Mohendra Shiwnarain (Oct 30)

“Professor Yuan believes that it is inevitable that the tools of biotechnology would have to be used to further add benefits to rice and create better strains. This can be said of many other food products.” – Link

 


POLICY, REGULATORY, ACTIVISM, OTHER:

Milk, salads, kitty litter, condoms: ‘Non-GMO’ labels sow confusion – Los Angeles Times – By Geoffrey Mohan (Oct 25)

“It’s like unicorn-free milk,” said Alison L. Van Eenennaam, a UC Davis animal genomics scientist. “There aren’t any GMOs in milk anyway.” – Link

Boulder County scraps research initiative for GMO crop transition – Daily Camera (Colorado) – By Shay Castle (Oct 24)

“We [county staff and commissioners] set this process in motion as it is right now. We are half the issue here in terms of having the polarized issue we do (and) we need to deal with consequences of our actions.” – Link

Note: the irony is those who created the problem – some county commissioners, staff – actually try to deflect blame toward farmers.

Groups urge update to EU irradiation rules – Food Quality News – By Joseph James Whitworth (Oct 23)

“The European Commission has been urged to revise legislation related to irradiation of food and ingredients.” – Link

Eye-catching labels stigmatize many healthy foods – Feedstuffs (Oct 20)

“Study finds “process” labels like organic, fair trade and cage free can affect consumer behavior, even when there’s no scientific basis.” – Link

Glyphosate Ban: Not about Green. About Greed. – National Review – By Julie Kelly (Oct 27)

“The anti-glyphosate crusade is a proxy battle against genetically engineered crops [and] it has been a gift to activists and lawyers seeking to profit off of glyphosate “victims.”” – Link

Also see: The “worried wealthy” and glyphosate

Italian farmer wages lonely battle against a continental tide of superstition – Cornell Alliance for Science – By Mark Lynas (Oct 30)

“Giorgio Fidenato is an unlikely warrior. He is a small-holder farmer, growing maize (corn), tomatoes and soybeans on just five hectares of cultivated land…” – Link

*Note – Fidenator is a member of the Global Farmer Network.  See Oct 26 column.

Surprise! Shoppers Are Confused About Food And GMOs – Forbes.com – By Phil Lempert (Oct 30)

“Two new surveys come to the same conclusion: The average American shopper is clueless when it comes to having an understanding of what is a genetically modified organism (GMO).” – Link

Is Zambia being too hard on GMOs? – Zambia Daily Mail Limited (Oct 31)

“Let us help small scale farmers to improve their soils and agriculture output. Improved soils translate into quality agriculture produce and nutrition which will help us avoid stunted growth among children…” – Link