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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Well, the page for the week of Oct 16 is showing up a bit tardy, so we’re just rolling into the next week’s page too.  There is a good excuse though since the 2017 Global Farmer Roundtable is this very same week during the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa.  If you haven’t checked out GFNs Facebook (here) or Twitter pages (here And here)  – please do because you’ll see some fantastic coverage of this year’s Roundtable and surrounding activity.  This year’s Kleckner Award recipient Motlatsi Musi from South Africa truly is the epitome of perseverance, humility, inspiration and hope.

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And on to the title for the page…  In recent years the media in general has taken a hit to its credibility; there’s been good reason why and justafiabley so many times.  But that doesn’t mean there is not some good reporting being done and credible journalists out there working hard to get the facts straight.

Over the past year or so, Kate Kelland at Reuters has delved into the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a semi-autonomous unit of the United Nation’s agency The World Health Organization.  You’ll recall that IARCs assessment of glyphosate was that it probably causes cancer in people, and that was counter to every other national or international agency that has reviewed it.  See here and here for past coverage.

The most recent investigative piece by Kelland from Oct 19 shatters any sense that there isn’t some type of influence that’s taken hold on what’s going on at IARC.  ‘In glyphosate review, WHO cancer agency edited out “non-carinogenic” findings‘ leaves little to the imagination as to what happened, to quote:

One effect of the changes to the draft, reviewed by Reuters in a comparison with the published report, was the removal of multiple scientists’ conclusions that their studies had found no link between glyphosate and cancer in laboratory animals.

In one instance, a fresh statistical analysis was inserted – effectively reversing the original finding of a study being reviewed by IARC.

In another, a sentence in the draft referenced a pathology report ordered by experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It noted the report “firmly” and “unanimously” agreed that the “compound” – glyphosate – had not caused abnormal growths in the mice being studied. In the final published IARC monograph, this sentence had been deleted.

Reuters has absolutely blown up any credibility IARC may have had with the investigative reporting.  In additon, The Times in London reported that a scientist who advised IARC was paid by “law firms bringing claims by cancer victims against the manufacturer” and never declared that link.  You have to read his responses yourself to believe his audacity, which is simply incredible.

It begs the question why an agency such as IARC even exists given that it has only ever listed 1 agent under its classification of Group 4 as “probably not carcinogenic to humans”.  Think about that, and take a look for yourself – only 1.  If while reading that you’re enjoying a coffee or cup of tea, you might ponder that IARC says “drinking very hot beverages probably causes cancer” as well – yep, read it here.  But that’s a bit of an improvement as IARC had for a long time warned that coffee itself might cause cancer, but finally then opted to go with “not classifiable” instead (yep, again read it here).  GFN has pointed out the problems before, the more recent column which you can see here.

The link to the Reuters and The Times pieces are below, as well as other news items of interest.

 


TRADE, TRADE RELATED, INFRASTRUCTURE:

A Scalpel, Not a Chainsaw, for NAFTA – National Review, Editorial (Oct 17)

“President Donald Trump has ordered his trade representative to renegotiate certain aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is a good idea. He also has threatened to pull out of the trade accord altogether, which is a terrible idea…” – Link

Officials disrupt Egypt’s wheat supplies in protest to losing jollies – Food Navigator Asia – By Richard Whitehead (Oct 18)

“Government inspectors furious at losing their travel perks are behind the disruption of wheat shipments to the world’s biggest buyer.” – Link (Note: wonder if this is classified under non-tariff trade barrier??)

Canada ‘extremely worried’ about NAFTA: Ambrose – CTV News – By Rachel Aiello (Oct 22)

“I actually think it’s time for us to be worried, I think we are worried behind the scenes, and I think we have to start activating everyone who understands why it matters…” – Link

What Does the Future Hold for NAFTA? – Knowledge@Wharton (Oct 23)

“As the latest round of talks between the U.S., Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) ended last week in a stalemate, two issues emerged as the key sticking points.” – Link

US must get back into the game in the Asia Pacific – The Hill – Opinion by Peter A. Petri and Michael G. Plummer (Oct 23)

“The region does not want the US to disengage, but it does have options.” – Link

Incoming NZ leader to push for TPP changes – The Straits Times (Singapore) (Oct 23)

“Ms Ardern told The New Zealand Herald that she may pull out of the TPP if other countries did not agree to a renegotiation…” – Link

Macron wants EU to take hard stance in trade talks – GlobalMeatNews.com – By Oscar Rousseau (Oct 24)

“French President Emmanuel Macron wants the European Union (EU) to take a tougher stance on controversial trade talks.” – Link

More Australian red meat exporters may be in China’s firing line – FarmOnline (Australia) – By Colin Bettles (Oct 25)

“…the Chinese temporary suspension handed down in July is estimated to be costing the Australian exporters about $1 million per day.” – Link

A Farmer’s View of NAFTA – National Review – By Blake Hurst (Oct 25)

“President Trump fails to understand the importance of free-trade to America’s long-term economic success.” – Link


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

Ag companies commit to the promising rise of biologicals – Southeast Farm Press – By John Hart (Oct 19)

“Biostimulants are viewed as a key growth area in the burgeoning biological pesticide market.” – Link

CSIRO technology delivers non-browning apples – FarmOnline (Australia) (Oct 20)

“This non-browning technology has potential to reduce waste not only in apples and potatoes but also in other important horticultural crops…” – Link

Will CRISPR-Cas kick start a new Green Revolution? – AgWeb, Farm Journal Media (Oct 22)

“The importance of this for farmers and consumers is that CRISPR-Cas may help speed up the process of getting preferable genetics into food crops.” – Link

 


POLICY, REGULATORY, ACTIVISM, OTHER:

In glyphosate review, WHO cancer agency edited out “non-carcinogenic” findings – Reuters Investigates – By Kate Kelland (Oct 19)

“When the International Agency for Research on Cancer assessed the best-selling weedkiller glyphosate, significant changes were made between a draft of its report and the published version. The agency won’t say who made the changes or why.” – Link

Weedkiller scientist was paid £120,000 by cancer lawyers – The Times (UK) – By Ben Webster (Oct 18)

“A scientist who advised a United Nations agency [IARC] to classify the world’s most widely used weedkiller as carcinogenic received $160,000 (£121,500) from law firms bringing claims by cancer victims against the manufacturer.” – Link (subscription-based, free limited access available)

BASF Comments on $7 Billion Bayer Purchase – By Ashley Davenport – AgWeb (Oct 19)

“This transaction will launch BASF into the business of selling crop seed for the first time.” – 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

War against chemicals is a shame on science – The Times (UK) – By Matt Ridley (Oct 23)

“A perfectly useful herbicide could be banned in Europe thanks to a tangled network of lobbyists, lawyers and activists” – Link (subscription-based, free limited access available)
*See alsoPressure mounts for European glyphosate ban (Food Navigator, Oct 23)

EU: No decision taken on glyphosate – Food Navigator – By Jane Byrne (Oct 25)

“The decisive vote due today on the reauthorization of the EU license for the controversial herbicide, glyphosate, did not take place – it was postponed.” – Link

Should ‘precision breeding’ biotech be included in GMO regulation? – Fod Navigator – By Katy Askew (Oct 23)

“Developments in genetic coding techniques open the doorway to crops that produce higher yields or have positive characteristics, such as drought or pest resistance. The EU regulates the cultivation and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food but debate rages over whether new biotechnologies such as CRISPR-Cas gene editing should be treated differently.”- Link