NAFTA rewrite, Kenyan farmers, China food production, and more – news for week of May 22


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.


Note to readers: ?Monday, May 29 is Memorial Day in the US and a weekly news page will be posted sometime Tuesday.


Global Farmer Network members and many more of you may recognize the man being interviewed in the main photo as Gilbert arap Bor from Kenya, the 2011 Kleckner Award recipient. ?Dr. Bor, who is also a professor in addition to a farmer, was fielding questions from the media at the Kenya Agricultural, Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) field trial planting of Bt maize (corn). ?More on that can be read in the story below, “Kenya farmers pray for Genetically Modified seeds to fight drought”.



Democrats fear Trump will steal trade issue – Washington Examiner – By Sean Higgins (May 18)

“Democratic lawmakers and liberal groups have called for decades for the North American Free Trade Agreement to be dropped or at least renegotiated, but when the Trump administration formally announced Thursday that it was opening talks with the Mexico and Canada, many reacted with pointed criticism of the White House.

The response highlights an awkward political situation for trade critics: Many want NAFTA scrapped but don’t want Trump to get any credit for doing it.” – Link

Prospect of NAFTA Rewrite Gives US Farmers a Case of Jitters – New York Times / Associated Press (May 19)

“Many farmers worry that Trump’s policies will jeopardize their exports just as they face weaker crop and livestock prices.” – Link

New Trump trade rep Lighthizer spars over protectionism in Asia – Reuters (May 21)

“When asked about the disagreements over the language, Lighthizer said that U.S. steps to create free and fair trade were being confused with protectionism.” – Link

Video: ?Trade Minister Says Canada Ready to Renegotiate Nafta – Bloomberg (May 21)

Japan, WTO chief reaffirm commitment to free trade – The Japan Times – By Tomohiro Osaki (May 22)

“Japan and the World Trade Organization on Monday issued what is believed to be an unprecedented joint statement reaffirming their commitment to fostering free trade…” – Link

Disagreements surface over China-backed trade deal – Business Insider / Reuters (May 22)

“…the target to complete the discussion stage [RCEP] by year-end may be hard to meet given disagreements over several issues. India in particular is reluctant to give up on tariffs, they say.” – Link

Europe accepts WTO chicken defeat with China?- Food Navigator Asia By Oscar Rousseau?(May 23)

“The EU will amend import rules for Chinese chicken after a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panel sided against the European bloc in a trade quarrel that stretches back two years.”Link

Trump talks trade with EU, varied differences remain – Reuters – By Alastair Macdonald and Steve Holland(May 25)

“…Trump also agreed to setting up a joint EU-U.S. “action plan” on trade, in an indication the new occupant of the White House is not as set on shunning free trade deals and promoting protectionism as some in Europe had feared he might.” – Link


Farming the World: China?s Epic Race to Avoid a Food Crisis – Bloomberg (May 22)

“… China?s efforts to buy or lease agricultural land in developing nations show that building farms and ranches abroad won?t be enough… If it is to have enough affordable food for its population in the second half of this century, it will need to make sure the world grows food for 9 billion people. Its answer is technology.” – Link

See also😕China Pushes Public to Accept GMO as Syngenta Takeover Nears

Kenya farmers pray for Genetically Modified seeds to fight drought – Coastweek / Xinhua – By Ronald Njoroge Kitale (May 19)

“[Margaret] Simiyu together with millions of other small scale farmers are banking on biotech maize seeds to increase their farm productivity.” – Link

Soil Health Institute Announces Action Plan – AgWired – By Cindy Zimmerman (May 18)

?This is an exciting time to be working in soil health,? said SHI president and CEO Wayne Honeycutt. ?The action plan identifies critical goals and priorities. It helps identify key gaps in our knowledge and implementation?and we?ve identified specific actionable steps to achieve these things.? – Link

Pests and pathogens could cost agriculture billions: report – Reuters (May 18)

“The report, released by the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) at Kew in London, said that an increase in international trade and travel had left flora facing rising threats from invasive pests and pathogens, and called for greater biosecurity measures.” – Link

Why Big Data Hasn?t Yet Made a Dent on Farms – Wall Street Journal – By Eliot Brown (May 15)

“Startups designed to use information to boost agricultural productivity are struggling. So now tech companies are changing their approach.” – Link

GM crops, the answer to climate change – The Hindu BusinessLine (India) – By Shivendra Bajaj (May 24)

“It is acknowledged that GM technology may not be able to provide solutions to all problems but this should not be a reason for its exclusion as well. All technologies that are safe should be adopted and let the farmers decide what works for them best.” – Link

South Africa’s 2017 maize crop seen almost doubling to record harvest – Reuters (May 23) – Link



Whole Foods Would Look a Lot Different If It Were Science-Based – New York Magazine – By Jenny Splitter (May 17)

“Why not revolutionize grocery shopping all over again? Only this time, the revolution should be powered by science and agronomy, and not misleading marketing.” – Link

Plant-based milk debate heats up as state regulators weigh in at NCIMS meeting?- Dairy Reporter – By Elaine Watson?(May 17)

“State milk regulators have weighed into the plant-based milk debate in a vote that was hailed by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF)?as ?the strongest statement yet that the abuse of dairy terms has gone too far,“?but dismissed as unhelpful by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA).” – Link

Activists claim that without long-term studies, GMOs cannot be considered safe: What does science say? -?Genetic Literacy Project -?

“There have been more than a?thousand studies, most of them by independent researchers, documenting the safety of GMOs.” – Link

Fake news is nothing new: 6 pseudo-news websites have colored GMO debate for years -?Genetic Literacy Project – By?

“Some of these sites focus directly on GMOs, while others provide a forum for selling products, and still others take a broad stroke on a number of environmental and health issues.” – Link

Agriculture is changing, regulations need to keep pace – The Hill – By Margaret M. Zeigler (May 23)

“…it is especially important that government regulatory systems help foster productivity and innovation while avoiding unnecessary costs, delays and burdens to the agriculture sector.” – Link

Reasons for buying free-range eggs: Assumptions turned upside-down?- Food Navigator Asia – By RJ Whitehead (May 24)

“The decision to choose free-range is more likely to be based on a perception that the eggs are more nutritious than concern for the welfare of the chickens that laid them.” – Link

Risky move? Inside look at why Russia has turned against GMOs -?Genetic Literacy Project – By??

“Today?s Russian government doesn?t include an agency as influential and sophisticated as the FDA. According to Volchkov,?As soon as GMO products appeared, the government realized it had to regulate it. It wasn?t clear what they had to do.? – Link

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