News & blogs

Filter the news by type

The Fight Over Mexico's GM Maize Contamination

Contaminated Corn and Tainted Tortillas: Genetic Pollution in Mexico's Centre of Maize Diversity

This week, Mexico's indigenous farmers and civil society organizations will meet in Mexico City (Jan. 23-24) to decide what to do about GM contamination in one of the world's mega-centres of agricultural biodiversity. Meanwhile, the scientific community is imploding with angst and accusations as the "Peers" of the Plant Realm squabble over the implications for global food security.

The ETC group (formerly RAFI) is releasing a new Communiqué today in an attempt to summarize the fractious scientific and political debate surrounding GM maize contamination in Mexico. The full text is available at www.etcgroup.org. The Communiqué is also a contribution to the Mexico City seminar of which ETC group is among the sponsoring organizations. For further background on the seminar, contact Silvia Ribeiro in Mexico City: silvia@etcgroup.org

Proctor's Gamble

Yellow Bean Patent Owner Sues 16 Farmers and Processors in US

How can monopoly patents threaten food security and the livelihoods of farmers? The controversial Enola bean patent demonstrates the abuses of intellectual property monopoly:

A US patent on a yellow bean variety has disrupted export markets for Mexican bean growers and is now wreaking havoc on small farmers and seed companies in the United States. The patent makes it illegal for unlicensed users in the United States to grow, sell, import, or use the proprietary yellow bean seeds.

Larry Proctor, the president of Pod-Ners seed company (Colorado, USA) and the owner of the controversial US patent on a yellow-colored bean variety, filed a lawsuit on 30 November 2001 against 16 small bean seed companies and farmers in Colorado, claiming that they are violating the patent by illegally growing and selling his yellow "Enola" bean. Proctor holds both a US Patent and a US Plant Variety Protection certificate on the Enola yellow bean.

Trick or Treaty? How the IU became an IOU

Is "The Law of the Seed" a White Elephant. Or the Mouse that could roar?

The first global accord of the 21st century, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, was adopted by consensus on November 3rd, 2001. After seven years of acrimonious debate, the convoluted text can't be read without recourse to the Rosetta Stone. Nevertheless, history will come to know it as "The Law of the Seed" - a signal step toward food sovereignty and justice. Today, the ETC group (formerly RAFI) is releasing its ETC Translator to help farmers and policy-makers decipher the accord. The 16-page report includes 11 cartoons of biocrat negotiators and a Global Governance Report scoring the 25 delegations and organizations that most influenced the outcome - for good or ill.

US Government's $2.5 Million Biopiracy Project in Mexico Cancelled

Victory for Indigenous Peoples in Chiapas

After two years of intense local opposition from indigenous peoples' organizations in Chiapas, Mexico, the US government-funded ICBG-Maya project aimed at the bioprospecting of Mayan medicinal plants and traditional knowledge has been "definitively cancelled" by the Project's Chiapas-based partner, ECOSUR - El Colegio de la Frontera Sur. The US government confirmed today that the ICBG-Maya Project has been terminated.

Thai-phoon in the rice bowl?

U.S. Acquisitionof aromatic Thai rice breaks trust, tramples farmers, threatens trade and seed treaty talks

However US scientists got hold of Thailand's billion dollar 'Jasmine' rice, the reality is that US national public research has the potential to destroy a vital export market for poor Asian farmers. That the invaluable germplasm may have been sent, improperly, by an international public science body dedicated to poverty eradication, raises tough questions about the role of the public sector in privatized science. Ironically, the very treaty that could help resolve these issues is endangered by this latest biopiracy. ETC Group draws out the international consequences.

HyPEing the Human Genome

The Dissent Disease

A new report by ETC Group argues that the pharmaceutical industry's major interest in "The Book of Life" and parallel advances in neurosciences lies in the development of new drugs and therapies that target "well people" rather than the ill. The study also shows that company strategies focusing on parents could eliminate the "different" in the human species in favour of a monocultural "norm." In addition, industry and government are exploring the potential to use the new genomics to monitor and control dissent.

RAFI becomes ETC Group

International Advocacy Group Changes Name, President, and Widens Agenda

ETC Group (pronounced etcetera) is the new name for the former Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI). The full legal name will be Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration . The official name change took place September 1st as the organization began its 16th year of activity.

Etcetera: We had hundreds of name suggestions, Pat Mooney, Executive Director reports, referring to the name contest launched on the RAFI website earlier this year. A surprisingly large percentage of the suggestions were actually complimentary, Hope Shand, Research Director, recalls. The most common suggestion was not to change our name at all. (The change was advised in order to secure the advocacy group s non-profit status in the United States. The ETC Group is incorporated both in Europe and in Canada, with headquarters in Winnipeg.

Terminator Takeover?

Will financial troubles put Delta & Pine Land on the auction block?

Delta & Pine Land, the maverick seed company that vows to commercialize the notorious Terminator technology, is in trouble. Delta & Pine Land announced (2001) that its president is quitting, the company will eliminate 7 percent of its work force and they are shutting down a facility in Arizona.

USDA Says Yes to Terminator

It's official. The US Department of Agriculture announced this week that it has concluded negotiations to license the notorious Terminator technology to its seed industry partner, Delta & Pine Land (D&PL). As a result of joint research, the USDA and D&PL are co-owners of three patents on the controversial technology that genetically modifies plants to produce sterile seeds, preventing farmers from re-using harvested seed. A licensing agreement establishes the terms and conditions under which a party can use a patented technology. Although many of the Gene Giants hold patents on Terminator technology, D&PL is the only company that has publicly declared its intention to commercialize Terminator seeds.

Rolling the Die in 'Sin City'

Self-proclaimed 'heroes' in Monte Carlo, the world's seed companies have bowed to U.S. pressure in Sun City, South Africa.

The world's leading seed trade association, ASSINSEL (International Association of Plant Breeders for the Protection of Plant Varieties, Nyon, Switzerland) may have succumbed to political pressure from the USA and four other OECD governments. The trade group has reversed its position in support of a new global treaty to safeguard the exchange of research seed for food security. The policy turnabout apparently came during the trade group's annual meeting in Sun City (popularly known as 'Sin City' because of its casinos). ASSINSEL is expected to tell governments at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome next Monday (June 25th) that it, '...does not support the current IU [International Undertaking, the treaty] text...'. The statement will come as a shock to European governments and to diplomats from Africa, Asia, and Latin America attending the Undertaking's final negotiating round June 25-30.

Pages

Subscribe to News & blogs