On Jan 10, 2017, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Monsanto Company (MON) to a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) from a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the White House Rural Council, in collaboration with Federal agencies and private-sector stakeholders, is announcing new efforts to expand and diversify the U.S. agriculture workforce. Agriculture and its related industries provide nearly 10 percent of U.S. employment, but the number of students graduating with degrees in agricultural fields is not meeting industry demand. Agricultural education needs to attract a diversity of students and keep pace with the increasingly complex nature of agricultural innovation needed to address global challenges. Falling behind in agriculture is a threat to national security and must be addressed as such. During the infamous Dust Bowl of the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote, “The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” This was not the first nor the last agricultural disaster to strike the United States. As recently as 1970, 80 percent of the U.S. corn crop was destroyed by disease in the span of just four months, creating a food security and national security crisis. Today, a new pathogen is threatening the U.S. citrus industry, with the University of Florida estimating a $900 million annual loss to the state each year already. Food challenges outside the United States can be similarly threatening. The 2011 “Arab Spring” that began in Egypt and Tunisia coincided with record high wheat prices caused by droughts in China and Russia, major wheat producing countries. The vulnerability of the food supply is an issue of national security; food insecurity and rising food prices are highly correlated with global civil unrest. In a two-year long fact-finding process—that included comments from scientists, educators, industry representatives, and advocates from Federal agencies, academia, and the private sector, compiled through meetings and submitted comments to a Request for Information in the Federal Register—OSTP determined two fundamental goals necessary to meet global workforce and food security challenges: Increase the number and diversity of agriculturally trained workers at all levels of education, taking into account specific program needs and current and future challenges and opportunities. Expand research and training in higher education in areas that are experiencing particularly serious workforce shortages and are central to meeting future needs. That is why today: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are announcing commitments that will expand and diversify the agriculture workforce; The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is releasing a report, prepared by the Science and Technology Policy Institute, on the state of the plant breeding research enterprise; and The National Science and Technology Council is announcing the chartering the Subcommittee on Food and Agriculture, which will coordinate food and agriculture science across the Federal government and develop recommendations for how to promote and support a diversity of stakeholders in rural and urban food production. In addition to building the diversity of the Federal workforce, today’s Federal actions will broaden and diversify the Nation’s agriculture workforce to the benefit of increased national, and global, security. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will increase its support for the 1890 National Program to ensure a scholarship at each of the Nation's 19 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This program provides funding for tuition, books, school fees, travel, and lodging to outstanding undergraduate students studying agriculture science or statistics at the 1890 Land-Grant Colleges and Universities or Tuskegee University, which represent the Nation's HBCUs.Specifically, USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS) will triple its investment in this program, representing more than half of the increase in support. Additionally, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will continue investing in graduate and post-graduate fellowships for food and agriculture research and agriculture curriculum development. The U.S. Forest Service (FS), in collaboration with the Americas for Conservation and the Arts, a Latina-founded and operated non-profit organization, and the Green Amigos Latino Legacy, expand the Woodsy Owl Conservation Corps to promote public awareness of opportunities for conservation and land stewardship through educational programming and service learning efforts, focusing primarily on underserved, urban youth with a strong emphasis on Latino youth. USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) will continue to invest in the Ag Econ Scholars program that introduces talented Master’s and Ph.D students to careers in applied agricultural economics through hands-on learning opportunities at USDA in commodity market analysis, agricultural finance and other applied fields of economics. USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS), in October, will launch a new Student and Outreach Database to identify the number of students and post-doctoral fellows training at and visiting any of ARS’s more than 90 agriculture research facilities. The USDA Science Council will coordinate with the National Science Foundation (NSF) will create opportunities for NSF-funded Ph.D. students at USDA research facilities through a new Graduate Research Internships Program. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will continue to invest in the AgDiscovery Program, a free summer outreach program to help teenagers explore careers in plant and animal science, wildlife management and agribusiness at an increasing number of participating colleges and universities. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will add to USDA’s online resources for teachers and students with the launch a new FSA Kids Educational Site in 2017 to provide educators, children and teens with inspiring agriculture educational resources. The National Science Foundation (NSF) NSF’s Directorate for Biological Sciences expects to support a BIO Research Traineeship track in FY 2017 that will be coordinated with the NSF-wide Research Traineeship Program. It would include a topic with the scope to support training in the plant and microbial sciences under the general framework of Understanding the Rules of Life. The 2017 Budget proposes $2.8 million for BIO's contribution to the NSF-wide NRT program. The 2017 Budget proposes $4.0 million for NSF's Integrative Organismal Systems contribution to the National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI) Postdoctoral Research Fellowships Program, which is cosponsored by NSF, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Agricultural Research Service. NSF awards these fellowships to recent recipients of doctoral degrees for research and training in specific areas of need with the goal of developing the workforce in those areas. The fellowships encourage independence at an early stage of the research career to enable fellows to pursue research and training goals in the most appropriate research locations regardless of the availability of funding at that site. This commitment will lock in disciplines relevant to the National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI) as one of the focus areas for these research fellowships. Eligible areas include all genome-scale projects in plant genomics, with an emphasis on quantitative genetics, modern breeding approaches, and bioinformatics. To build on these Federal actions, OSTP issued a national call to action in January, and followed up in July, for private-sector commitments that would: Increase the number and diversity of agriculturally trained workers at all levels of education; and Expand research and training in higher education in areas that are experiencing particularly serious workforce shortages and are central to meeting future food needs. In response to this call, over seventy external organizations are today announcing new efforts to expand and diversify the agriculture workforce. These efforts include: Support for K-12 agriculture education and teacher training to inspire young people with the challenges and opportunities in agriculture. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf will proclaim the week of October 10-14, 2016 as Agriculture and Food Careers Week in Pennsylvania in recognition of the career pathways that lead to good jobs in agriculture production, food processing, food distribution, forestry and wood products, horticulture, and landscaping. The week will contain a number of events and announcements in support of the theme, including: Four National FFA Showcases in Lancaster, York, Lycoming, and Columbia Counties where best-of-class agriculture education programs will be recognized by visits from the Pennsylvania Secretaries of Agriculture and Education. The Cole Hammels Foundation will announce a $100,000 grant to the W.B. Saul High School of Agriculture Sciences in Philadelphia to repair the greenhouses that support the horticulture program at the high school. The Lancaster County Agriculture Council will announce a $500 pool of scholarship money for FFA students at the Lampeter-Strasburg High School. The PA Department of Agriculture will launch a social media campaign across its Facebook and Twitter accounts with an image series and blog posts focusing on agriculture education and career pathways for agriculture and food that will make this information more accessible than what is featured on its static webpages. The PA Secretary of Labor and Industry will announce the addition of careers in targeted agriculture industries to the High Priority Occupations List for the Commonwealth, which will make funding available for training through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The School District of Philadelphia will recognize the Fox Chase Elementary School as the only elementary school in the district that uses agriculture as the context for its curriculum, and other schools are expected to follow. Through a collaborative initiative between the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the PA Department of Labor and Industry, a new version of the PA Conservation Corps–the PA Outdoor Corp–will begin a new phase of its program which provides a focus on career pathways and entry-level skill development for 18-25 year olds. A partnership of the PA Department of Agriculture, the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the PA Department of Community and Economic Development will present the report of the Green Ribbon Commission to Governor Wolf on October 15, 2016. The report focuses on how to conserve forest land while increasing good paying jobs that depend on the forest. Archer Daniels Midland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have joined forces with 45 companies, government agencies, universities and not-for-profit organizations to form the Agriculture Diversity & Inclusion Roundtable, whose members will, this month, convene to present their three-year strategic plans for building a diverse and inclusive pipeline of talent and a competitive U.S. agriculture sector. Together, these organizations employ, enroll, represent or speak on behalf of about 30 million people. The member organizations are committed to sharing best practices, building awareness in grades K-12, creating greater access to ag opportunities for all students at the post-secondary level, connecting with students in urban areas, deepening collaborations among ag stakeholders, and promoting more effective funding platforms that consider diversity and inclusion requirements. Seed Your Future will invest more than $850,000 to promote careers in horticulture. A strong horticulture workforce is essential to protecting the food and water supply and maintaining a healthy environment, but few Americans know that this field of study offers fulfilling and respected careers. Seed Your Future, led by the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS, Alexandria, VA) and Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA), will begin by conducting research that assesses the perceptions of 7th through 10th graders, their parents, and teachers on horticulture and careers in horticulture. With this information, Seed Your Future will commit additional funding to develop an education, marketing, and advocacy campaign to increase awareness of horticultural careers through an educational, advocacy and marketing plan based on the research results. Horticulture industries will benefit from an increased pool of well-trained and educated students, who will find exciting and rewarding careers in horticulture. The National FFA Organization, Discovery Education and AgCareers.com have partnered to create AgExplorer. AgExplorer.com is a robust and comprehensive online career resource that will help students explore the broad range of careers in agriculture through access to educational requirements and links to current job openings through a partnership with AgCareers.com. AgExplorer features videos that highlight how an agricultural education and over a half dozen ag career pathways can solve the world’s global agricultural challenges. It also offers the Career Finder, an interactive assessment designed to help students find which of the 235 featured agriculture careers is the best fit. The CHS Foundation, DuPont Pioneer, and Growth Energy, as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, have pledged $625,000 to support the National Teach Ag Campaign’s efforts to recruit and retain high quality and diverse agriculture teachers. As part of the National Teach Ag Campaign initiative preservice agriculture teachers will be able to participate in a special professional development track at the upcoming National Association of Agricultural Educators convention in November. The National Teach Ag Campaign, an initiative of the National Council for Agricultural Education, led by the National Association of Agricultural Educators, just this September announced the preservice teacher institute track that will include professional development, networking, and mentorship. Additionally, in an effort to address the lack of diversity in the agriculture teacher profession, the National Teach Ag Campaign will develop a Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit with handouts, videos, and a research component to inspire a diverse group of educators who will, in turn, inspire the next generation of leaders, problem solvers, entrepreneurs, and agriculturalists. The Algae Foundation will commit $200,000 to develop and distribute algal-based STEM curricular kits for grades K-12 and formulate community college degrees in Algae Biology & Cultivation and Algae Biotechnology to engage and train a new workforce for algae farming. The Algae Foundation’s "K to Gray" approach for education promotes lifelong education and learning opportunities that will support a workforce of algae farmers, scientists, and entrepreneurs. Algae farming can significantly reduce greenhouse gases while providing a sustainable source of biomass for food, feed, and fuel for a growing population. The Algae Foundation commits to distributing 50 algae curriculum kits to grades 5-6 in the spring of 2017 to two pilot sites, one in the greater San Diego region and one in southwestern Michigan. An additional 200 kits targeted to elementary, middle, and high school students will be distributed nationwide in 2018, and 500 kits will be distributed in 2019 with the initiation of a national algal-based STEM teacher training program. Additionally, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Algae Foundation will develop two community college degrees in algae cultivation and biotechnology through the construction of six online courses supported by intensive, hands-on laboratory exercises. Celebrating five years of an employee-driven volunteer program supporting STEM outreach, Dow AgroSciences’ Science Ambassadors program commits to gearing its growth to further inspiring future plant breeders. The Science Ambassadors will double their impact numbers, reaching an additional half million students, and will increase their volunteer hours by 30 percent by the end of 2020. They will also place priority on engaging underrepresented communities in agricultural sciences by focusing 15 percent of the program’s new growth to supporting women, Hispanic, and African American populations. To achieve this, Dow AgroSciences will implement STEM outreach at more than 80 percent of all of its U.S. field stations by 2020. Additionally, it will implement one educator training opportunity each year through its Science Ambassadors, providing early and primary educators with project-based tools to present plant breeding and biotechnology demonstrations to students and community members, to increase learning and retention around agricultural sciences. Syngenta is announcing a new partnership with the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBFA) to improve the Syngenta Summer Fellowship program, aligning participants’ lesson plans with national standards to broaden their accessibility and ease of use. The Syngenta Summer Fellowship program is a two-week externship that immerses North Carolina STEM teachers into the world of agricultural biotechnology. Through its new partnership with AFBFA, Syngenta’s new fellowship program will enable participants to become more effective science and agriculture communicators. In addition, participants will apply their experiences in the collaborative development of school lesson plans, which, through the AFBFA partnership, will now align with national standards for broad distribution. Louisiana State University (LSU) will double its support for an LSU Governor's School for Agricultural Sciences. In 2016, LSU held a pilot program that invited 16 of Louisiana's academically talented high school seniors interested in agricultural sciences to the university for a five-day, residential educational experience. Next year, LSU will support 20 competitively selected scholars for a two-week program of college-level coursework in relevant content areas at no cost to them. The scholars also participate in field trips and industry tours, develop leadership skills by working with LSU College of Agriculture faculty and staff, and new this year, will collaborate on LSU faculty-led community service learning projects. Through the creation of a team capstone presentation, the scholars will investigate issues and propose solutions to challenges facing the agricultural workforce now and into the future. The Beaverton School District in Portland, Oregon, in partnership with Strata Farms LLC and Illumitex will provide funds, equipment, and expertise for Terra Nova High School to install an indoor vertical farm. The vertical farm system will not only supply greens to students all year round but will also be used as a laboratory to teach students about farming, food, and 21st Century agriculture. Terra Nova has converted its green space into a large outdoor garden, and hoop house and has already converted a classroom into a kitchen so that students can learn how to prepare the food they grow. This pilot program will inform future expansion of a vertical farming teaching system throughout the Beaverton School District. The committed investment from the partnership totals $5,000. Support for the technical training and capacity building needed for a host of important agriculture careers. Fair Trade Fisheries has raised over $1.2 million to develop Aquaculture.Info, a comprehensive, open-access aquaculture database with Google VR system simulations and computer based system simulations for a mid-2017 release. Aquaculture systems are a complex interaction of biological, physical, chemical, and economic factors. Open-access, interactive simulations will help new and experienced farmers better understand how these systems work, generating increased interest in the growing aquaculture industry which already provides more than 50 percent of the world’s seafood. PT Partners and Chestnut Hollow Farms will use a social entrepreneurship model to develop a hydroponic farm system to train and employ residents of the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut. PT Partners and Chestnut Hollow Farms partnered with the public housing residents of PT Barnum apartments, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Anaergia, an anaerobic bacterial digester facility contracted by the City of Bridgeport as part of its BeGreen 2020 initiative, and the City of Bridgeport to create a sustainable source of affordable fresh foods, beautify and revive a notorious brownfield, and provide local jobs to PT residents through a Host Community Benefit Agreement (HCBA). Chestnut Hollow will manage trainee positions and farming jobs for PT residents to build opportunities in the community. Chestnut Hollow is also collaborating with Anaergia to use byproducts of the digester process to provide heat and light to the farm; carbon dioxide; and a highly concentrated fertilizer. Penn State University and EPFL Switzerland will invest $250,000, doubling their investment to date, in PlantVillage, a free, web-based image database and knowledge library of crops and plant diseases. PlantVillage provides more than 100,000 open access images of more than 40 diseases on 30 crops. These images have facilitated the development of algorithms capable of accurately diagnosing diseases with above 95 percent accuracy. Such diagnostic tools support increased capacity for training in plant pathology where teaching resources are scarce. PlantVillage will use this new investment in part to develop similar disease diagnosis algorithms with over ten thousand images of cassava, a critical crop for global food security. Hunters Point Family and Our Foods are announcing a $235,000 investment by 50 Fund – the legacy fund of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee – to build The People's Harvest, an aquaponic produce farm in San Francisco's Bayview Hunters Point (BVHP) community. The People’s Harvest will address persistent unemployment for those with barriers to work, such as the formerly incarcerated, and will feature a six-month aquaponics apprenticeship-like program for an estimated 20 participants annually. In addition to jobs, the farm will also provide BVHP residents with free public education and food using a farming methodology that's 90 percent more water efficient and produces six times the yield per square foot of conventional farming. The education program will consist of free weekly "Aquaponics 101" courses. The farm itself will grow enough produce to support the weekly vegetable intake for an estimated 50 families. By focusing on jobs, education, and food, The People's Harvest will create a vital and diverse pipeline of individuals from under-resourced communities, and those traditionally residing in "food deserts", who will be knowledgeable about the benefits of aquaponics, consumers of its bounty, and able to implement this highly productive agricultural practice as hobbyists, employees, and entrepreneurs. Blue Planet +Plus will launch an online, open source website and manual with detailed instructions for building a hydroponic vertical farming rack system. This fall, Blue Planet +Plus Farm will launch an online, open source website and manual that anyone can use to build a hydroponic vertical farming rack system. +Plus Farm is a no-frills approach to vertical hydroponic agriculture that will enable other schools and entrepreneurs to take vertical farming into their own hands to build upon and improve its performance. The +Plus Farm is more than another DIY kit: the +Plus Farm is commercial vertical farming in its most raw form. This system has the potential to engender other new approaches to the challenge of urban and low-resource agriculture and inspire a new generation of young farmers. Grayson College will partner with Denison High School to offer dual-credit courses in viticulture for high school juniors and seniors. This new program will train 10 students in vineyard establishment, grapevine biology, fruit harvesting and vineyard maintenance such as pruning, fungicide application and irrigation, and enrollment is anticipated to double to 20 students next year. Grayson College and Denison High School joint-program students will gain valuable skills through immersive, hands-on training that can lead to immediate employment in the ever-growing Texas grape and wine industry. Through these dual-credit courses, students will contribute to the state's economy and may choose to continue their agriculture education by enrolling in a four-year university program. Investments in higher education that inspire undergraduates and train graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in food systems and agricultural science research. In the next five years, the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research (CPBR) will triple its diversity outreach through an Expanded Diversity in Agriculture Sciences Program (EDAS). CPBR estimates an initial investment of $300,000 for Years 1 and 2, $1.5 million for Years 3 to 5, and $6 million for the total project. EDAS will involve diversity managers from more than 20 member agribusiness companies, increasing the participation of diversity managers by 400 percent. Principal Investigators (PIs) of CPBR projects who are female and underrepresented minorities (URM)—163 PIs in all—will mentor female and URM students at secondary and college levels. Student candidates will be recruited through national Ag organizations such as FFA, 4-H, MANNRS, minority landowner organizations, Farm Bureaus, State commodity associations, the Cooperative Extension Service and other Ag groups. CPBR and EDAS will provide travel grants to female and URM students to present their Ag STEM interests and projects to a national audience of recruiters from research university Ag schools and agribusiness companies at a conference hosted by CPBR and EDAS a conference sponsored by private sector partners to which will be given travel grants. When at full capacity, EDAS will produce an anticipated 4 percent increase in national enrollment percentages of young women and minority students in Ag STEM fields. A collaboration between Yield10 Bioscience, the crop science program of Metabolix, Inc., and North Carolina State University, will supplement Federal awards with new investments of over $55,000 and $21,000, respectively, to conduct a series of field trials while providing STEM graduate students the opportunity to see their research move from the laboratory to the field. The field trials will analyze the yield impact of a series of novel yield traits in the industrial oilseed Camelina, developed by Metabolix and its academic partners, based on research funding targeting breakthrough crop yield technologies from the ARPA-E PETRO program. While developed initially in programs to increase biofuel production with Camelina, these traits have the potential to increase yield in major food and feed crops, which is aligned with Yield10’s mission to address global food security. These field trials highlight the commitment of Yield10 to leveraging academic and federal partnerships to support undergraduate and graduate level STEM research in agriculture at academic institutions, not only to carry out state of the art research projects to achieve step changes in seed yield, but to take successful developments forward to demonstrate commercial viability. The University of Michigan (UM) is investing more than $24,600 to develop new food systems courses and resources that will reach undergraduate and graduate students who may not have arrived on campus with a professed interest in food or agriculture. A Winter 2017 community-academic partnership course titled “Food Literacy for All” will be made possible with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an additional $24,600 from the UM College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) and the LSA Instructional Support Services. A Bicentennial Theme Semester course titled “University of Michigan and the Future of Food” will also be offered with support from a LSA Theme Semester grant. This fall, Iowa State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will break ground on a $2.5 million educational and training center in the Kamuli District of Uganda, in a region where Iowa State has been engaged in a multifaceted program of education and development for 12 years. The training center will be a resource for Iowa State undergraduate students and students from Uganda’s premier university, Makerere University, to apply science and technology to address complex problems associated with food security and poverty. Students will gain invaluable international and intercultural experience for their future careers. The project is made possible primarily through privately raised funds. The training center will have a capacity of 48 students from Iowa State and Makerere and 13 faculty leaders. The new training center will support communities in the Kamuli District to achieve resilient, sustainable rural livelihoods through the discovery and application of science-based and indigenous knowledge. The vision of the program is thriving rural communities that benefit from food and financial security, quality education and healthcare, civic participation, social inclusion, environmental stewardship and overall sustainable livelihoods. The University of North Carolina Wilmington and the University of Wisconsin-Madison will collaborate to develop a Graduate Student Mentoring Network. Its purpose is twofold: to allow students who attend various quantitative genetics conferences to connect with one another and with presenters who can serve as mentors, and to help students build a professional network of peers, mentors, and potential employers. Quantitative genetics is the foundation of breeding for improved livestock and crop varieties. The Network will work with 100 trainees in its first year, and the initial, in-person activities at the conferences will be extended with an online network for sharing career advice and useful resources. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) will partner with CHS, Inc. the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Missouri, Iowa State, Colorado State, Kansas State, South Dakota State, and University of Wyoming to sponsor 11 students to attend the NASDA Annual Meeting in 2016. NASDA’s expand and diversify its "NASDA's Next Generation Program" to cover the cost of hotel, travel, meeting registration and meals for 11 students to attend NASDA’s annual meeting. NASDA's Next Generation (NNG) will join with CHS, Inc. and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Missouri, Iowa State, Colorado State, Kansas State, South Dakota State and University of Wyoming to sponsor 11 students to attend the NASDA Annual Meeting in 2016. This initiative will continue to grow and aims to reach as many students as possible who are passionate about agriculture and public service careers. NNG is a unique, one of a kind experience for students to network and interact with leaders of state departments of agriculture.
Monsanto Company (MON) and a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company (DOW), Dow AgroSciences LLC, have signed a new agreement on the premium EXZACT technology platform.
The Dow Chemical Company's (DOW) fully-owned unit, Dow AgroSciences, and EPL Bio Analytical Services (EPL BAS) declared a license agreement granting EPL BAS access to patented intellectual property.
You've heard the mantra over and over - there are no safety concerns associated with genetically engineered crops. That refrain, music to agrichemical and biotech seed industry ears, has been sung repeatedly by U.S. lawmakers who have just passed a national law that allows companies to avoid stating on food packages if those products contain genetically engineered ingredients. Sen. Pat Roberts, who shepherded the law through the Senate, dismissed both consumer concerns and research that has fed fears about potential health risks related to genetically engineered crops, in lobbying on behalf of the bill. "Science has proven again and again that the use of agriculture biotechnology is 100 percent safe," Roberts declared on the Senate floor on July 7 before bill passed. The House then approved the measure on July 14 in a 306-117 vote. Under the new law, which now heads to President Obama's desk, state laws mandating GMO labeling are nullified, and food companies need not clearly tell consumers if foods contain genetically engineered ingredients; instead they can put codes or website addresses on products that consumers must access for the ingredient information. The law intentionally makes it difficult for consumers to gain the information. Lawmakers like Roberts say it's okay to cloud the issues for consumers because GMOs are so safe. But many consumers have fought for years for foods to be labeled for GMO content precisely because they do not accept the safety claims. Evidence of corporate influence over many in the scientific community who tout GMO safety has made it difficult for consumers to know who to trust and what to believe about GMOs. "The 'science' has become politicized and focused on serving markets," said Pamm Larry, director of the LabelGMOs consumer group. "The industry controls the narrative, at least at the political level." Larry and other pro-labeling groups say there are many studies indicating that GMOs can have harmful impacts. This week, the French newspaper Le Monde added fresh reason for skepticism about GMO safety claims when it unveiled details of University of Nebraska professor Richard Goodman's work to defend and promote GMO crops while Goodman was receiving funding from top global GMO crop developer Monsanto Co. and other biotech crop and chemical companies. Email communications obtained through Freedom of Information requests show Goodman consulting with Monsanto frequently on efforts to turn back mandatory GMO labeling efforts and mitigate GMO safety concerns as Goodman conducted "scientific outreach and consulting on GM safety" in the United States, Asia and the European Union. Goodman is but one of many public university scientists engaged in such work. Similar collaborations have been revealed recently involving public scientists at several universities, including the University of Florida and the University of Illinois. Cumulatively, the relationships underscore how Monsanto and other industry players exercise influence in the scientific arena of GMOs and pesticides to push points that protect their profits. In its examination of those concerns, the Le Monde article shines a light on how Goodman, who worked at Monsanto for seven years before moving to the public university in 2004, came to be named associate editor of the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) to oversee GMO-related research reports. Goodman's naming to the FCT editorial board came shortly after the journal angered Monsanto with the 2012 publication of a study by French biologist Gilles-Eric Séralini that found GMOs and Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide could trigger worrisome tumors in rats. After Goodman joined the FCT editorial board the journal retracted the study in 2013. (It was later republished in a separate journal.) Critics at the time alleged the retraction was tied to Goodman's appointment to the journal's editorial board. Goodman denied any involvement in the retraction, and resigned from FCT in January 2015. The Le Monde report cited email communications obtained by the U.S. consumer advocacy group U.S. Right to Know (which I work for). The emails obtained by the organization show Goodman communicating with Monsanto about how best to criticize the Séralini study shortly after it was released "pre-print" in September 2012. In a Sept. 19, 2012 email, Goodman wrote to Monsanto toxicologist Bruce Hammond: "When you guys have some talking points, or bullet analysis, I would appreciate it." Emails also show that FCT Editor in Chief Wallace Hayes said Goodman started serving as associate editor for FCT by Nov. 2, 2012, the same month the Séralini study was published in print, even though Goodman was later quoted saying that he was not asked to join FCT until January 2013. In that email, Hayes asked Monsanto's Hammond to act as a reviewer for certain manuscripts submitted to the journal. Hayes said the request for Hammond's help was also "on behalf of Professor Goodman." The email communications show numerous interactions between Monsanto officials and Goodman as Goodman worked to deflect various criticisms of GMOs. The emails cover a range of topics, including Goodman's request for Monsanto's input on a Sri Lankan study submitted to FCT; his opposition to another study that found harmful impacts from a Monsanto GMO corn; and project funding from Monsanto and other biotech crop companies that makes up roughly half of Goodman's salary. Indeed, an October 2012 email exchange shows that around the time Goodman was signing on to the FCT journal and criticizing the Seralini study, Goodman was also expressing concern to his industry funders about protecting his income stream as a "soft-money professor." In an October 6, 2014 email, Goodman wrote to Monsanto Food Safety Scientific Affairs Lead John Vicini to say that he was reviewing an "anti-paper" and hoped for some guidance. The paper in question cited a 2014 report from Sri Lanka about a "possible exposure/correlation and a proposed mechanism for glyphosate toxicity related to kidney disease." Glyphosate is the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and is used on Roundup Ready genetically engineered crops. The World Health Organization in 2015 said glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen after several scientific studies linked it to cancer. But Monsanto maintains glyphosate is safe. In the email to Vicini, Goodman said he did not have the expertise needed and asked for Monsanto to provide "some sound scientific arguments for why this is or is not plausible." The emails show other examples of Goodman's deference to Monsanto. As the Le Monde article points out, In May 2012, after the publication of certain comments by Goodman in an article on a website affiliate with the celebrity Oprah Winfrey, Goodman is confronted by a Monsanto official for "leaving a reader thinking that we really don't know enough about these products to say if they are 'safe.'" Goodman then wrote to individuals at Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, BASF and Dow and Bayer and apologized "to you and all of your companies," saying he was misquoted and misunderstood. Later in one July 30, 2012 email, Goodman notified officials at Monsanto, Bayer, DuPont, Syngenta and BASF that he has been asked to do an interview with National Public Radio about whether or not there is a relationship between GMO crops and increasing food allergies. In an Aug 1, 2012 reply, an official at Bayer offered him free "media training" before his interview. The emails also show Goodman's collaborative work with Monsanto to try to defeat GMO labeling efforts. In one October 25, 2014 email to Monsanto chief of global scientific affairs Eric Sachs and Vicini, Goodman suggests some "concepts and ideas" for advertisements that can educate "consumers/voters." He wrote that it was important to convey the "complexity of our food supplies" and how mandatory labeling could add to costs if companies responded by sourcing more non-GMO commodities. He wrote of the importance of conveying those ideas to the Senate and the House, and his hope that "the labeling campaigns fail." The emails also make clear that Goodman depends heavily on financial support from St. Louis-based Monsanto and other biotech agricultural companies who provide funding for an "Allergen Database" overseen by Goodman and run through the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at the University of Nebraska. A look at the sponsorship agreement for the allergen database for 2013 showed that each of six sponsoring companies were to pay roughly $51,000 for a total budget of $308,154 for that year. Each sponsor then can "contribute their knowledge to this important process," the agreement stated. From 2004-2015, along with Monsanto, the sponsoring companies included Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta, DuPont's Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Bayer CropScience and BASF. One 2012 invoice to Monsanto for the Food Allergen Database requested payment of $38,666.50. The purpose of the database is aimed at "assessing the safety of proteins that may be introduced into foods through genetic engineering or through food processing methods." The potential for unintended allergens in some genetically engineered foods is one of the common fears expressed by consumer groups and some health and medical experts. "The human health safety of GMOs is not proven, and certainly not proven 100%," said Ashley Koff, RD, a nutrition expert who favors mandatory GMO labeling. In comments on the House floor, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said the QR codes were a gift to a food industry seeking to hide information from consumers. The law is "not what's in the interest of the American consumer, but what a few special interests want," he said. "Every American has a fundamental right to know what's in the food they eat." Goodman, Monsanto and others in the biotech ag industry can celebrate their win in Congress but the new labeling law is likely to only breed more consumer skepticism about GMOs given the fact that it negates the type of transparency consumers seek - just a few simple words if a product is "made with genetic engineering." Hiding behind a QR code does not inspire confidence. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Dow Chemical has joined forces with the University of Warwick, UK, to discover unique traits of the important class of synthetic auxin herbicides.
Европейская комиссия, опасаясь тяжелой ситуации, которая может возникнуть в сельском хозяйстве, разрешила использовать в Европе глифосат еще в течение 18 месяцев. Разрешение на применение самого популярного гербицида истекает 30 июня. Контролирующие органы должны были вновь рассмотреть вопрос о выдаче разрешения, но на их мнение повлияли подозрения о том, что глифосат может быть причиной онкологических заболеваний. Теперь проверка безопасности глифосата может продлиться еще до декабря 2017 года. Все это время европейские фермеры смогут использовать его для борьбы с сорняками. О таком решении 28 июня сообщил на пресс-конференции комиссара по вопросам здравоохранения и безопасности пищевых продуктов Витенис Андрюкайтис. Ожидается, что 29 июня соответствующие документы будут опубликованы. Напомним, что глифосат используется для борьбы с сорняками с 1970-х годов. Сейчас это самый массовый гербицид в мире. Его химическое название – N-(фосфонометил)-глицин, торговая марка агрохимической компании Monsanto – Roundup, после истечения срока патентной защиты, он стал выпускаться различными производителями: Anhui Huaxing Chemical Industry Company, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Jiangsu Good Harvest-Weien Agrochemical Company, Nantong Jiangshan Agrochemical & Chemicals Co., Nufarm Limited, SinoHarvest, Syngenta и Zhejiang Xinan Chemical Industrial Group Company. Используются торговые названия нитосорг, интосорг, глифонин, глиалка, фосулен, цидокор, глицел, глитан, глисол, форсат, утал. Глифосат поглощается растениями преимущественно через листья. Следовательно, он эффективен только против растений в период вегетации и бесполезен для обработки полей до появления всходов сорняков. Глифосат ингибирует растительный фермент 5-енолпирувилшикимат-3-фосфат синтазу (EPSPS), участвующий в синтезе трех аминокислот: тирозина, триптофана и фенилаланина. Фермент работает в хлоропластах растений, хотя контролируется геном из ядреной ДНК. Особую популярность препарат получил после создания генетически модифицированных растений, которые устойчивы к его действию. Первым из них стала созданная компанией Monsanto соя (Roundup Ready soybean). К 2008 году 85% площадей, отданных под трансгенные культуры в мире, занимали гербицидоустойчивые растения, почти все из которых были резистентны к глифосату. Их создание стало возможным благодаря микроорганизмам, некоторые из которых имеют свою версию EPSPS, устойчивую к действию глифосата. Соответствующий ген был выделен из бактерии рода з Agrobacterium (штамм CP4 EPSPS) и использован в устойчивых к гербициду растениях. Современные европейские нормы применения глифосата разрешают вносить до 12 литров на гектар раствора концентрацией 360 граммов на литр. Такая доза препарата применяется для борьбы с многолетними сорняками, например, пыреем. Чаще вносится три литра для гектар, что достаточно против однолетних сорняков. Безопасность глифосата для людей вызывает споры до сих пор. В марте 2015 года в докладе Международного агентства по изучению рака (IARC), глифосат был объявлен «вероятным канцерогеном для человека». IARC разделяет химические соединения на пять типов: 1 – безусловно канцерогенные для человека; 2А – вероятно канцерогенные для человека; 2B – возможно канцерогенные для человека; 3 – неклассифицированные; 4 – вероятно неканцерогенные для человека. Резюме исследования было опубликовано в журнале The Lancet Oncology. Помимо глифосата такую оценку получили еще два гербицида: малатион и диазинон. Еще два препарата – тетрахлорвинфос и паратион – были названы «возможными канцерогенами для человека». В ответ на публикацию доклада директор по технологиям компании Monsanto Робб Фрэли немедленно обвинил IARC в выборочном использовании данных и заявил, что глифосат не вызывает вредных последствий для здоровья. В обзоре IARC отмечалось, что доказательства связи глифосата и заболеваний людей раком ограничены. Некоторые исследования показали, что люди, которые работают с гербицидом, подвержены повышенному риску неходжкинской лимфомы. Но в докладе также отмечается, что отдельное огромное исследование, проведенное в США – Agricultural Health Study – не обнаружило никакой связи препарата с неходжкинской лимфомой. В Agricultural Health Study исследовали здоровье тысяч фермеров, выявляя, увеличился ли у них риск развития рака. Поставить глифосат под подозрение заставили и другие доказательства, например, исследования на животных. Они показали его связь с опухолями у мышей и крыс. Также учитывались так называемые «механистические доказательства», такие как повреждение ДНК в клетках человека от воздействия глифосата. Ранее регулирующие органы объявили глифосат безопасным при правильном использовании, Европейское агентство по безопасности продуктов питания (European Food Safety Authority, EFSA) готовилось продлить разрешение на его применение в странах Евросоюза. В ноябре того же года EFSA опубликовало свой обзор, где отрицалось опасность гербицида. Противники глифосата начали выступления против выдачи очередной лицензии. В Брюсселе в мае и июне этого года неоднократно проходили демонстрации экологических активистов, петицию против глифосата подписали полтора миллиона человек. При первом голосовании 6 июня представителей стран Европейского Союза не было набрано необходимое большинство голосов для продления. Для ситуации с глифосатом важно, что методика работы IARC и EFSA значительно отличается. IARC стремится определить, имеет ли вещество канцерогенные свойства для человека, независимо от того, насколько велика вероятность, что оно действительно вызовет рак. Регулирующие органы, к которым относится EFSA, должны определить риск причинения вреда с учетом степени токсичности вещества, способа, которым оно попадает в организм, и его количества, достающегося на долю человека. Соответственно, препарат, который IARC считает канцерогенным, EFSA может счесть безопасным. Но в случае с глифосатом заявление IARC вызвало слишком бурную реакцию общественности, чтобы ее было возможно оставить без внимания. При этом следует учесть еще одно различие. Если IARC полагается только на публикации в рецензируемых научных изданиях, то рекомендации EFSA могут делаться и на основании неопубликованных и конфиденциальных исследований, в том числе тех, что проведены на деньги производителей гербицидов. Поэтому критики воспринимают эти данные весьма скептически. В ходе полемики за глифосат высказывались крупные сельхозпроизводители и, конечно, химические компании. Сторонники глифосата обращали внимание на недостаточную доказанность его канцерогенных свойств, а также предупреждали, что его запрет будет тяжелым ударом по сельскому хозяйству. Среди последствий называли рост цен на продукты питания, падение экспорта, снижение урожайности от 5 % (для рапса) до 40 % (для сахарной свеклы). 13 апреля была принята резолюция Европарламента, в которой Еврокомиссию призывали продлить лицензию глифосата не на семь – десять лет, как обычно, а на полтора года. Этот срок европарламентарии рекомендовали использовать для проведения новых исследований и создания обзора безопасности глифосата и рекомендаций по его применению. Резолюция Европарламента не имеет силы закона, но она явно повлияла на голосование стран-членов Евросоюза. Когда полностью продлить лицензию не удалось, в итоге был принят именно тот вариант решения проблемы, который рекомендовал Европарламент.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented Albemarle Corporation (ALB) with the 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award on Jun 13, 2016.
Dow Chemical (DOW) has announced the expansion of a research agreement with Radiant Genomics.
Ученые бьют тревогу, простым гражданам мало что известно, компании не торопятся ничего менять, а политики не в состоянии что-то сделать: борьба с распространившимися повсюду за полвека опасными веществами почти не продвигается вперед.