The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Monsanto Announces 'Global Center' for Developing GMO Corn
Monsanto announced this week that it is opening a new facility in Mexico to research and develop new hybrid types of corn resistant to disease and climate conditions. On the other side of the globe, the Chinese government has launched a media campaign on TV, in newspapers and on the Internet to convince a skeptical population that GMOs are beneficial.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
While the Chinese government has long been pro-GMO and sees these crops as the key to feeding its large population, the public has been less than receptive. China imports millions of tons of GMO soybeans each year to feed pigs and make vegetable oil but has yet to cultivate its own GMOs. Scientific American reports that while the country has poured money into developing GMO varieties of corn and rice, they never went into production due in part to opposition and their safety certificates, issued in 2009, expired last month. The Chinese military banned GMOs from its food supply chain last spring.
The government's case wasn't helped when an unapproved GMO corn was found in shipments from the U.S. late last year. According to the Wall Street Journal, huge multinational commodity trader Cargill filed a lawsuit last month against seed-maker Syngenta, saying that Syngenta's push to sell the unapproved seeds cost Cargill $90 million. An unapproved genetically modified strain was found by Greenpeace China activists in samples of rice purchased at a supermarket in Wuhan last year; tests commissioned by state television repeated the experiment this summer and found more samples of the illegal rice.
Reception to GMO crops isn't any warmer in Mexico, where Monsanto plans to open a research facility dubbed a "global center" to develop GMO seed corn primarily for sale in the U.S. In doing so, it painted itself as a climate hero.
"The aim is to create new varieties tolerant to diseases and the stresses that affect maize cultivation all over the world due to growing negative conditions caused by global climate change," Monsanto said in a statement.
Last year, in response to a lawsuit filed by community organization Acción Colectiva, a federal judge in Mexico City issued a temporary order stopping the Mexican government from issuing new GMO corn permits. The activists said it would contaminate native corn and undermine its biodiversity. When it was upheld on appeal, Monsanto filed a request in April to remove the judge, saying he was biased. The ban is still in effect.
Update: While the initial reports from Reuters, picked up in several business publications including the St. Louis Business Journal, said Monsanto's global center would research and develop GMO varieties of corn, the company says that in fact it will be working on more disease- and climate-tolerant conventional hybrids. Reuters has updated its story.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.
By Kristin Ohlson
From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."
By Grace Francese
Outbreaks of potentially toxic algae are fouling lakes, rivers and other bodies of water across the U.S. Nationally, news reports of algae outbreaks have been on the rise since 2010.