Researchers have developed the first genetically modified version of a Cavendish banana that is resistant to the devastating soil-borne fungus known as Panama disease. The fungus, or Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4), can stay in the soil for 40 years and doesn’t respond to chemical sprays. It has destroyed Cavendish — the main commercial banana variety — plantations around the world, and is fast spreading across Asia.
With little notice, more than two dozen state legislatures have passed “seed-preemption laws” designed to block counties and cities from adopting their own rules on the use of seeds, including bans on GMOs. Opponents say that there’s nothing more fundamental than a seed, and that now, in many parts of the country, decisions about what can be grown have been taken out of local control and put solely in the hands of the state. (No paywall)
U.S. officials repeatedly have prodded China for a faster and more open system for deciding whether to approve the import of new genetically engineered strains of crop. A U.S. business group says China is headed in the opposite direction by taking longer to approve a smaller number of GMO varieties — only one in 2016, reports Reuters.
Two decades after the first GMO crops were approved for cultivation, nearly half of U.S. cropland is planted with genetically engineered seeds, chiefly corn, soybeans and cotton. Farmers have greeted GE canola and sugarbeets with ardor, but alfalfa is the wallflower at the GMO party, says a USDA report.
In a victory for Monsanto, Syngenta and other seed companies farming in Hawaii, a federal appeals court ruled that counties can’t regulate pesticide use or GMO crops, says Civil Beat. “The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Friday that Hawaii state pesticide law is comprehensive, and that the Legislature intended it to be 'uniform and exclusive of additional, local rules.'”
Entomologists across the Midwest and South say a commonly used strategy to preserve the potency of GE corn that makes its own insect-repelling toxins, known as "refuge in a bag," "may actually increase the risk of Bt resistance in above-ground insects, particularly in the southern United States," reports DTN.
Bunge and Archer Daniels Midland, two of the largest grain processors in the country, say they will not accept delivery of a new genetically engineered soybean strain from Monsanto because of marketing questions, reported Bloomberg. The European Union has not approved the strain, called Roundup Ready 2 Xtend, for import.
Environmental and consumer groups made good on their pledge, issued last Nov. 19, to challenge in court the FDA's approval of the sale and consumption of the genetically engineered salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies.
The planting season has yet to begin, but "some elevators have begun alerting growers that they will not accept" soybeans grown from Monsanto's new genetically engineered strain, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend, unless the EU approves the variety, reports DTN.
In Boulder County, Colorado, county commissioners are slated to decide whether to ban GMO crops on publically-owned land, reports Harvest Public Media.