Researchers develop bananas resistant to monster fungus

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.

Dicamba damage increases; retailers says it’s difficult to control

Most of the pesticide retailers who took part in an Illinois trade association poll reported damage from the weedkiller dicamba even when the weedkiller was sprayed in good conditions, says the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting (MCIR). Separately, the University of Missouri said the herbicide was blamed for damage to 3.6 million acres of soybeans as of Oct. 15, a 16 percent increase from its Aug 10 tally.

Americans less accepting of GMO food than GMO meds

Two Purdue researchers say Americans are far more skeptical of genetically engineered crops and livestock than a GMO solution to a health risk, such as the mosquito-spread Zika virus. A survey of 964 people found that 78 percent would support release of GMO mosquitoes to stop Zika while 44 percent would accept GMO livestock, 49 percent would accept GMO crops and 48 percent would accept GMO produce.

Lawsuit calls for USDA to release study on QR codes and GMO food labeling

The anti-GMO group Center for Food Safety filed suit against the USDA to force release of a study on the impact of using digital disclosures such as QR codes to identify foods made with GMO ingredients. "In the United States, there has never been a food labeling requirement met by QR codes," says the center, which prefers a written label on food packages.

Impossible Foods defends its plant-based burger

In a public letter, the chief executive officer of Impossible Foods defended the company’s methods of producing a popular plant-based burger that is designed to mimic meat. The method includes genetically engineering algae to produce a soy protein, which the FDA has said could raise allergen concerns.

AquaBounty notches first sale of its GMO salmon

In a transaction that was 25 years in the making, U.S.-based AquaBounty Technologies announced the sale of 10,000 pounds of its GMO salmon to customers in Canada, meaning "genetically engineered salmon has reached the dinner plate," says the journal Nature. "This is the first time that a genetically engineered animal has been sold for food on the open market."

For second time in a month, China approves U.S. GMO crop for import

China, the top customer for U.S. farm exports, is delivering on a promise to speed up review of import applications, part of the two nations' 100-day timetable for resolving trade issues. Its Agriculture Ministry approved import of an insect-resistant GMO corn strain by Syngenta and a glyphosate-tolerant GMO corn variety by Monsanto, the second time in a month that U.S. biotech strains have been cleared for import, said Reuters.

Arkansas panel approves fines up to $25,000 for dicamba misuse

The bicameral Arkansas Legislative Council approved an emergency rule allowing fines of up to $25,000 for "egregious" misuse of the weedkiller dicamba, the object of 550 complaints of crop damage, says KUAR-FM in Little Rock. The council, sometimes called the Legislature's most powerful committee because it oversees the executive branch of state government, is expected to decide on Friday whether to ban use of dicamba on cotton and soybeans for the rest of the growing season.

Farmworkers sue Monsanto in first-of-its-kind labor case

Two migrant farmworkers have filed a federal class action lawsuit against Monsanto, alleging that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Agricultural Workers Protection Act while the workers were employed in Monsanto’s GMO seed corn fields.

Arkansas a step closer to emergency ban on dicamba weedkiller

With more than 500 complaints of weedkiller misuse from Arkansas farmers, Gov. Asa Hutchinson approved an 120-day ban on use of the herbicide dicamba on row crops and forwarded the emergency step to the state's Legislative Council for a final decision. Hutchinson also assented to increasing the fine for egregious misuse of herbicides to a maximum of $25,000 and sent it to the council as well.