New report shows farmers disapprove of Bayer-Monsanto merger

A new poll and report from the Konkurrenz Group found that the vast majority of farmers disapprove of the proposed merger between Bayer and Monsanto. Nearly a thousand farmers, from 48 states, responded to the poll.

A seed movement sprouts within the food movement

Celebrated New York chef Ban Barber is launching a seed company that unites the interests of chefs with the capabilities of plant breeders, reports the Washington Post in a story produced in partnership with FERN. Row 7 Seed Co "hopes to develop new varieties driven by flavor and nutrition that have a chance to make it in the wider marketplace."

Hey, check out the seeds at the Tucson library

The Pima County Public Library system was one of the first in the nation in 2012 when it began to circulate seeds, says High Country News, an approach patterned on the traditional lending library that makes available to readers. "Aspiring gardeners can look up varieties electronically, put seeds on reserve and check out 10 packs at a time."

Syrian seeds shake up Europe’s plant patent regime

Salvatore Ceccarelli knew he was engaging in a subversive act when, in 2010, he took two twenty kilo sacks of bread and durum wheat seeds from a seed bank outside of Aleppo, Syria and brought them to Italy during a visit back to his home country. Now, seven years later, those seeds from the Fertile Crescent, the birthplace of domesticated agriculture, with thousands of years of evolution behind them, are poised to challenge the system of plant patenting in Europe, and, soon enough perhaps, the United States.

Twenty-nine states make it illegal for counties and cities to pass seed laws [UPDATE]

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)

Neonic pesticides keep wild bees from laying eggs, says study

Wild bumblebee queens exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides were 26 percent less likely to lay eggs than unexposed queens, says a study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Biggest farm equipment maker also is a large farm lender

"Nothing runs like a Deere," according to an old tagline for the world's largest farm equipment maker, and nothing lends like a Deere, either, says the Wall Street Journal. The company, which lends billions of dollars to farmers who buy its equipment, "is providing more short-term credit for crop supplies such as seeds, chemicals and fertilizer, making it the No. 5 agricultural lender."

A battle over seed royalties roils India and Monsanto

A groundswell of Hindu nationalism has inspired resistance in India to foreign influence and large multinationals, such as Monsanto, says Reuters in describing corporate battle that has disrupted the country's seed industry. Monsanto has withdrawn its application to sell a new generation of GE cotton seed in India, which recently became the largest cotton grower in the world.

Hawaii nixes tougher pesticide regulations

Hawaiian lawmakers killed a bill that would have required agribusiness companies like Monsanto and Syngenta to notify nearby residents before spraying pesticides, says Civil Beat. “Reporting provisions requiring notifications for each application would be very onerous and difficult to carry out,” testified Warren Mayberry, DuPont Pioneer’s senior manager of government affairs.

Will ChemChina claim immunity against U.S. lawsuits?

With state-owned ChemChina prepared to take over Syngenta, one of the largest seed companies in the world, Senate Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley wants to know if the Chinese company would invoke sovereign immunity against lawsuits in U.S. courts. "If they fail to answer my questions, it ought to raise a big red flag with our regulators checking the antitrust laws against the mergers," Grassley told reporters according to DTN.