Thursday, July 31, 2014


Chinese farmerChinese GMO Research Outpaces Approvals

The fact that China hasn’t approved of any commercial GMO planting since 2009 reflects public fears.
Despite recent research advances, such as a new strain of wheat that resists destructive mildew (see “Chinese Researchers Stop Wheat Disease with Gene Editing”), commercial planting of genetically modified food crops has stalled in China, the world’s most populous nation and one with a fast-tightening food supply.

In 2009, the nation’s Ministry of Agriculture issued a so-called safety certificate to two strains of insect-resistant rice, known as Bt rice, pioneered by Qifa Zhang, a scientist at Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan. The ministry also approved a type of corn that helps livestock digest phosphates.

Prior to that, a few minor crop varieties were approved for commercial planting. But to date only nonfood crops, an insect-resistant cotton and a virus-resistant papaya, have been commercially planted on a large scale in China.
The rice approval seemed to have hit a public nerve. Rumors spread on social media chat rooms of claimed health and environmental dangers of homegrown GMOs and of the nation’s vast imports of GMO grains. (Military officials in one Chinese province even recently banned GMO-sourced cooking oil from troops’ food supply.) “We need the GMOs, but we face severe issues so far in China, meaning the public fears. This is a problem,” says Dafang Huang, former director of the Institute of Biotechnology within the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Meanwhile, the government is also trying to wean itself from imports by building its own GMO corn and soybean seed-producing capacity at state companies such as DBN, which runs a biotech center in Beijing.

Long-term food security trends are worrisome. China is home to 1.3 billion people. Its population is rising, its available arable land is slowly decreasing, and yield per acre has stayed essentially flat over the past decade. “It’s going to be hard to increase the food supply with the traditional crop technology,” adds Huang, who spent time planting wheat during the Cultural Revolution.

Against a nationalist and popular backlash, none of the modified rice is officially planted, though reports of illegal plantings abound. Strictly speaking, even though rice has a biosafety certificate, it needs a final step, called varietal trials. “For the varietal trials for all major crops except cotton, there are no government guidelines on how to do it. It seems the government is not in a rush. It probably has more challenging issues on its hands, so this is not one to deal with at the moment,” says Xing-Wang Deng, who heads a joint research center for plant molecular genetics and agricultural biotech at Peking University and Yale. Deng was one of the prominent experts China lured back to establish labs in China under a government plan called the “1,000 Talent Program.”

Despite the regulatory uncertainties, Chinese researchers have quintupled their output of plant science papers in the past decade amid annual funding increases that are the envy of counterparts in other nations. “We can do research—we have enough of financial support—but I don’t know if Chinese scientists can produce the product. The government should give us clearer guidelines or information on which direction we could go further,” says Caixia Gao, who heads a gene-editing research group at the State Key Laboratory of Plant Cell and Chromosome Engineering at the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology in Beijing.

Gao cowrote a recent paper on how to confer mildew resistance in wheat using new genome-editing methods. The trick avoids creating transgenic crops because it doesn’t involve inserting genes from other organisms. As such she hopes the technology can sidestep much of the controversy surrounding transgenic crops.

These recent advances in the lab—plus the certainty of future food supply pressures—could quickly turn things around, Huang adds. “I am cautiously optimistic about the GMO development in China,” he says.

And if China decides to open the doors to new commercial plantings, the impact could be vast. The country’s size guarantees that any action will reverberate in global markets and research labs. “What we can do is just wait for approval from the government. And probably we can do more research work,” says Huang.

Some research has shown big benefits in China from the planting of pest-resistant cotton, which produces a substance toxic to a major pest, the bollworm. Bollworm populations have been sharply reduced not only in cotton by in nearby nontransgenic crops including corn, peanuts, and soybeans, cutting the need for pesticides while not affecting beneficial insects. But the news is not all good; a secondary pest not sensitive to the toxin has become more prevalent, suggesting that GMOs are no panacea.



Reuters/Ueslei MarcelinoBrazilian farmers demand Monsanto refund their money for GMO crops that don't work

Published time: July 30, 2014 20:53
Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino
Brazilian farmers are asking Monsanto and other producers of pest-resistant corn seeds to reimburse them for money spent on additional pesticides when the bugs killed the crops instead of dying themselves.

The so-called BT corn seeds are genetically modified to produce an insecticide that will kill the corn leafworm (also known as the southern grassworm). After the insect eats the corn, the toxin inside paralyzes the insect’s digestive system, forming a hole in the gut wall. This forces the bug to stop eating within a few hours, and subsequently starve to death, according to a Colorado State University fact sheet. The GMO seeds are produced by four major manufacturers: Dow Agrosciences, DuPont, Monsanto and Sygenta AG.

In Brazil, however, the farmers say that the seeds did not deliver as promised.
"The caterpillars should die if they eat the corn, but since they didn't die this year producers had to spend on average 120 reais ($54) per hectare ... at a time that corn prices are terrible," Ricardo Tomczyk, president of Aprosoja farm lobby in Mato Grosso state, said in a statement.
The farmers, who are represented by Association of Soybean and Corn Producers of the Mato Grosso region (Aprosoja-MT) in their battle against the agricultural giants, had to spray up to three coats of additional pesticides after the scourge remained.

But Monsanto and the other seed companies are blaming the farmers, saying they warned them to plant the GMO seeds alongside conventional seeds to prevent bugs from mutating and developing resistance to the toxic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) protein that makes the pesticide effective.

The same mutation and resistance occurred in the US, beginning in 2009. Researchers, led by Aaron Gassmann, an entomologist at Iowa State University, found that GMO corn ‒ specifically two of the three types of Bt corn ‒ is no longer as efficient at killing the bugs. The resistance arose quickly, due to some extent, to farmers avoiding the simple, but profit-cutting precaution of crop rotation. The scientists published their paper online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in March.

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Large-scale farming in the bug-ridden tropics has always been a challenge, Reuters reported. In Brazil, the dependence on the GMO seeds have left the agricultural industry vulnerable to pest outbreaks and increasingly reliant on the use of toxic chemicals to battle them. Tomczyk, speaking on behalf of the farmers, said that farming with conventional seeds is not a viable option for those Aprosoja-MT represents.

"There are barely any non-GMO seeds available ... it is very uncomfortable that the companies are blaming the farmers," Tomczyk said. It doesn’t help that the four agro companies didn’t give clear instructions to the farmers, he added. Aprosoja hopes to reach a negotiated agreement with the seed companies, but if all else fails farmers may sue to get reparations for pesticide costs, according to Tomczyk.
“Monsanto, et al are unlikely to accommodate the farmers,” according to an article by Instead, their response is likely to be further seed modifications and increased use of pesticides that these companies also produce, regardless of environmental or financial impact..

“Industry tries to tackle this issue by commercialization of so called ‘stacked events’ that produce several different Bt toxins,”GM Watch wrote. “The best known example is Monsanto's SmartStax maize that produces six different Bt toxins.”

Previously, 5 million Brazilian soybean farmers sued US-based Monsanto, claiming the genetic-engineering company was collecting royalties on crops it unfairly claims as its own. In 2012, the Brazilian court ruled in favor of the Brazilian farmers, saying Monsanto owes them at least US $2 billion paid since 2004. The biotech giant promised to appeal, and reached an agreement with the farmers last August to end the litigation, Reuters reported at the time.
In exchange for dropping the suit, Monsanto agreed to lower the price on a new type of genetically modified soybean ‒ not the older RR1 version the case was based on ‒ that the farmers were encouraged to purchase and plant in eight percent of Brazilian fields. Aprosoja represented the plaintiffs in that case as well.

But in October, a judge in that country blocked Monsanto’s attempt to make farmers sign restrictive agreements before being able to purchase the new RR2 Intacta soybean seeds. In December, the soybean farmers again sued the GMO company for about US $1 billion for illegally collecting royalties on the old RR1 seeds and forcing the Brazilians to sign “abusive” purchase contracts for the new ones, according to Sustainable Pulse.

Brazil is harvesting its second of two annual corn crops and expects to produce 78 million tonnes this crop year, slightly less than last season's record. Domestic prices recently fell to their lowest in four years because of abundant supplies, Reuters reported.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


UPDATE 1-Brazil farmers say GMO corn no longer resistant to pests

Mon Jul 28, 2014 6:57pm EDT

(Adds Monsanto statement)
By Caroline Stauffer
(Reuters) - Genetically modified corn seeds are no longer protecting Brazilian farmers from voracious tropical bugs, increasing costs as producers turn to pesticides, a farm group said on Monday.

Producers want four major manufacturers of so-called BT corn seeds to reimburse them for the cost of spraying up to three coats of pesticides this year, said Ricardo Tomczyk, president of Aprosoja farm lobby in Mato Grosso state.

"The caterpillars should die if they eat the corn, but since they didn't die this year producers had to spend on average 120 reais ($54) per hectare ... at a time that corn prices are terrible," he said.

Large-scale farming in the bug-ridden tropics has always been a challenge, and now Brazil's government is concerned that planting the same crops repeatedly with the same seed technologies has left the agricultural superpower vulnerable to pest outbreaks and dependent on toxic chemicals.

Experts in the United States have also warned about corn production prospects because of a growing bug resistance to genetically modified corn. Researchers in Iowa found significant damage from rootworms in corn fields last year.

In Brazil, the main corn culprit is Spodoptera frugiperda, also known as the corn leafworm or southern grassworm.

Seed companies say they warned Brazilian farmers to plant part of their corn fields with conventional seeds to prevent bugs from mutating and developing resistance to GMO seeds.
Dow Agrosciences, a division of Dow Chemical Co, has programs in Brazil to help corn farmers develop "an integrated pest management system that includes, among other things, the cultivation of refuge areas," it said in an email.

Another company, DuPont, said it had not received any formal notification from Aprosoja. The company's Pioneer brand has been working with producers to extend the durability of its seed technology and improve efficiency since Spodoptera worms were found to have developed resistance to the Cry1F protein, it said in a statement.

Monsanto Co also said in a statement that it has not been formally notified by the group. The other company, Syngenta AG, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tomczyk, who also spoke for Brazilian farmers during a dispute over seed royalty payments to Monsanto that ended last year, said Aprosoja encouraged the planting of refuge areas. But he said the seed companies have not given clear instructions.

"There are barely any non-GMO seeds available ... it is very uncomfortable that the companies are blaming the farmers," he said. Aprosoja hopes to reach a negotiated agreement with the seed companies, but if all else fails farmers may sue to get reparations for pesticide costs, he added.

Brazil is harvesting its second of two annual corn crops and expects to produce 78 million tonnes this crop year, slightly less than last season's record. Domestic prices recently fell to their lowest in four years because of abundant supplies.
($1 = 2.223 reais) (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Steve Orlofsky)



Fight over labeling of genetically engineered food a focus in Kansas congressional race

WICHITA, Kansas — The debate over the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients has reached a congressional primary contest in south-central Kansas, and outside money is flowing into the heated race over the issue.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents Kansas, introduced federal legislation in April that would prohibit states from requiring mandatory labeling of bio-engineered foods. His legislation enjoys support among farm groups because the majority of the nation's corn and soybean crops are genetically engineered to resist insects and herbicides and the industry contends foods containing them are safe.

But challenger Todd Tiahrt, a former congressman, has made Pompeo's bill a campaign issue in the bruising primary challenge for the 4th District. Tiahrt gave up the House seat in 2010 for an unsuccessful GOP primary run for the U.S. Senate against Jerry Moran. Tiahrt wants his old job back and is arguing that Pompeo has sold out to big agricultural interests such as Monsanto rather than being responsive to consumers who want to know what is in the food their family eats.

Now, a flood of outside money from political action committees fixated on the topic is entering the fracas during the final days leading up to the Aug. 5 GOP primary.

A GOP primary race between "two very conservative men in the middle of the country" wasn't even on the radar of the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Food Policy Action until 10 days ago, when the group started noticing Tiahrt's comments in campaign debates and the press, said Claire Benjamin, the director of Food Policy Action.

The group said Tuesday it will spend $40,000 for digital advertising supporting Tiahrt's candidacy on social media outlets, including Facebook. The Kansas primary is the only primary contest into which it is putting its money, she said.

"This is really the first time we are seeing, in any state, food be potentially a deciding factor in an election," Benjamin said. "And that is really an important thing to note for us because we believe these are values issues and people want to vote on these issues."

Also just getting involved is Every Voice Action, a Washington, D.C.-based political action committee. It has begun airing television ads this week in Kansas supporting Tiahrt and has placed orders totaling more than $98,500 in television advertising.

Meanwhile, the American Chemical Council reported in a regulatory filing on Monday that it was spending $165,200 for advertising supporting Pompeo. Its website says the advertising is meant to compliment Pompeo for his support of policies that the group says grow the economy and support jobs.

Jim Richardson, Pompeo's campaign manager, said the congressman offered the labeling bill to help Kansas farmers and Kansas consumers.

"It ensures that Vermont and California can't dictate what type of crops Kansas farmers grow, and it keeps food prices low at the grocery store," Richardson said in an email.
But Tiahrt said Tuesday that his message is resonating with voters on the campaign trail in Kansas.

"Moms want to know what is in their kids' foods. People want to know," Tiahrt said. "They are upset that someone wants to withhold information from them. They don't think that is the role of the federal government."

Pompeo's bill also contains "massive regulations" on the natural foods industry that prohibit them from even implying natural foods are safer than bioengineered foods, Tiarht said.
Kansas farm groups contend they do not oppose labeling for genetically engineered foods but say they want any laws to be consistent across the country instead of a patchwork of state regulations.

"Political campaigns bring out different things, but candidates need to focus on what is good for Kansas," said Tom Tunnell, executive director of the Kansas Feed and Grain Association.
No mainstream science has shown bioengineered foods to be unsafe. But opponents say not enough testing has been done.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Inside U.S. Trade - 07/25/2014
Under Industry Pressure In TTIP, EU Weighs Shift On Pesticides Regulation
Posted: July 24, 2014
The European Commission is weighing whether to propose changing EU legislation governing the use of pesticides in a way that could make it easier for companies to market products containing substances that affect human hormones, which is a key demand by the crop protection industries on both sides of the Atlantic in U.S.-EU trade talks.
The commission is poised to initiate a public consultation -- expected in early September -- that will ask stakeholders to weigh in on several different options for how the EU's pesticide law could be modified as part of a larger effort to revamp EU rules on hormone-affecting substances called "endocrine disruptors."
One of the options proposed by the commission in a June 17 "roadmap" is to shift from the current EU approach of banning the use of all endocrine disruptors in pesticides toward a model that could allow them to be used as long as certain steps are taken to mitigate the risk.
This risk assessment-based model is favored by the U.S. and EU pesticide industries and is the approach employed under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program." Such a model seeks to evaluate both whether a hazard exists and if it can be mitigated by limiting exposure, in order to allow the marketing of an otherwise dangerous product.
But an EU official acknowledged that altering the pesticide law along these lines would require legislative action, meaning that any such changes would be months away at the earliest and entail a tough debate between the commission, EU member states and the European Parliament.
Environmental and public safety advocates have reacted with alarm to the roadmap, warning that the commission appears to be on track to water down critical safeguards. Industry lobbyists, meanwhile, argue that the roadmap overall appears skewed toward maintaining what they claim is a non-scientific and overly restrictive regulatory framework.
Getting the EU to move to a risk-assessment based model was a key recommendation made by CropLife America (CLA) and the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) in a March 10 joint submission to U.S. and EU negotiators for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) (Inside U.S. Trade, April 18). They urged the EU to make this change through the TTIP in order to avoid causing potential disruptions to trade in the future.
The June 17 roadmap is part of an effort by the commission to revamp the way endocrine disruptors areregulated in the EU by establishing the criteria for what constitutes an endocrine disruptor and by clarifying the regulatory consequences if a substance meets those criteria.
The European Commission currently does not have working criteria for what constitutes an endocrine disruptor, which has hobbled the effectiveness of existing EU law, sources on both sides of the debate say.
In addition, separate EU laws regulating different sectors impose different regulatory consequences on endocrine disruptors, which all sides acknowledge gives rise to inconsistency. For instance, endocrine disruptors are treated differently in EU laws governing pesticides, industrial chemicals, cosmetics and so-called biocides -- a category of products including fungicides and herbicides.
But how this should be addressed is hotly contested. The topic is controversial even between the European Commission's Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV) and Directorate-General for Health & Consumers (DG SANCO), who have joint jurisdiction over the issue, according to EU sources.
Environmental and public health advocates have called for criteria that capture substances that are known or potential endocrine disruptors, regardless of whether or not they demonstrate an immediate adverse effect; they also generally want existing laws to be left unchanged despite the inconsistencies between laws governing pesticides, biocides and cosmetics, for example. Some sources characterized DG ENV as leaning in favor of this approach.
But industry groups argue such an approach could potentially engulf a wide range of substances currently on the market and stifle innovation, without any benefit for consumer safety; they are urging the commission to narrowly tailor any restrictions based on whether a substance shows a clear adverse effect, and to determine whether limiting exposure can allow such a substance to continue to be used safely across all sectors.
Sources characterized DG SANCO, which regulates cosmetics and industrial chemicals, as falling more on this side of the debate and working actively to put its stamp on the language being used in the consultation process, which is being co-led by the two directorates general.
One EU official said an internal consultation between DG ENV, DG SANCO and other directorates with purview over the file -- including DG Trade -- is expected to be finalized by Sept. 5, following the August holidays. This official expected that the consultation would be launched the following week.
Pesticides are regulated in the EU by what is known as the Plant Protection Products Regulation (PPPR).The legislation, brought into force in 2011, includes provisions banning substances having "endocrine disrupting properties which may cause adverse effects" and directed the commission to identify criteria by the end of 2013.
The PPPR takes a hazard-based approach to endocrine disruptors, meaning that if a substance meets the criteria laid out, it is not allowed onto the market regardless of whether mitigating steps can be taken to limit exposure. This model is criticized as excessively restrictive and unscientific by the U.S. and EU pesticide industries, which prefer the risk-assessment based approach used in the United States.
The roadmap lays out three options for how the EU can move forward: make no change; introduce "further elements of risk assessment into sectorial legislation" like the PPPR; or introduce further socioeconomic considerations, including "risk-benefit" analysis.
The latter option refers to the idea that a substance could be approved even if it is detrimental to human health or safety in the event that those costs are outweighed by the broader socioeconomic gains. That could be the case, for instance, in the event of a pest infestation that threatened the food supply.
Clare Thorp, senior director for human health policy at CropLife America, said the European Commission's roadmap moves in a positive direction from a scientific perspective because it appears to indicate willingness to introduce some elements of risk assessment into the process. She added, however, that it remains "far from clear how the commission would implement this approach and whether it would really enable compounds which are not endocrine disruptors (with an adverse effect) to remain on the market."
"The EU is doing things that move in a much better direction, but it is ultimately trying to tweak a really problematic piece of legislation," she said, referring to the PPPR. "As the science has advanced, it is increasingly clear that implementing a hazard based approach to regulating certain pesticides is neither scientifically valid nor more protective of human health."
But Angeliki Lysimachou, a scientist at the Brussels office of the global Pesticide Action Network (PAN), argued in an interview that moving away from the hazard approach is problematic because endocrine disruptors have been shown to produce latent adverse effects that would be not immediately apparent through a standard risk assessment.
Lysimachou also noted that risk assessments do not typically factor in how a substance might affect a person during critical developmental phases, which is when she said exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals is potentially most harmful. In a statement on PAN's website reacting to the publication of the roadmap, she said "tiny exposures at the wrong moment in life may induce dramatic consequences: adverse sex organs development, impaired cognition, cancer, diabetes, obesity, etc."
Inside U.S. Trade - 07/25/2014, Vol. 32, No. 30 


Inside U.S. Trade - 07/25/2014
EU Lays Out 'Endocrine Disruptor' Criteria Options, Setting Stage For Fight
Posted: July 24, 2014
After months of delay, the European Commission late last month revealed the options it is weighing for how to define a class of substances known as "endocrine disruptors" that affect human hormones, initiating another round in a fight over an issue that U.S. pesticides and chemicals makers warn has major ramifications for transatlantic trade.
Depending on how EU regulators craft the definition, the term "endocrine disruptor" could sweep in dozens of products and subject them to marketing bans or other restrictions under European laws.
CropLife America, which represents pesticides makers, has warned that a broad definition could cause massive trade disruptions for major U.S. exports of agricultural goods because it would capture the insecticidal products with which crops like tree nuts, fruits, soybeans and peanuts are treated (Inside U.S. Trade, Nov. 15, 2013).
The commission is also considering proposing amendments to EU legislation known as the Plant Protection Products Regulation (PPPR) that would alter the consequences of a pesticide product being classified as an endocrine disruptor, although any such changes are unlikely in the near term (see related story).
The EU revealed the criteria options it is weighing in a June 17 "roadmap" on how it could move forward in regulating endocrine disruptors. The roadmap offers a preview of a questionnaire the commission is expected to issue in September seeking public comment on the best approach.
Under the PPPR and a separate law known as the Biocidal Products Regulation, which governs products like herbicides and fungicides also used on crops, the European Commission was supposed to issue criteria for what constitutes an "endocrine disruptor" by the end of 2013.
But after facing a huge industry outcry, the commission decided to hold off and initiate a public consultation period, in addition to conducting its own assessment of the impact of each possible option.
Since the PPPR's entry into force, the European Commission has relied upon "interim criteria" that identify substances as endocrine disruptors if they have a negative impact on reproductive capabilities. Scientific experts on both sides of the debate say that this approach is blunt and inaccurate because it focuses on adverse symptoms that may or may not be mediated through the endocrine system, and ignores the possibility that they are caused by other maladies.
The new roadmap lays out four options for how to define criteria going forward: leaving in place the current interim criteria; adopting a definition established by the World Health Organization's International Program on Chemical Safety (IPCS); using an expanded adaptation of the WHO/IPCS definition; or conversely tweaking the WHO/IPCS definition in such a way that would further narrow the scope of affected products.
Generally speaking, the WHO/IPCS definition would only categorize a substance as an "endocrine disruptor" if there is concrete evidence that it produces an endocrine-mediated adverse effect. Non-governmental groups critical of the pesticides industry argue that this approach is not sufficiently precautionary, especially given continuing disagreement within the scientific community about how endocrine disruptors affect humans.
Angeliki Lysimachou, an expert on endocrine disruptors for Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, said in an interview with Inside U.S. Trade that she would prefer the expanded WHO/IPCS definition foreseen in the roadmap, which would create additional "categories" of endocrine disruptors.
Under this approach, substances with proven adverse effects along with "suspected" endocrine disruptors and "endocrine active" substances would all be captured, imposing restrictions on a broader range of products. The roadmap document, however, indicates that the commission foresees implementing differing degrees of restrictive measures depending on which category a substance falls into.
How the criteria are set will have broader ramifications beyond the pesticides industry. Other pieces of EU legislation governing biocides, cosmetics and industrial chemicals, for example, also place restrictions on substances identified as endocrine disruptors. The PPPR and the Biocidal Product Regulation uniquely required the commission to set criteria for what constitutes an endocrine disruptor, but the commission has said it will apply any criteria horizontally across all different pieces of relevant legislation.
This has especially alarmed the cosmetics industry because of a ban on animal testing it has faced since 2013 under the EU Cosmetics Regulation. Instead, cosmetics firms have to rely on "in vitro" tests -- essentially done on a collection of cells in a petri dish -- to test for potentially harmful effects.
But according to industry experts, determining whether something is an endocrine disruptor requires an analysis of how a substance interacts with a complete endocrine system and therefore cannot be assessed through in vitro testing.
The industry fears a definition that captures substances that do not have demonstrated adverse effects could potentially rope in a range of ingredients currently in use based on existing data, but without any way to prove that they do not have adverse effects. This would stigmatize those products and chill innovation of new ingredient, they argue.
In a February 2014 public submission to the European Commission on the issue, the industry group Cosmetics Europe called for the commission to adopt the WHO/IPCS definition and not broaden it to include other sub-categories. The commission roadmap also warns that because of the ban animal testing for cosmetics ingredients, an expanded WHO/IPCS definition could mean substances would be permanently listed as "endocrine active."
The Cosmetics Regulation, however, does not spell out specific restrictions related to endocrine disurptors, as the PPPR does. Instead, it states that when "[EU] or internationally agreed criteria for identifying substances with endocrine-disrupting properties are available, or at the latest on 11 January 2015, the Commission shall review this Regulation with regard to substances with endocrine-disrupting properties."
Inside U.S. Trade - 07/25/2014, Vol. 32, No. 30  


The Anti-Label Lobby - Industry Lobbying boils over in bid to block Labels for Genetically Engineered Food

Industry lobbying to block labels for genetically engineered food boils over

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
by Libby Foley, Policy Analyst
Companies and organizations opposed to labeling foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients disclosed $9 million in lobbying expenditures that made reference to GE labeling in the first quarter of 2014 – nearly as much as they spent in all of 2013.
The burst of lobbying by food and biotechnology companies was partly designed to muster Congressional support for legislation that would block states from requiring GE labeling on food packages. That bill, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act by advocates of GE labeling, was introduced on April 9 by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.).
In May, Vermont became the first state to enact legislation to require GE labeling, although industry has filed suit in an effort to block it. Connecticut and Maine have passed GE labeling laws that would go into effect if other northeastern states pass similar legislation.
Oregon and Colorado voters will consider GE labeling ballot initiatives this fall, and labeling bills have been introduced in 30 other states in 2013 and 2014.
Food and biotechnology companies and organizations disclosed $9.3 million in lobbying expenditures in 2013 that made reference to GE labeling and $9 million in the first quarter of 2014 alone. The forms cite lobbying on GE labeling as well as other policy issues.
In particular, the Grocery Manufacturers Association disclosed $1.2 million in lobbying expenditures that made reference to GE labeling in the first quarter of 2014. The Association’s member organizations separately disclosed another $4.3 million in lobbying expenditures that made reference to GE labeling in the first quarter, including $3.9 million by beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Food industry lobbying in Congress dwarfed that of supporters of GE labeling, who disclosed $1.6 million in lobbying expenditures that made reference to GE labeling in 2013 and just over $400,000 in the first quarter of this year – just one-eighth as much as the opponents. Advocates of GE labeling are supporting legislation introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (R-Ore.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) that would require GE labeling nationwide.
Several companies that produce genetically engineered seeds and herbicides – including Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow AgroSciences – did not report lobbying specifically on either piece of legislation on their 2013 disclosure forms or in the first quarter of 2014. Instead, their reports cited general advocacy on “biotechnology and biotech product issues,” “biotech innovation and regulation” and “biotechnology acceptance.” This language could easily include GE labeling, but that wouldn’t be obvious to the general public.
Lobbying expenditures for the second quarter of 2014 were due Monday (July 21), and the new data will be available by the end of July.

Food and biotechnology companies’ political action committees also reported giving $221,345 in campaign contributions to Pompeo and 22 of the 26 members of Congress who co-sponsored the DARK Act (as of July 9). Eight of them, including Pompeo, serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over GE labeling.
Pompeo was the second-largest recipient of these campaign contributions, and Monsanto’s own PAC was the most generous PAC contributor.

In addition to disclosing $18.4 million in lobbying expenditures that made reference to GE labeling in 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, GE labeling opponents spent $67.9 million to defeat ballot initiatives in California and Washington. EWG did not tally funds expended to lobby state legislatures.

The DARK Act would block any state from requiring GE labels on packaged foods. In addition, it would also allow foods containing genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled as “natural” and limit the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to mandate GE labeling nationally.
Instead, the DARK Act would codify existing FDA rules that permit voluntary GE and non-GE labels. To date, no food manufacturer has voluntarily disclosed the presence of GE ingredients in its products.
Americans overwhelmingly support the right to know whether there are genetically engineered ingredients in their food, and recent polls in Oregon and Colorado found that more than three-quarters of voters in those states feel the same way. 

Key Issues: