Friday, May 31, 2013

UPDATED--Japan Refuses to Buy U.S. Wheat Because of Monsanto (MON)

In the recently decided Bowman v Monsanto case the Supreme court basically said "You made it, you own it unto the Nth generation", a win for Monsanto.

Should wheat farmers suffer damages because one of the largest buyers of U.S. wheat doesn't want the stuff, the Bowman decision just might end up biting MON in the butt.
More after the jump.

From Reuters:

WRAPUP 1-US genetically modified wheat stokes fears, Japan cancels tender
*Japan cancels tender to purchase U.S. wheat
* Asian consumers jittery about gene-altered food imports
* Importers to seek details from U.S. government (Recasts with details, quotes)

A strain of genetically modified wheat found in the United States fuelled concerns over food supplies across Asia on Thursday, with major importer Japan cancelling a tender offer to buy U.S. grain.

Other top Asian wheat importers South Korea, China and the Philippines said they were closely monitoring the situation after the U.S. government found genetically engineered wheat sprouting on a farm in the state of Oregon.

The strain was never approved for sale or consumption.

Asian consumers are keenly sensitive to gene-altered food, with few countries allowing imports of such cereals for human consumption. However, most of the corn and soybean shipped from the U.S. and South America for animal feed is genetically modified.

"We will refrain from buying western white and feed wheat effective today," Toru Hisadome, a Japanese farm ministry official in charge of wheat trading, told Reuters.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday said the wheat variety was developed years ago by biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. It was never put into use because of worldwide opposition to genetically engineered wheat....MORE
Here's Mother Jones with some backround on what led to the Japanese decision:

Rogue Monsanto Wheat Sprouts in Oregon
One of the four major US crops—corn, soybeans, hay (alfalfa), and wheat—is not like the other.
For one, wheat is mainly consumed directly by people, while the others are mostly used as animal feed. Its status as people food—the stuff of bread, the staff of life—probably explains why wheat is different from the other three in another way: It's also the only one that genetically modified Monsanto hasn't turned into a cash cow. The company has made massive profits churning out corn, soy, and (most recently) alfalfa seeds genetically altered to withstand doses of its own herbicide, Roundup. But the company has never commercialized a GM wheat variety—and stopped trying back in 2004, largely because of consumer pushback against directly consuming a GM crop. And thank goodness, too, because Roundup Ready technology is now failing, giving rise to a plague of herbicide resistant weeds and a gusher of toxic herbicides.

Wheat's non-GMO status is why the Internet went berserk when the US Department of Agriculture revealed Wednesday that Roundup Ready wheat had sprouted up on a farm in Oregon. According to the USDA, a farmer discovered the plants growing in a place they shouldn't have been and tried unsuccessfully to kill them with Roundup. Oops. USDA testing confirmed that the rogue wheat was the same experimental Roundup Ready variety that Monsanto had last been approved to test in Oregon in 2001....MORE
In March the Senate passed a continuing resolution to fund the U.S. government through September.
Hidden in the CR was a bland little amendment that Monsanto thinks exempts it from judicial review of what they do. Critics call it The Monsanto Protection Act..

The only working farmer in the Senate, John Tester of Montana was furious and had some words for his colleagues prior to passage. From the Senator's Senate Homepage:
Tester slams ‘corporate giveaways’ in government funding bill
(U.S. SENATE) - Senator Jon Tester today called out the House of Representatives for slipping ‘corporate giveaways' into a must-pass government funding bill designed to keep the government running past March 27.

Tester slammed the inclusion of two provisions that will hurt family farmers and ranchers while benefitting large meatpacking corporations and companies that develop genetically-modified crops. Tester said backroom deals replaced open government and vowed to strip the provisions from the bill.

"Montanans elected me to the Senate to do away with shady backroom deals and to make government work better," said Tester, who has made improving government openness a hallmark of his time in the Senate. "These provisions are giveaways worth millions of dollars to a handful of the biggest corporations in this country and deserve no place in this bill."

Tester introduced two amendments to remove the controversial measures from the bill. The first provision gives large meatpacking corporations more power over the livestock market, while the second tells the U.S. Agriculture Department to ignore any judicial rulings that block the planting of crops that the court determines to be illegal.

Tester, speaking on the Senate floor, said the inclusion of the measures made a mockery out of "Sunshine Week" - when the federal government highlights the need for greater transparency and openness in government....MORE
So, for our long-suffering readers, just because we haven't written much about this stuff doesn't mean we haven't been following it.