READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 18th…

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

New Report Supports GMO’s Amid Labeling Debate

A new report by the National Academies of Sciences released Tuesday concludes that genetically modified organisms cause no more health problems for people than other foods. Specifically, the report says there is “no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available genetically engineered crops and conventionally bred crops.” The 388-page report comes as lawmakers are still attempting to reach a compromise in the U.S. Senate to create a national standard for GMO labeling before Vermont’s mandatory labeling law starts in July. While members of the Senate Agriculture Committee are working out a compromise, the details have yet to be made public. The Senate failed to move forward on a voluntary labeling bill earlier this year. Among other things within Tuesday’s report, the researchers say the study found no evidence that the adoption of genetically engineered crops in the U.S. has increased the rate at which crop yields are rising. The report also found no conclusive evidence of relationships between genetically modified crops and environmental problems.

Broadcasters: Read all 388 pages here: http://www.nap.edu/read/23395/chapter/1

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USDA to Join Panel Reviewing ChemChina, Syngenta Deal

Sources tell Reuters USDA will take part in the U.S. panel that will review the ChemChina acquisition of Syngenta. State-owned ChemChina and Swiss-based Syngenta agreed to the $43 billion acquisition earlier this year. However, U.S. lawmakers want a review of the deal. Lawmakers also asked that USDA be part of the review so “the potential impact of the transaction on domestic food security could be better assessed.” USDA and Treasury Department officials have declined to respond or confirm that USDA will be part of the review by the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Syngenta said earlier this year it would make a voluntary filing with the committee for its deal with China’s state-owned firm “even though no obvious national security concerns were identified.” The ChemChina acquisition of Syngenta would be the largest foreign acquisition ever by a Chinese company.

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USDA Increases Sugar Allotment Quantity

USDA Tuesday announced an increase to the fiscal year 2016 Overall Allotment Quantity for domestic sugar. The move comes as sugar beet growers in the U.S. are expected to grow a record crop, despite a push against genetically modified sugar beets, bringing uncertainty to the sugar market. USDA charges the uncertainty is in part due to inaction on GMO labeling legislation and a lack of consumer information about genetic technology. As part of the announcement, USDA also reassigned some of the projected surplus sugar marketing allotments among processors and reallocated part of the surplus cane sugar marketing allotment to raw cane sugar imports. As per U.S. sugar policy, each year, USDA forecasts’ U.S. sugar consumption and decides whether to limit the amount that U.S. producers can market. At the same time, USDA allocates market share to 41 foreign countries based on U.S. import commitments in trade agreements. USDA has reassigned 500,000 short tons raw value of cane sector domestic supply shortfall to imports. The overall fiscal 2016 U.S. raw sugar tariff-rate quota is now 1.3 million short tons raw value.

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Industry Group Applauds Access to Taiwan for American Lamb Exports

The American Sheep Industry Association says the opening of Taiwan to American lamb products will provide long-term export growth. The Association’s President, Burton Pfliger (flig-er) of North Dakota, says opening the market provides an opportunity for high-quality cuts of American lamb that will command a premium in Taiwan. Earlier this week, USDA announced the approval of lamb products for export to Taiwan, a market closed for more than a decade to the sheep industry. U.S. lamb was collateral damage in several key markets, including Taiwan, following the first U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (in-sef-o-lop-athy), or BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease, in December 2003. Last year, Taiwan imported nearly 18,000 metric tons of lamb and sheep meat products, valued at more than $74 million. 

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Lawmaker Optimistic Regarding Lesser Prairie Chicken Delisting

Kansas Republican Senator Jerry Moran says he is cautiously optimistic regarding the fight against listing the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently announced it will not pursue an appeal of the federal court decision to vacate the threatened species listing. Kansas became center stage for the fight against listing the lesser prairie chicken. In a weekly newsletter, Moran says he is worried the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made a strategic decision to restart the listing process for the bird instead of continuing to fight a losing battle in court. Moran says “stakeholders in Kansas need certainty on the listing, adding that he asked the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding its future intentions on the listing. The bird’s population has increased near 50 percent since 2013 at the end of a multi-year drought. Moran says rainfall, plus locally-driven, voluntary conservation plans, are best suited to preserve and grow the population, “not more burdensome regulations from the federal government.”

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Midwest Farmers, Agronomist, Sue Monsanto Over Cancer Diagnosis 

Three farmers from Nebraska along with an agronomist, all diagnosed with cancer, have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto. The farmers allege that Monsanto mislead the public about the dangers of the world’s most widely used herbicide ingredient, glyphosate. The Lincoln Journal Star reports the lawsuit alleges Monsanto “concealed or systematically sought to discredit” research showing a link between the chemical and cancer. In March of last year, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer labeled glyphosate as a probable cause of cancer in humans and said it is most associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the same cancer the Nebraska farmers were diagnosed with. However, many further reports from the Unites States and the European Union discredit the IARC findings and say glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer in humans. Similar lawsuits have also been brought against Monsanto by agricultural workers in other states, including California and Delaware.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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