EU Version – Superweeds: How Biotech Crops Bolster the Pesticide Industry



Genetically engineered (GE) crops — usually called “genetically modified” (GM) outside the U.S. — were first approved in the United States in the 1990s, and since then the United States has been the biggest global adopter of this technology. GE crops were supposed to improve yields, lower costs for farmers and reduce agriculture’s environmental impact. Yet nearly 20 years after their introduction, genetically engineered crops have not provided the benefits promised by the companies.



Food & Water Watch examined U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data to document the increased use of herbicides that has accompanied the adoption of herbicide-tolerant GE crops. Our analysis looks at the rapid proliferation of GE crops and affiliated pesticides in the United States and points out the interdependent relationship between these two industries that also fuels the crisis of weed resistance. Food & Water Watch evaluated data from the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds that reveal burgeoning herbicide- resistant weeds caused by the over-reliance on glyphosate for broad control of weeds. These data make it clear that the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds will not be solved with the intensified use of older, more toxic herbicides like 2,4-D and dicamba.

Learn more about superweeds in our new video:

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FDA Moves towards Approval of First Genetically Modified Food Animal Despite Strong Opposition and Questionable Research



Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Europe

Brussels and Washington, D.C.— “This may be the last Christmas you’ll want to serve salmon to your family. Today, despite insufficient testing and widespread opposition, AquaBounty’s genetically modified (GM) salmon took the final step towards becoming the first FDA-approved GM food animal. Today the United States Food and Drug Administration released its draft Environmental Assessment, clearing the way for this transgenic organism to be approved by the agency under its new animal drug approval process. Food & Water Europe is far from alone in condemning this historic decision – one that disregards numerous polls revealing that the vast majority of consumers oppose GE salmon. Over 40 members of Congress and scientists at other federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, have also voiced strong opposition to GE salmon, citing the lack of scientific rigor and expertise at the FDA.

“To add insult to injury, this product may be hitting the market without labelling in the U.S., meaning that concerned consumers who have demanded labelling will be unable to identify GM from non-GM salmon. Not only does this ignore their fundamental right to know what they are putting on their plates, it is simply bad for business, as many will avoid purchasing any salmon for fear it is genetically modified. How this avoidance will impact on EU producers, like those in Scotland, remains to be seen – GM crops have a long history of getting where they shouldn’t be, and now thanks to the FDA we will have to see if GM animals do, too.

“The FDA, which has been tasked with protecting consumer safety, failed to conduct the appropriate studies to determine if it is safe to eat or even if the fish can live up to AquaBounty’s claim of faster growth rates. And, by releasing an environmental assessment instead of a more thorough environmental impact statement, the FDA failed to fully consider the threat this controversial new fish could pose to wild fish populations.

“Congress can still keep FDA from unleashing this dangerous experiment. Bipartisan legislation would ban the commercialization of this controversial fish. Food & Water Europe will be examining legal options to force FDA to do a more thorough assessment of this new GE food animal. Although this latest FDA decision is a blow to consumer confidence, we encourage everyone to contact their MPs and MEPs to demand this reckless decision doesn’t lead to GM animals winding up in the European food chain.”

Food & Water Europe is the European program of Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization based in the United States that works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Contact: Eve Mitchell +44 (0)1381 610 740 [email protected]

Over 25,000 People Tell Ahold: Stop Misleading Consumers, Genetically Modified Toxic Soy is Not Responsible!



Photo opportunity: Public demonstration and petition handover

When: Thursday 9 Feb 2012, 12.30-13.30

Where: Amsterdam, Ahold CSR office, Piet Heinkade 167-173

On Thursday, 9 February multinational food retailer Ahold will receive the signatures of 26.000 people across Europe demanding an end to greenwash projects like the Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS). Hugo Byrnes, director of product integrity at Ahold and the company’s representative in the soy roundtable, is invited to accept the signatures at 13.00 in front of his office.

The petition was kicked off in six countries in 2011 and targeted supermarket chains and food companies around Europe like Ahold, Aldi, Arla, Carrefour, Colruyt, Coop, Delhaize, Marks & Spencer and Unilever. International environmental groups including Friends of the Earth International, Action Aid, Global Forest Coalition and Food & Water Europe supported the action.[1]

Tjerk Dalhuisen of campaign group says: “Europe imports 34 million tons of genetically modified (GM) soy every year, mainly to feed factory farmed animals. This system can never be called responsible and does not deserve a green label.”

“The criteria proposed by the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) do not guarantee any level of ‘responsibility’. Soy plantations can still expand at the expense of forests and small farms; large scale pesticide spraying on soy farms will continue to poison people and the environment.”[2]

Eve Mitchell of Food & Water Europe added, “Food & Water Europe is concerned that the EU continues to rely far too heavily on imported soya from highly GM damaging monocultures, including to fuel factory farming. We cannot continue to export our environmental and social damage in this way, and consumers have a right to see on food labels where this imported GM soya is being used as animal feed.”

The RTRS is an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund and the soy industry and companies with a vested interest in soy expansion such as the agribusiness and oil giants Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, BP and Shell. The Dutch food and animal feed industry are actively supporting the RTRS, and the Dutch government is providing financial support to the scheme in particular via the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).

The soy roundtable has faced strong opposition from civil society for years. Hundreds of organisations from Europe and South America have signed declarations against the RTRS.[3] WWF and the Dutch NGOs involved in the RTRS have been criticised by nine Belgian NGOs.[4] In April 2011 the German platform of environmental organisations DNR (Deutsche Naturschutzring) sent a letter to WWF and asked them to withdraw from the RTRS stating, “DNR cannot accept that WWF protects a failed system of agriculture and secures the profits of companies like Monsanto and BP.”[5] 

The soy that is being certified by the RTRS is mostly Monsanto’s RoundupReady GM soy, made resistant to Monsanto’s own herbicide Roundup based on glyphosate, which has been increasingly linked to serious health impacts on humans and wildlife.[6] Mixtures of pesticides are sprayed over large surfaces by airplane or large machines, causing severe health problems for the local population, pollution of water and damage to crops.

Hugo Byrnes on behalf of Ahold wrote in response to the petition that there are at present too few alternatives to soy imports. However, retailers like Ahold drive the use of soy by promoting cheap meat products. Instead, soy animal feed should be replaced by locally grown animal feed, and factory farming should be banned.

He also claimed that Ahold “does not intend to communicate the use of certified soy to consumers via packaging”, which shows once more that certified “responsible” soy has already failed as a brand.

Meike Vierstra (ASEED Europe) says: “Supermarkets that participate in this greenwash are making a big mistake. Consumers will understand that this label is misleading. We say to these companies: Don’t sell the lie.” 

For more information:

Eve Mitchell, Food & Water Europe

Phone: +44 (0)1381 610 740 email: [email protected]

Tjerk Dalhuisen,,

Mobile: +31 6 14699126, email: [email protected]

Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory

Mobile: +31-6 30285042, email: [email protected]

Meike Vierstra, ASEED Europe, Mobile: +31-6-5248 1471, e-mail: [email protected]

Notes to the editor:

[1] Petition text:
Support letter:

[2]More critical analysis on the RTRS criteria: Certified Responsible? GM Watch, CEO and Friends of the Earth, March 2011.

[3] Open Letter: Growing Opposition to Round Table on Responsible Soy. June 2010.

[4] Letter from Belgian NGOs: 

[5] Letter Deutsche Naturschutzring to WWF:

[6] Antoniou, M., Brack, P., Carrasco, A., Fagan, J., Habib, M., Kageyama, P., Leifert, C., Nodari, R., Pengue, W. 2010. GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?

Food & Water Europe is a program of Food & Water Watch, Inc., a non-profit consumer NGO based in Washington, D.C., working to ensure clean water and safe food in Europe and around the world. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

Biotech Diplomacy



Injecting the Corn to Create GMOsWhen you think of an embassy, you might think of diplomats dining with world leaders and consulate staffers assisting travelers who have lost their passports. Lately, however, ambassadors representing the United States have been carrying out a less traditional sort of mission in the European Union: promoting the interests of biotechnology companies and the genetically modified products they are attempting to sell around the world.