World in brief

Genetic modification

France bans GM corn

PARIS, France (Reuters) — France’s lower house of parliament has adopted a law that prohibits the cultivation of genetically modified corn, saying it poses a risk to the environment.

France adopted a decree last month to halt the planting of Monsanto’s insect-resistant MON810 corn, the only GM crop allowed for cultivation in the European Union.

The law also applies to any strain adopted at the EU level in the future, including another GM variety, Pioneer 1507, which was developed jointly by DuPont and Dow Chemical.

The EU executive could approve it later this year after 19 out of 28 member states failed to gather enough votes to block it.

The law adopted by the French National Assembly is similar to one rejected by the Senate in February when it was deemed unconstitutional.

The French government has opposed the growing of GM crops, citing public suspicion and protests by environmentalists.

Environment

UN urges faster climate change action

(Reuters) — Faster action is needed to keep global warming to agreed limits, says a United Nations report.

Delays until 2030 could force reliance on technologies to extract greenhouse gases from the air, it added.

The study, drawing on the work of more than 1,000 experts, said a shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy such as wind, solar and nuclear power was affordable and would shave only.06 of a percentage point per year off world economic growth.

Markets

China slows soybean imports

SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) — Chinese soybean imports will drop because processors cannot cover their costs now that a bird flu outbreak has sapped demand for the animal feed ingredient.

The country typically buys 60 percent of the world oilseed trade, but imports could fall below 15 million tones in the third quarter from 18.25 million in the same period last year, traders and industry officials said.

It would likely cap a rally in global prices because it would coincide with bumper supplies from Brazil and Argentina hitting the market.

Environment

Europe fights aliens

BRUSSELS (Reuters) — The European Parliament has backed a law to help keep alien species of plants and wildlife out of Europe and limit their spread in the event they do get in.

The new law seeks tougher border controls to introduce an early warning system and ensure rapid response and management of any invaders, such as tiger mosquitoes and demon shrimps.

Non-native plant and animal life are estimated to cost the European Union $16 billion a year in damage and control costs.

They compete with European species for food and disrupt their habitats. Some, such as Japanese knotweed, damage buildings. Others are a threat to human health.

Production

Co-ops revise German wheat forecast

HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) — Germany’s farm co-operatives expect this year’s wheat crop will fall one percent on the year to 24.74 million tonnes, a slight increase from their March forecast of 24.64 million tonnes.

The co-operatives predict that the country’s winter rapeseed crop will fall 3.9 percent on the year to 5.54 million tonnes, slightly down from 5.57 million tonnes previously forecast.

Germany is the European Union’s second largest wheat producer after France and the EU’s largest producer of rapeseed, which is the EU’s main oilseed for edible oil, margarine and biodiesel.

Disease

U.S. pork faces decline

(Reuters) — U.S. pork production is likely to decline two percent this year because of the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its monthly livestock outlook report.

Live hog prices were expected to increase as a result of the pig virus, the report said.

The U.S. hog herd was at 57.048 million head March 1, 3.7 percent lower than a year ago with losses largely attributed to PED, the USDA said.

PED was first confirmed in the United States last May. The virus has since spread to hog farms in 30 U.S. states, and industry analysts estimate six to seven million pigs have died in the country because of the virus.

The virus is also present on hog farms in four Canadian provinces and several areas in Mexico.

Grain handling

GrainCorp wins deregulation bid

SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) — Australia’s regulatory watchdog will reduce regulations at one of GrainCorp’s grain terminals after new rivals boosted competition.

The move will likely fuel speculation of a renewed bid for the company.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said new rivals meant GrainCorp’s terminal at Newcastle in New South Wales state was now operating at a disadvantage.

The commission’s decision to lighten regulations that govern access to users follows the opening of the Newcastle Agri Terminal, backed by Western Australian grain exporter CBH Group and commodity trader Glencore Xstrata.

GrainCorp spokesperson Angus Trigg welcomed the move but said many of the company’s ports were still constrained by regulations that did not apply to rivals.

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