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January 10, 2006


E.U. orders Greece to lift ban on Monsanto corn seed; USDA lifts regulation on Monsanto GM corn; Biotechnology can help reduce nutritional deficiencies among the poor


Today in AgBioView from www.agbioworld.org: January 10, 2006

* E.U. orders Greece to lift ban on Monsanto corn seed
* China and GMOs 4: The Rules
* USDA lifts regulation on Monsanto GM corn
* Biotechnology research honored
* Biotechnology can help reduce nutritional deficiencies among the poor


E.U. orders Greece to lift ban on Monsanto corn seed

- Marketwatch.com, January 10, 2006

BRUSSELS (MarketWatch) -- The European Commission Monday ordered Greece to lift its ban on one type of U.S. biotech giant Monsanto Co.'s (MON) genetically modified corn seeds, according to a document obtained by Dow Jones Newswires.

No health or safety grounds justify the ban, the document said.

The decision underlines splits in the European Union over biotech food. The Brussels-based Commission wants to allow them in order to defuse trade tensions with the U.S. and to keep European agriculture competitive. But European consumers - and their governments - are resisting.

In September 2004, the Commission authorized 17 different strains of Monsanto maize for planting and sale within the 25 E.U. countries. But the Greek government banned the seeds in April 2005, saying it believed the products presented a health danger.

"Greece did not supply the necessary information to support this move," the document said. The Monsanto product "had been fully assessed as safe for both human and environmental health."

E.U. farm ministers failed to reach a consensus view on the matter at a meeting in October. Under E.U. rules, the Commission then has the unilateral power to insist Greece allow the seeds.


China and GMOs 4: The Rules

- High Plains Journal, By Tan Lin, Jan 9, 2006

BEIJING (DTN) -- Since China's the largest importer of U.S.-grown genetically modified soybeans, American growers and trade representatives must keep the Chinese government confident their products are safe. But with so many rules governing GM imports, that's easier said than done.

In June 2001 the Chinese State Council published regulations pertaining to the development, distribution and use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture. The document has eight chapters and 56 articles and covers GMO research, testing, producing, processing, distributing, importing and exporting. But, as with most of China's regulations, it's vaguely worded. It is, however, the fundamental document for GMO issues in agriculture business.

The Chinese government later published three supplement regulations including "Methods of GMO Food Sanitation Management" and "Methods for GMO Products Labeling Management," but the one that affects U.S. producers the most is "Methods of GMO Product Import and Export Safety Management" since the U.S. exports lots of GM products to China.

But the Chinese weren't well-versed in handling imports of GM products, and since the regulations were so vague they didn't seem to help much. To avoid any trade problems, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture published a temporary regulation that allows importers to provide GMO safety certificates on products from other countries.


USDA lifts regulation on Monsanto GM corn

- Food Navigator, By Lorraine Heller, Jan 9, 2006

A line of genetically engineered corn from Monsanto is no longer considered a plant pest, meaning that the company now has the right to market it to farmers, but the company has not yet announced when it is due to make its product commercially available.

The announcement was made last week by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), after it re-examined Monsanto's MON 88017 genetically engineered corn in response to a petition filed by the biotech giant in 2004.

The development of MON88017 was a “technological development,” according to the company, which simultaneously introduced two genetic traits into corn hybrids to create the GM corn variety. The traits make the plant resistant to corn rootworm and tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate.

In a review of the data submitted by Monsanto and other scientific data, the USDA found that the line of corn should no longer be regulated as a plant pest product.

Reasons for the change in the product's regulatory status include the fact that MON 88017 does not exhibit any pathogenic properties, nor any characteristics that would cause it to be weedier than other cultivated corn. At the same time, the USDA found that the crop would be unlikely to increase the weediness or adversely affect the “genetic diversity” of related plants.

Field observations also helped reveal that the crop should not damage organisms beneficial to agriculture any more than other cultivated corn. It was also found that cultivation of the corn should not reduce the ability to control pests and weeds in other crops, said the USDA.

However, the agricultural products firm said that the crop “will not be introduced into the food channel for some time to come,” but could not reveal any dates.

It is currently working on obtaining approvals for its product in other countries, including Japan and Canada.

Biotechnology research honored

- Cornell University, January 10, 2006, By Joe Ogrodnick

GENEVA, NY - Anthony 'Tony' Shelton, Cornell University professor of entomology at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, received the 2005 Recognition Award of the Entomological Society of America (ESA).

Sponsored by Syngenta Crop Protection, the award recognizes entomologists who have made, or are making, significant contributions to agriculture. The award was presented on December 15 during the ESA's annual meeting, which was held in Ft. Lauderdale.

"Over the years, Dr. Shelton has developed the kind of world-class program that epitomizes what we do at Geneva. That is, he addresses problems facing growers in New York with fundamental research that not only has implications for local growers, but for growers around the world," said Wendell Roelofs, chairman of the entomology department at Geneva. "Colleagues comment that Tony's series of manuscripts elucidating host plant resistance, insect behavior, action thresholds, and comprehensive integrated pest and resistance management programs for crucifers is among the best published in the field of entomology in the past five years."

Shelton's research and extension program focuses on developing sound pest management strategies for vegetables. Components of his program, which are both basic and applied, involve insect population ecology, insecticide resistance, biocontrol, plant resistance, agricultural biotechnology, insect movement, trap cropping, and plant productivity as a function of insect infestations.

Shelton is also the director of international agriculture at Cornell, with projects in Central America, India, Vietnam, and China.

Shelton received a B.A./B.S. from St. Mary's College of California in 1971, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 1979 from the University of California, Riverside. He was appointed an assistant professor at Cornell in 1971, associate professor in 1985, and professor in 1993. In addition to his membership in ESA, Shelton is a member of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology, and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Economic Entomology.

Shelton, who received the ESA's Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management in 1995, said, "It's really an honor for me to receive this award. Most importantly, it is a reflection of the great work of our lab group and our cooperators."

Linda McCandless

Biotechnology can help reduce nutritional deficiencies among the poor

- The Hindu, January 10, 2006

BANGALORE - The controversies and misgivings about Bt cotton and biotechnology are on account of the failure to provide information about their benefits to farmers, Minister for Agriculture K. Srinivasa Gowda said on Monday.

Inaugurating a three-day international conference on "Biotechnology approaches for alleviating malnutrition" at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS, GKVK campus) here, the Minister said awareness of the benefits of biotechnology (BT) should be created among farmers.

Mr. Srinivasa Gowda said that in spite of remarkable accomplishments of the Green Revolution, there is a high level of malnutrition. Twenty-six per cent of farmers and 45 per cent of agricultural labourers suffer from deficiencies, including that of protein. Women and children are vulnerable to nutrient-deficiency disorders. Consumption data on cereals provide disturbing trends in food and nutrition security during 1990s. The per capita energy and protein intake declined sharply in the 1990s following a cut in subsidies and introduction of economic reforms. Calorie intake declined from 2,423 in 1988 to 2,277 in 2000, he said.

There is a need for improving the nutrient quality of the largely vegetarian diet of people in villages, the Minister said. BT has potential to reduce nutritional deficiencies among the poor.

Adoption of BT requires an understanding of benefits and potential risks by educators, policy makers and farmers, he added.

On the partnership between Purdue University of the U.S. and the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, he said its main purpose should be to make people in villages aware of the potential of BT to improve nutritional levels. M.N. Sheelavantar, UAS Vice-Chancellor, said the conference is being conducted under the higher education partnership between Purdue University and the UAS.

V. Prakash, Director, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, said the level of nutrition among students has increased after the introduction of the midday meal scheme.

Randy Woodson, Dean, Purdue University, and Wendy Wintersteen, Dean, Iowa State University, spoke.

The police maintained tight security on the campus. Copyright © 2006, The Hindu