Today in AgBioView from www.agbioworld.org: June 19, 2006
* CropBiotech Weekly Update
* ISAAA Fact Sheet on Approved Bt Cotton in India (2006)
* GM cotton row heats up
* NDSU Report: Biotechnology among forces reshaping world ag
* Agriculture: Prudent in GM farm produce
* Food Safety Body Says Works Closely With EU on GMOs
* Transgenic plants for insect pest control
* Monsanto calls new soybean a breakthrough
CropBiotech Weekly Update
June 16, 2006 Issue
:: Ministers Approve Declaration to Implement Plant Treaty
:: Cuba Registers First Monoclonal Antibody Made in Biotech Plants
:: Developing Countries Face Less Research Investments
:: Brazil, Biotech Needed for Coping with Drought
:: Vegetable Variety Protection Discussed in Mexico
:: Kenya Releases New Improved Bean Varieties
:: ICRISAT Introduces New Groundnut Variety
:: USAID to Strengthen Plant Inspection Services in Africa
:: Fact Sheet on Approved Bt Cotton Hybrids in India
:: Nigeria Looks to Biotech to Aid Food Security
:: Molecular Farming Discussed in Malaysia
:: Biotech Crops That Produce Non-GM Pollen
:: Earthworms Not Affected by Bt Corn, Research Finds
:: Plant Antibodies Show Anti-Cancer Activity in Research
ISAAA Fact Sheet on Approved Bt Cotton in India (2006)
ISAAA has just released the latest "Fact Sheet on Approved Bt Cotton Hybrids in India (2006)". The document includes all recent approvals of Bt cotton in India, with dates of approval, origin, and geographical distribution of new approved varieties.
The Fact Sheet is the most comprehensive information resource available on the topic. It includes a geographical map of India that graphically shows the distribution of approved Bt cotton hybrids. Attached a copy of fact sheet for your information. You mau also like to view the fact sheet at
GM cotton row heats up
- ABC, 16/06/2006
Debate over genetically-modified (GM) cotton in northern Australia is heating up, with two biotechnology companies applying to the Commonwealth regulator for licences.
The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) rejected a similar proposal four years ago, which means GM cotton cannot be grown commercially in the Australian tropics.
Environmental groups say any new GM cotton could become established as a tropical weed.
But Ord River farmer Rob Boshammer says it is unfair that the north is missing out on the new technology.
"I think it is a very dangerous situation where parts of the country can be allowed to use technology and other parts not," he said.
"It seems totally unfair to me if you live one side of the 26th parallel you can grow GM cotton, if you live a metre the other side of the 26th parallel you can't. It seems to put an economic impost on us."
The OGTR is expected to respond by August, then open a two-month public consultation period before a decision is made.
NDSU Report: Biotechnology among forces reshaping world ag
- TRUTH ABOUT TRADE AND TECHNOLOGY, 15 June, 2006
Biotechnology is among key forces reshaping world agriculture, enabling increased crop yields and productivity despite limited available land, and leading to better quality and lower priced food products for consumers.
That's according to a new report from North Dakota State University, "Forces Reshaping World Agriculture," authored by Jeremy Mattson and Won Koo of NDSU's Center for Agricultural Policy and Trade Studies.
The authors point out that growth of agriculture in the United States is dependent on productivity increases. Since there is little land available for expansion of agricultural production in the U.S., growth in production will require increased yields. Export competitiveness is also dependent on relative productivity growth against major competitors.
Future productivity growth will be influenced by current and future research, especially public research. "New developments that could lead to further productivity increases include improved technologies for nutrient, soil, water, and pest management; precision agriculture; and agricultural biotechnology," the report says. "The emergence of biotechnology could especially have a significant impact on productivity worldwide."
Farmers benefit from the use of GM crops through increased weed and insect control, which could lead to increased yields and decreased pesticide costs. Mattson and Koo report that despite some consumer concern, the biotechnology trend is likely to continue as it leads to productivity gains for farmers. "The introduction of GM wheat has been delayed, largely due to concern that consumers in export markets will not accept it, but it could eventually be adopted," they write.
While current biotech crops have been developed mainly to improve agricultural production, future biotech crops could be introduced that have qualities such as increased nutritional content or other characteristics that would benefit consumers. "Consumer response to the further adoption of biotech crops is uncertain, but it may become more favorable as these crops are developed with more obvious benefits for consumers." Developing countries could benefit the most from biotechnology through productivity gains and improved nutritional content of crops such as golden rice.
Mattson and Koo point out that while technological advances appear to initially benefit producers by leading to higher yields, lower costs, and increased productivity, consumers ultimately benefit from lower real food prices.
The entire NDSU report can be found as a PDF online at http://agecon.lib.umn.edu/cgi-bin/detailview.pl?paperid=21789 as well as the GfB web site, http://www.growersforbiotechnology.org.
Agriculture: Prudent in GM farm produce
- Xinhua, 2006-06-19
China is prudent in developing genetically modified (GM) farm produce but it will keep working in bio-engineering for agriculture, said an agricultural official at a forum on food safety held here on Saturday.
Luo Bin, deputy director of Farm Produce Quality Safety Center under the Ministry of Agriculture, said that China has developed over 100 varieties of GM farm produce, but the ministry has only allowed five categories of them to go on market, which are soybean, corn, oil-seed rape, cotton and tomato.
"The development, production and sales of GM farm produce are very strictly controlled in China, " said Luo at the International Forum on the Safety of Farm Produce held in this capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
Food Safety Body Says Works Closely With EU on GMOs
- Reuters, June 19, 2006
PARMA, Italy - The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) aims to improve cooperation with European Union countries over the controversial issue of genetically modified (GMO) products, EFSA officials said on Friday.
The EU's 25 member states are divided over whether to approve the gene-altered products for import and development. Many European consumers are sceptical about GMO products, but the biotech industry says they are safe.
EFSA, EU's leading food safety agency, has been criticised this year by some EU commissioners for ignoring opinions of national authorities on risk assessment of pending new GMO authorisations, and for relying on short-term data provided by the biotech industry.
"We have been working very closely with the member states, particularly with those who have reportedly raised these concerns," EFSA's Director for International and Institutional Relations Christine Majewski told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Parma, where EFSA is based.
"We take into consideration concerns of member states and we'd like to make clear what we do and how we do it," she said.
EFSA's Communications Director Anne-Laure Gassin said EFSA held a conference in May to establish a dialogue on GMOs with EU member states and understand better each other's positions.
Another EFSA official said recently that it was natural that the agency was using short-term data from the industry in its assessments because GMOs were fairly young as a scientific subject and the assessment would become longer-term as science accumulates more material.
EFSA says its main tasks are providing scientific opinions on food and feed safety issues and risk assessment of food safety related issues but it does not carry out food safety controls, inspections or labelling, nor does it make laws.
Turning to bird flu, EFSA officials reiterated the agency's position that so far there has been no direct evidence to suggest that bird flu can be transmitted to people though consumption of food, such as poultry or eggs.
Avian influenza affects mainly birds but has killed 129 people since the deadly H5N1 virus re-emerged in 2003.
But more research was needed to make conclusions about how bird flu can be transmitted to people, EFSA officials added.
Transgenic plants for insect pest control: a forward looking scientific perspective
- TRANSGENIC RESEARCH (2006), 15: 13-19, By Ferry, N., Edwards, M., Gatehouse, J., Capell, T., Christou, P., Gatehouse, A., Feb. 2006
One of the first successes of plant biotechnology has been the creation and commercialisation of transgenic crops exhibiting resistance to major insect pests. First generation products encompassed plants with single insecticidal Bt genes with resistance against major pests of corn and cotton. Modelling studies predicted that usefulness of these resistant plants would be short-lived, as a result of the ability of insects to develop resistance against single insecticidal gene products. However, despite such dire predictions no such collapse has taken place and the acreage of transgenic insect resistance crops has been increasing at a steady rate over the 9 years since the deployment of the first transgenic insect resistant plant. However, in order to assure durability and sustainability of resistance, novel strategies have been contemplated and are being developed. This perspective addresses a number of potentially useful strategies to assure the longevity of second and third generation insect resistant plants.
Monsanto calls new soybean a breakthrough
- Associated Press, Jun. 17, 2006
ST. LOUIS - When Monsanto Co. developed its newest strain of engineered soybeans, the company didn't use gene splicing. It used math.
Monsanto has touted the Vistive soybean as a scientific breakthrough because it is ready-made for processing into healthier food oils that are low in trans fats.
But the secret recipe behind Vistive doesn't include genetic material from bacteria or other organisms that Monsanto uses to develop plants that grow pesticide among other traits.
Instead, there is an enormous numbers game, a complex system of data analysis, gene screening and a transcontinental network of greenhouses churning out seeds every day of the year.
Following the path of Vistive's development -- from a marketing idea at Monsanto headquarters in suburban St. Louis to the soybean fields where it was first planted last year -- shows how the world's biggest seed company is changing the rules of crop production.
By many measures, the Vistive bean was developed through traditional breeding -- mating one plant with another, again and again, until the offspring contain desired traits. But Monsanto applied new technologies to the age-old process, drawing on techniques the company developed over a decade of splicing genes.
The techniques shaved at least three years off the process of moving Vistive from the drawing board to the marketplace, said Monsanto Vice President David Stark.
Although Monsanto is known around the world for making genetically engineered plants -- derided as "Frankenfood" by critics -- it is focusing more than ever on developing new plants through breeding.
"I think the thing that's emerging in our business, particularly in the last year and I think in the next few years, is the importance of breeding," Monsanto Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant told stock analysts earlier this month.
About 1 percent of new crops this year were developed with advanced breeding techniques, and that should increase to 5 percent or 6 percent by 2008, Grant said.
The Vistive bean traces its roots to 2002. At the time, most of Monsanto's seeds benefited farmers, with traits like pest resistance. Stark wanted to develop a plant that had direct benefit for consumers.
"I was out talking to the food industry about biotechnology, trying to determine what they want from a company like Monsanto," Stark recalled. "One of the things that was recurring was that, well, it looks like trans fats could be really important."
Concern was mounting about trans fats contributing to unhealthy cholesterol levels. But it's not easy to squeeze trans fats out of the industrial food system. Trans fats are made when oils are partially hydrogenated, a process that stops oils from naturally degenerating. This gives the oils a longer shelf life.
Stark thought there was a solution -- breed a soybean with oils that are already stable enough to have a long shelf life.