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Date:

March 18, 2007

Subject:

Genetic seeds set to lift cotton output; Monsanto to deprive bt cotton transgenic technology from China; ABA clarifies position on biotech wheat; State won't help us, says GM wheat firm; Genetically modified crops should be legal

 

Today in AgBioView from* AgBioWorld, http://www.agbioworld.org March 18, 2007

* Genetic seeds set to lift cotton output
* Monsanto to deprive bt cotton transgenic technology from China
* ABA clarifies position on biotech wheat
* State won't help us, says GM wheat firm
* Genetically modified crops should be legal

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Genetic seeds set to lift cotton output growth to 8.3% a year

- The Economic Times (India), March 16, 2007, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Markets/Commodities/Genetic_seeds_set_to_lift_cotton_output_growth_to_83_a_year/articleshow/1770064.cms

MUMBAI: Country's cotton production is expected to grow at 8.3% annually for the next five years, because of increased usage of Bt cotton and improved cotton processing, a government official said on Thursday.

However, the country hopes to become a net importer of cotton in about a decade, he said. "We are following the Chinese model to become a net importer of cotton and use that to turn out value-added fabrics," JN Singh, commissioner, Union textile ministry said at a conference on Bt cotton here on Thursday.

India, the world's third largest cotton producer is set to produce 27 million bales in the year to September 2007, he said. Cotton production is expected to reach 39 million bales by 2011-'12. Each bale is equivalent to 170 kg of cotton. Domestic consumption is expected to grow 12.3% annually to reach 37.5 million bales by 2011-'12.

"We may exceed this figure due to tremendous retail growth and per capita consumption growth, which would boost cotton consumption," Mr Singh said. India is likely to consume 23.5 million bales in the year to September 2007. Mr Singh said yield per hectare has shot up to 500 kg from 340 kg in 2003-'04, mainly due to introduction of Bt cotton.

Bt cotton cultivation is expected to increase to more than 60% of the total area under cotton cultivation here in a few years, an official said. Bt cotton, the first genetically modified crop grown here, occupies 40% of the total cotton land now, chairman of the Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board, CD Mayee, said.

It is now grown on 3.8 million hectares of land, up from 29,000 hectares in 2002, when it was first introduced, he said. Bt cotton accounts for 65% of the total cotton produced in India, and Gujarat and Punjab have been on the forefront of adopting Bt technology. In India, 9.1 million hectares is under cotton cultivation.

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Monsanto to deprive bt cotton transgenic technology from China

- Bharat Textile, March 17, 2007, http://www.bharattextile.com/newsitems/2003314

NEW DELHI: The US biotech major, Monsanto is planning to transfer its next generation transgenic technology to India after experiencing problems in China for its second generation Bt technology due to intellectual property violation, executive vice president, Monsanto Inc, Jerry Steiner said here on March 16.

Jerry Steiner commented that China has no respect for intellectual property rights and are ready to transfer next generation transgenic technology to India as they are concentrating on developing new transgenic traits of three key crops like corn, soybeans and cotton.

The crops will be developed for drought resistance, for ensuring higher and stable yields in rain fed areas and for ensuring lesser use of nitrogenous fertilizers.

Steiner claimed that Bt cotton cultivation has helped farmers raise their income and the very fact that area under Bt cotton is increasing shows the growing acceptability among farmers.

Monsanto has transferred Bt technology to the joint venture Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB) and MMB apart from marketing Bt cotton seeds produced by Mahyco has sub-licensed the technology to 23 Indian seed companies.

However, he admitted there were failure of Bt cotton crops in some areas of the country and attributed it to 'weather conditions'; whereas on the high pricing issue of Bt cotton seeds stated that it is a competitive market and farmers buy our seeds despite the price factor.

He further added that consumers' preference may be different, but farmers gain through cultivation as some of the domestic industry entrepreneurs raised the issue of global consumers not preferring GM food, which may come in the way of export prospects.

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ABA clarifies position on biotech wheat

High Plains Journal, March 17, 2007, http://www.hpj.com/archives/2007/mar07/mar19/ABAclarifiespositiononbiote.cfm?title=ABA%20clarifies%20position%20on%20biotech%20wheat

For over 100 years, the American Bakers Association has represented the interests of the wholesale baking industry and its suppliers--companies that work together to provide over 80 percent of the wholesome and nutritious bakery products purchased by American consumers. Accordingly, ABA appreciates this chance to share our perspective.

In September 2001, the ABA's Food Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee and its Biotech Subcommittee established the ABA biotechnology position paper, a consensus document which communicated the Association's support for a scientific approach to food safety and regulations through USDA, FDA, and EPA to assure that consumer choice is maintained. Since that time, ABA has facilitated the education process and intensive dialogue with all ABA stakeholders from all sectors of the grain chain as well as processed cereal food industries.

ABA has sought to understand consumer's perception and knowledge of biotechnology and provide consumers with reliable fact-based sources of knowledge regarding agriculture and food biotechnology. ABA has also sought to influence technology developers as they apply biotechnology to wheat and other baking ingredients and have urged them to carefully consider baking applications and their appeal to consumers who purchase the finished product.

ABA realizes that biotech as a science offers great potential in improving crops for more sustainable, environmentally friendly production, more efficient processing, greater food availability and enhanced nutrition and health benefits. That said, ABA continues to engage in meaningful dialogue with biotech providers, wheat growers, millers and our membership to carefully study various applications of biotechnology for wheat and other bakery ingredients to determine their merit for bakers and ultimately how such products would be viewed by the public.

Our 2002 national research on the issue revealed that consumers wanted to learn more about biotechnology applications to food before they embraced such products. The study also found that if nutritional benefits could be associated with biotech wheat, consumer would be more accepting of such a product. Clearly, more outreach and education is needed before consumers will embrace such a product. In the meantime, ABA will continue to maintain our position for a system that will afford consumers' choice over the products that they purchase.

The complete ABA position paper may be viewed on the ABA website at: www.americanbakers.org.

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State won't help us, says GM wheat firm

- Torrance Mendez, West Australian (Perth), March 16, 2007

A Perth biotechnology firm says it faces closure after failing to secure State Government funds to finish developing a genetically modified salt-tolerant variety of wheat.

Grain Biotech Australia approached Alan Carpenter last April after it completed a field trial in Corrigin, funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Business development manager Alan Tough said GBA was encouraged when the Premier touted the resource prospects of biotechnology. Mr Tough sought State Government approval to boost GBA's credibility and fundraising.

The Premier redirected GBA to Agriculture Minister Kim Chance who, despite positive talks, redirected GBA to then science minister Fran Logan who rescheduled a February meeting to March 26, by which time the Premier had assumed the science portfolio from Mr Logan.

Shareholders and others had sunk $5 million into GBA since 2001 to develop GM wheat varieties of which $1.6 million was ploughed into the salt-tolerant wheat project. GBA needed $2 million a year to finish the program by 2010.

"We're winding up the company," Mr Tough said. GBA's work in the State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre at Murdoch University was patented. Its dream of starting a national centre in WA to design and build new grain varieties lay in tatters.

Promises of financial help had collapsed because of GBA's protracted dealings with the State Government, Mr Tough said. He saw little point in meeting Mr Logan if he was no longer the relevant minister. "I take the Premier's desire to be in the biotechnology industry at face value," Mr Tough said. "But you've got to understand there's no short-term, cheap, simple way into this."

GBA claimed its work was unique in Australia and could add $23 a tonne to WA grain prices.

Mr Tough said the benefits could see WA's moratorium on GM crops overturned in three to four years.

A spokesman for Mr Logan said he was driving the Beyond the Boom strategy as Minister for Industry and Enterprise, which included biotechnology. Mr Logan was the appropriate person for GBA to meet.

Opposition biotechnology spokesman Barry House accused the Government of paying lip service to science. "This is a missed opportunity for not only GBA but WA's wheat industry," he said. "The State Government has played a huge part in its failure."

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- Chuck's Blog, March 18, 2007, http://chuck50yo.exblog.jp/4882885

Genetically modified crops should be legal

Going to supermarkets, we can get a lot of different types of fruits and vegetables. We buy them, go home, cook them and eat. Nobody doubts the day we cannot get them will come. As long as we live in Japan, I think nobody has thought about it seriously and everybody must think we will be able to get them forever. However, as a matter of fact, Japanese agricultural business cannot feed all of Japanese people by crops produced in Japan. We export a lot of food from other countries.

We often see the word "Genetically modified food" on the food labels and packages. What is that? According to Wikipadia on the net, A genetically modified organism (GM) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using techniques in genetics generally known as recombinant DNA technology. So far, maybe we understand. However, I don't know why some countries try to regulate the use of this technology and eating the products which were made by using it. Genetic modification is great. We want to eat delicious food every day and it's very easy to do so. We can get various foods in supermarkets and stores. But, in fact, it's not so easy. Providing delicious foods to you steadily is very difficult. Generally speaking, the food you feel nice is relatively weak in the natural environment. For example, we can eat cabbages all year around. Particularly in winter, cabbages are very delicious, aren't they? If you have a garden or back yard, please grow a cabbage. All you have to do is to spread the seeds. That's all. And wait until the bud comes up. You have to let it lie. You mustn't take care of it. The cabbage is growing. But the weeds around the cabbage are growing, too. A lot of insects and worms come and begin eating the leaves of the cabbage. They are growing, too. Sad to say, the more they grow, the more leaves they eat. At last, the leaves of the cabbage have lots of holes and they cannot grow any more. So we need stronger cabbages which are not beaten by weeds and worms. For these reasons, some scientists have been thoroughly striving for improvement on weak points for a long time. Yes. It takes a long time. Genetic modification seems to make the term short. It' great to the people related with agricultural businesses. As you might know, the improvement of agricultural products and the change of the insect and worm's generation is a kind of a vicious circle. So if we want to grow nice foods, we have to keep the position before them. Genetic modification is one of great technologies to improve the agricultural products.

Also, we can have a chance to make a totally new agricultural product we have never seen before. It's a very important task to make cabbages stronger, but it's also important to make something new. I wish we could grow sweeter Japanese oranges like honey in the future.

On the other hand, some people worry about the side effects of genetic modification. They say that the genetically modified seeds fly to the far places in the air and they start breaking ecosystem. I think there might be the possibility. But we've already seen a similar situation. Those are the plants and animals which came from other countries. For example, it is said that one of the reasons of hey fever is tall goldenrod. I didn't see it in my childhood but now we can see here and there. Also, we don't know what would happen in our future if we continued eating genetically modified food. We cannot predict about the results. I think that makes us retired. In Japan, some genetically modified foods are allowed us to use. But we don't grow them for commercial use. Surprisingly, according to the information published from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, tons of genetically modified crops are grown in the U.S. Soybean is one of them and we eat "tofu" every day.

We have to think about world population seriously. We have to eat to survive. It is said that world population increase dramatically. But the areas which we can grow food are unchangeable. There are problem, I know. Nevertheless, I think genetically modified crops should be legal when I think of starveling people.

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*by Andrew Apel, guest editor, andrewapel+at+wildblue.net