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Date:

April 4, 2007

Subject:

Firm in GM insulin breakthrough; Nitrogen Use Efficient canola varieties shows success; Drought resistant GM cotton; Herculex RW Advances Toward EU Approval; Breeders Welcome FDA Study On Cloned Cows; African universities link up; Death to Pests; GE debate misleading; FAO e-mail conference

 

Today in AgBioView from* AgBioWorld, http://www.agbioworld.org April 4, 2007

* Firm in GM insulin breakthrough
* Nitrogen Use Efficient canola varieties shows success
* Drought resistant GM cotton
* Herculex RW Advances Toward EU Approval
* Breeders Welcome FDA Study On Cloned Cows
* African universities link up
* Death to Pests
* GE debate misleading
* FAO e-mail conference

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Firm in GM insulin breakthrough

- Hugh Levinson, BBC News, April 4, 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6518787.stm

Chile, the US and are Canada hosting safflower trials

GM insulin crops Insulin produced by genetically modified plants - with a human gene added - could be on the market in three years, a Canadian company has claimed.

Sembiosys said it has made scientific breakthroughs and found a short cut through current drug regulations.

The firm's CEO Andrew Baum said his company could become one of the first to sell a plant-based pharmaceutical.

However, critics believe that these products pose greater environmental and health risks than GM food crops.

Most insulin is now produced by genetically modified bacteria, inside sealed tanks. The new technique uses GM plants grown out in the open.

The company is growing insulin in the seeds of safflower, a relatively little-used seed oil plant. The safflower is being grown on a trial basis in fields in Chile, the US and Canada.

Their crop is grown counter-seasonally to reduce the risks of the insulin-producing genes crossing to other plants.

Mr Baum said: "Sembiosys believes it will be one of the first - or the first - company to get a plant-based pharmaceutical on the market."

Sembiosys has predicted an "explosion" in demand for insulin because of a growing number of diabetics. Moreover, new methods of delivering the drug, like inhalation, require more insulin per dose than injections.

Mr Baum said that one large North American farm growing his safflower could meet the global demand for insulin - and that the price of the drug could be cut significantly.

If the firm can demonstrate that the plant-based insulin is identical with human insulin, it won't have to go through all the long and costly stages of full clinical trials.

Mr Baum said he saw his product as part of a new wave of GM plants which could help change public opinion - particularly in Europe - in favour of the technology.

He said: "While the first wave of products were really focussed on the farmer and improving agricultural economics, there's an increasing emphasis now in the industry on products that address more direct consumer benefits and consumer needs."

There are also more projects under way to develop many other pharmaceutical crops.

Professor Ed Rybicki of the University of Cape Town has modified tobacco so it produces a vaccine for cervical cancer. He said the aim was to help women in the developing world.

Furthermore, there are plans to produce spider silk from potatoes and to make non-polluting engine lubricants in seed oil plants.

A Danish company is even trying to create plants that will help clear minefields. The flowers of the modified thale cress would change from white to red if their roots absorb traces of explosives - showing where the landmines had been laid.

However Clare Oxborrow, of Friends of the Earth, said the risks of contamination from pharmaceutical plants was actually greater than from food crops.

She said there had already been contamination incidents with experimental pharmaceutical plants.

One American company, Prodigene, was heavily fined for its mistakes in 2002. Similar problems have occurred recently with GM food crops.

Pollution fears

She said: "It's worrying enough when it's a crop intended for human consumption.

"But when it might be a pharmaceutical crop in the future that contaminates the food chain, that raises serious worries and questions about the risks involved for human health."

Ms Oxborrow said the promised benefits would not be great enough to shift public opinion.

She pointed to many other factors influencing public views - like the impact on the environment, potential health concerns and corporate control of the food chain.

However Mr Baum insisted: "The goodness of what we're doing is so clear - people who are dying of diabetes in the developing world will eventually get insulin - that I think people can understand it."

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Development of commercial Nitrogen Use Efficient canola varieties shows early development success

- Arcadia Biosciences via SeedQuest, April 3, 2007 http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2007/april/18864.htm

Arcadia Biosciences today announced that development of Nitrogen Use Efficient (NUE) canola is showing early success. In addition to eight successful field trials completed over five growing seasons, Arcadia established a collaboration with Monsanto Company in 2005 to develop NUE canola, and early field trials indicate notable progress.

Field trials have demonstrated that NUE canola can maintain normal yield while using 50 percent less nitrogen fertilizer, or increase yields by 15 percent or more under conventional fertilizer use rates.

Conventional crops can only absorb about one-half of the nitrogen that is applied in the form of fertilizer. The other one-half may enter the atmosphere, ground water and surface waters. Because it enables farmers to increase the amount of crop yield per unit of nitrogen fertilizer used, NUE technology provides the opportunity to increase profitability and help improve the environment.

"NUE Canola field trials and variety development activities continue to demonstrate that farmers will soon have the choice to grow crops that can increase their profitability and reduce the amount of nitrogen that enters the atmosphere, ground water, and surface waters," said Eric Rey, president and CEO of Arcadia. "Working with Monsanto on this project provides significant value in the canola market, and we're encouraged by the opportunity for widespread availability of the technology to farmers in the world's major canola growing regions."

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Monsanto develops drought resistant genetically modified cotton

- Bharat Textile, April 3, 2007, http://www.bharattextile.com/newsitems/2003494?PHPSESSID=c32bd625f713aee84f36779368c38f79

ST.LOUIS: Seed-player Monsanto has been developing a drought resistant genetically modified cotton variety; Monsanto Executive vice-president, Jerry Steiner, told reporters here on March 30.

The drought resistant genetically modified cotton variety could possibly be released by 2015 for commercial cultivation he hopes.

They hope to release a drought tolerant cotton seed by the middle of next decade. However, they would be able to say for sure after five years, when the variety is to be released.

The company is currently doing research to develop genetically-engineered seeds that can minimise the use of fertilisers; the Monsanto official said.

GM seeds are basically known for reducing the risk of pest in the crops, while helping farmers to reduce their investment with lesser use of pesticides and insecticides.

Allegations that Monsanto was charging an exorbitant amount as technology fees from the Indian companies were denied by Steiner, saying that it was not correct.

The high technology fees is said to be the main reason for the inflated prices of Monsanto's GM seeds, which were reduced to some extent after intervention by the MRTPC.

Steiner admitting that high prices of seeds is an issue. He said the cost of seeds should be viewed in the context of returns that farmers may earn from Bt Cotton.

He also said his company stopped release of the second generation Bollgard, a GM cotton seed, in China because the country had a poor record of respecting intellectual property rights.

Steiner says that they are in India for the last 50 years and would continue to be here for long. He prevented short of praising India on intellectual property issue.

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Herculex RW Advances Toward EU Approval With Positive Scientific Safety Opinion

- Pioneer Hi-Bred (press release), April 4, 2007, http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/04-04-2007/0004559352&EDATE=

Biotech trait offers farmers improved productivity to meet increased demand for corn

DES MOINES, Iowa, and INDIANAPOLIS -- The Herculex RW Rootworm corn trait -- 59122 maize -- has been given a positive safety opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) moving the trait another step closer to approval for food, feed and import into the European Union (EU).

The safety opinion from EFSA, the EU's independent scientific authority charged by regulators with review of health and safety issues, represents a significant advancement for the rootworm-resistance trait. In response to EFSA's opinion, the EU Commission now has three months to forward its approval decision to Member States for a vote.

While EFSA's positive safety opinion does not mean that grain that contains the Herculex RW trait is approved for import into the EU yet, this significant milestone is further confirmation that Herculex RW is as safe as conventional corn.

"We are optimistic about bringing this novel technology to the EU market in the very near future," said Dean Oestreich, DuPont vice president, general manager and president of DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.

"This trait has already been approved by many countries around the globe," added Antonio Galindez, Dow AgroSciences global leader for crops, "and provides immense value to users by increasing productivity to meet rapidly increasing demand for corn."

Herculex RW was developed jointly by Dow AgroSciences LLC and Pioneer. Both companies strongly encourage EU Member States to approve corn with the Herculex(R) RW trait for food, feed and import into the EU, in keeping with EFSA's positive safety opinion.

The Herculex RW trait provides a high level of protection all season long against western, northern and Mexican larval corn rootworm, thereby dramatically reducing adult rootworm emergence. In the United States alone, damage by corn rootworm currently costs growers about $1 billion annually.

The Herculex RW trait received regulatory approvals for U.S. cultivation in 2005 and was first available in corn hybrids in the U.S. market for the 2006 growing season. The trait is also approved for import and for feed and food use in ten countries around the world: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Taiwan and the United States.

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See also:

- European Food Safety Authority, April 3, 2007, "Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms on an application (Reference EFSA-GMO-NL-2005-12) for the placing on the market of insect-resistant genetically modified maize 59122, for food and feed uses, import and processing under Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, from Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. and Mycogen Seeds, c/o Dow Agrosciences LLC," http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/science/gmo/gmo_opinions/gmo_maize59122.html

* Opinion http://www.efsa.europa.eu/etc/medialib/efsa/science/gmo/gmo_opinions/maize59122.Par.0004.File.dat/gmo_ov_op12_annexa_en.pdf

* Summary http://www.efsa.europa.eu/etc/medialib/efsa/science/gmo/gmo_opinions/maize59122.Par.0002.File.dat/gmo_ov_op12_summary_en.pdf

* Annex G - Table of Member States comments http://www.efsa.europa.eu/etc/medialib/efsa/science/gmo/gmo_opinions/maize59122.Par.0001.File.dat/gmo_ov_op12_annexg_en.pdf

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US/Pacific Breeders Welcome FDA Study On Cloned Cows

- CBS Broadcasting, April 3, 2007, http://cbs13.com/health/health_story_093122452.html

BARRON, Wis. There's a 6-year-old cow at Indianhead Holsteins with the name of Black Rose. She looks like the other cows in the barn, but she's different, reports CBS station WCCO-TV in Minneapolis.

Black Rose is a clone.

"I walked in this morning and looked at her and thought her eyes look just like the original Black Rose," said owner Karyn Schauf. "There are so many resemblances."

"We call her a Black Rose's calf," explained Bob Schauf. "But really, she is Black Rose."

Of the hundreds of cows Bob and Karyn Schauf have owned over the years, they've cloned only one: Black Rose, a showstopper of a cow.

"If it was people, it would be a whole different story," said Karyn Schauf. "No, we're not in favor of that, but when you get a good cow, they don't come around everyday."

Bob Schauf recalled taking Black Rose to competition, "When we took her to World Expo, we couldn't hardly do chores because so many people wanted to see her because they heard about this cow."

So how did the old cow become the new one?

"Just take a snip of the ear," said Karyn Schauf. "And put it in a real cold packaging and we mailed it off."

In the lab, Black Rose's DNA was placed inside an empty egg. The egg was electrically stimulated, causing it to divide and grow.

The embryo was then put into a surrogate which carrieed the baby calf to term.

The Schaufs own Indianhead Holsteins in Barron, Wis. They're not dairy farmers, really. They're breeders.

Tiny straws contain embryos of genetic material they sell to customers all over the world, including Japan, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Holland and the United Kingdom.

The Schaufs' cows - massive, straight, strong animals - can produce around 30,000 pounds of milk each year. That is far more than the average cow.

Most of that milk they sell, but not if it comes from a clone. The Schaufs honor a voluntary moratorium on the sale of milk or meat from clones, which has been in place since 2001.

"We drink her milk," said Karyn Schauf. "I haven't noticed anything growing out of me lately."

"They tested for everything you could imagine -- content of the milk, the meat," said Dr. Gene Buchner, the Schaufs' embryo transfer vet who conducted tests on clones for the Food and Drug Administration. "I was the one who pulled a lot of the blood samples, hair samples and biopsies."

His work was part of the reason the FDA now said food from cloned cows is safe.

"All the testing came back. There was no difference from any other cow. So I would say there's no difference," Buchner said.

Would you be comfortable consuming meat or milk from cloned animals? In a recent study, 64 percent of Americans said they wouldn't be. For folks who own cloned animals, that's a problem.

"If we have clones in the barn and we can't sell their milk, there's this phobia that your clients take on and say, 'Well, what are we going to do if we've got an animal that we can't sell milk? People are going to shy away from this sort of thing,'" Bob Schauf said. "It hurts your market obviously."

"There's that little fear that's there, and that little fear builds into, well, do we really need something like this?" asked Ted Labuza, a professor of Food Science and Engineering.

Labuza predicts the FDA will take years to resolve the issue of food from cloned animals.

"I think they will move slowly," Labuza said.

Uneasiness about clones has created opportunity for the Schaufs. They know good cows when they see them.

"We could hardly pass up knowing what her genetic potential was," said Bob Schauf.

They paid $4,000 for Mandy, a steal considering what the clone went for as a calf - $82,000!

On a recent day, a red heifer arrived from out of state. She's the granddaughter of the Black Rose clone, another bargain basement special.

The Schaufs are banking that someday the FDA will treat these cows like any others.

********************************

African universities link up to offer 'regional PhDs'

- Michael Malakata, SciDev.Net, March 30, 2007, http://www.scidev.net/dossiers/index.cfm?fuseaction=dossierreaditem&dossier=6&type=1&itemid=3526&language=1

The degree programmes will speed up agricultural research

MAPUTO - African universities are collaborating to develop degree programmes that will accelerate agricultural research and biotechnology development in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The announcement was made at a conference on biotechnology, breeding and seed systems in Maputo, Mozambique, this week (27 March).

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), made up of 12 Eastern and Southern Africa universities, has developed doctoral programmes in dairy science, food science, plant breeding and biotechnology, research methodology and rural development, and crop improvement.

Adipala Ekwamu, RUFORUM's regional coordinator, says the degrees will be developed jointly by the universities and will involve roving tutors and web tutorials.

"These are regional PhDs," Ekwamu told SciDev.Net. "We are running these programmes to equip our scientists and fill the gaps that are being left by those fleeing for greener pastures."

After graduation, students will be given jobs in research institutions in the region to boost research capacity.

Universities involved include, among others, the University of Zambia, Malawi University, Makerere University, Africa University and the University of Zimbabwe.

Each programme will cost RUFORUM US$800,000. The programmes are sponsored by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) under its Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program and its Strengthening Capacity for Agricultural Research and Development in Africa.

FARA secretary general Monty Jones said Africa needs to train more scientists in agricultural research to make significant progress in scientific research.

"So many younger African scientists are coming up and they need further training in order for them to make progress," said Jones.

The training will be modelled on course-based systems in the United States, with mandatory publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The programmes will start in August this year.

The project is not part of the plans for networks of centres of excellence developed under the New Partnership for Africa's Development, but RUFORUM has the same objective of using collective action to build science and technology capacity to speed Africa's development.

At the end of the Maputo conference, scientists said more human resources were needed in agricultural science.

They also called for African systems of research and innovation to create better crop varieties that will improve food security.

Officially closing the conference, Gary Toenniessen, director of the Rockefeller Foundation, said it is only through human resource development that Africa is going to realise its dream of a green revolution. "We should always emphasise the importance of training and human resource development in order to realise our goals," he said.

********************************

Death to Pests

- Doug Hoagland, The Fresno Bee, April 2, 2007, http://www.fresnobee.com/263/story/39258.html

If a Fresno State professor succeeds, his work to genetically engineer plants will save valuable crops from devastating nematodes.

Nematodes are not our friends, and a Fresno State professor wants to make them commit suicide.

The sometimes-microscopic, worm-like organisms suck the life out of tomatoes, grapes, cotton, melons and other crops that are the backbone of the Valley's economy.

Plant developmental geneticist Alejandro Calderon-Urrea is working to genetically engineer plants to make parasitic nematodes kill themselves if they start sucking away.

If he succeeds, Calderon-Urrea could produce a scientific advance to help preserve crops. The environment might benefit, too. Calderon-Urrea's research could provide alternatives to pesticides now used to kill the pests.

The Colombian-born associate professor -- who got his doctorate from Yale University and has taught at California State University, Fresno, since 1997 -- does his research from a basement lab in a three-story building known as Science One.

You might call his lab "nematode central" where it's all nematodes, almost all the time.

"Nematodes inhabit almost every corner of the planet," Calderon-Urrea said. "All the way from the North Pole to the South Pole to the depths of the oceans."

Nematodes that infect roots are the most devastating to crops.

Root-knot nematodes are true to their name, forming knots that resemble beads on a rosary strand, Calderon-Urrea said. Equally damaging are cyst nematodes that leave teardrop-like cysts on roots.

By attacking the root system, parasitic nematodes deprive plants of water and nutrients in the soil.

Nematodes are not worms. "Evolutionarily speaking, they separated from earthworms very long ago," Calderon-Urrea said. They range in size from microscopic to 20 centimeters long, and there are even "good" nematodes that eat bacteria and don't go after crops.

In the lab, Calderon-Urrea pulverizes parasitic nematodes that are no wider than a hair to separate the basic components of the cells.

He is looking for genes that are in all cells conveying heredity and controlling cell function. But he doesn't want just any genes. He's after genes that turn off normal cell development in nematodes, which could lead to death for the pests.

All life forms -- from humans to green algae -- have genes that can kill. Some do a job that's necessary. Fetuses, for example, develop with webs of membrane between their fingers, but if all goes as planned, genes trigger those membranes to die before birth, Calderon-Urrea said.

Finding the right cells in nematodes is a painstaking process -- and it's where his research now is focused.

"The genes we're looking for aren't saying, 'Pick me! Pick me!' " Calderon-Urrea said.

"There are a gazillion possibilities. Imagine going to a Fresno State football game to meet someone you didn't know, and telling them to wear red so you'd recognize them. Everyone would be in red."

If Calderon-Urrea finds the right genes, he hopes to multiply them in the laboratory. Next, he would introduce those genes into crop seeds. When the seeds grow into plants and nematodes latch onto the plants, the pests would be eating material that would cause their cells to die.

Calderon-Urrea said he already has had results that show he is on the right track.

He has used cell suicide genes found in nonparasitic nematodes, attached them to tobacco plant DNA and discovered that the suicide genes kill the nematodes, but not the plants.

Nematode expert Andrea Skantar, a research molecular biologist with the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, said Calderon-Urrea's research is noteworthy.

"I think Alejandro is unique in looking at programmed cell death for this purpose," Skantar said.

But it's not the only work being done on nematodes.

Valerie Williamson, a molecular biologist and nematologist at the University of California at Davis, is doing research involving a gene in tomatoes that provides natural resistance to the pests.

In the meantime, Williamson said, it's important that Calderon-Urrea's research continues because parasitic nematodes are such a big problem. Published reports put U.S. crop losses annually in the billions of dollars.

For years, growers chose methyl bromide as the primary pesticide to kill parasitic nematodes, but the government said it damaged the atmosphere. It's being phased out.

Growers now use other pesticides, but making plants resistant to nematodes would be safer for the environment, said Richard Molinar, a farm adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Fresno.

"Nobody would disagree with that, even a pesticide salesman," Molinar said.

Would the suicide genes that kill the nematodes harm people who ate the genetically-modified crops? Calderon-Urrea said he doesn't think that would happen, though that question is part of his research.

"People have the perception that maybe these genetically-modified plants are harmful," he said. "But there is a large body of evidence to the contrary."

Some people still worry about the ramifications of genetically engineering crops.

Joseph Oldaker, a spokesman for the Institute on Biotechnology & the Human Future, a think tank in Chicago, said he wasn't familiar with Calderon-Urrea's work. But, he said, there are general concerns about genetically-modified plants.

Such plants might displace natural plants, reducing biodiversity and harming the environment, said Oldaker.

In addition, techniques used to create the new plants could threaten public safety, Oldaker said. "We don't know how the genes in the new environment are going to interact with our natural biochemistry in the long term."

Calderon-Urrea knows about the concerns.

"These are very sensitive issues," he said, "and I would be the first one to kiss this work goodbye if it caused any harm to humans, animals or the environment."

********************************

GE debate misleading

Dr. A.M. (Tony) Shelton, The Press (Christchurch, New Zealand), April 3, 2007, http://www.stuff.co.nz/4014396a12935.html

New Zealanders need to recognise the benefits of all agricultural production systems including genetic engineering, writes Tony Shelton.

As a university-based agricultural scientist from the United States, I am intrigued by the debate about agricultural biotechnology in New Zealand.

Recently, I heard about the petition by Mary Christey at Crop and Food Research to field test brassica plants that have been genetically modified (GM) to express proteins from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to protect them from caterpillar pests.

These Bt proteins are similar to those used by some organic and conventional farmers in foliar sprays for the last 50 years. They are also similar to the Bt proteins advocated by Rachel Carson in her book Silent Spring that started the environmental movement.

Bt plants are grown on 32.1 million hectares worldwide and are part of an effort in agriculture to produce our food and fibre with the least damage to the environment. The major use of GM crops is for pest management of insects, weeds and diseases. In 2006, such genetically modified (a term that most plant scientists find ironic because all agricultural plants have been "modified" by mankind over thousands of years) plants were grown by more than 10 million farmers on more than 100 million hectares in 22 countries.

The benefits of these modified plants have been clear to agricultural scientists and many working within agricultural sectors, but may be less clear to the public. A recent report has documented that the use of GM plants has reduced pesticide spraying by 224 million kilograms of active ingredients. This is a tremendous decline and should be recognised by the public. Use of these crops has provided a net benefit of $US27 billion to farmers worldwide over the past 10 years and tremendous benefits to the environment.

Yet I have seen some bumper stickers and articles in New Zealand that disagree with the use of GM crops. Instead, they promote the idea of keeping New Zealand "GMO free" and usually add something about promoting organic agriculture.

As an entomologist who has worked with organic, conventional and "biotech" growers in the US and other countries for more than 30 years, I find many of the statements against GM plants misleading, based on my experience and the scientific literature. For example, proponents of organic agriculture often contrast its practices with those of conventional and biotech practices, and claim that their practices are much safer.

Yet it is well known in the scientific literature that organic farming does not always use the best options available to increase food safety or reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture.

Instead, some organic practices merely fit a certain philosophical mindset or marketing requirements. Organic standards require farmers to apply only pesticides that are "natural" and not synthetic, but being "natural" does not ensure safety. For example, sulphur, a major fungicide used in organic agriculture, is toxic to a broad range of organisms and is a longer-term soil and environmental contaminant than most, if not all, of its synthetic counterparts. Furthermore, it is often claimed that GM crops will contaminate "conventional crops" and therefore should be banned.

Such statements are contradictory to the experiences I have had with farmers who grow both organic and biotech crops without problems.

Commercial farmers grow for the market and do what is necessary to meet the market requirement. They recognise that the organic market is a fast-growing agricultural segment, along with other niche markets such as kosher and specialty products, but that it is only 3 per cent of US food production.

Another claim against Bt plants is that insects will rapidly develop resistance to the Bt and that this will take away one of the tools organic growers have to control caterpillar pests. While it is true that some insects have the capacity to develop resistance to some Bt proteins, the only examples are two insects that developed resistance from foliar sprays of Bt in the field.

Even after 11 years, there are no cases of insects having developed resistance to Bt plants in the field. When Bt plants were developed, scientists knew about the potential for resistance and developed strategies that have proven effective in preventing resistance to Bt plants. No other control tactic, whether conventional or organic, has had such stringent regulations or such success in preventing resistance. And the benefits to human health and the environment of using Bt proteins, compared to many conventional and organic insecticides, have been demonstrated over decades. Many studies have documented that Bt plants can contribute to biological control and biodiversity.

I do not wish to embarrass or bash organic agriculture because some organic agriculture practices have contributed tremendously to environmental stewardship and should be encouraged. Many conventional growers now use organic practices to contribute to the health of the soil on their farms. On the other hand, some of my organic farmers have told me they would like to be able to use some GM plants to help control pests in a more environmentally sustainable fashion, but the organic lobby will not allow it for philosophical, not scientific, reasons. To achieve the safest food production systems requires one to break out of the mindset of using only organic, conventional or biotechnology methods in agriculture. Depending on the situation, each method has benefits and risks.

Our goal as a society should be to use the best practices from each method and integrate them into systems that produce safer food in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner. That will provide the best benefits for the public.

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Dr A. M. (Tony) Shelton is a professor of entomology at Cornell University and a visiting scientist at Lincoln University.

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FAO e-mail conference on water scarcity and agricultural biotechnologies

- United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), April 4, 2007, http://www.fao.org/biotech/logs/C14/allmessages.htm

This webpage contains all of the 78 messages posted during the FAO Biotechnology Forum e-mail conference on biotechnology and water scarcity that took place from 5 March to 1 April 2007, as well as the Opening and Closing messages from the Moderator.

For further information on the Biotechnology Forum see the Forum website [http://www.fao.org/biotech/forum.asp ]. For further information on agricultural biotechnology, see the FAO biotechnology website [http://www.fao.org/biotech/index.asp ].

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Note: For those who are not aware of it and might like to subscribe, FAO produces a free e-mail newsletter (2-3 pages long, sent roughly once a month) called FAO-BiotechNews. It contains news and event items that are relevant to applications of biotechnologies in food and agriculture in developing countries (such as items on this e-mail conference). The items focus on the activities of FAO, of other United Nations agencies/bodies and of the 15 CGIAR research centres, in addition to a few major non-UN inter-governmental organizations (OECD, OIE, UPOV). News items about documents are included if the documents are freely available on the web, and for each item an e-mail contact is also provided that people can use. The newsletter is available in English, French, Russian and Spanish and the items are also put on the homepage of the FAO Biotechnology website (http://www.fao.org/biotech/index.asp) in these languages, plus Arabic and Chinese. The newsletter was launched in January 2002 and all news items posted since then are available at http://www.fao.org/biotech/news_list.asp?thexpand=1&cat=131 while recent and upcoming events are available at http://www.fao.org/biotech/events_list.asp?Cat=133

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