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2009-07-28 |

Indian Government announces GE vegetables within three years

The government’s parliamentary reply that three genetically modified varieties of vegetables—tomato, brinjal and cauliflower—will be in commercial production in three years clarifies a situation made murky by constant activism. This should be taken as proof that the government is serious about bringing about a second Green Revolution in a fast stagnating agriculture sector. India has been very slow to adopt GM technologies and has thus missed the opportunity to exploit the many advantages that come with GM farming. GM crops, at a minimum, offer the unambiguous benefits of higher yields and greater resistance to pests, both of which could give a big boost to the average farmer.

2009-07-28 |

GM mosquito trials raise concern in India

Experiments with genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes planned in India by a British company in a move to find a way to control dengue fever have taken sections of the scientific community by surprise. ”I am trying to get full details about what is going on,” V.M. Katoch, secretary in the Department of Health Research and chief of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said. [...] ”Two years ago Oxitec came to us for testing its technology but we said no,” said P. Jambulingam, director of VCRC. ”We also made it clear to them that India did not encourage this method for mosquito control. I do not know how the company managed to get permission from RCGM.” A.P.Dash, then director of the ICMR’s National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR), says he rejected Oxitec’s proposal when RCGM sought his comments.

2009-07-28 |

Bt cotton cultivation to officially start in 2010 in Pakistan

The cultivation of Bt cotton would start officially from next year, which would revolutionise agriculture and the textile sector in Pakistan, said Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan, Federal Minister for Textile Industry. [...] ”We are looking at the whole textile chain right from raw cotton to export of value-added garments,” he said, [...] This decision would not only increase cotton production but would also play an instrumental role in getting rid of rural poverty, he added.

2009-07-27 |

Polish ban on GM food production ’illegal’, says European Court of Justice

Poland has violated its obligation towards the EU in connection with GMO, the European Tribunal of Justice has declared in Luxembourg. Poland, which fighting to become a GMO free-zone had been in dispute with the European Commission over GMOs for years and finally passed a law banning GMO seeds on April 27, 2006. The regulation prohibited GMO seeds trade, made it impossible to register GMO crop which in consequence blocked GMO cultivation, TVN24 reports.

2009-07-27 |

UK to spend £100m on supporting GM crops for world’s poor

Britain is planning to quietly spend up to £100m on support for genetically modified crops for the world’s poor despite not having allowed any of the controversial foods to be grown commercially at home. [...] In addition, support for an international network of GM crop research stations, in collaboration with GM companies, will be doubled. A further tranche of UK aid will go to a research initiative backed by the GM crop firm Syngenta, which is developing a strain of rice modified to increase vitamin A.

2009-07-27 |

Spanish GE crop researcher confident that EU will accept GE crops

Dr. Paul Christou of the University of Lleida in Spain said he has been part of a team that works to introduce genes into corn, causing the plant to produce higher levels of multiple nutrients. [...] Christou said the European Union has decided to ban fungicides on wheat in five years. ”I suspect that in several years, there won’t be many wheat farmers in Europe,” he said. A genetically engineered corn has the potential to produce a substance that could be used to prevent the transmission of the AIDS virus, Christou said. But he said resistance against transgenic crops has prevented it from being studied fully.

2009-07-27 |

Stalled UK GE potato trials restarted

Genetically-modified crops are being grown in Britain for the first time in a year after controversial trials of the plants were ”secretly” restarted. Cultivation of a field of potatoes designed to be resistant to pests were abandoned over a year ago when environmental protesters ripped up the crop But, without alerting the public as is usual when such trials begin, the project has been restarted, prompting environmental groups to warn that local farms and nearby residents could be put at risk.

2009-07-27 |

European regulators disagree on Monsanto GE corn approval

European Union countries failed to authorize the sale of Monsanto Co.’s genetically modified corn on Wednesday. The European Commission said an expert panel did not reach an agreement to approve the corn and now the debate will head to a higher level with ambassadors and ministers, Reuters reported. ”This is one step in the process, and it’s unfortunate that this panel could not come to a decision on these products,” Monsanto spokeswoman Danielle Stuart said in response to an inquiry from the Business Journal.

2009-07-27 |

Monsanto and Dow Chemical win approval for GE stacked corn ”SmartStax”

Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed producer, and partner Dow Chemical Co. won U.S. and Canadian approvals to sell genetically modified SmartStax corn seed that allows farmers to plant less land with conventional corn. Their shares rose in late trading. The approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency permits most farmers in the two countries to reduce their so-called refuge of conventional corn to 5 percent of biotech acres, from 20 percent, St. Louis-based Monsanto and Midland, Michigan-based Monsanto said today in a statement.

2009-07-09 |

Landliebe profiting - German consumers reward ”GM-free” production

By introducing GM-free fresh milk last fall, Campina created a furor. Competitors and retailers viewed the kick-off critically. Retailer reactions varied, confirms Feller, but were mostly positive. [...] Consumers reward the commitment. [...] Landliebe milk sales increased during the first four months of 2009 amidst a generally receding market - around 10 percent for UHT milk and 3.9 percent for fresh milk.

2009-07-09 |

AgResearch (New Zealand) appeals High Court decision on transgenic animal applications

AgResearch will appeal the High Court decision that said AgResearch’s applications to conduct transgenic animal research were too general. The High Court decision said the lack of specifics in AgResearch’s four applications was the reason the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) should not have received the applications to carry out genetic modification of a range of species in containment facilities in New Zealand.

2009-07-09 |

Zambia’s GMO detecting lab near completion

The $450,000 laboratory for detecting Genefied Modified Mechanisms (GMOs) in Zambia is near completion at the Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI) in Lusaka. SCCI Deputy Director Fransico Miti says the laboratory situated in Chilanga area is expected to start operating early next month (August). Mr. Miti told ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka today that the multi-dollar equipment for the laboratory is already in the country.

2009-07-09 |

U.S. GE pigs to aid Chinese research into xenotransplantation

FOUR genetically engineered pigs from Harvard University in the United States are to be sent to a Chinese hospital in the southwestern Sichuan Province for use in pig-to-monkey organ transplant experiments, a doctor said yesterday. The Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital and Harvard University signed an agreement on Wednesday and the four pigs should arrive in China within three to six months, Yang Hongji, director of the hospital’s Clinical Organ Transplantation Center, said.

2009-07-09 |

Japanese researcher develop GM rice against Cedar pollen allergy

Rice that could protect people against allergies such as hay fever has moved a stage closer to clinical trials, following a successful safety assessment in monkeys. [...] The rice is designed to block symptoms of runny noses and sneezing in people allergic to Japanese cedar pollen, who account for 20 per cent of the Japanese population. It is genetically modified to contain the seven proteins within cedar pollen that provoke the most serious allergic reactions in people.

2009-07-09 |

Maui County Council (Hawai’i, USA) reviews GE taro moratorium bill

In Hawai’i, the State Legislature attempted to pass the ”Taro Security Bill,” which faltered in the state House of Representatives this year. However, in November 2008, the Hawai’i County Council passed a measure banning genetically modified (GM) taro on the Big Island, and is now encouraging Maui County to follow its lead. The bill introduced by Councilmember Bill Medeiros would prohibit ”genetically engineered and recombinant DNA taro” and make it unlawful for ”any person to test, propagate, cultivate, raise, plant, grow, introduce, or release genetically engineered or recombinant DNA kalo” in Maui County.

2009-07-08 |

On GE mosquitoes

A new strategy involves a subtle reconfiguring of the bug’s DNA. Scientists working in labs near Oxford have devised a genetic modification that sterilizes the male Aedes, transforming the critter into his own worst enemy. He can still mate—but he can’t breed. Any offspring dies before becoming fully developed. The idea is to release a huge, all-conquering swarm of the doctored insects into the wild, let them find partners among the native females and wait for the mosquito population to decline. Preliminary trials, looking at both safety and effectiveness, have already taken place in Malaysia. Within a few years, the Franken-insects could be airborne.

2009-07-08 |

Indian Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology develops GM fish

Even as the controversy rages over the transgenic Bt brinjal which awaits approval to start commercial production, Indian scientists have developed a genetically modified (GM) fish, which could be the first genetically engineered animal to get into the human food chain. [...] While a regulatory mechanism exists for overseeing the research and safety trials of GM plants before their formal approval for commercialization, no such arrangement exists for GM animals and other organisms.

2009-07-08 |

Australian scientist claim to have created GM cereal crops to grow in salty water

Scientists have found a way of genetically modifying cereal crops to grow in salty water in a move that could help alleviate hunger in some of the world’s poorest nations. [...] Professor Mark Tester, from the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine at the University of Adelaide, said preliminary tests on rice plants were ”very promising”. [...] ”The research has been undertaken in a model plant and it is important to show that this also works in crops,” [Dr Giles Oldroyd, of the John Innes Centre] said.

2009-07-08 |

GM crops are the highway to genetic holocaust

India is home to a vast reservoir of biological—hence genetic wealth. This is the foundation of the country’s food and nutritional security. Preserving the wild relatives of crop plants in the vicinity is the surest means of infusion of healthier germplasms—and hence of crop improvement and abundance. Selection by farmers and cross-breeding, if necessary, is a superior alternative to any kind of genetic engineering, which invariably reduces diversity. As for transgenic engineering, it should never, never be allowed.

2009-07-08 |

Whole Foods Market (USA) private labels to near Non-GMO seal

Whole Foods Market is undergoing a process to verify that its private labels are worthy of a new, non-genetically modified organism seal. The first of its kind compliance seal will be issued by the Non-GMO Project under its Product Verification Program. The seal makes its debut later this year. Whole Foods is a member of the Non-GMO Project, a non-profit collaboration of retailers, manufacturers, farmers and others interested in defining a standard way of verifying that a product is free of GMOs.

2009-07-08 |

Pope Benedict XVI on intellectual property rights and biotechnology

we need to affirm today that the social question has become a radically anthropological question, in the sense that it concerns not just how life is conceived but also how it is manipulated, as bio-technology places it increasingly under man’s control. In vitro fertilization, embryo research, the possibility of manufacturing clones and human hybrids: all this is now emerging and being promoted in today’s highly disillusioned culture, which believes it has mastered every mystery, because the origin of life is now within our grasp.

2009-07-07 |

Sri Lanka favours GM food: agriculture minister

Sri Lanka is not opposed to genetically modified (GM) food and is likely to allow their use with certain restrictions, [Hemakumara Nanayakkara, the non-Cabinet minister of agricultural development] said [...] ”GM food is being consumed by everyone although officially it is not allowed in Sri Lanka,” Nanayakkara said. There were imports of GM food although they were not labelled as such, he said. [...] Nanayakkara said the government was still studying the issue and ministry officials had recently held talks with an American GM specialist.

2009-07-07 |

U.S. Department of Agriculture OK sought for GE eucalyptus field trials

The quarter million eucalyptus trees that ArborGen wants to flower are a ”variety,” genetically engineered duplicates of a single Brazilian tree. The Summerville-based forest research lab has asked the U.S. Agriculture Department to permit the flowering of trees planted at 28 sites in seven states including South Carolina, [...] The five South Carolina sites comprise a total of 7.7 acres. The field tests here so far have failed, said Les Pearson, ArborGen regulatory affairs director. The trees die back during the winter and probably won’t live long enough to flower.

2009-07-07 |

Non-GE method to control aflatoxin in maize works well in Nigeria

The elimination of deadly aflatoxin, which contaminates food crops in Sub-Saharan Africa, is a step closer now scientists have shown that a control method works well in large-scale field trials. [...] Scientists from the Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the United States Department of Agriculture and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation in Kenya have been working together to develop a biological control method to reduce the amount of aflatoxin contamination in maize.

2009-07-07 |

Modern non-GE breeding ”has a brilliant future”

Without resorting to GM, researchers at the Brazilian agricultural institute Embrapa are breeding varieties of upland rice that not only ward off pests and increase yield, but also contain up to double the vital minerals (iron, zinc) found in unimproved varieties. They have tripled the amount of vitamin A in corn and boosted iron uptake in wheat. Cimmyt, a wheat- and maize-improvement center in Mexico, is breeding corn for pest resistance that has cut losses to weevils in half. The German biotech company BASF has launched an improved, non-GM strain of corn that resists striga, a weed that ravages African fields, and is working to breed high-yielding commercial strains of wheat that also resist fungus and drought.

2009-07-07 |

Philippine farmers’ organization calls for ’fair’ GMO ban implementation

Henry Mecha, secretary-general of the Small Farmers and Landtillers Association of the Philippines, said in a press release that there should be no exceptions in the implementation of anti-GM ordinances if LGU’s choose to ban non-organic crops and products to be cultivated, brought, or consumed in their areas. Mecha also urged LGU leaders to encourage farmers to join their initiative by providing them the technology, including pre and post harvest facilities so they will no longer depend on imported products that could be GM’s, the press release said.

2009-07-07 |

Pests could overcome Bt toxin mix in stacked GE cotton events

Laboratory studies suggest that it may be possible for insects to overcome two disparate toxins produced by genetically modified cotton. The results strike a cautionary note at a time when developers are racing to create crops that produce many different pesticides. Insects can become resistant to individual insecticides in much the same way as bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. One way to reduce this threat is to adopt a ’pyramid’ approach and create crops that produce multiple toxins that target the same pest.

2009-07-06 |

Malta stands firm against GMOs, pushes for nationalisation of GMO regulation

During the Environment Council meeting, Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs George Pullicino, representing the Prime Minister, who is responsible for the environment, questioned the current EU process to authorise the cultivation of GMOs. Mr Pullicino called for a new process that would allow member states a freer hand in deciding on these matters at local level. He stressed that decisions would be able to factor in local specificities, allowing European citizens to better understand the decisions.

2009-07-06 |

GMO corn: France rejects report by EU food agency

France on Friday rejected a report by the European Union’s food safety watchdog that said a controversial strain of genetically-modified corn was safe. In a joint statement, the French ecology and agriculture ministries said the Italy-based European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had failed to take into account requests to change the way it evaluated the risk. ”The conclusions of the council of European environment ministers must be respected,” the statement said, referring to a December 4, 2008 decision, approved unanimously, that had called on the agency to overhaul its assessment methods.

2009-07-06 |

China should tighten GM rice tests on exports - EU

China needs to tighten controls to ensure that none of its rice exports contain traces of a biotech strain not authorised in the European Union, the EU’s executive Commission said in a report on Wednesday. The report was based on a visit made to China by an EU inspection team in late November and early December 2008 to check Chinese controls for the presence of Bt-63 rice, a variety that has been modified to resist particular insect pests.

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