GENET-news

 Below you find the postings of the last seven days.

 

2008-11-26 |

From genes to farmers’ fields: Waterproof non-GE rice set to make waves in South Asia

”Waterproof’ versions of popular varieties of rice, which can withstand 2 weeks of complete submergence, have passed tests in farmers’ fields with flying colors. Several of these varieties are now close to official release by national and state seed certification agencies in Bangladesh and India, where farmers suffer major crop losses because of flooding of up to 4 million tons of rice per year. This is enough rice to feed 30 million people.

2008-11-26 |

Agricultural biotech a critical link to sustainability around the globe

”Biotechnology has saved the fruit and vegetable industry from destruction,” said Bomer-Lauritsen. [...] In U.S. agriculture, biotechnology is utilized in 86 percent of cotton, 92 percent of soybeans, and 80 percent of corn, Bomer-Lauritsen says. Corn yields have increased by 30 percent and soybean yields have climbed 17 percent over the last decade due to biotech and practices incorporated by farmers.

2008-11-26 |

Why GM is needed to fight world food crisis

It is still with us and not hard to find, from food prices in supermarkets worldwide to hunger in the Pacific, Asia and Africa. There were food riots in Africa and South-East Asia this year, and the crisis was linked to the fall of the Haitian government. Unless its causes are dealt with, it will worsen in the years to come. [...] When India switched to GM cotton, it increased productivity by 75pc in four years. It went from a net importer of cotton to the world’s second-largest exporter. None of us know if such gains will come from other crops, but ignoring the potential of genetic modification puts superstition ahead of science.

2008-11-26 |

Koreans breed purple non-GE anti-cancer corn

A research team at the Kangwon National University headed by Prof. Rhee Hae-ik on Sunday said they developed a purple strain of corn that is 10 times richer in anthocyanins, a natural pigment well known for its ability to prevent cancer, than ordinary varieties. [...] But Rhee said while the purple tomatoes were genetically modified -- genes of a different type of plant were inserted -- the newly developed corn was bred the traditional way.

2008-11-26 |

Gene identified as key to sorghum’s survival in toxic soils

Though many of the world’s acidic soils have aluminum levels that are toxic to food plants, subsistence farmers often depend on these soils to survive. ARS plant physiologist Leon Kochian has been a part of a multinational effort to find a gene in sorghum - a key food crop in Africa - to protect it against aluminum toxicity in acidic soils.

2008-11-26 |

FAO and EU launch non-GE virusfree cassava at 330,000 African smallholders

After years of massive crop losses caused by a devastating virus, farmers are harvesting healthy cassava - one of Africa’s principal foodstuffs - throughout the Great Lakes region, FAO announced today, hailing the achievement as a milestone in its ever stronger partnership with the European Union. By the last planting season, virus-free cassava planting material had been distributed to some 330 000 smallholders in countries struck by the virus - Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The improved crop now benefits a total of some 1.65 million people.

2008-11-25 |

Independent scientists determine Austrian GE maize study conclusions are flawed

On November 11, 2008, the Austrian Ministry of Health, Family and Youth released a report on three studies designed to assess the impact of GM corn on reproduction. [...] Doctors Lamb and DeSesso have both concluded that there are significant flaws in the study reporting and analysis which bring serious question to the validity of the findings. They agreed with Dr. Zentek that the results were inconsistent but concluded that there was no evidence of any adverse effects of the GM crop.

2008-11-25 |

Organs transplants from GE pigs could be a reality in less than a decade, claims Lord Winston

Lord Winston, the fertility expert at Imperial College London, is developing a genetically modified strain of pig that he believes could solve the shortage of organs for transplant patients. [...] Lord Winston said: ”We think we can produce transplantable organs within two or three years but then will need to carry out extensive tests. ”Within 10 years we think they could be available for hospitals.”

2008-11-25 |

Monsanto predicts GM crops coming to UK soon - when genuine benefits are can be shown

Monsanto’s head of external affairs, Colin Merritt, insists the biotech industry has learned its lessons from the past and is developing and marketing the next generation of GM products with the consumer very much in mind. [...] ”When there’s nothing obvious to show consumers as a benefit they don’t buy into it,” he admitted. But he believes that when ’genuine benefits’ are demonstrated consumers will ’buy into’ GM food, easing the path for new products.

2008-11-25 |

GMO’s in Europe - Greenpeace urges the EU to keep our food safe

On 4 December 2008, EU Environment ministers will take crucial decisions about the future of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). At the heart of the discussion are the measures that will be taken to reform the EU’s authorisation system for GMOs.

2008-11-25 |

3000 hectares of illegal GM corn in Poland

Despite a national ban, Polish farmers have bought and sown GM maize seed maize. According to the Polish maize producers’ organization, 320 hectares of GM maize were grown in 2007 and 3000 acres this year, a 10-fold increase in illegal plantings.

2008-11-25 |

Austrian ministry links GM corn to infertility

Consumption of genetically modified corn may lead to infertility, according to a new study commissioned by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, and carried out by Veterinary University Vienna. Results from a long-term feeding study with mice were interpreted as showing that consumption of a genetically modified corn developed by Monsanto (NK603 x MON810) led to lower fertility and body weight.

2008-11-24 |

Attorneys’ statements in U.S. tainted rice suit not unethical

A Lonoke County circuit judge said Monday he would not sanction attorneys for statements they made to the media in connection with a lawsuit over genetically modified rice. Lawyers for Stuttgart-based Riceland Foods Inc. asked Judge Phillip Whiteaker for a contempt finding against attorneys for a group of rice farmers who allege in a lawsuit that Riceland, the world’s largest miller and marketer of rice, contaminated the 2006 U.S. long-grain rice supply with unapproved, genetically modified rice.

2008-11-24 |

New True Food Guide launched in Australia

The Canola Edition of the True Food Guide for GE free shopping was launched today at Alex Herbert’s restaurant, Bird Cow Fish in Sydney. We were joined by Australian cooking icon Margaret Fulton and Carolyn Creswell of Carman’s Fine Food. Margaret Fulton, who had launched the first ever True Food Guide in 2002, heartily congratulated the ”green” companies – for first time, a majority of Australian food companies have committed to be GE-free, responding to growing consumer concern over the safety of eating GE food.

2008-11-24 |

Overwhelming opposition to GE papaya in the USA

Organizations came together with scientists, businesses, organic farmers, bee keepers and others to oppose a U.S. Department of Agriculture proposal to allow the commercialization of genetically engineered papaya trees in Florida. Over 12,000 people opposed the commercialization while only 17 people submitted statements supporting the commercialization of GE papaya. The STOP GE Trees Campaign, which initiated the call for opposition, includes 137 organizations across the world that have united in the demand for a global ban on GE trees of all types.

2008-11-24 |

Critics gear up to challenge GEAC’s approval of GM crops in Indian Supreme Court

The critics of the transgenic technology in agriculture are gearing up to challenge the regulator’s decision in the Supreme Court for allowing limited field trial of several genetically modified (GM) food crops, including Monsanto India’s Hishell and 900M Gold corn hybrids.

2008-11-24 |

Monsanto beets down opposition to GE sugar beets

Kevin Golden, staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety, says the unknown long-term environmental risks of genetically modified crops outweigh short-term benefits. ”We admit Roundup is a less toxic alternative than a lot of the herbicides, but weed resistance is developing really fast,” Golden says. ”Eventually, Roundup becomes obsolete and farmers have to use these really nasty herbicides. It’s a self-defeating prophecy to use this as a silver bullet.”

2008-11-24 |

Indian Bt cotton farmers pip US counterparts in farm income

Indian cotton farmers have earned more income per hectare than their US counterparts, thanks to the adoption of genetically modified technology developed by companies like Monsanto, says a UK-based agri-economist. ”Farmers in developing countries like India are having better farm income benefits compared to the US, Australia and Argentina,” agri-economist Graham Brookes told PTI. After paying for GM technology, cotton farmers in India have earned an additional average income of 225 dollars (Rs 9,956) per hectare between 2002 and 2006 against 94 dollars per hectare in the US and 133 dollars per hectare in Argentina, he said.

2008-11-21 |

Who owns nature?

In a world where market research is becoming increasingly proprietary and pricey, ETC Group’s report names names, discloses market share and provides top 10 industry rankings up and down the corporate food chain. Not all the corporations identified in ETC Group’s new report are household names, but collectively they control a staggering share of the commercial products found on industrial farms, in our refrigerators and medicine cabinets.

2008-11-21 |

DEFRA (UK) responds to secret GM crop trial claims

DEFRA has said it cannot confirm reports suggesting that the government intends to conduct future genetically modified crop trials in secret. [...] a DEFRA official told Farmers Weekly that it was taking stock of the situation and that no announcements had been made on the measures. However, the official added: ”Sensible and credible decisions on GM organisms cannot be taken without solid scientific evidence.

2008-11-21 |

Coffee breeders select non-GE low-caffeine varieties

Mr. Illy assembled a team of nine agronomists and technicians, who spent the next five years identifying Laurina plants in the collection on which to build a low-caffeine bean. [...] By the time Illy began conducting more successful field tests of the plant in the rich volcanic soil of El Salvador in 2000, several companies had already begun assembling low-caf teams of their own, and others were soon to follow.

2008-11-21 |

Urgency eases for GM wheat as prices fall

The push to promote genetically modified (GM) wheat to combat global food shortages could slow as global commodity prices ease, a top industry executive said on Sunday. ”Now that prices have fallen off their peak, I don’t think it will be a priority,” said Vijay Iyengar, managing director of the Singapore-based grains trader Agrocorp International Pte Ltd.
”Because of the record high prices we saw the push for increasing supplies, and so the call for genetically modified grain seeds received a lot of attention.”

2008-11-21 |

Lake County Board (California, USA) focuses on forming GE advisory committee

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday directed that an advisory committee be formed to find a middle ground on the issue of genetically engineered (GE) in Lake County. During the hearing, which ran about a half hour, the board once more heard input both from those who favored a ban and those who oppose it, but the focus of the discussion was on the committee and how it could be formed to ensure that the different sides hear each other.

2008-11-21 |

Monsanto’s non-GE drought-resistant cotton only available with other GE traits

He says a variety with more efficient water use will perform better under irrigation and will exhibit a better yield response under stress. ”This will be a huge benefit to growers. We will have a broader base of tests across various environments and regions. Utilizing this testing platform and advances in our molecular breeding program we hope to identify lines that handle tough environmental conditions better.” [...] Conventional breeding remains an integral part of the process. ”That’s the basis of a stronger platform,” he says. But he does not expect conventional varieties to move the market.

2008-11-20 |

EU on track to grant quick approval for Monsanto soybean

European Union governments late Wednesday couldn’t agree on whether to allow Monsanto Co. to import a new genetically modified soybean, sending the decision back to the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive arm, where it is likely to be approved. [...] That is encouraging for some in the industry who have long complained that the E.U.’s system is unnecessarily slow. ”It’s moved faster than is usual in our industry,” said Nathalie Moll of EuropaBio, the lobbying group for the biotech industry in the E.U., ”but that’s the speed it should move at.”

2008-11-20 |

Poland to remain free of GMOs

Poland will remain free of GMOs but scientific institutions will be able to conduct research on genetically modified organisms – is today’s declaration of the Polish government. The cabinet has decided to allow specialized laboratories to continue work with GMOs, for instance testing new drugs or investigating genetic diseases, but the organisms must be kept separate from the natural environment and human beings.

2008-11-20 |

GE ’Enviropig’ may go to market in the USA

It’s been called ”Frankenfood.” But backers of genetically engineered meat say it’s just as tasty and safe for consumers as regular cuts from the butcher. We’re not talking about mad scientists holed up in castles. Some of the biggest links in the food chain are expecting farm animals with altered DNA to end up on the dinner plate -- unless the Food and Drug Administration says no. The creators of ”Frankenfood” push health and costs benefits, but diners also could be doing their part for the environment by gorging on modified pork chops in the not-too-distant future.

2008-11-20 |

GM canarypox vaccine gets green light in New Zealand

A live, genetically modified, canarypox virus vaccine has been given the green light to protect horses in New Zealand if there is a outbreak of equine influenza. If used, it will be the first time a genetically modified organism has been released into the environment. The Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) has approved an application by the Racing Board and Equine Health Association to use the vaccine under certain conditions.

2008-11-20 |

New Zealand’s authority amends AgResearch approvals for GE animal trials

The Environmental Risk Management Authority has made a minor amendment to the AgResearch field test approvals granted in November 1999 and May 2001 respectively, that allowed AgResearch to conduct contained field tests involving GM cattle. [...]
* No new GM cattle can be produced or bred from 18 November 2008.
* The existing GM animals can be kept in outdoor containment to allow for decisions to be made on new applications from AgResearch.
* If the new applications are declined, the GM animals must be euthanized within one year.

2008-11-20 |

Uganda GM banana fails to defeat diseases

A field trial of a Genetically-Modified (GM) banana variety in Uganda has failed to defeat the occurrence of banana diseases. The variety was attacked by Black Sigatoka disease, which can cut a banana tree’s fruit production by half. [...] ”Depending on where the gene was inserted, it expressed itself inside the crop in a different manner. Our next target will be to see which crop exhibits stronger resistance when the gene is inserted and then we can conduct more experiments,” Kiggundu noted.

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