GENET-news

 Below you find the postings of the last seven days.

 

2009-01-28 |

Nearly a billion people go hungry every day – can GM crops help feed them?

The major problem, said Watson, is not one that GM crops will solve. He stressed the need for good roads to get crops to markets, and simple technologies that will help reduce post-harvest losses in Africa, which currently stand at between 30 and 40%. ”GM is a totally oversold technique,” he said.

2009-01-28 |

Farmer defies GM ’ban’ in Wales (UK)

In what may be the first example of direct action in favour of genetically modified (GM) crops, a farmer has defied the Welsh government by growing modified maize. Farmer and agricultural consultant Jonathon Harrington says he grew small amounts of two kinds of GM maize on his farm near Hay-on-Wye, and also gave seeds to two local farmers. The Welsh Assembly Government has declared the country to be a GM-free zone, but in the wake of Harrington’s actions it admitted that it is powerless to enforce this declaration.

2009-01-26 |

Avoid GM seeds, Indian farmers told

For about 10 days now, a group of 23 farmers from South Africa has been going around the south Indian States telling farmers to be ultra cautious about the genetically modified (GM) seeds, crops and food besides learning from the Indian expertise in agriculture. The group was here on Sunday for an interactive session with organic farmers of Tamil Nadu. The meeting saw exchange of ideas and experiences in farming. Vetavalam Manikandan and other farmers traced the journey of Indian agriculture since Independence through green revolution and the gains of organic farming.

2009-01-26 |

Greenpeace calls for urgent protection of Thai rice from GMO contamination

Greenpeace unveiled the Guinness World Record certifying Thailand as the largest exporter of rice in the world. Greenpeace nominated Thailand for this prestigious record to generate greater pride about Thai rice and raise people’s awareness on the need to protect it from the dangers of genetic contamination. Thailand exported 8,094,000 tonnes of rice in 2007, which amounts to 27 percent of all rice traded in world markets.

2009-01-26 |

6,000-year-old species of rice discovered in Meghalaya (India)

Meghalaya Mission for Indigenous Knowledge has found a 6000-year-old traditional species of rice in the Garo hills of the state. [...] Women are the caretakers of these varieties of rice. They select the right varieties for cultivation and handle processing and storage of rice. Men help in cultivation and manage the fields. ”These hardy strains of rice must be protected and should not be contaminated by any hybrids or genetically modified (GM) crops,” the document paper of the Meghalaya Mission for Indigenous Knowledge noted.

2009-01-26 |

Lake County (USA) approves GE crop advisory committee members

On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors approved the membership of a new committee that will take up the divisive issue of genetically engineered (GE) crops in Lake County. Supervisors Denise Rushing and Rob Brown, along with Deputy Administrative Officer Debra Sommerfield of the county’s Economic Development Department, took applications for the committee and on Monday sat down to make their selections from among a number of qualified community members.

2009-01-26 |

Top chefs push Obama to improve food policy and label GE food

Lidia Bastianich, a New York-based Italian chef who has starred in several cooking shows on public television, says the government needs to encourage regulations and incentives to small farmers to give them the opportunity to compete against the ”big giants.” Chef Tom Colicchio, the lead judge on the popular cable television series ”Top Chef,” agrees. He says foods that are genetically engineered should be labeled as such and fewer subsidies should go to corporate farms.

2009-01-26 |

Vermont (USA) dairy cooperative to stop using rBST milk

The region’s largest dairy cooperative wants to phase out use of a controversial growth hormone that’s used to boost milk production. The Agri-Mark dairy co-op says it’s following the lead of its customers - who have rejected milk from hormone-treated cows.

2009-01-22 |

Mongolia established National Biosafety Committee

The National Biosecurity Committee held Tuesday its meeting to review the last year’s report and approve the plan for 2009. In 2000, Mongolia joined Cartagena Protocol on Biosecurity, passed the law on genetically modified organism in 2007, and established the national biosecurity committee at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

2009-01-22 |

IRRI project aims at developing rice with 50% higher yields

An international team of scientists is attempting to develop a new rice strain that will use less water and fertilizer but could boost yields by up to 50 percent to meet growing demand, a research institute said Wednesday. [...] The project aims to improve the efficiency of a rice plant’s photosynthesis, the process by which plants use solar energy to capture carbon dioxide and convert it into carbohydrates.
Some species, including rice, have a mode of photosynthesis known as C3 in which the capture of carbon dioxide is relatively inefficient. Other plants, such as maize and sorghum, have evolved a much more efficient form of photosynthesis known as C4.

2009-01-22 |

U.S. industry weighs benefits and perils of GM potatoes

Once burned, the U.S. potato industry is still shy about embracing genetically modified spuds. Industry leaders want assurances that major buyers, consumers and U.S. trading partners will accept genetically modified potatoes prior to any more commercial releases. ”We are concerned that the realities of some international markets may override the science and create market disruptions to important trade,” the industry’s official position statement on biotechnology says in part.

2009-01-22 |

Kerala (India) should lead the fight against GM food

”India should be declared a GM-free country,” said Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran here today. He was inaugurating the workshop on ’Impact of Genetically Modified (GM) Food and Crops on health and biodiversity’ organised by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board. The Minister said that Kerala had already been declared a GM-free State and we should lead the fight in defending the country against GM foods. ”We should abide by nature and defend ourselves from being laboratories of genetically-modified foods,” he said.

2009-01-22 |

Social and economic impacts of biotechnology

Biotechnology has the potential to substantially increase agricultural productivity, influence markets, and in some cases invent new uses for traditional crops. However, concerns accompany these potential benefits. A group of scientists from Virginia examined the benefits, costs, and risks associated with agricultural products arising from biotechnology research.
With funding from USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), George Norton and colleagues at Virginia Polytechnic Institute focused their study on two crops: tobacco and rice.

2009-01-22 |

US prepares to block influx of unapproved GM food

AFTER a decade of exporting its genetically modified crops all over the world, the US is preparing to block foreign GM foods from entering the country - if they are deemed to threaten its agriculture, environment or citizens’ health, that is. The warning was given to the US Department of Agriculture, which polices agricultural imports, by its own auditor, the Office of Inspector General (OIG): ”Unless international developments in transgenic plants and animals are closely monitored, USDA could be unaware of potential threats that particular new transgenic plants or animals might pose to the nation’s food supply.”

2009-01-21 |

EU executive recommends approval for biotech corn growing

The European Commission Wednesday recommended farmers be allowed to grow two new varieties of genetically modified crops in the European Union, only the second time it has taken such a step in the past decade, a commission spokeswoman said. The recommendation applies to two strains of genetically modified corn: Bt-11, developed by Syngenta, and 1507, created by a joint venture between Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a subsidiary of DuPont Co., and Mycogen Seeds, a unit of Dow Chemical Co..

2009-01-21 |

UK government scientific adviser: GM may help feed growing population

Bob Watson to argue research is needed to determine whether GM crops can help feed growing population in world affected by climate change
One of the government’s chief scientific advisers will wade into the debate on genetically modified (GM) foods later today, by arguing that they could make a valuable contribution to feeding the growing global population as the climate continues to change.

2009-01-21 |

New alliances for GE crop development

DuPont and Athenix today announced they have entered into a research collaboration to improve insect control in corn and soybeans. Under the agreement, DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred will use proprietary insectresistance trait genes from Athenix to develop and commercialize next-generation corn and soybean seed products.

2009-01-21 |

GTC and its GE pharma goats partly back in Nasdaq’s good graces

Transgenic therapeutics company GTC Biotherapeutics Inc. reports it has heard from the Listing Qualifications Staff of The Nasdaq Stock Market indicating that the Framingham company has regained compliance with the minimum market value requirement for continued listing on The Nasdaq Capital Market. By exceeding $35 million of market capitalization for 10 consecutive trading days, GTC has cleared one hurdle in its race to keep from being delisted. GTC also has until at least July 20, 2009, to regain compliance with the minimum $1 bid price requirement for stay listed on the Nasdaq market.

2009-01-21 |

Pharming redeems 5 mln euros in convertible debt

Dutch biotechnology firm Pharming said on Monday it is redeeming 5 million euros ($6.7 million) in convertible debt by paying 1 million euros in cash and converting the rest into shares. ”Pharming considers this situation as an opportunity to strengthen its balance sheet at favourable terms,” the company said. Rabo Securities, which rates Pharming shares ”reduce”, agreed, but said in a note it remained worried about its cash flow position.

2009-01-21 |

Hong Kong scientists produce GE rice with bird flu vaccine

Hong Kong scientists on Friday claimed to have created a genetically modified rice that provides protection for chickens from the bird flu virus. The rice contains genetic material from the traditional Chinese medicine plant called yuzhu which has been found to inhibit the growth of viruses such as the deadly H5N1.

2009-01-20 |

USDA launches biotechnology quality management system pilot project

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today introduced a pilot of the biotechnology quality management system (BQMS). The system is part of continued efforts to enhance compliance with the regulatory requirements for field trials and movements of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms. ”Our goal with the biotechnology quality management system is to give developers the tools they need to better comply with our regulations,” said Michael Gregoire, deputy administrator for APHIS’ biotechnology regulatory services program.

2009-01-20 |

GE breaches in New Zealand ’low risk’ to environment

A Crown science institute admits it made serious errors by allowing a controversial genetic engineering trial to breach its strict safety requirements. However, Crop & Food Research believes the environment was at very little risk from its mistakes, and has rejected calls by anti-GE campaigners for such trials to be shut down.

2009-01-20 |

EU fails to approve Bayer's LibertyLink GE rapeseed and GE carnation imports

EU ministers failed to reach a majority on Monday to approve applications for importing a genetically modified rapeseed and carnation flower, paving the way for a default approval by the EU executive, officials said. The rapeseed, developed by Germany’s Bayer CropScience to resist certain glufosinate-ammonium herbicides and known by its codename T25, was discontinued from commercial planting after the 2005 season. Only a small stock of the rapeseed remains, in Canada, and could be exported to EU markets if approval is granted.

2009-01-20 |

Debt drives Indian farmers to suicide

An estimated 16,625 farmers across India killed themselves in 2007, nearly one fourth of them in the state of Maharashtra. Farmer suicides are particularly endemic in villages such as Baggi in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, an agrarian belt once renowned as a prosperous ”white gold” or cotton-growing region, but now infamous as ”suicide country”. [...] Vidarbha cotton farmers’ yearly costs – for genetically modified seeds, pesticides, fertilisers, electricity, water and labour – continue to rise, while the price of cotton has been declining with decreased productivity and quality.

2009-01-20 |

Mahyco’s GM rice contaminates naturla rice in Jharkhand (India)

Gene Campaign today confirmed the contamination of rice in Jharkhand, by genetically modified Bt rice belonging to the Mahyco company. Jharkhand, along with Orissa and Chattisgarh, is known to be the birthplace of rice, the region where the maximum genetic diversity of rice is found. GM rice carrying the Bt gene was planted by the Mahyco company in field trials in Saparong village in Ratu block /Ranchi violating all rules prescribed by the government for such testing.

2009-01-20 |

Pakistan Governmet in talks to buy Bt cotton seed from Monsanto for USD 1bn

Pakistan is in the process of signing a $1bn agreement for the purchase of BT cotton seed from Monsanto, a seed developing company of the United States, to increase its production by 40 per cent. [...] According to preliminary talks with the company, it would charge $21 or Rs1,680 for sowing BT seeds over one acre. Of that amount, the company would return $4.2 or Rs336 to the farmer for research purpose.

2009-01-19 |

Biodiversity can bloom - in GM fields, too

The study showed that special incentives are required in order to get farmers to change their spraying behaviour enough to achieve a positive effect on biodiversity. Unsurprisingly, an important requirement is that the change is profitable. Apart from that, GT crops also meet with practical barriers including the need for them to fit into the existing crop system.
There are also attitude barriers. There is significant scepticism with regard to accepting the rise in weed population that results from growing GT crops and spraying so late in the season that a positive effect on biodiversity is achieved. This applies even if the late spraying is not a problem with regard to crop yield.

2009-01-19 |

Too early to judge GM canola trial results

The organisers of the National Variety Trials have urged people not to jump to conclusions about the performance of the genetically modified canola varieties that were trialled last year, saying it is still to early to judge their merit. [...] The RR GM canola trials were conducted at five locations: three trial sites in Victoria, located near Wunghnu, Lake Bolac and Horsham; and two trial sites in NSW located near Forbes and Wagga Wagga. ”As a result of the dry season and frosts only two trials, Horsham and Forbes, were successful,” NVT manager, Alan Bedggood said today.

2009-01-19 |

UK scientists breed non-GE purple potato

Highly pigmented purple spuds with health properties are currently being developed by plant scientists at the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) in Perthshire along with US researchers. The new tattie – based on a variety called Purple Majesty – will be rich in the antioxidants that protect the body against a range of conditions, including cancer and heart disease. And as they have been developed from naturally occurring purple potato varieties, developers believe they will be more acceptable to consumers than genetically modified versions.

2009-01-19 |

Non-GE soya and food culture in Japan

In mid-September last year, Wahei Go, chairman of a Hokkaido tofu association, traveled to Ohio in the U.S. to buy soy beans that were not genetically modified. The farmers he met told him that although they still produced non-GM soy beans, this year buyers from China had also expressed an interest in non-GM crops and therefore they would sell to the highest bidder.

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