GENET-news

 Below you find the postings of the last seven days.

 

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.

2009-01-19 |

IITA (Nigeria) launches new non-GE Striga-resistant maize varieties

Maize farmers in West and Central Africa (WCA) could soon enjoy increased harvests and reduced crop losses due to Striga with the introduction of two new resistant varieties — TZLComp1Syn W-1 (Sammaz 16) and IWDC2SynF2 (Sammaz 15) — developed by IITA in partnership with the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, Nigeria.

2009-01-19 |

Conventional soybeans offer high yields at lower cost

Conventional soybean varieties are making a comeback. Lower seed and weed-control costs, price incentives at the grain elevator and yields that rival Roundup Ready beans have renewed interest in conventional varieties, said Grover Shannon, an agronomist at the University of Missouri Delta Research Center in the Missouri Bootheel. [...] Overseas demand for non-genetically-modified soybeans and the tripling of costs for glyphosate herbicide have made conventional varieties more appealing to many growers, he said.

2009-01-16 |

GM crops ’reduce toxic pesticide use’ in Australia

The NSW government says the move to genetically modified (GM) crops has greatly reduced the need for toxic pesticides such as endosulfan, which the Greens want banned. [...] New Zealand banned endosulfan in December, leaving Australia as one of the last countries in the developed world to condone its use.

2009-01-16 |

Australian GE canola trials show lower yields than conventional canola

Genetically modified canola crops in Victoria have performed no better than their non-genetically modified counterparts as Western Australia prepares to hold trials later this year. Results from Grains Research and Development Council showed the yields, from the first independent trial crops in Horsham and Forbes in Victoria, were 0.7 tonne per hectare for GM and 0.8t/ha ha for non-GM. The results are not good news for those wanting to farm GM canola, as to break even with the technology, profits must increase by up to 16 per cent.

2009-01-16 |

U.S. FDA to adopt more transparent process for GE animals

The Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday it would make the process it uses to approve genetically engineered animals more transparent, but consumer groups expressed concern the government was not going far enough to protect the pubic. The guidelines being finalized by the FDA bring the decades-old technology of genetic engineering for animals one step closer to the dinner table. Officials from the FDA would not speculate when the first of the applications, which are in various stages of development, would be approved.

2009-01-16 |

Discouraging GM crops, not feed, is Irish government policy

DISCOURAGING cultivation of genetically modified crops is Irish government policy, rather than discouraging the importation or consumption of authorised GM food or feed, according to Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith. ”Following the publication of the commitment in the Programme for Government to seek to negotiate the establishment of an all Ireland GM free zone, a process of elaborating and teasing out the implications of the commitment began among the relevant Departments,” he told the Dáil.

2009-01-16 |

EU ministers to examine GM rapeseed and carnation types

EU farm ministers will consider next week whether to approve imports of two genetically modified products, a rapeseed type and a carnation flower, but are unlikely to break their long deadlock over biotechnology. Diplomats said the two applications, scheduled for the ministers’ meeting on Monday, would probably end in the usual voting stalemate that eventually leads to a default approval by the European Commission when ministers fail to reach consensus.

2009-01-16 |

Kenyan MP and scientist clash over GMO bill

A scientist and an MP on Thursday clashed over whether Kenya should adopt genetically modified crops to counter the rising food shortage. University of Nairobi lecturer Gideon Nyamasyo said the only way Kenya could free herself from the pangs of hunger was to adopt genetically modified organisms (GMOs). [...] However, Imenti North MP Silas Muriuki dismissed the lecturer’s suggestions, saying Kenyans would be put at risk if the technology was adopted.

2009-01-15 |

USDA unable to weed out unapproved modified foods

The U.S. food supply is at risk of being invaded by unapproved imports of genetically modified crops and livestock, a USDA internal audit report released Wednesday said. The report, released by the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Office of Inspector General, said the USDA does not have an import control policy to regulate imported GMO animals. Its policy for GMO crops, though adequate now, could become outdated as other nations boost production of their own GMO crops, the report added.

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