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2009-05-11 |

Novel upland non-GE drought-tolerant rice variety released in Jharkhand, India

A novel upland rice variety, Birsa Vikas Dhan 111 (PY 84), has recently been released in the Indian state of Jharkhand. It was bred using marker-assisted backcrossing with selection for multiple quantitative trait loci (QTL) for improved root growth to improve its performance under drought conditions. It is an early maturing, drought tolerant and high yielding variety with good grain quality suitable for the direct seeded uplands and transplanted medium lands of Eastern India.

2009-05-11 |

Marubeni and Brazil’s Amaggi strike deal for import of non-GE soy to Japan

Trading giant Marubeni Corp. said Friday it has concluded a cooperation deal with leading Brazilian agri-food company Amaggi Exportacao e Importacao for the procurement of soybeans, corn and other grains to enable stable supplies for Japan and China. [...] Amaggi owns 215,000 hectares of proprietary farmland on which it grows non-genetically modified soybeans. [...] The two companies are aiming to increase the annual volume of non-GMO soybeans and other grains like corn that they will jointly procure to 1 million tons in 2010, a volume equal to 3 percent of Japan’s annual imports of the products, Marubeni said.

2009-05-11 |

African scientists announce non-GE breakthrough in battle against aflatoxin

Scientists of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Kenya, the United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Nigeria, have developed a safe and natural method that could drastically cut aflatoxin contamination in African food crops by as much as 99 per cent. 
 The partners collaboratively demonstrated the ability of a natural fungi found in Nigeria to significantly reduce concentrations of aflatoxins in maize.

2009-05-08 |

Hormone free milk - Kansas (USA) Governor vetoes anti labeling rule

Just weeks after agrichemical businesses won in Ohio court, consumers win in Kansas, where Gov. Sebelius vetoed a measure that would have prevented dairies from simply labeling their milk ”hormone free.” Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is standing up for consumers’ right to know in a big way. She has repelled the latest attempt by the agrichemical industry to prevent the simple labeling of milk that is produced without the use of synthetic hormones.

2009-05-08 |

Nebraska (USA) bill would stop counties from banning GE crops

Several counties in California have banned growing genetically engineered crops and livestock, and about 100 towns in New England have passed resolutions supporting limits on genetically engineered crops. In Nebraska, a bill aimed at assuring Nebraska towns and counties don’t stray into those kinds of bans is moving through the Legislature. The bill (LB263), which would make certain state law is pre-eminent and that it overrides city and county regulations of seed or fertilizer, gained first-round approval Wednesday.

2009-05-08 |

Indian Supreme Court asks Government to respond to safety concerns of GMOs

India’s apex court on Thursday directed the government to respond to the proposals for setting up of an independent laboratory for carrying out relevant health and bio-safety tests of genetically modified (GM) crops and formation of a committee to address the problems of regulation for ensuring safety of GM crops.

2009-05-08 |

Committee formed to discuss GMO ban of Negros Occidental (Philipines)

Gov. Isidro Zayco yesterday said he is creating an ad hoc committee to find a win-win solution to the call to lift the ban on Genetically Modified Organisms entering Negros Occidental and the opposition to such move. The ad hoc committee will be chaired by Board Member Adolfo Mangao, who heads the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Agriculture, with Provincial Agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan and Provincial Veterinarian Renante Decena as vice chairmen, Zayco said.

2009-05-08 |

Philippine bill eyes public listing of genetically modified crops

A bill has been filed in Congress pushing for the registration of all genetically modified organisms (GMO) used by companies and other institutions in the country. [...] Rep. Narciso Santiago, the bill’s author, said this registry should be open to the public upon request. He added that the information should also be accessible via the DA’s official website.

2009-05-08 |

Argentine glyphosate lawsuit alarms soy farmers

An environmental group’s push to temporarily ban a widely used herbicide in Argentina, citing a scientist’s preliminary study, has sparked concern in the country’s huge soy industry and generated disagreement within the government. An environmental group filed suit in April before the Supreme Court, seeking a ban on glyphosate, a weed killer used with genetically modified soybeans that has helped fuel Argentina’s soy boom by dramatically boosting yields.

2009-05-07 |

”Failure to Yield” report turns on biotech spin machines

Since the launch of Failure to Yield, several comments complained that the report does not include studies from the developing world. In essence, they claim that the report misses important parts of the picture. I think these comments are off the mark. By criticizing what is not in the report, they divert attention from its core finding that a solid body of research shows that despite decades of trying, genetically engineered (GE) traits in the United States contribute only marginally to increased yields, while at the same time, other means of agricultural innovation have shown great success at increasing crop yields.

2009-05-07 |

Kenyan farmers set to cultivate first GM cotton seeds

Kenya is on the verge of growing genetically modified cotton to increase its production and help reduce rural poverty while enabling local textile manufacturers access to cheap raw materials. Genetically modified cotton seeds known as biotech seeds (Bt) are on their final field testing stage by the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute pending mass distribution to farmers in January next year, said Mr Joshua Oluyali, the acting chief executive officer of Cotton Development Authority.

2009-05-07 |

MP wants Kenya PM to explain GE maize saga

An MP wants Prime Minister Raila Odinga to explain why genetically modified and ”poisonous maize” was imported even after the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service raised the red flag. Kaloleni MP Kambi Kazungu told the House that even though 90 per cent of the maize imports from South Africa were genetically modified, its entry into the country was not blocked despite the ”obvious adverse effects associated with GMOs.”

2009-05-07 |

KARI now field-tests resilience of Bt Maize in Kenya

The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) reports that it has adopted Bt maize which is more resistant to crop pest, chief of which is maize stem borer responsible for up to 40 percent yield loss. According to Dr Joel Mutisya, KARI hopes the variety will be resistant and boost maize productivity; the trials would test the resilience of the breed. ”KARI is pleased to announce the planting of these trials after years of laboratory research, as part of approach to help Kenyan farmers fight Stem Borers,” he said during an interview.

2009-05-07 |

GM canola segregation row continues in Australia

GM campaigners continue to noisily protest against GrainCorp’s decision to mix genetically modified (GM) canola with conventional canola at some sites, in spite of GrainCorp’s assurance that GM-free segregations will still be offered. Gene Ethics director Bob Phelps said there was no longer any pretence GM and non-GM segregations would be maintained. ”GM companies have lied for 20 years, that GM and non-GM canola could and would be kept separate so farmers, processors and shoppers had GM-free choice,” Mr Phelps said.

2009-05-07 |

Uganda searches for resistant GE banana variety

THE National Agricultural Research Organisation has developed a system of improving banana varieties using genetic engineering. They have identified some genetically-modified banana lines from a confined field trial at Kawanda that exhibit improved resistance to the black sigatoka disease. Black sigatoka, which affects the East African highland banana, also known as matooke, is a leaf spot disease caused by a fungus. It causes about 30-50% yield loss.

2009-05-06 |

More GM maize planted in SA according to Monsanto

Plantings of genetically modified (GM) maize in South Africa have increased dramatically, agriculture company Monsanto said on Tuesday. Of the white maize planted in the Delmas, Nigel and Leandra in Mpumalanga 74 percent was GM and of the yellow maize 67 percent, Kobus Steenekamp, biotechnology and chemical products manager said a statement on Tuesday. While unable to give comparative figures, he said they had been ”substantially” lower in the previous year.

2009-05-06 |

News on the Vatican‘ GE crop conference

”There is a lot of propaganda being used by the two sides,” Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the academy’s chancellor, told [...] The majority of the 41 speakers listed on the academy’s Web site support the use of modified crops for boosting food production and the creation of new sources of energy from nonfood crops. The bishop said that’s because there are very few scientists who oppose the use of genetically modified organisms.

2009-05-06 |

NAFTA harming Mexico corn industry

Several interviews were broadcast on U.S. television news services that highlighted the fact that Mexican farmers cannot compete with subsidized corn imported from the U.S. These farmers were forced to move into makeshift dwellings in the shadows of Mexico City. As advocates for family farmers, in the U.S. and abroad, the American Agriculture Movement has worked to make this catastrophe known and has worked with Congress in an attempt to correct the injustice for many years.

2009-05-06 |

Pakistan to focus on GE crops to increase output

Pakistan would have to focus on genetically modified and hybrid crops to tap true potential of agricultural productivity in the country in the shortest possible time. This was the upshot of speeches made at a seminar on Challenges and Opportunities in Agbiotec in Pakistan. Provincial Minister for Agriculture Ahmad Ali Aulakh, LCCI President Mian Muzaffar Ali, Vice President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh and former LCCI Vice President Shahzad Ali Malik threw light on the issues being faced by the agricultural sector in Pakistan.

2009-05-06 |

Monsanto sues DuPont for Roundup patent infringement

US biotech firm Monsanto announced Tuesday it filed suit against chemical giant DuPont alleging infringement of its patents for ”Roundup Ready” herbicide-resistant crops. The suit filed in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri, names EI du Pont de Nemours and Company and its subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International for ”unlawful use of Monsanto’s proprietary Roundup Ready herbicide tolerant technologies in soybeans and corn.”

2009-05-06 |

Monsanto loses bid to lift German ban on MON810 GE corn

Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed producer, lost an emergency court request to lift a German ban on genetically modified corn. Germany’s prohibition on a strain of genetically modified corn made by Monsanto was justified because ”a preliminary assessment” showed the plant raises a potential danger, the Braunschweig Administrative Court said in an e-mailed statement today.
The law doesn’t require ”a scientific finding that shows a danger for the environment beyond doubt,” the court said in its ruling. ”It’s enough that new or additional information indicates that humans or animals may be hurt.”

2009-04-29 |

Canadian activists want Monsanto’s GM alfalfa banned

A coalition of farm groups and activists wants a ban on the commercial use of a genetically modified alfalfa, saying it could overwhelm natural varieties of the crop.
The plant in question was modified by Monsanto to be tolerant of the company’s Roundup weed killer, but opponents fear its genes could be spread far and wide by natural pollination. They also say there’s no need for the change, which would only serve to benefit Monsanto. The modified alfalfa was approved by the Canadian government in 2005, but cannot be used commercially until the company meets registration requirements.

2009-04-29 |

GMOs in the Caribbean region

Venezuela is regulating transgenic products through a controlled framework under study, reported the Ministry of Science, Technology and Intermediate Industries. [...] In a recent talk on transgenic products, Flores explained that although the purpose is to increase and improve food production, consumers demand information on the chemical and biotechnological additives and the effects on the body.

2009-04-29 |

Poverty: Supervitamin corn against world hunger

A transgenic hypervitaminised corn could be used in poor countries to deal with serious nutritional deficiencies caused by a poor diet often based on cereal crops. [...] Destined for farmers in poor countries, once it has passed laboratory tests, the hypervitaminised corn will be available for everyone: the University of Lerida guarantees that the seeds will be distributed for free and will be used for cultivation and consumption by small producer who are unable to afford them.

2009-04-29 |

Indian non-hybrid Bt cotton seeds ready for distribution in four states

After ten long years of research punctuated with technical delays, the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) in Nagpur is ready with 20,000 packets of desi Bt cotton seeds for distribution to farmers starting next month. The Bikaneri Narma (BN Bt), as it is called, is a variety and not a hybrid which was the only option available to farmers till date. [...] The seeds will be available for Rs 200 per 2 kg bag as against Rs 750 per 450 gm bag of hybrids currently sold by national and multinational companies like Mahyco, Rasi, Ankur and Nuziveedu.

2009-04-29 |

Is the UK ready to rethink its stance on GM?

Faced with climate change and a global population pushing seven billion, we need serious solutions, says ecologist Rosie Hails. And like it or not, she thinks scientists, politicians and the public need to reconsider GM. [...] we need a change in legislation. Current environmental laws have many strengths but focus on risks and do not consider benefits.

2009-04-29 |

New GE virus-built battery could power cars, electronic devices

For the first time, MIT researchers have shown they can genetically engineer viruses to build both the positively and negatively charged ends of a lithium-ion battery. The new virus-produced batteries have the same energy capacity and power performance as state-of-the-art rechargeable batteries being considered to power plug-in hybrid cars, and they could also be used to power a range of personal electronic devices, said Angela Belcher, the MIT materials scientist who led the research team.

2009-04-29 |

Transgenic seeds in developing countries – experience, challenges, perspectives

Due to insufficient data, it is currently impossible to carry out a final evaluation of the size and distribution of profits in terms of business and economics which have been achieved by cultivating transgenic plants in developing and emerging countries. Studies which claim to be able to do this are not backed up scientifically and are based on unstable projections. Even the case studies from China and Brazil could not improve this situation: The studies published to date on the economic results of Bt cotton cultivation in China are, for instance, based on the data from just a few years and just a few hundred hectares (out of an overall acreage of 5.5 million hectares) and demonstrate enormous fluctuations; for Brazil, no publications at all exist on the cultivation results, only estimations.

2009-04-29 |

GE ’Mini-pig’ a promising sign for transplants for humans

A team of Korean scientists has successfully produced a genetically engineered and cloned piglet that is partially deprived of the genes that cause the human body to reject pig organ transplants, the Science Ministry said yesterday. The world’s second birth of a so-called ”mini-pig” is expected to pave the way for more successful pig-to-human transplants.

2009-04-29 |

More than 50 new non-GE drought-tolerant maize varieties released for African farmers

Maize is a highly diverse crop, ensuring ample scope for genetically enhancing its tolerance to drought through breeding techniques designed specifically for this purpose. CIMMYT and IITA work with national partners to adapt and apply such techniques in Africa. As a result, more than 50 new drought-tolerant varieties and hybrids have been developed and released for dissemination by private seed companies, national agencies and nongovernmental organizations. African farmers now grow many of those varieties, which yield 20-50% more than others under drought, on hundreds of thousands of hectares.

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