GENET-news

 Below you find the postings of the last seven days.

 

2008-12-10 |

Non-GE approaches to grow salt-tolerant plants

Growing crops in salt water is becoming necessary to overcome shortages of fresh water, say researchers writing in the journal Science. They suggest the domestication of wild plants that grow in salty conditions could help reduce global food shortages. [...] Genetic modification experiments have been conducted for more than 30 years to try to make crops such as wheat or rice salt tolerant. But the scientists say trying to induce salt tolerance has so far proved impossible. They now believe the genetic manipulations necessary to achieve this may too complex to be achieved at present.

2008-12-10 |

Indian farmers can breathe easy as salt-tolerant GE crops arrive soon

Faced with the enigma of rising salinity ingress on their farmlands, farmers can now look forward to transgenic crops. A central research institute is developing ”salt-tolerant” varieties of crops like groundnut, tobacco, cumin and banana that aim at revolutionising the food-basket in 6.7 million hectares of ”salinity-affected” farmland in the country, most of which is in Gujarat. The Bhavnagar-based Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI) is in the advanced stages of developing salt-tolerant varieties of groundnut and tobacco.

2008-12-10 |

Indian Minister for Health to oppose entry of GM food

Union Minister for Health Anbumani Ramadoss on Tuesday said that he would oppose any move to introduce genetically modified food or seeds in the agriculture sector. Addressing a State-level farmer’s conference, organised by the Thamizhnadu Uzhavar Periyakkam, here, he said, ”As a Central Minister I will oppose any move to introduce GM food or seeds in India.” The Pattali Makkal Katchi had taken a policy decision to oppose introduction of genetically modified seeds.

2008-12-09 |

IP and genetically modified organisms: A fateful combination, activists say

IP rights are at the core of the expansion of GMOs, although agriculture was not always covered by those rights. Prior to the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), countries could exclude some industrial and technological sectors from IP protection and most countries excluded the pharmaceutical, food and beverage sectors, according to Sangeeta Shashikant from the Third World Network.

2008-12-09 |

SemBioSys begins phase I/II trial of insulin produced in GE pharma plant seeds

SemBioSys Genetics Inc., a biotechnology company developing protein pharmaceuticals in crop plants, today announced that it has initiated a phase I/II clinical trial of its plant-produced insulin with the first injection of its drug in humans. The trial, taking place in the United Kingdom (UK), will include up to 30 healthy volunteers.

2008-12-09 |

European starch industry demands swift approval of GE potatoes

The leading European potato starch companies AVEBE, Emsland-Stärke, and Lyckeby Industrial demand the use of innovative technologies in agriculture. According to the starch producers, genetically optimized starch potatoes like Amflora from BASF Plant Science are good examples for such innovations. Their request has been prompted by the recent EU Commission decision from November 20, 2008 to cut the subsidies for the production of starch potatoes

2008-12-09 |

Debate on Biosafety Bill hots up in Kenya’s Parliament

Kenya’s Members of Parliament last week overwhelmingly passed a crucial vote that could pave way for a biosafety law that is eagerly waited for by scientists in the country. Contributing to the debate in Parliament when debate on the Bill resumed after interruption on November 29, Dr Kilemi Mwiria, an Assistant Minister for Higher education, Science and Technology said the Boisafety Bill provides safety to safeguard Kenyans against the very fears that lots of Kenyans are currently expressing through various forum with regard to issues of biotechnology and hence the Bill is protect against unintended use of genetically modified Organisms, GMOs.

2008-12-09 |

China finds suspected GMO soy in state reserve buys

China’s Heilongjiang province, the largest soy area, has found suspected genetically-modified soybeans (GMO) amid state reserve stocks, provincial authorities said, as sellers take advantage of higher prices. Beijing agreed to buy 2 million tonnes of local non-GMO soy from farmers in the northeast province as part of plans to shore up domestic prices and help farmers cover higher input costs.

2008-12-09 |

EU’s top court fines France for incomplete GMO law

The European Union’s highest court fined France 10 million euros ($12.9 million) on Tuesday for failing to update the country’s laws on genetically modified (GM) crops and foods. In a statement, the European Court of Justice said the ”unlawful conduct repeatedly engaged in by France in the GMOs sector is of such a nature as to require the adoption of a dissuasive measure, such as a lump sum payment”.

2008-12-08 |

U.S. Grains Council sees South Korea’s 2009 GE corn imports falling

South Korea, the world’s No. 3 corn importer, may slash imports of the grain by around 1 million tonnes, as feed makers are set to shift to cheaper alternatives such as wheat, a director of the U.S. Grains Council said [...] Min said imports of food-grade corn, which represents less than 20 percent of South Korea’s total corn imports, were also likely to suffer further decline as food processors switch to cheaper sweeteners such as sugar as scarcity of non-genetically modified corn made the grain less price competitive.

2008-12-08 |

Tortilla chips going biotech in the USA as limits change on seeds

White corn, the variety that’s milled into chips, taco shells and tortillas, has for years been free of genetic engineering. Millers and companies such as snack-food giant Frito-Lay bought only conventional, biotech-free varieties of the specialty corn from farmers. But that’s changing. Farmers in Iowa, Nebraska and other states started growing a small amount of genetically modified white corn this year after word came down from processors they would start accepting it.

2008-12-08 |

Super-foods or super-frauds?

”Super-foods, however, have high nutritional content per calorie and therefore give added benefits to the body to help it keep healthy, while potentially guarding off diseases such as diabetes and cancer.” With the hype surrounding these foods, and the further development and creation of GM super-foods, the question remains of whether there is any truth in the health claims, or whether the excitement is based purely on the glorification of the consumers’ wishful thinking.

2008-12-08 |

Next decade’s GE crop traits now in development

Earlier this fall, BASF and Monsanto hosted U.S. and European journalists at research laboratories in Belgium and Germany where they are researching and developing N-use and many other traits. These traits represent the next wave on top of the traits you now use to deter corn insects and resist non-selective herbicides like glyphosate.
Want more yield? Yield genes are in the works. Ditto for traits that help you better manage N, deter drought, or swat soybean cyst nematode (SCN).

2008-12-08 |

EU citizens should not be force-fed GM food, former EFSA chair

In a video released on YouTube yesterday, the former Chairman of the European Food Safety Authority, Prof Patrick Wall, says people have lost confidence in EFSAs ability to assess the risks of GM food. ”Do we want corporate giants to own the food chain? GM food has no benefits for consumers... EFSA is a consumer protection agency; it is not meant to rubberstamp biotech dossiers... We cannot force-feed European citizens products that they don’t want. We live in a democracy. People have a right to have objections... If people don’t want (GM) technology they have a right not to have it.”

2008-12-08 |

Increased oversight of GMO crops needed-US GAO

More oversight and coordination is needed among federal agencies to prevent unapproved releases of genetically modified crops into the environment and food and feed supply, the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress said on Friday. Since 2000, there have been six known unauthorized releases of GMO crops into the food supply involving GMO corn and rice. Earlier this week, Monsanto Co, the leading developer of biotech crops, said some unapproved GMO cotton was harvested. The resulting cottonseed meal may have entered the livestock feed supply.

2008-12-05 |

Environment ministers want reform of EU GMO authorisation system

EU environment ministers have called for assessing the long-term effects of GMOs on the environment, living organisms and health. They also encourage independent research by scientists on GMOs and access to information that is currently kept secret by agro-biotech companies. Ministers meeting at the Environment Council also urged the European Food Safety Authority, which is at the heart of all decisions taken in the EU on GMOs, to consider the environmental impact of herbicides spread over GM crops. They also said that pesticide-producing GM crops should be treated in the same way as chemical pesticides and recognised the right of regions and local communities to establish GM-free zones.

2008-12-05 |

UCD researcher honored for non-GE rice breakthrough

A University of California, Davis, geneticist is among three researchers being honored this week for their work in developing flood-tolerant rice. [...] Identifying the gene allowed plant breeders to use ”precision breeding” to create new rice varieties that could recover after severe flooding and ”produce abundant yields of high-quality grain,” the release states.

2008-12-05 |

Monsanto drought-resistant corn seen ready for the U.S. market by 2012

The St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. may be ready to commercialize a genetically modified corn seed that protects the plant from drought conditions in the U.S. as early as 2012, a company official said Wednesday. Brett Begemann, executive vice president of global commercial for Monsanto, told Dow Jones Newswires that different technologies for different regions of the world are being developed to make corn, soybean and cotton plants that can thrive in dry weather, but the U.S. will be the first commercial market.

2008-12-05 |

Bt-maize affects non-target crops negatively compared with unsprayed fields

Bt crops such as maize and cotton are genetically engineered to produce insect-specific toxins. They target specific insect pests, but the researchers wanted to determine how these crops influence non-target insects in the environment. [...] The researchers concluded that when it comes to killing non-target insects, no treatment at all has the least impact. Bt crops have considerably less impact on non-target insects than do conventional insecticides.

2008-12-05 |

Roundup Ready 2 Yield as much as conventional soybeans?

Monsanto claims that Roundup Ready 2 Yield produces a 7-11% superior yield than the original Roundup Ready, which ought to be rather surprising since herbicide resistance is not a yield trait. But the answer is in fact simple: Roundup Ready 2 Yield is an admission that the original Roundup Ready had a major yield drag, one of several unanticipated consequences of this insertion event.

2008-12-05 |

EU approves genetically modified soybean for import

The European Union has authorized imports of a genetically modified (GM) soybean type for sale across its 27 national markets for the next 10 years, the European Commission said on Thursday. Developed and marketed by Monsanto, the soybean is destined to be imported for use in food and animal feed, not for growing. It is a second-generation GM product known by its code number MON 89788 and commercially as Roundup RReady2Yield.

2008-12-05 |

Pakistan and China sign agriculture agreements to develop Bt cotton

Pakistan and China signed two agreements to co-operate in agriculture on Monday. The agreements were signed in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Chinese Bio-Technology (BT) Cotton and the Punjab Seed Corporation signed the first agreement. Under the agreement, the inventor and developer of gene of BT Cotton, Professor Gu, will soon visit Pakistan and start work on pest-resistant crops.

2008-12-04 |

Monsanto company completes acquisitions of CanaVialis and Alellyx

Monsanto Company announced that it has completed its proposed acquisition of Aly Participacoes Ltda., which operates the sugarcane breeding and technology companies, CanaVialis S.A. and Alellyx S.A., both of which are based in Brazil. Monsanto’s $290 million (R$616 million) acquisition of Aly Participacoes Ltda. from Votorantim Novos Negocios Ltda. and its sister company, Votorantim Industrial S.A., was consummated with existing excess cash.

2008-12-04 |

Explosive advance of transgenics in Brazil

Lula´s government promotes genetically-modified organisms despite social opposition. Brazil is home to one of the world´s largest areas of genetically-modified seed cultivations with 15 million hectares in 2007. The greatest increase of these crops occurred under the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, despite growing opposition from Brazilian farmers and environmentalists.

2008-12-04 |

Lawlessness and loopholes for transgenics in Peru

Peru´s biosafety law dates back to 1999, but supplemental legislation was required to give authorities the power to supervise transgenic products in the country. [...] But the law has been at a standstill for nine years, and even now, some experts, citing contamination of genetically-modified corn seeds in other nations like Mexico, say it would fall short of its aim: to protect farmers and consumers.

2008-12-04 |

Native Mexican corn endangered through GE contamination

The potential effects of transgenic corn on the native species of this key crop have been a long-running debate in Mexico. [...] ”This issue was considered of great potential environmental importance, given that Mexico is a center of origin and diversity for maize and that maize is so intrinsically linked to Mexican culture, especially that of Mexican indigenous groups,” says a study by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) of North America, entitled ”The Effects of Transgenic Maize in Mexico.”

2008-12-04 |

Bolivia promotes organic farming but falls short of ban on transgenics

While Morales has vehemently opposed the entrance of transgenic seeds national ban has not become law. [...] the only transgenic organism expressly permitted in Bolivia was the RR 40-3-2 soy of the US agricultural chemical giant Monsanto. [...] Other requests for transgenic cotton and corn were rejected under Mesa´s government.

2008-12-04 |

GE cotton contamination in the USA unlikely to pose feed hazard

An unauthorized strain of genetically modified cotton was accidentally mixed in with other harvested cotton in Texas last month, but government officials on Wednesday played down any safety concerns. About a quarter ton of the experimental cotton seed engineered to contain a protein that produces a pesticide was combined with about 60 tons of commercial cotton growing nearby, said Eric Flamm, a senior adviser at the Food and Drug Administration.

2008-12-03 |

Philippine Cabinet officials back biotech use to boost food production

TWO Cabinet officials on Monday stressed the need to harness biotechnology for the country to boost food production, develop cheaper but effective medicines, and upgrade the production of commodities using higher-yielding crops with higher nutritional content. [...] ”If we do not use biotechnology for our benefit, we may just be left out by other governments and other societies that would harness it for their own good,” he told a group of scientists and biotechnology advocates.

2008-12-03 |

Arcadia gets $3.6M USAID grant to develop crops with MAHYCO-Monsanto (India)

Arcadia Biosciences Inc. has received a $3.6 million grant to develop rice and wheat in India that use less fertilizer and water. The U.S. Agency for International Development awarded the three-year grant, according to a news release. Arcadia will work with Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. Ltd. of India to develop and implement the program. Davis-based Arcadia signed an agreement with MAHYCO in April to commercialize new crop varieties in India and South Asia.

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