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2006-11-16 |

Bt rootworm corn isn't 'bulletproof,' entomologists say

Genetically engineered corn that produces a Bt toxin effective against corn rootworms is now readily available and was widely planted in Iowa during 2006. Several seed companies have registrations, or will have shortly, and they will add additional Bt events and varieties to the choices for corn rootworm management.

2006-11-16 |

Farmers voted for Bt cotton

Observers of the saga of genetically modified cotton, or Bt cotton, in India would have felt a sense of déjà vu when Bharatiya Kisan Union activists recently torched a field growing genetically modified rice in Haryana. Back in November 28, 1998, farmers belonging to the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha torched a field growing Bt cotton in Karnataka, launching Operation Cremate Monsanto—a protest movement targeting the US multinational that introduced this technology into India in collaboration with its seed partner Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd (Mahyco).

2006-11-16 |

Running on hype: The real scoop on biofuels

You can hardly open up a major newspaper or national magazine these days without encountering the latest hype about biofuels, and how they're going to save oil, reduce pollution and prevent climate change. Bill Gates, Sun Microsystems' Vinod Khosla, and other major venture capitalists are investing millions in new biofuel production, whether in the form of ethanol, mainly derived from corn in the US today, or biodiesel, mainly from soybeans and canola seed. It's literally a "modern day gold rush," as described by the New York Times, paraphrasing the chief executive of Cargill, one of the main benefactors of increased subsidies to agribusiness and tax credits to refiners for the purpose of encouraging biofuel production.

2006-11-16 |

Bay Area researchers decode Neanderthal DNA

Bay Area researchers and colleagues have decoded fragments of the genome of long-extinct Neanderthals, the human species that was our closest relative until vanishing from Europe about 30,000 years ago. [...] The research reveals that the fossil, belonging to a middle-aged man, is 99.5 to 99.9 percent genetically similar to homo sapiens, the new and more modern humans who co-existed with Neanderthal and eventually drove them to extinction. The tiny differences -- "a drop in the bucket," said Rubin -- are enough to distinguish the heavyset and thick-browed Neanderthals from taller, slender and smarter humans. Neanderthals are believed to have lacked the tool and art-making abilities of humans.

2006-11-15 |

Empowered Democrats identify challenges

BENNINGTON — After Democrats attained a veto proof majority in the Vermont House and Senate last Tuesday, local legislators say they hope to minimize the use of that powerful advantage, but have identified at least one key issue to be challenged. [...] A seed liability bill vetoed by Douglas in the last legislative session could be revisited, said Sears, [...] The bill was designed to protect organic farmers from being sued when patented genetically modified seeds accidentally spread onto their property.

2006-11-15 |

How new EU ingredient revisions could impact US firms

New measures adopted by the European Commission designed to streamline the approval of additives, colors, flavorings and enzymes, could result in longer approval procedures for US exporters, with some presently approved ingredients potentially restricted in the future, according to a US lawyer. Under the new proposed rules, harmonized Community rules would be laid down for the evaluation, approval and control of enzymes used in food. At the same time, the EU Executive proposes to review the current rules on food additives and flavorings and to introduce a simplified common Community approval procedure for food additives, flavorings and enzymes.

2006-11-15 |

Gene therapy: Proceed with caution

In 1983, when only three genetic diseases could be detected effectively by screening tests and scientists knew very little about how genes were controlled, Technology Review argued that anticipated clinical trials of gene therapy would need to follow stringent guidelines, given the technology's previous failures. As Horace Freeland Judson explains in this issue (see "The Glimmering Promise of Gene Therapy"), not much has changed. Caught up in the promise of curing debilitating, life-shortening diseases by giving patients good copies of defective genes--and, it seems, eager for the glory of being the first to make gene therapy work in humans--some gene-therapy researchers have conducted sloppy, and even fatal, human trials in the intervening two decades.

2006-11-15 |

Research: Environment impacts gene performance

Doctors and scientists at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute say they have proven that a mother's diet during pregnancy can impact the health of her grandchildren. However, the 1,000 mothers studied over two years were "viable yellow agouti mice," bred to be genetically identical, so while study author Dr. David Martin says this study shows environmental factors can affect a fetus for generations, he said he has no recommendations for soon-to-be mothers, other than maintaining good health during pregnancy.

2006-11-15 |

Green activists board ship in protest

Three activists from the international environmental organization Greenpeace on Monday chained themselves to a cargo ship carrying more than 5,000 tons of genetically modified soya en route from Amsterdam to St. Petersburg.Greenpeace has been campaigning in the past several years for a complete ban on production of GM soya. The three activists, who got on board of "Rusich-1" on Sunday to take samples of soya — tests have already revealed the soya is GM — were detained by the police.

2006-11-15 |

Biosafety Bill tabled

A BILL to regulate genetically modified organisms and products in Namibia was tabled by Education Minister Nangolo Mbumba in the National Assembly last week. The new legislation will provide protection to the conservation and sustainable use of the country's biological diversity, taking into account the potential risks to the health and safety of Namibians and possible harmful consequences of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and their products to the environment.

2006-11-15 |

First UK embryo test babies born

New Embryo Test: Pre-Implantation Genetic Haplotyping Illustration for BBC article "First UK embryo test babies born", 14 Nov 2006

Freddie and Thomas Greenstreet were born two weeks ago. Their parents Catherine and Jim already have a daughter affected by cystic fibrosis (CF).

2006-11-15 |

Cuba working to develop vaccine against dengue fever

HAVANA: Cuba is accelerating its efforts to develop a vaccine against dengue fever, an illness endemic to tropical countries and that kills thousands each year. The director of Cuba's biotechnology institute said Tuesday that researchers have begun testing a genetically engineered vaccine in monkeys, but remain five years away from an effective vaccine that could safely be used in humans.

2006-11-13 |

Biotechnology in Puero Rico: Myths and hazards

The government of Puerto Rico is wagering on biotechnology as a way out of the economic debacle that the Caribbean island is suffering. Local media frequently quote experts from academia, the business community and government agencies who proclaim that this high tech industry will not only save our economy but also provide countless other benefits, like the cure for cancer and an end to world hunger.

2006-11-13 |

DuPont Updates analysts on Pioneer North America harvest and Brazil performance

WILMINGTON, Del., November 9, 2006 - In a briefing today with investment analysts, DuPont said its subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. is seeing strong product performance from its seed products from this year’s harvest in North America and continues to grow in Brazil despite a difficult agricultural economy in that country. “With the results in on almost 20,000 field tests, Pioneer corn is averaging 6 bushels per acre more than competitors’ products, a 50 percent increase in the Pioneer corn yield advantage over last year,” said William S. Niebur , vice president -- DuPont Crop Genetics Research & Development. “We are especially excited about the performance we are seeing from our newer corn products.”

2006-11-13 |

Irina Ermakova appointed Vice President of Russian National Genetic Safety Association - Russian News

Russian researcher, known in the world for her studying of risks triggered by eating GM food, Doctor of Biology Irina Ermakova was appointed Vice President of the Russian National Genetic Safety Association (NGSA), REGNUM is told at the association. Dr. Irina Ermakova’s name became known to the world when in 2005 she started conducting experiments on finding out GM food impact on health conditions of rats and their posterity.

2006-11-13 |

Agriculture Secretary to take stock of Coimbatore protest

COIMBATORE: Agriculture Secretary Surjit K. Choudhary rushed to Coimbatore to take stock of the situation arising out the drive carried out by some organisations against cultivating genetically engineered paddy. Last Friday, hundreds of farmers and activists uprooted genetically engineered paddy crop on a trial field in Ramanathapuram village at Alandurai, 30 km from here. The local police had registered a case against Tamil Nadu Farmers' Association president K. Chellamuthu and 89 others. The Government took a serious view of the incident and wanted the Agriculture Secretary to look into the issue.

2006-11-13 |

GMO ban ordinance eyed

Oriental Negros Vice Gov. Jose Baldado said he will work for the passage of an ordinance banning genetically-modified organisms in the province. Baldado spoke at the launching of the Negros Island Civil Society-NGO-PO Organic Agriculture Agenda, held at the Royal Suites Inn, in Dumaguete City, a press release from Kaisampalad Inc. said yesterday.

2006-11-10 |

Terminator-style field trials in India

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) brought before the Supreme Court in India by Aruna Rodrigues and her co-petitioners has already led to a temporary ban on new GM field trials in India, starting from the 22nd of September.

But on the 13th October, the Supreme Court in response to an application from Delhi University, agreed to make an exception. Based on the evidence before it, the Supreme Court agreed to allow Delhi University to conduct field trials of their newly developed GM Mustard, subject to the condition that they would take all precautions and that they would completely destroy the crop if the Court became convinced that GM Mustard had bio-safety hazards.

2006-11-10 |

Growth and leadership are top priorities for the end of the decade, Monsanto executives tell European investors

LONDON (Nov. 10, 2006) – Monsanto (NYSE: MON) has a unique window of opportunity to build on its industry leading position and capitalize on emerging growth opportunities between now and the end of the decade, company executives told investors today.

The company’s remarks came as part of an investor meeting held in London, which featured presentations by Hugh Grant, chairman, president and chief executive officer; Robb Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer; and Terry Crews, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

2006-11-10 |

Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll seeks injunction for farmers against Bayer CropScience over rice testing

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The law firms of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, PLLC and Emerson Poynter LLP announced today that they filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against Bayer CropScience in the Binkley v. Bayer CropScience class action case pending in federal court in Little Rock, Arkansas. The plaintiffs seek to prohibit Bayer from providing misleading communications on its website regarding a testing method that Bayer developed to detect the presence of its genetically modified Liberty Link rice. Plaintiffs are asking the court to order Bayer to provide corrective information to the public and to disclose that Bayer's testing method and certification procedure differ from rice standards in other countries - particularly important export markets in the European Union.

2006-11-10 |

Tech-savvy Kalam advocates nano use, favours transgenic route for farm research

NEW DELHI, NOV 9: The tech-savvy President APJ Abdul Kalam called for use of nano and transgenic technologies as part of the multi-dimensional approach to farm research for facilitating second green revolution in the country.
Inaugurating a seminar on re-orienting agricultural research to meet the millenium development goals organised by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) in Delhi on Thursday, the president suggested select areas for researches in agriculture, using nano technology.

2006-11-10 |

Monsanto stands firm on GM maize in Mexico

MEXICO CITY, Nov 10 (Tierramérica) - The powerful biotech corporation Monsanto, which anti-genetic modification activists charge is corrupt, maintains that it has a positive image around the world and announces that it will continue to fight to ensure that Mexico, birthplace of maize, will open its doors to transgenic varieties of the grain. In an interview with Tierramérica in Mexico City, Eduardo Pérez, director of technology development for Monsanto in northern Latin America, said that although "activism has created a mistaken perception of us," it does not affect the company's commercial performance.

2006-11-09 |

Vitamin A fortified potato to combat blindness

UGANDANS can now combat malnutrition and blindness. A team of reseachers at Namulonge and Kabanyoro Research Institute have come up with a Vitamin A fortified sweet potato variety. The sweet potato, which is orange, has carotene, the most important source of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for good eyesight and lack of it can cause blindness or, in milder cases, inability to see or drive at night. Prof. Patrick Rubaihayo, a plant breeder, who led the team of researchers said the variety was not genetically modified, but a product of pure breeding done in line with the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

2006-11-09 |

Mcdonald's Europe cutting trans fat in food with new oils

McDonald's Corp. (MCD), which is seeking to reduce trans-fat levels in its food as part of a widespread movement toward more healthy eating styles, said its European restaurants will begin using cooking oils that cut trans-fat levels to no more than 2% of the total.
The changeover at some 6,300 restaurants, expected to be completed by mid-2008, involves switching to canola and/or sunflower oils higher in oleic acid than current frying substances.

2006-11-09 |

SC issues notice to Centre seeking moratorium on commercialization of Genetically Engineered crops

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Centre on a PIL seeking a moratorium on commercialization of Genetically Engineered variety of crops until a competent regulatory structure and rules were put in place. A Bench of Justice AR Lakshmanan and Justice Altmas Kabir issued notices to the ministries of Environment & Forests, Science & Technology and Agriculture after 'Gene Campaign' counsel Sanjay Parikh mentioned its application for an urgent hearing.

2006-11-09 |

Oregon committee invites contested

Nov. 8 – The latest spat over genetic engineering centers on Oregon, where activists and regulators are battling over the safety of so-called "pharmacrops" – controversial plants genetically modified to produce medicine through "biopharming." In response to a bill proposed last year that would have put a moratorium on biopharming crops in Oregon, a state committee has recommended inviting biopharming in the state, with a few caveats. The committee wants the state to have a say in permit approval for the technology, as well as increased public access to the application process.

2006-11-09 |

New regulatory body likely for GM crops

NEW DELHI, NOV 8: India is likely to have a new regulatory body for genetically modified (GM) crops. While addressing the conference of economic editors here on Wednesday agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said, “The setting up of a National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority (NBRA) for promotion and regulation of application of biotechnology in agriculture is at an advanced stage.” Setting up of a NBRA was suggested by two separate expert panels headed respectively by MS Swaminathan and RA Mashelkar.

2006-11-08 |

GM concern 'off the radar screen'

AS A consumer food issue, genetic modification has "disappeared off the radar screen", says a leading researcher at the Royal Agricultural College (RAC). This trend was being driven by the heightened concern over obesity issues in the face of warnings about the inclusion of fat, sugar and salt in the diet.

2006-11-08 |

Biotech rice by Bayer said to raise danger of plant pest

WASHINGTON - When Research Triangle Park-based Bayer CropScience requested federal permission in August to market a variety of gene-altered rice, it assured itself a small, unwanted place in history: the first to seek approval for a genetically engineered food that was already, illegally, on the market. Now, as federal regulators consider that belated application, they are finding themselves under scrutiny, too -- from scientists and others who say the 20-year-old system of biotech crop oversight is failing.

2006-11-08 |

Dispute boils over GM rice

The Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) said yesterday that it has taken all the necessary steps to prevent the sale of illegally imported modified rice in Greece but admitted it has limited power to pull harmful food items off supermarket shelves. The authority’s president was responding to accusations from environmentalists Greenpeace that the food watchdog is failing to do its job after large amounts of the illegal US rice were found being sold by a large supermarket chain.

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