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2006-10-31 |

Hog-wild for pig organs: Hub doc’s pet project: animal-to-people transplants

Harvesting pig organs and transplanting them in humans may not be that far off, says one doctor, whose Boston-area lab is genetically engineering swine, putting their organs in baboons and waiting to see if it works well enough to try in people.

“I see the possibility in the future of having pigs available that would be tailored to have the best possible kidneys or best possible liver or lungs to transplant into a human being,” said Dr. David Sachs, director of the Transplantation Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

2006-10-31 |

DoE resists transgenic rice growing authorization in Iran

TEHRAN – The director of the country’s Department of Environment (DoE) Fatemeh Javadi on Friday announced that an official go-ahead for cultivation of genetically modified rice would not be issued due to lack of compelling documents that could support the move.

Speaking to the reporters, she added that DoE has yet to receive any report from a group of experts in charge of providing sufficient documentation to prove that transgenic rice would be healthy and the project would be economical altogether.

However, he admitted that the scientific basis for the move is convincing. “A sample of the DNA of the main rice pest, called stem borer, is used in the process which makes the plant resistant against the pest during its growth period.”

2006-10-31 |

New seed bill: A grave mistake

In the name of harmonizing with the European Union, the government has been submitting some bills to the Parliament that are loosely based on the EU acquis. This was the basis for the laws on sugar, tobacco and growers’ unions. The seed bill currently being discussed in Parliament is a similar half-thought-out piece of legislation. The EU stamp gives these bills some immunity from criticism and prevents the opposition from voicing their concerns. Especially when the bill is about an often-ignored group like farmers, the whole debate is crowded out.

2006-10-31 |

Consumer groups attack move to milk cloned cows

24/10/2006 - Consumer groups in the US have united against government plans to allow milk and meat from cloned animals into the food chain, highlighting a potential dilemma for dairy firms interested in the technology.

One consumer lobby, the Center for Food Safety, has filed a legal petition asking the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to launch a moratorium on food from cloned animals.
Debate was re-ignited last week after the FDA said a draft of plans to regulate food from cloned animals could get government backing by the end of the year.

2006-10-31 |

Glyphosate-resistant marestail confirmed in Nebraska

UNL researchers have confirmed the first glyphosate-resistant weed species in Nebraska — marestail, also know as horseweed. While Nebraska researchers first suspected resistance had developed almost a year ago, it took tests and growing plants from last year's seeds to confirm it.

2006-10-31 |

Kenya approves a national policy on biotechnology

[NAIROBI] The Kenyan government has approved its policy on how biotechnology is handled in research, development, and in its application.

The National Biotechnology Development Policy 2006 approved by the cabinet last month (28 September) marks the go-ahead for the use of biotechnology in the country.

It outlines the safety procedures for biotechnology in the context of research and development, technology transfer and commercialisation of products that would result from research undertaken in Kenya.

2006-10-31 |

Uganda 'needs biotech law' to save banana sector

[KAMPALA] An official in Uganda's agriculture ministry has expressed concern that policymakers are not keeping pace with scientific efforts to control a disease threatening the country's main cash crop.

Opolot Okasai, commissioner for crop production and marketing, told SciDev.Net yesterday (10 October) that banana bacterial wilt could cost Uganda US$6-8 billion in the next 5-10 years.

Uganda's National Agricultural Research Organisation and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture are working together to develop a transgenic banana that can resist the disease.

2006-10-31 |

Biowatch won't be cowed into submission

The environmental group Biowatch South Africa will be going to court again to fight a legal ruling that has the potential to cow other watchdog groups from taking on big corporations. Biowatch Director Leslie Liddell confirmed at the weekend that it would go to the Pretoria High Court on April 23 2007, to contest the contentious legal costs ruling handed down early in 2006 by Judge Eric Dunn. The case follows Biowatch's successful high court case to gain access to information about the procedures used by the government to permit the release of genetically modified (GM) crops into the environment. Dunn ruled in favour of Biowatch and ordered the Registrar of Genetic Resources to hand over most of the information.

2006-10-31 |

GM grains versus proof of safety

Zambia has since 2002 refused to accept GM foods aid from USA on grounds that health risks to human are unknown. But the author highlights the issues of human and environmental health as regards GM foods.

GM Grains Versus Proof of Safety By Justin Mupundu The debate on Genetically Modified (GM) Foods in Zambia is around the issues of human and environmental safety? the potential risks: Unintentional introduction of the GM maize variety into the country as a result of the planting, or the spillage of the whole kernel maize produced as food.

The first government organized GMOs debate was in 2001,at Mulungushi international Conference Center. President Levy Mwanawasa, during the debate refused to accept GM foods from United States of America on grounds of that the health risks to human were unknown. Mark Mallock Brown, UNDP Administrator, agreed with the Zambian government: “They may well be food risks inherent in the GM crops, but are as yet unproved.”

2006-10-31 |

Malawi formulate national legislation to reject GM maize!

Malawi must formulate a national legislation to reject Genetic Modification (GM) maize, until it undertakes a scientific assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on human health and biodiversity.

Presenting the food aid analysis and its effects at the Southern Africa Social Forum (SASF), Edson Musopole from Action Aid said the decision with regard to the acceptance of GM commodities as part of food aid transactions rests with recipient’s country.

Musopole noted that alternative source of non GM food are usually available in local or non GM maize neighbouring countries.

2006-10-31 |

DuPont and CIMMYT Announce $1.3 Million Maize Collaboration For Africa

DES MOINES, IA, Oct. 19, 2006 — DuPont and the global wheat and maize improvement center, CIMMYT, today announced a $1.3 million research, product development and technical support collaboration for Africa.
Over the next three years researchers at DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., and CIMMYT will work together to develop novel traits to improve production agriculture and address food challenges in developing countries globally.

Africa, where an estimated 200 million people are undernourished and 33 million children suffer from famine, is a primary target for this work. The initial research projects will focus on maize nitrogen utilization to increase and stabilize maize yields with subsequent research projects on drought tolerance, Striga tolerance and protein enhancement.

2006-10-31 |

Rice war

A Chinese ag economist plows ahead with his push for genetically modified seeds.

Huang Jikun would like to introduce the term "magic bullet" into the Mandarin vocabulary. That's the kind of solution the feisty economist thinks genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will be for some of China's biggest problems, and the 44-year-old Huang has been pushing Chinese planners for almost six years to allow the commercialization of GM rice.

"It could happen very soon," says Huang, whose clout with authorities is evident from the three Outstanding Scientific Progress awards he's received from the Ministry of Agriculture. "It'll be very good for China."

2006-10-31 |

DEFRA's 'flawed' genetically modified crop proposals under fire from campaigners

DEFRA proposals to prevent gentically modified crops contaminating conventional and organic crops are "legally and fundamentally flawed", according to anti-GM campaigners.

In a joint response to the government's coexistence consultation, which closed on Friday 20 October, Friends of the Earth, the Soil Association and GM Freeze claimed some DEFRA proposals breached European law.

"The proposals are a thinly veiled attempt to introduce GM crops through the back door," said FoE spokeswoman Clare Oxborrow.

2006-10-31 |

KFC to switch to no-trans-fat frying oil

NEW YORK (Reuters) - KFC on Monday said all 5,500 of its U.S. fried-chicken restaurants will switch to a cooking oil with no trans fat by the end of next April.

The company, a unit of Yum Brands Inc. , is also switching oils at its 786 restaurants in Canada.

With fast-food restaurants under increasing criticism that they contribute to obesity and the risk of heart disease, KFC joins hamburger chain Wendy's International Inc. in cutting out artery-clogging trans fats.

2006-10-31 |

BKU leader, 100 others booked for field burning in India

KARNAL, OCTOBER 30: A day after hundreds of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) activists burnt down the lone field in Haryana where trial for genetically modified rice was under way, the Karnal district police have booked the union’s national spokesperson, Rakesh Tikait, and 100 others on charges of criminal intimidation and damage to property by fire.

UP-based Rakesh Tikait is the son of BKU president Mahinder Singh Tikait. So far, no arrests have been made.

2006-10-31 |

Indian Supreme Court says "no" to more transgenic crops

Orders GEAC to keep approvals on hold.

The Supreme Court of India (SCI) on September 22, 2006) directed the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) not to give approvals to genetically modified products until further orders. "This has perplexed the biotech community but exhilarated the anti-biotech lobby, which seems to read too much in this two-week restriction," said Prof. C Kameswara Rao, executive secretary, Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education, Bangalore.

The Supreme Court's directive was in consideration of a Public Interest Writ Petition (PIL) filed on May 1, 2006 in the matter of Aruna Rodrigues and Others regarding the Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which are allowed to be released into the environment. The petition sought for issue of directions to stop all field trials for all genetically modified products anywhere and everywhere with immediate effect, besides certain other considerations.

2006-10-31 |

Indian Bt cotton: Both boon and bane

Genetically modified BT cotton can work as a double edged sword for the small cotton farmer

In January this year, the Andhra Pradesh government filed a complaint with the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) against Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB) — the Indian subsidiary of the agriculture-biotech multinational Monsanto — accusing it of overpricing genetically modified BT cottonseeds. MMB was selling the seeds to farmers in AP and other states at Rs 1,200-1,850 for a 450-gram packet. A large part of this amount, Rs 900, was being charged as “trait value” or royalty. In its submission, the AP government pointed out that Monsanto charged only about Rs 400 for the same packet of seeds in China and only about Rs 200 in the US.

2006-10-31 |

Mahyco violates GM trial conditions yet again

Please find below the findings from an investigation into a Bt Bhindi [Bt Okra] trial plot in Gulbarga district of Karnataka, by Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.

In May 2006, responding to an application under Right to Information, the state government of Karnataka admitted that it has no information on where GM crop trials are happening in the state. The current investigation once again shows that concerned departments and officials in the state [the horticulture department in this case] do not have any information on the trials happening in the state and this is a clear violation of the conditional clearance that Mahyco had obtained from the government of India. Mahyco has been asked, in the clearance letter from the department of biotechnology, to keep the state government, district authorities and the village panchayat informed about the exact details of the trial but we find that this is missing. More importantly, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee itself does not have information on where various trials are happening in the country after permitting such trials!!!

2006-10-31 |

GM variety may spell trouble for Indian rice

New Delhi, Oct 30. (PTI): Commercial cultivation of genetically modified variety of rice in India could lead to restrictions being imposed by the European Union on the country's grain export to the region, the industry has warned.

The country's leading rice exporters, who are planning to meet the Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar with their demand on this issue, said that EU has introduced new test requirements for rice import from the US after some consignments were found to be contaminated with unauthorised GM varieties.

"Currently, the EU restrictions are applied to the US only. But as other countries flirt with GM, we can expect similar restrictions applied to them as well," the country's largest Basmati rice exporter Tilda Riceland's Director R S Seshadri told PTI.

2006-10-30 |

Keep Chiloé free of transgenics, say activists

SANTIAGO, Oct 17 (Tierramérica) - Environmentalists are demanding that Chilean authorities declare the southern archipelago of Chiloé -- 1,190 km south of Santiago -- a transgenic-free zone, and recognise it as a birthplace of the potato (Solanum tuberosum), alongside Bolivia and Peru.

Cultivation of genetically modified foods is not permitted in Chile, but transgenic seed production for export is allowed. In 2005 there were 12,928 hectares of farmland dedicated to that practice: 93.7 percent maize, 4.85 raps and 1.28 percent soy.

In Chile's 10th region, Los Lagos, where the Chiloé archipelago is located, there is some land dedicated to production of transgenic potato seed, but this biotechnology has not yet been brought to the main island of Chiloé or its surrounding islets.

2006-10-30 |

Questions continue in GM rice situation

As rice producers wait on answers for exactly how trace amounts of GM rice got into the nation’s supply, the EU has emerged as the United State’s most reluctant rice-trading partner. Since the problem was revealed in mid-August, American rice shipments have been turned away from European ports and grocery stores there have removed products containing U.S. rice.

On Oct. 5, Richard Bell, who heads the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, testified before the Arkansas legislature on the continuing problems and hoped-for solutions. Five days later, Bell spoke with Delta Farm Press on reconciling testing procedures with the EU, the rejected barge loads of U.S. rice and the most logical manner LL601 got into Cheniere.

2006-10-30 |

Greenpeace sues Thailand over genetically modified papaya

Greenpeace sued the Department of Agriculture (DOA) Wednesday for what it described as widespread contamination of Thai farms by genetically engineered papaya.

The environmental group is seeking punishment of officials who allowed the illegal distribution of genetically modified (GMO) papaya seeds to farmers across Thailand.

"We decided to sue DOA because we have been waiting for more than two years for them to do their duties," said Patwajee Srisuwan, a genetic engineering campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

2006-10-30 |

Thailand benefits from GMO rice contamination scandal

Bangkok, THAILAND — Thailand’s biggest rice exporters say there is no market for genetically-engineered (GE) crops. The rice exporters joined Greenpeace in a press conference entitled “Investing in Agriculture for Food Security” on World Food Day today to warn Thailand’s new cabinet to reconsider the country’s GE policy. Thailand’s rice exports experienced a considerable upsurge following GE contamination scandal which caused the rejection of US rice imports to Europe and the Middle East.

“Thailand’s strength is non-GE rice. Since October, many buyers have switched to importing rice from Thailand after it was revealed that US rice was tainted with GE contamination. We are now sharing the USA’s rice market. And if the US contamination scandal isn’t solved, Thailand will permanently occupy this market share,” said Wallop Pitchyapongsa, Managing Director of Capital Rice Co., Ltd. “The government must therefore clearly establish Thailand as a major source of non-GE food products.”

2006-10-05 |

EU to require mandatory tests of U.S. rice imports

The European Union is set to introduce mandatory tests of rice imports from the United States following the finding of an unauthorised GMO strain in recentweeks, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

2006-09-16 |

EU to Vote on GMO Rapeseed, Hungarian Biotech Ban

EU governments face two key decisions next week on genetically
modified (GMO) foods, against a backdrop of rising concern that
unauthorised biotech varieties have found their way into Europe, officials
said on Thursday.

2006-09-16 |

EFSA: Insufficient data for LL601 rice risk assessment

The GMO Panel of the European Food Safety authority, EFSA, has evaluated the available scientific data on LLRICE601 and issued a statement that there is insufficient data to provide a full risk assessment.

2005-10-17 |

WTO ruling on GM case US vs. EU delayed to January 2006

WTO Ruling On EU GMO Laws Delayed

A World Trade Organization dispute panel ruling on the EU?s alleged moratorium on market authorizations for new genetically modified products is being put off until after the WTO?s Hong Kong ministerial conference in December. The panel has informed the EU and the three complainants in the dispute ? the United States, Argentina, and Canada ? that its preliminary ruling, which had been due October 10, will now be postponed until the first week of January 2006. No date was given for the release of the final ruling to the parties, although that normally takes place a month after the preliminary findings have been issued.

2005-06-22 |

Ban demanded on release of genetically engineered trees

Participants at BioDemocracy 2005, the alternative conference to the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s yearly gathering, are demanding a ban on the release of genetically engineered trees into the environment.
Genetically engineered trees are already being researched in the field, and industry is moving rapidly toward commercialization without regard for the predictable and inevitable impacts they will have on ecosystems and communities.

2005-06-20 |

Advances and future perspectives in fruit tree transformation

Conventional breeding of temperate fruit trees is constrained by their extensive reproductive cycle with long juvenile periods, complex reproductive biology, and high degree of heterozygosity. As the commercial production of transgenic annual crops becomes a reality in many parts of the world, the question remains whether genetically engineering fruit trees will find commercial application.

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