Saturday, March 22, 2014

Food Crops News 209

Food Crops News 209
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food crops
Daily update March 22, 2014


Economic Times
Panel reapproves GM food crop field trials
Field trials for ten varieties of GM (genetically modified) food and other crops were revalidated by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee ...
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Food Waste -- a Bigger Problem Than You Thought
Here's a shameful statistic: up to a third of the world's food is wasted. ... where the remaining 44 percent of food losses occur, many farmers' crops rot ...
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Christian Science Monitor
In Colombia, cows, crops and timber coexist
Agroforestry cultivates trees with food crops or livestock, while farmers make use of the trees' ecological benefits. Plantains grow above shade-loving ...
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Responding to Climate Change
EU warns biofuel carbon emissions 'higher than expected'
The indirect carbon emissions from producing biofuels from food crops are much higher than previously calculated, a European Union study has found ...
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GM crops - Scientists call for new regulations
Genetically modified plants should be licensed in the same way as ... an 'impediment' to developing crops that could help future global food security, ...
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Online tool can help with efficient crop irrigation, plus projects net returns
The CWA is one of several web-based and downloadable tools developed for crop producers by K-State Research and Extension agricultural ...
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FAPRI releases 10-year projection for crop prices and farm income
The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute presented its latest ... acres, while the area planted to soybeans and other crops will increase.
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Climate Change: The Next Generation: Heatwaves could threaten food crops, study warns
“At this stage, extreme temperatures can lead to reduced pollen sterility and reduced seed set, greatly reducing the crop yield,” said lead scientist ...
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food crops
Daily update March 21, 2014


Now is the time to get a head start on food crops
Finally, it's time to get your early vegetables growing if you want to savour the wonderful fresh taste of new vegetables this spring. Keep in mind ...
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Toronto Star
UN agency in Haiti distributes food amid drought
The World Food Program on Wednesday began handing out cereal, ... along the northern coast, leading to the loss of sorghum, bean and corn crops.
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The Women's International Perspective
World Water Day: Getting More Crop Per Drop
"The world is thirsty because it is hungry," reports the U.N. Food and ... And in California agricultural waste water from irrigating crops is being ...
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Genetically Engineered Food Foes Promote 'Bill Of Rights' For Seeds
According to the Sierra Club, genetically engineered foods could create new allergens and toxins and spread harmful traits to non-GMO crops, and the ...
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Crops damage in Sangli Solapur
Food crops such as green gram, jowar, wheat, vegetables, sugarcane and orchards of banana, pomegranates, grapes, papaya and mangoes were ...
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All about feed
EFSA: Guidance for use of pesticides on protected crops
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a new guidance ... and crops grown under cover) to relevant environmental compartments.
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Heatwaves spell danger for global food supplies - research
They found that extreme heat, predicted to increase because of global warming, will have a serious effect on global food supply chains. Staple crops ...
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Italian company intends to cultivate grain crops in Belarus
MINSK, 20 March (BelTA) - The Italian company Socesfin SRL would like to set up agricultural enterprises in Belarus to cultivate grain crops, chief of ...
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National Post
India's GM crop success
While not part of the original Green Revolution, the advent of GM crops became possible because of the legacy of agricultural technological innovation ...
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What is our excuse for rice importation
Even from nearby Togo, some vegetables and other food crops are imported, although some amount of cross-border trade involving food crops goes ...
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food crops
Daily update March 20, 2014


Marylanders deserve to know what's in their food [Commentary]
Genetically modified crops are failing to live up to their promises to produce higher yields at less environmental cost, yet they are showing up in ...
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TUBER CROPS-an important alternative food source of energy
Tuensang: Tubers are modified plant structure enlarged to store food for the plant. Of the two types of tubers, i.e., stem and root tubers, more ...
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Global food trade can alleviate water scarcity
International trade of food crops led to freshwater savings worth 2.4 billion US-Dollars in 2005 and had a major impact on local water stress. This is ...
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Future heat waves pose threat to global food supply, study says
In plants, CO2 is central to the process of photosynthesis—the mechanism by which they create food from sunlight, CO2 and water. When there is ...
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Western Daily Press
Chris Rundle: Science is right, time to bring on the GM crops
Protesters against genetically modified crops in 2005. ... turning green all over if we eat food produced from GM crops – which, let us not forget, have in ...
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Global warming will cut crop harvests by 2% each decade, researchers say
Howden said countries already expected to suffer food insecurity due to climate change will be the worst hit by yield declines, with rising temperatures ...
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Broadcast recording available from National Cover Crops Conference
OMAHA -- To meet some of today's biggest challenges in agriculture, including rising food demand, a shrinking land base and climate change, farmers ...
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China draws up plan to tackle widespread soil pollution
The plan, together with a soil pollution law in the drafting stage, is expected to focus on protecting food supplies and ensuring that contaminated crops ...
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Wall St. Cheat Sheet
Poll finds consumers top 10 questions on genetically modified crops
They have urged tougher oversight of the crops by U.S. regulators and called for foods containing genetically modified crops to be labeled.
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Genetically Engineered Food: What do We Know?
For USDA statistics on Hawai'i seed crops, look here. ... Center for Food Safety (CFS) is a national non-profit public interest and environmental ...
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food crops
Daily update March 18, 2014


Wall Street Journal
Food Prices Surge as Drought Exacts a High Toll on Crops
Surging prices for food staples from coffee to meat to vegetables are driving up the cost of groceries in the U.S., pinching consumers and companies ...
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Genetically modified Crops Cause Major Disruption in Global Food Trade
The FAO last weekend announced that the increased production of genetically modified crops around the globe has led to a higher number of ...
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Disease ravages Tanzania crops
The spread of crop diseases is threatening food security in the two main regions of the Lake Zone. The diseases according to Open Forum on ...
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Cambridge News
Cambridge Rotary: Food & Agriculture are too important to be left behind the Red Flag
Currently GM crops were not allowed to be sold for human consumption ... Crops could also be given new roles in contributing to human health.
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Microdosing improves productivity in crops
In collaboration with the Internat- ional Crops Research Institute for the ... a precision farming technique called “microdosing,” its effect on food security ...
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Eversheds says consumer suspicion must be addressed before GM crops are accepted
She added: 'While undoubtedly it is right that we need to secure our food supply for the future, if GM crops are the only way to do that then the ...
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Ethanol Producer Magazine
Beet ethanol plants considered in ND, California
The developers also chose to raise beets in a new production area to avoid potential concerns about fuel crops competing with food crops.
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Consumer Freedom
Another Top Scientist Defends Food Technology
Genetically modified crops contribute to American families paying less for the safest food in the world than families in any other country. The crops are ...
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Patenting Of Genetically Modified Crops In India Vis-À-Vis International Decisions
The utility of GM foods is also in debate, and instances shows that it ... and several European countries have restricted the cultivation of GM food crops.
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Farmers warn of threats to economics posed by genetically engineered crops
“Losing crops means they lose wages, seeds for future plantings and ... of this toxic pesticide contaminating our farms, our water, our air and our food.
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food crops
Daily update March 17, 2014


Independent Online
Millions lack food despite nutritious local veggies
Kei apple and Okra plants: despite growing interest by research and policy circles in traditional leafy vegetables, which have been found to be highly ...
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GM crop contamination disrupts global food trade
The FAO took soundings from 75 countries on questions concerning low levels of GM crops in the international food and animal feed trades. Between ...
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Indian Express
Stop trials over genetically modified crops: Letter to CM
Environmentalists, former law makers and administrative officials, have jointly written to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and agricultural minister ...
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California drought to drive up food prices in the long term
With 2013 the driest year on record and 2014 possibly worse, the devastation of California's drought is trickling down to crops, fields, farmers markets, ...
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GUEST APPERANCE: Is it about time food goes all-organic?
It is a dangerous herbicide known to drift off target crops and has been ... And now there will be higher concentrations of the herbicide in our food ...
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Western tastes stifle crop diversity
The saw preferences growing for the energy-dense foods long favoured in ... The use of oilseed crops, like soybean, sunflower and palm oil, have ...
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Community garden grows food and fun
Our goal was to create a place where anyone from the community could raise crops and harvest fresh, free food, and hopefully connect with each ...
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Bees best bug in the 'buzzness': Insects driving industry
A bee sets his sights on an orange tree blossom in the Yuma Valley. Bees are vital to the production of one-thrid of the world's food crops and are an ...
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Farming changes needed to overcome predicted drops in crop yields
Research out today shows that crop yields could drop by 5 per cent for every ... by climate change, which could worsen global food security problems.
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Wooster farmers form cooperative to sell food in Cleveland, aided by USDA grant
She was already deeply invested in the food movement, making the commitment to grow certified organic crops and contributing $1,000 to the start of ...
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FORUM: We shouldn't use food crops as fuel sources
Corn is a food crop and a renewable resource, and we put ourselves at risk when we use it to subsidize the price of gasoline or any other fossil fuel.
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New Vision
Rice becomes preferred cash crop in Uganda...
This has made Uganda a food basket in a region that is badly hit by the ... cash crops like cotton and the women dealt with food crops like cassava, ...
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Specialty crop grants a available
Grants are available to develop new and improved specialty crop seed varieties, enhance food safety, expand marketing of specialty crops or increase ...
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Business Recorder
Technology being developed to fortify agriculture sector
Ministry will establish facilities for producing quality controlled Halal food for ... Significantly lower average yields of crops, persistent decrease in the ...
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Middle East drought continues, Experts fear global food crisis
The Middle East's driest winter in several decades could pose a threat to global food prices, with local crops depleted and farmers' livelihoods blighted ...
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How climate change threatens our food security
LOSS. Agricultural workers lose crops and income due to extreme weather brought about by climate change. Photo by Jay Directo/AFP. MANILA ...
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Controversial issue of GM food all set to become major poll issue
... University fields being used repeatedly for the trails of these toxic crops which will end up contaminating our food, farm and environment for ever.
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• Governments Prepare for Implementation of Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing
• International Team Crack Sesame Genome
• Researchers Discover Plant Without Chloroplasts

• Scientists Develop Biofortified Sorghum for Africa

• Entomologists Update Definitions of Terms Related to Resistance to Biotech crops and Pesticides
• Scientists Identify Gene that May Ease Genetic Modification in Plants
• Vilsack Reveals Plan for Biofuels

Asia and the Pacific
• Bt Brinjal Cultivation in Bangladesh Follows Biosafety Measures, Says Ag Minister
• Asian Biotech Crop Importing Countries Hold Seminars on Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops for 2013
• Vietnam, Slow and Cautious on GM Crop Adoption
• Philippines Increases Biotech Adoption in 2013
• NAAS Endorses GM Crops for Nutritional Security
• Pakistan Finalizes Strategy to Make Quality Cotton Seed Available
• India's Biotechnology Strategy Highlights Importance of GM Crops

• New Study Shows OPR Protein Function Important for Photosynthesis
• EU Innovation Scoreboard Shows Need for Action to Keep Innovation and Industry in Europe

• Predators Delay Pest Resistance to Bt Crops
• Biotech Rice Expressing Exo-glucanase Show Enhanced Production of Reducing Sugars

• Livestock Biotech Summit

Document Reminders
• VIB Publishes New GM Background Report

Latest Communication Products

Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2013
ISAAA Brief 46-2013 is now available! Get your copy now!
ISAAA Brief 46-2013: Infographic
Download Infographic 1 (PDF) : Chinese , English
Download Infographic 2 (PDF) : English



Governments Prepare for Implementation of Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing

Governments have set up concrete groundwork for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing of Genetic Resources during the third meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (ICNP 3) conducted on 28 February 2014 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The major outcomes of the meeting include the following:
  • A global multilateral benefits-sharing mechanism will be in place to address instances of benefit sharing, including the use of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, that occur in transboundary situations or for which it is not possible to grant or obtain prior informed consent. ICNP agreed on a road map that will allow Parties to unravel the complexities of the mechanism.
  • The pilot phase of the Access and Benefit-sharing Clearing House (ABSCH) was launched, and training sessions were held. Governments underscored the critical importance of a fully functional ABSCH when the Protocol is implemented.
  • Adoption of a strategic framework to assist developing countries to build capacity to implement the Protocol was recommended. It will be the cornerstone of implementation on the ground and play a pivotal role for making the Nagoya Protocol a reality at national level. 
As of today, 29 countries have ratified the Protocol. It will enter into force 90 days after the 50th country has ratified the protocol.
Read the press release at

International Team Crack Sesame Genome
Researchers from China, Denmark, and other institutes have successfully cracked the genome of sesame, a high oil content crop, providing insights on the important stages of seed development and oil accumulation, and the potential key genes for sesamin production.
In the study, researchers produced a high-quality draft genome of the sesame genotype ‘Zhongzhi No. 13', an elite cultivar in China, planted over the last ten years. The assembled sesame genome size is about 337 Mb, with a total of 27,148 genes. Result highlighted the absence of the Toll/interleukin-1 receptor domain in resistance genes, and suggested that this may be a new paradigm in elucidating the interaction of resistance genes along with diseases.
Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) is considered as the queen of oilseeds for its high oil content and quality, and grown widely in tropical and subtropical areas as an important source of oil and protein. The joint efforts of the Oil Crops Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, BGI, University of Copenhagen, and other institutes made sesame the second Lamiales to be sequenced along with the former published minute genome of Utricularia gibba. Results of the study were published online in Genome Biology:
For more information, read the news release at:

Researchers Discover Plant Without Chloroplasts
Researchers from New York University (NYU), NYU Abu Dhabi, Long Island University (LIU), the Philippine Genome Center, University of Canterbury, University of Arizona, and Southern Illinois University sequenced the genome of Rafflesia, a parasitic genus of plants endemic to southeast Asia, believed to have lost its chloroplast genome.
Led by NYU biology Professor Michael Purugganan and LIU professor Jeanmaire Molina, the study attempted to find the chloroplast genome. Purugganan said "In science, one of the hardest things to show is that something isn't there."
Rafflesia is dominated by a large flower and roots that parasitize a specific vine and smells like rotting flesh to attract flies that pollinate it. As a parasite, it diverges from typical plants, which are photosynthetic autotrophs. Professor Eric Brenner said the plant has evolved into a heterotroph, and has lost its chloroplast DNA since it is no longer needed for survival. Rafflesia was known to lack chloroplasts because it obtains all of its sugars, or energy, from its host vine.
For more details about this study, read the news release available at


Scientists Develop Biofortified Sorghum for Africa

Scientists from Dupont successfully developed biofortified sorghum which was intended to contribute to food and nutrition security most especially for people from Africa.
Dupont Pioneer scientists and other researchers from the U.S. and Africa are currently working to produce improved sorghum varieties enriched with vitamin A precursor, iron, and zinc through plant breeding or modern biotechnology techniques. These efforts are part of the African Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) initiative which aims to benefit millions of Africans. Sorghum is one of the staple crops in the continent but it is lacking key nutrients such as vitamin A. Up to 500,000 children in Africa become blind due to vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and about 600,000 women die from childbirth-related causes, many from complications that could be reduced through healthy diets containing of vitamin A.
DuPont recently won the ‘Patents for Humanity' Award from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its willingness to share its intellectual property that has resulted in revolutionary research to strengthen the nutritional profile of sorghum and help improve public health in target African countries.


Entomologists Update Definitions of Terms Related to Resistance to Biotech crops and Pesticides

Entomologists from University of Arizona and Michigan State University addressed the current jumble of words relating to pest resistance by coming up with updated definitions for 50 key terms. They published these definitions in the Journal of Economic Entomology.
The authors selected definitions that promote proactive detection and management of resistance, such as resistance defined as "a genetically based decrease in susceptibility to a pesticide." They contrast this with an alternative definition used by some industry scientists that requires "repeated failure of a product to achieve the expected level of control," which generally occurs only after it's too late to respond most effectively.
Confusion in definition is usually associated in defining and managing insect resistance to Bt crops. Bt proteins are not exclusive to genetically engineered crops. Organic growers have used Bt protein in sprays for decades, even before Bt crops became commercially available in 1996.
Read more at and

Scientists Identify Gene that May Ease Genetic Modification in Plants
A recent discovery by a research team from Purdue University could lead to easier genetic modification of plants considered recalcitrant to standard methods, including varieties of economically important crops.  The team identified a gene that influences susceptibility to infection by Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a bacterium used to insert genes into plants to produce desired traits such as resistance to pests, diseases or harsh environmental conditions, or to improve the nutrition or shelf life of a crop.
Led by Stanton Gelvin, Purdue's Edwin Umbarger Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences, the team conducted genetic screens of Arabidopsis mutants hyper-susceptible to Agrobacterium infection to identify genes responsible for susceptibility. They discovered that a mutation in the gene MTF1 affected susceptibility to infection and genetic transformation. Plants in which MTF1 is suppressed were more susceptible to transformation. Gelvin said that the team is working on developing technology to translate their findings into a tool that can reduce the expression of MTF1 and genetically transform a plant in one step.
For more information about this research, read the news release available at

Vilsack Reveals Plan for Biofuels
U.S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during Commodity Classic, the annual meeting of corn, soybean, wheat, and sorghum growers in San Antonio, California, that his discussions with Environmental Protection Agency were not focused on the message that biodiesel and ethanol advocates are already pursuing: abandoning the proposal that would lessen the amount of biofuels mixed into U.S. fuel supply.
Vilsack said that the right way to go is marketing ethanol and biodiesel for export. He said that their team has planned to expand trade promotion on biofuels by including biofuels experts on a trip to potential importing countries such as China. He added that they can also address infrastructure issues to make sure that it is not a barrier to getting more biofuels into the system. He sees making sure biodiesel and ethanol are successful as matters of national security importance, environmental concern, and economic interest.
"Bottom line is: we're going to continue to help this industry as best we can, advocate for it, and trust that EPA at the end of the day makes the right set of decisions."

Asia and the Pacific

Bt Brinjal Cultivation in Bangladesh Follows Biosafety Measures, Says Ag Minister

Matia Chowdhury, Minister for Agriculture unveiled the ISAAA Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops 2013, as the Chief Guest in a seminar on 26 February 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In her keynote speech, the lady minister explained the research, development, and extension activities on biotech crops in the country, where Bt brinjal has recently been cultivated compliant with the stringent regulatory measures for biosafety and environmental risk assessment of the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol, and the enabling regulatory measures formulated and gazetted by the government. The minister emphasized that "Being an overpopulated country, we will not hesitate in using biotechnology if it is proven to be useful and safe for human, animal and for the environment." She urged the scientists to develop new crop varieties through frontier research using biotechnology to combat the environmental hazards like salinity, drought, submergence, and cold.
Dr. Clive James, founder and emeritus chair ISAAA presented  the Global Biotech Status for 2013. Dr. Randy Hautea, ISAAA global coordinator has elaborated the biotech maize experience in the Philippines whereas, Mr. Bhagirath Choudhary, ISAAA India director explained the Bt cotton progress in India. Prof. Dr. Md. Rafiqul Hoque, vice chancellor, Bangladesh Agriculural University as the Guest of Honor of the seminar also appreciated the government initiative of releasing biotech crop in Bangladesh keeping the biosafety matters in to consideration. Dr. Md. Kamal Uddin, executive chairman, BARC and the director generat of Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) chaired the seminar and claimed the success of scientists in sequencing the genomes of jute and Macrophomina.
Bangladesh Biotechnology Information Centre (BdBIC) and the International Service for the Acquisition Of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) in collaboration with Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) organized the seminar which was attended by around 350 policy planners, academicians, researchers, extension officers, research students, and journalists.

For details on the seminar and information on biotechnology in Bangladesh, contact Prof. D. Khondoker Nasiruddin at

Asian Biotech Crop Importing Countries Hold Seminars on Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops for 2013
Biotech crops importing countries South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia hosted the seminar of ISAAA founder and Emeritus Chair Dr. Clive James' Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops for 2013. In Seoul, Korea,  the media conference was held on February 17 and participated by 25 journalists. Inquiries were on the status of the development and commercialization of biotech crops in Europe,  climate change, and the possible solutions to public mistrust and awareness about GM crops. Four media interviews were conducted for print and online releases.
In Tokyo Japan, a seminar held on February 18 was participated by more than 100 stakeholders interested in biotechnology. Dr. Clive James' presentation of the Global Status Report was well received as well as the presentations of Dr. Randy Hautea on biotech corn commercialization in the Philippines, Dr. Masahiro Suzuki on activities of Center for Biotechnology in Japan, and Nippon Biotechnology Information Center (BIC) director Dr. Fusao Tomita on biotech crop awareness and acceptance in Japan. The ISAAA team were received by the US MInister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs David Miller during their visit at the US Embassy in Tokyo. 

The Jakarta, Indonesia seminar was held on February 28 with 128 people in attendance. Dr. Mahaletchumy Arujanan of Malaysia BIC joined Dr. James and Dr. Hautea by giving a presentation on Communicating agri-biotech: Scientific accuracy vs popularized myths. Two interviews for release on television were conducted featuring Dr. Clive James.

Fof further information, contact

Vietnam, Slow and Cautious on GM Crop Adoption
Speaking during the seminar launch of ISAAA Brief 46 on Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops for 2013 on February 20, 2014 in Hanoi, Dr. Nguyen Van Tuat, Deputy Director of Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said GM corn has been planted on a trial basis since 2007. From this test, seven corn lines have proven to be insect resistant and yielding double the ordinary harvest, with no pesticide use. Tuat said the use of GM plants has become an indispensable trend and has won the government's approval. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has continued to complete procedures to allow the future cultivation of biotech crops.
Professor Nguyen Lan Dung (a famous scientist in Vietnam), however, said Vietnam is slow and too cautious in using GM varieties on a large scale. "These kinds of agricultural products have appeared in the market for a long time. We've imported GM corn, soybeans and soybean meal from the US and China. Why don't we plant these on a large scale, as they should be?" he asked.  Professor Dung added that complicated procedures and a bias about GM plants are the main reasons for the delay in using biotechnology. "Scientists must show evidence which proves these plants are harmless to human and animal health. They are just like other kinds of crops," he said.
Clive James, founder and emeritus chair of  ISAAA, said that biotech crops are demonstrating their global value as a tool for poor farmers who faced decreasing water supplies and increasing weed and pest problems. Also, the effects of climate change would only continue to expand the need for this technology. Experts urged the Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development and Science and Technology should work together to reduce legal procedures and cooperate with foreign scientists to quickly apply the technology.
Hundreds of participants from scientific and academic community, government agencies, companies and the media took part in this event organized by the Institute of Agricultural Genetics, ISAAA and Agbiotech Viet.

For details of the seminar and for biotech news from Vietnam, contact Agbiotech Viet at or

Philippines Increases Biotech Adoption in 2013
The Philippines reached around 800,000 hectares of biotech corn cultivation in 2013, up from 750,000 hectares in 2012, landing it in the 12th place among the top countries adopting biotech crops. This was reported in a media conference organized by ISAAA, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), and the Biotechnology for Life Media and Advocacy Resource Center (BMARC) on March 6, 2014 at Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City.
In the conference, ISAAA Chair Dr. Paul Teng talked about food security and how biotech crops help contribute in various aspects of food security such as improvement of nutrition and agricultural productivity. ISAAA Global Coordinator and SEAsia Center Director Dr. Randy Hautea presented the global status, trends, and significant benefits of biotech crop adoption. Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, Research and Development of the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) Dr. Segfredo Serrano, and former University of the Philippines (UP) System President and UP Los Baños Chancellor Dr. Emil Q. Javier talked about policy developments for agriculture as well as biotech crops in the Philippines, how biotech crops and modern technologies are helping the country, and insights on current issues such as the court case of Bt eggplant. They also emphasized the safety of the technology and the rigorous safety assessments and national regulatory system for biotech products. SEARCA Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr. stated in his message that the Center will continue to support biotech education and promotion particularly in developing countries, in line with its 10th Five Year Plan which seeks to promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development.
The media conference was attended by mulit-media journalists, members of the academe, government agencies, private sector, non-government organizations, and local government units.

For more information about biotechnology in the Philippines, visit SEARCA BIC's website at or send an e-mail to

NAAS Endorses GM Crops for Nutritional Security
Indian National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) unanimously passed a resolution endorsing application of biotechnology in agriculture during the roundtable meeting on "GM Crops for Nutritional Security" conveyed under the chairmanship of Prof. M.S. Swaminathan and organized by the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences on 12 February 2014. Based on the deliberation on the potential of GM crop technology in solving the entrenched low farm productivity, malnutrition, and hunger problems in a large section of Indian population, the academy reached an agreement that to achieve a zero hunger challenge of the United Nations by 2025, the farm productivity must be doubled which will be possible only through the intelligent and intensive applications of new technologies.
The academy concurred that GM crop technology is a promising, relevant and efficient technology for low-input high-output agriculture for crop improvement where conventional breeding tools have not been effective. GM technology will be a tool to improve agricultural crops for their nutritional value, nutrient and water use efficiency, productivity, tolerance/resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. The academy called on the government of India to lift de facto moratorium on the field trials of GM crops.
Other key resolutions included strengthening of existing regulatory system till BRAI becomes functional; integrating capacity building as a necessary operational requirement to keep pace with scientific advancement through international collaborations; communication by the scientists with public and policy makers about the safety and benefits of GM crop products; setting up two Committees by the Academy on Public Understanding of Science and Political Understanding of Science. The group also agreed upon several other issues including ICAR taking the lead role in the commercial release of the GM crops; functioning of GEAC as a statutory body that makes final decision on approval. It was also stressed that there is need for a PAN-political support for promoting genetic engineering research in the country to harness its full potential.
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The Pakistan government having set cotton production target, has activated seed monitoring system in markets to ensure availability of quality cotton seed to farmer's community. A joint strategy by Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department (FSC&RD), Ministry of National Food Security and Research and Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP) is being developed for availability of quality cotton seed for Kharif 2014-15. The significant features of the strategy for availability of quality cotton seed include clearance of Provincial Seed Councils (PSC) which would be required while National Biosafety Committee (NBC) clearance for commercialization was also being sought. In addition, to put Bt cotton varieties in pedigreed seed production cycle, Breeder Nucleus Seed (BNS) and Pre-Basic crop seed can be offered for crop inspection so that authentication of source may be verified through biotechnology laboratory in all the later categories of seed from basic to certified and approved seed.
Due to financial constraints and non-provision of funds in FSC&RD, the applicant/seed company will provide Bt strips/kits for testing of Bt and non Bt traits. There have been 18 meetings of Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and 12 meetings of National Biosafety Committee (NBC), Ministry of Climate Change held in Islamabad to discuss the submitted cases for approval of  genetic manipulation work in the laboratory, field trial and exempt status of Bt cotton varieties and other  GM crops.  To date 292 cases related to genetically modified crops research and development activities were received, 155 cases so far have been decided by NBC while TAC had recommended 37 cases for NBC decisions for GMOs and their products related activities. Moreover, 55 cases of different activities are under process for next TAC meeting.
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India's Biotechnology Strategy Highlights Importance of GM Crops
India's Department of Biotechnology of the Ministry of Science and Technology has come out with its draft national biotechnology development strategy, 2014, suggesting improvement in the existing regulatory system. The department in its 'Biotech Strategy-II' pitched for a world class regulatory system which can build confidence among the civil society, farmers, consumers and scientific community. The same suggestion had come in its first strategic document (Strategy-I) in 2007 when it asked for setting up a Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI), the bill is still pending with the parliamentary panel. The 2014 document has once again recommended it.
The department of biotechnology's revised strategy of 'Vision 2020' highlighted how GM crops would help achieve "higher productivity and better quality food while reducing resource inputs". Making the draft document public, the department of biotechnology sought "comments" from stakeholders including farmers, scientists and civil society by March 10. Biotech Strategy-II comes at a time when the government has moved towards field trials of selected varieties of GM crops.
The draft has suggested improvement in the existing regulatory system, seeking to make the GEAC "scientifically strong, professionally competent, conflict-free, transparent and backed by sound validation infrastructure". The department also recommended setting up a toxicological center to "generate toxicity, safety data for biological and chemical contaminants and adulterants along with GM foods and traditionally used herbs".
The vision document deals with matters relating to human health, marine biotech, aquaculture, food and nutritional security, industry biotechnology, bioinformatics, clean energy and environment. "Strategy-II is the direct result of formal and informal consultations over the past two years with over 300 stakeholders including scientists, educators, policy-makers, leaders of industry, NGOs and international experts," said the department .
For details visit A copy of Biotech Strategy II is available at
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A new study conducted by Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich shows that a new class of helical repeat proteins called Octotricopeptide Repeat Proteins (OPRs) has recently been discovered. While OPR proteins form a diverse family in green algae, in most land plants only a single protein of this type is found.
Alexandra-Viola Bohne from Professor Jörg Nickelsen's research group at LMU's Biocenter and her colleagues investigated genetically modified plants that were unable to synthesize the OPR protein RAP. They found that the RAP protein has an important role in translating the genetic information in the chloroplast DNA into specific proteins. RAP turns out to be involved in the maturation of the so-called 16S rRNA, a major component of the "protein factories" in the chloroplast.
Nickelsen said "Loss of RAP leads to a reduction in the level of protein synthesis in the chloroplasts, which in turn results in a decrease in the efficiency of photosynthesis."
Read more about this research at

EU Innovation Scoreboard Shows Need for Action to Keep Innovation and Industry in Europe
The 2014 EU Innovation Scoreboard published by the European Commission stressed that Europe risks becoming the world's research hub while innovative products and processes and the jobs and growth that go with their development, will be found in other areas. It was reported that there is an improvement in closing the innovation divide with the rest of the world, however, Europe is still behind the innovations of countries like Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.
The critical state of innovative industries such as the biotechnology industry in Europe today and the need for concrete action, go beyond the improvement of research and development funding which has taken place in Europe. Thus, André Goig, EuropaBio Chairman commented: "The Commission has made great strides in terms of reformulating its Research Framework programmes to include e.g. Public Private Partnerships and instruments targeted specifically at SMEs, which go beyond standard research funding and move toward funding innovation. However, unless Europe can guarantee such improvements are coupled with science-based, predictable and workable regulatory systems for small and large companies, as well as tailored market pull measures for innovative products and faster and more equitable access to products for end users, similar to those available in other parts of the world, we are setting ourselves up to keep losing, not only on the scoreboard but most importantly in terms of jobs, growth and benefits for society."
Read the report at Read EuropaBio's press release at


Predators Delay Pest Resistance to Bt Crops

Scientists at Cornell University reported that the combination of natural enemies, such as ladybeetles, with Bt crops delays a pest's ability to evolve resistance to Bt insecticidal proteins. According to Anthony Shelton, co-author of the study, their findings is the first reported case of predator being able to delay the evolution of resistance in an insect pest to a Bt crop. In the study, the researchers set up large cages in a greenhouse where each cage contained Bt broccoli and refuges of non-Bt broccoli. They studied populations of diamondback moth larvae, a pest of broccoli, and their natural enemies, ladybird beetles, for six generations. Cages contained different combinations of treatments with and without predators, and with and without sprayed insecticides on the non-Bt refuge plants.
Results showed that diamondback moth populations were reduced in the treatment containing ladybird beetles and unsprayed non-Bt refuge plants. It was also observed that resistance to Bt plants evolved significantly slower in this treatment. In contrast, Bt plants with no refuge were completely defoliated in treatments without ladybirds after only four to five generations, showing rapid development of resistance in the pests. In the treatment with sprayed non-Bt refuge plants and predators, diamondback moth populations were reduced, but the larvae more quickly evolved resistance to the Bt plants.
Based on the results, the effectiveness of Bt plants in controlling the pest population, the lack of effect of Bt on the predators and the role predators play in delaying resistance to Bt plants in the pest population.
The research is published in the open-access journal PLoS One.
Read the media release at


What: Livestock Biotech Summit
When: September 16-18, 2014
Where: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
For more information, visit

VIB Publishes New GM Background Report
Genetically modified (GM) papaya developed by Cornell University, USA and the University of Hawaii has been cultivated since 1998 in Hawaii and saved the local papaya cultivation. The story of the GM papaya demonstrates that GM crops are not often associated with multinationals because the Hawaiian GM papaya was developed by the public sector and the intellectual property rights were transferred to the local papaya industry. To recalibrate the GM debate by supplying scientific founded information, VIB releases the, which provides detailed background information, case-by-case style and up-to-date answers on current GM topics. The background report  'virus resistant papapya in Hawaii is now freely available.
For details, contact Wim Grunewald, expert scientist plantbiotechnology VIB -
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