The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution by Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko with a foreword by Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug) ISBN: 0-275-97879-6, Available in bookstores beginning September 2004, and online at http://www.greenwood.com.
GMOs in Integrated Production. Ecological Impact of Genetically Modified Organisms at Prague 26-29 November 2003. IOBC wprs Bulletin, Bulletin OILB srop Vol 27(3)2004-09-15 Editors: Jörg Romeis & Franz Bigler. ISBN 92-9067-164-3
Mendel in the Kitchen: Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Food
Nina Fedoroff is a leading geneticist and molecular biologist. At the Pennsylvania State University she studies genes that protect plants from biological and non-biological stresses. Fedoroff is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is currently serving on the National Science Board. Nancy Brown was trained as a medievalist but has worked since 1981 as a science writer.
Jeffrey L. Fox, Nature Biotechnology, v. 22, 1062; (September,
A version of the Chinese Journal of Agricultural Biotechnology is now being published in English by CAB Publishing. On ingenta, the home page is: http://www.ingenta.com/journals/browse/cabi/cjb A table of contents can be reached at: http://www.ingenta.com/isis/browsing/TOC/ingenta?issue=pubinfobike://cabi/cjb/2004/00000001/00000001
Chinese Journal of Agricultural Biotechnology brings cutting-edge Chinese research to an international audience. This journal takes the very best papers published in Chinese in the Journal of Agricultural Biotechnology, translates them and makes them available to the international scientific community.
The African Scientist magazine http://www.africagenome.co.za/publications/scientist.html The first issue of The African Scientist is now available. Covering the world of genomics, the magazine is aimed at students, teachers and scientists. In the January 2004 issue. Editor: Adrian Hadland. Production editor: Lynne Wilson.
Published by the Africa Genome Initiative, a project of the Social Cohesion and Integration Research Programme of the Human Sciences Research Council.
Trade, Standards, and the Political Economy of Genetically Modified
Recent work on Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) endotoxins has revealed
that modifications in a few key protein domains may increase toxin activity,
Nachimuthu Saraswathy and Polumetla Ananda Kumar report in the
current issue of the Electronic Journal of Biotechnology.
Weed Science: Vol. 52, No. 5, pp. 834-844. A comparative ecological risk assessment for herbicides used on spring wheat: the effect of glyphosate when used within a glyphosate-tolerant wheat system Robert K. D. Peterson and Andrew G. Hulting
ABSTRACT Glyphosate-tolerant spring wheat currently is being developed and most likely will be the first major genetically engineered crop to be marketed and grown in several areas of the northern Great Plains of the United States. The public has expressed concerns about environmental risks from glyphosate-tolerant wheat. Replacement of traditional herbicide active ingredients with glyphosate in a glyphosate-tolerant spring wheat system may alter ecological risks associated with weed management. The objective of this study was to use a Tier 1 quantitative risk assessment methodology to compare ecological risks for 16 herbicide active ingredients used in spring wheat. The herbicide active ingredients included 2,4-D, bromoxynil, clodinafop, clopyralid, dicamba, fenoxaprop, flucarbazone, glyphosate, MCPA, metsulfuron, thifensulfuron, tralkoxydim, triallate, triasulfuron, tribenuron, and trifluralin. We compared the relative risks of these herbicides to glyphosate to provide an indication of the effect of glyphosate when it is used in a glyphosate-tolerant spring wheat system. Ecological receptors and effects evaluated were avian (acute dietary risk), wild mammal (acute dietary risk), aquatic vertebrates (acute risk), aquatic invertebrates (acute risk), aquatic plants (acute risk), nontarget terrestrial plants (seedling emergence and vegetative vigour), and groundwater exposure. Ecological risks were assessed by integrating toxicity and exposure, primarily using the risk quotient method. Ecological risks for the 15 herbicides relative to glyphosate were highly variable. For risks to duckweed, green algae, groundwater, and nontarget plant seedling emergence, glyphosate had less relative risk than most other active ingredients. The differences in relative risks were most pronounced when glyphosate was compared with herbicides currently widely used on spring wheat.
"Feeding a Hungry World: The Moral
Imperative of Biotechnology "
Meetings of the Catagena Protocol
on Biosafety - Paul Christensen <
Willy De Greef has pointed out the imbalance between representatives of the scientific community and those of NGO opposing biotechnology at these meetings (see article that was highlighted earlier in AgBioView at: http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/Dynapage.taf?file=/nbt/journal/v22/n7/full/nbt0704-811.html.
A database of tree genes
Terminologies used in agricultural biotechnology
Bibliography with abstracts for environmental/ecological impacts of transgenic organisms has been compiled an annotated to increase awareness and accessibility of peer-reviewed journal articles with data addressing environmental and ecological impacts of transgenic organisms, Information Systems for Biotechnology ( http://www.isb.vt.edu/ ) The PDFs are also available for download on the ISAAA website at http://www.isaaa.org/kc/bin/publications/docabinets/index.htm
Genes From Engineered Grass Spread for Miles. Finds study by
Andrew Pollack, New York Times, September 21, 2004. Full story at
Comment by Klaus Ammann: this is what has to be expected anyway. See, e.g. http://www.botanischergarten.ch/debate/techdef5a.pdf and paper Watrud, L.S., Lee, E.H., Fairbrother, A., Burdick, C., Reichman, J.R., Bollman, M., Storm, M., King, G., & Van de Water, P.K. (2004) Evidence for landscape-level, pollen-mediated gene flow from genetically modified creeping bent grass with CP4 EPSPS as a marker. PNAS, pp 0405154101 http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0405154101v1 and http://www.botanischergarten.ch/Geneflow/Watrud-PNAS-preprint05154.pdf
“Herbicide Tolerance Technology: Glyphosate and Glufosinate” A revised version of Pocket K No. 10 is now available online at http://www.isaaa.org/kc. It discusses weed control practices, development of glyphosate and glufosinate herbicide tolerant plants, advantages of herbicide tolerance crops, safety aspects of the technology, and the current status of herbicide tolerance.
“Biosynthesis of Very-Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Transgenic Oilseeds: Constraints on Their Accumulation” Ernst Heinz et al. (the University of Hamburg Download the full text of the article, at http://www.plantcell.org
An electronic device that uses spinach to convert light into electrical charge. Shuguang Zhang, Laboratory of Molecular Self-Assembly, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Visit Shuguang Zhang’s laboratory online at http://web.mit.edu/lms/www/
Genetically engineered plants that contain only native DNA. Crop Improvement
Through the Modification of the Plant's Own Genome. Rommens, C., et al.
(May 2004 issue of Plant Physiology) produced hundreds of marker-free and
backbone-free potato (Solanum tuberosum) plants displaying reduced expression
of polyphenol oxidase, the enzyme responsible for the brown discoloration
of potato tubers.
13 September 2004, Brussels/Rome
September 14, 2004 BRUSSELS,
In a separate development, Commission President Romano Prodi decided to withdrew from its agenda the proposal to establish labelling thresholds for trace amounts of EC approved genetically modified (GM) seed in conventional seed and thus to take the controversial new proposal on coexistence off the Commission's agenda on 8 September. The Commission is known to be divided over the draft text, which allegedly foresees a threshold of 0.3 per cent for the presence of GMOs in conventional seeds. "The GMO discussion was postponed as the information available on the economic impact of such legislation was deemed insufficient. The Commission is not likely to return to this issue in the remaining months of its term," a Commission spokesperson said.
September 16 Sixth Framework Programme (FP6)
Marie Curie Actions: - New calls have been published for Marie Curie Research Training Networks and Early Stage Training - A Specific Support Action has been launched with the publication of a call for proposals for the "2005 Researchers in Europe" Inititiative.
September 20, Committee on the Deliberate Release of GMOs into the Environment under Directive 2001/18/EC discussed the draft of Commission Decision concerning the placing on the market, in accordance with Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, of a maize product (Zea mays L., line MON 863) genetically modified for resistance to corn rootworm. German delegation distributed the review by the well known opponent of GMO Dr. Pusztai. Commission postponed the decision.
The Advisory Group on the Food Chain and Animal and Plant Health has been created to facilitate consultation and dialogue between the European Commission and European organizations on food safety policy. The group will be composed of about 45 members from EU-level associations representing consumers, the food industry, retailers and farmers.
The new Advisory Group replaces five existing consultative bodies - the Advisory Committee on Foodstuffs, plus the standing groups on veterinary matters, plant health, animal welfare and feeding stuffs previously attached to the Advisory Committee on Agricultural Product Health and Safety. The new Advisory Group will focus on strategies on food safety policies.
For further information see
September 23, 2004,
Germany BioMed Central, By Grit Kienzlen,
Germany's two national legislative bodies were at loggerheads over genetically modified (GM) plant legislation yesterday (September 22) after an arbitration panel that is supposed to conciliate between the Parliament and Bundesrat failed to reach a consensus.
On July 9, the representatives of Germany's 16 provinces in the Bundesrat-dominated by the Christian Democrat party-defeated a bill that had been approved by the Parliament (Bundestag), where Social Democrat (SPD) and Green parties hold the majority.
The arbitration panel is supposed to mediate between Bundestag and Bundesrat, but "the talks there are still extremely emotionally charged," Wolf-Dieter Glatzel, who represents the SPD faction in the panel, told The Scientist. Each party accuses the other of irrationality, as they struggle to draft a law that will allow commercial use of plant biotechnology while being acceptable to opponents of the technology.
Originally, the federal government was supposed to implement EU guidelines for releasing GM plants by 2002, but the law proposed by the minister of consumer protection, Renate Künast, a member of the Green party, was fiercely criticized by all major research organizations, who called it a "law of gene technology prevention."
There are two major points at issue, both concerning liability in case crops sown by conventional or organic farmers and contaminated by the neighbouring fields of GM farmers.
While the EU guidelines recognize a contamination only when it exceeds a threshold level of 0.9%, the draft of the German law also acknowledges economic damage to an organic farmer if the contamination exceeds a threshold that he or she has arranged individually with his customers.
Secondly, the law currently allows for all neighbouring GM farmers to be held liable for the damage collectively, even if they have personally followed all rules of good agricultural practice. The German Farmers Association therefore discourages its members from planting GM crops because of incalculable economic risks.
An alliance of German research organizations, including the Max Planck Society, the Fraunhofer Society, the German Research Foundation, and the Conference of University Rectors, sent an open letter to the arbitration panel last week. The letter said that the bill would prevent experiments with GM plants, making internationally competitive research impossible.
In addition to criticizing the liability rules, the research bodies were unhappy that cultivation areas for GM plants would have to be disclosed in a public registry, as experimental fields have been destroyed regularly by environmental activists in the past. The bill, the alliance writes, therefore "jeopardizes the future of the major branches of innovation in Germany."
The European Commission has also criticized the German bill in a detailed statement from July 26 for undermining EU regulations. If the bill is enacted without major changes, a legal procedure at the European Court may be foreseeable.
The arbitration panel will meet again for further consultation by the end of October, but members of the political opposition, such as Christel Happach-Kasan from the Liberal party (FDP), don't believe that the governing parties will try to find a compromise. "Fundamental opposition to green biotechnology is popular, but not enforceable in the EU any more," she said. The likely outcome will be that decisions will be left to the courts, she said.
United Kingdom (UK).
The Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC) of the called for the Consumer's Association to reconsider its current policy regarding genetically modified (GM) crops. The current stance of the Association favours “denying choice to farmers and consumers who wish to experience the benefits of GM technology, which have been appreciated by millions around the world for almost a decade,” ABC said in its press release http://www.abcinformation.org/press_release.php?press_id=41.
has been field-testing genetically modified (GM) grapes, raspberries, and strawberries since 2001. GM strawberry and raspberry plants, transformed with the DefH9-iaaM gene, tend to grow more fruits, which are also larger and heavier than those of their non-GM counterparts. Similar experiments are also being carried out on grapes, and more projects are underway. Read about Dr. Mezzetti’s projects at http://www.bioinformatica.unito.it/bioinformatics/Spena/index.html.
Sept. 15, 2004, Bloomberg,
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is pushing lawmakers to approve a bill this week to make legal production of genetically modified crops before farmers start planting in October.
Three Senate committees are scheduled to vote on the legislation today and a vote by the full upper house may come as early as tomorrow, said Senator Ney Suassuna, the sponsor of the bill, in an interview in Brasilia. Senator Jose Agripino Maia, leader of the opposition Liberal Front Party, said senators may vote on the bill tomorrow.
"Brazil needs this legislation to be more competitive and export more,'' Carlos Sperotto, vice president of the National Agricultural Confederation in Porto Alegre, in Rio Grande do Sul state, said in an interview.
By planting transgenic beans, farmers may boost production by 15 percent and reduce production costs by 30 percent, as less herbicide is needed, Sperotto said. Brazil expects to produce a record soybean crop of 60 million tons next year, up from 49.8 million tons this year.
September 23, 2004
Johannesburg - Syngenta, which competes with Monsanto in the market for genetically modified (GM) seeds, has resumed selling to South African farmers after a voluntary halt of a month. Syngenta stopped selling mealie seeds to farmers on August 23 after Biowatch, an organisation opposed to gene-altered crops, appealed a government decision to allow Syngenta to sell seeds. But a board of legal and agricultural experts convened by the high court dismissed Biowatch's appeal on Monday, said Ken Flower, the managing director of Syngenta's South African unit.
Syngenta sells GM seed for yellow mealies, which account for 39 percent of the 8.7 million tons the SA Crop Estimate Committee has forecast commercial farmers would reap this year. The committee expects yellow mealie plantings to rise this season by 14 percent to 1.04 million hectares.
South African Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena has announced the launch of a new South African biotechnology policy describing biotechnology development needs and opportunities in areas such as human health, plant improvement, animal health, and industrial processes.
The South African government has already invested US$ 67.6 million in infrastructure to support biotechnology development, including setting up Biotechnology Regional Investment Centres (BRICs) to support and incubate research in the field. The three BRICs are the Western Cape Biotech Institute, the Lifelab in Durban, and Biopad, which covers research initiatives in the central and northern areas of the country. Included in the total budget of R450 million is R40 million that has been earmarked for funding the National Bio-Informatics Network – a Cray supercomputer based at the University of the Western Cape. The article can be viewed online at http://allafrica.com/stories/200409090302.html
September 15, 2004 The Namibian (Windhoek),
A Genetically Modified Organism Testing, Training and Research Laboratory was officially launched at the University of Namibia on Monday.
Unam's Dr Kandawa Schulz said the idea of setting up a biochemistry and biotechnology laboratory for research was initiated - way back in 1998 already - as there was no institution dealing with the application of modern biotechnology techniques. She said the Laboratory had an important role to play in assisting Government and interested institutions in reinforcing and implementing the National Biosafety Framework by testing and monitoring the movement of grain, seeds and other items that might be genetically modified.
Is set to reduce pesticide use by as much as 75 per cent by growing genetically modified (GM) cotton. According to Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), this means improving the environmental sustainability and profitability of an industry that earns $1.7 billion annually. Cotton is one of Australia's most significant agricultural industries, exporting nearly 90 per cent of cotton fibre.
16 September 2004, Press Release,
September 1, 2004 Reuters
September 15, 2004, Business Standard
The Government must bring the genetically modified (GM) foods under the purview of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA Act), felt speakers at a two-day national symposium on biotechnology, which concluded in Ahmedabad on Saturday.
Speaking on the issue of 'Safety Evaluation on Genetically Modified Foods: Indian Regulatory Review', P K Ghosh, senior vice-president, BioCare SBU, Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd, said that while no genetically modified foods are being produced in India as of now, the situation will not remain so for too long. Ghosh added that the government must publish a list of 'safe genes', which means that once a gene is notified as safe, companies will not be required to seek approval from the authorities every time they want to introduce it into the market. "There is also a need to put in place a mechanism to monitor GM foods for implicated long term risks," felt Ghosh.
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Asian Media Information and Communication Centre, and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications will hold a seminar-workshop on “Covering Biotech: Issues and Opportunities for the News Media” from October 11-13, 2004 in ICRISAT, Andhra Pradesh, India. The workshop will help improve public perceptions and acceptance of biotechnology and its products by enhancing the capacities of science and business journalists towards quality reporting and better coverage about biotechnology. For more information about this workshop email Gopikrishna Warrier of ICRISAT at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Indian government is formulating new policies to boost investment
and research in the local biotechnology sector.
USDA-ERS Releases Database on U.S. Biotech Patents and Inventions http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/AgBiotechIP This database identifies and describes U.S. patents on inventions in biotechnology and other biological processes with issue dates between 1976 and 2000 that are used in food and agriculture. The database also provides information about the ownership of these patents, whether patents are held in the public or private sector, and changes in patent ownership due to mergers, acquisitions, and spin-offs.
'The Hawaiian 'Rainbow' was Rapidly Adopted by Farmers and is of Major Importance in Hawaii Today'
- Carol Gonsalves, David R. Lee, Dennis Gonsalves; Full paper at http://www.apsnet.org/
Rainbow is the premier example of a genetically engineered horticultural crop that made it to market. It is a dream come true for scientists who wished to provide a virus-resistant papaya cultivar for the people of Hawaii. But it is also a dream come true for farmers who had lost so much papaya production to Papaya ring spot virus (PRSV) that they were "almost broke already!".
The Thai Cabinet has reversed an earlier decision to allow field trials and commercialization of genetically modified (GM) crops. Instead, an academic committee composed of biotechnology experts. The committee will consider three alternatives: completely promote genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Thailand; allow the co-existence of GMOs and non-GMO crops; or to totally ban GMOs in the country.
A papaya plantation in Thailand was destroyed when Department of Agriculture staff discovered one fruit among 239 plants to be genetically modified. The action was taken as the Thai government does not allow commercial farming of GM crops, although three research facilities in the country grow papaya on experimental basis.
Agriculture Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said that although it only involved one plant he had ordered an inquiry to determine the source of the GM seed. The papaya seedlings that were planted were purchased from a research station in Khon Kaen.
More details of the papaya story at http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/latest/story/0,4390,272789,00.html
Premier Yu Shyi-kun of Taiwan pledged his commitment to establish a Biotech Industry Strategy Consulting Committee, which would consolidate and integrate the country's biotech-based promotion organizations and research institutes.
The full story is available at http://www.biotecheast.com/twbiotechnews_30Aug04.html.