Draft of a summary report of the UN Millennium Project, an initiative
carried out by an influential group of scientists, economists and public
policy specialists convened by UN secretary general Kofi Annan:
" The world's rich nations need to provide US$7 billion a year for the
next decade to support research and development (R&D) relevant to the needs
of developing countries, if they are serious about meeting a pledge to end
extreme poverty by 2015."
The draft summary can be downloaded from
The draft Report of the Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation
of the Millennium Project commissioned by UN S-G Kofi Annan is now available
for public comment at
FAO - The United Nations "Food and Agriculture Organisation"
celebrates World Food Day every October 16 in commemoration of its founding
in Quebec City in 1945.
"The world's biodiversity is under threat and this could severely compromise
global food security, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf said in a message
for World Food Day. Diouf added that "As a consequence, the food supply
becomes more vulnerable, there are less opportunities for growth and innovation
in agriculture, and less capacity for agriculture to adapt to environmental
changes or to the appearance of new pests and diseases." Various sectors,
therefore, need to implement measures to preserve the environment, and encourage
better education and increased research and government support. For the
full speech, visit
For more details of FAO’s program of activities, visit
Oct. 29, 2004
Nobel Laureate Supports Biotech Capacity Building
Crop Biotech Update http://www.isaaa.org/kc
The 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai
has called for biotechnology capacity building in Kenya and other developing
countries to enable safe adoption of the technology. Maathai, who is also
Kenya's assistant minister for environment and natural resources, won the
coveted prize for her long standing crusade against environmental destruction
During a live national television talk show in Kenya, the Nobel Peace
Laureate said that agricultural biotechnology is here to stay and the best
"we could do is to train the people involved to be able to minimize any
inherent risk." She gave the example of Kenya where President Mwai Kibaki
mid this year supported the use of biotechnology to boost food production
in the country while commissioning a modern biosafety greenhouse for Bt
maize trials being conducted by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
> Express your views on the human cloning controversy
by clicking on the link below:
A Science Advisory Board study, "Scientists on Science: The Cloning Controversy"
Many groups including politicians, ethicists, and the media have hotly deliberated
the issue of human therapeutic cloning--the process by which a somatic cell
is fused with an enucleated oocyte. However, little effort has been made
to assess and articulate the views of the global scientific community to
public policy makers. To learn more about your views, The Science Advisory
Board, a global community of over 22,000 scientists and allied health professionals,
seeks your input on key issues such as the acceptability of various cloning
applications, legal issues, influences and beliefs, necessary research regulations
and policy implications.
Media and Public
The 4th World Conference of Science Journalists in Montreal, Canada.
Science journalists have a "critical role" to play in informing communities
and influencing policymakers in the developing world, Maureen O'Neil, president
of Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), said at the
opening of Visit the IRDC at
SOUTH ASIA JOURNALISTS MEET ON BIOTECH REPORTING
Print and television media practitioners from India, Bangladesh, Sri
Lanka, and Nepal converged in Hyderabad, India to interact with scientists
and representatives from government, the regulatory system, civil society,
seed industry, and communication fields on “Covering Biotechnology: Issues
and Opportunities for the News Media.”
Dr. Farid Walijar, ICRISAT plant pathologist and head of the biotechnology
program, averred that scientists like him now understand how the media thinks,
and now know how to deal with them.
Plans are underway to form a virtual network that will link media practitioners
with key institutions like ICRISAT and the International Service for the
Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) to allow sharing of experiences
and access to science-based information on crop biotechnology.
Organizers of the workshop were ICRISAT, ISAAA, Asian Media, and Information
Center of India, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
EMBO - European Molecular Biology Organization
David Ropeik takes a look at “The Consequences of Fear,” (EMBO) paper
that explores the effects of both fear and risk misperception, and correlates
them with risk management strategies. Download the full article in PDF format
In “Principles of Risk Perception Applied to Gene Technology”
- a paper by Lennart Sjöberg in the latest copy of the EMBO journal correlates
principles of risk perception with the public’s view of gene technology.
Sjöberg acknowledges that the experts in scientific issues differ from the
general public in their definition of risk, a fact that has often hampered
communication between these groups. Download the full article in PDF format
WORLD FOOD PRIZE 2004 AWARDED TO RICE BREEDERS
In a fitting tribute to the International Year of Rice, this year's World
Food Prize will be awarded to rice breeders Yuan Longping of China and
Monty Jones of Sierra Leone.
Professor Yuan, Director-General of the China National Hybrid Rice Research
and Development Center in Changsha, Hunan, China, developed the genetic
tools for hybrid rice breeding in the early 1970's. Using the "three-line
system" now being adapted to many other countries around the world, Dr.
Yuan was able to produce the world’s first successful and widely grown high-yielding
hybrid rice varieties, with yields 20% above conventional varieties. His
efforts have since led to increased rice yields and grain output in China,
providing food to feed an additional 60 million people each year.
Dr. Jones, former senior rice breeder at the West Africa Rice Development
Center (WARDA), and presently Executive Secretary of the Forum for Agricultural
Research in Africa (FARA), in Accra, Ghana, successfully crossed the Asian
O. sativa with the African O. glaberrima strains to produce drought and
pest resistant, high yielding rice varieties, a feat which had not been
achieved before in the history of rice breeding. His work has produced enhanced
harvests for thousands and thousands of poor farmers, most of them women,
with potential benefit for 20 million farmers in West Africa alone.
The awarding will take place formally on October 14, 2004 in the Iowa
State Capitol Building in Des Moines, as part of The World Food Prize International
Symposium, “From Asia to Africa: Rice, Biofortification and Enhanced Nutrition.”
Jennifer Thomson and Pew Initiative on Biotech Among 2004 Technology
In the biotechnology category, Jennifer Thompson of the University of Cape
Town, South Africa, was nominated for her research into genetically modified
(GM) maize. See complete list at
Generation Fellowship - Deadline 30 November;
Fellowship opportunity for scientists from developing countries to conduct
research outside their home countries for 3 mos.-1 yr. The are two fellowships
per sub programme (Genetic Diversity of Global Genetic Resources, Comparative
Genomics for Gene Discovery, Trait Capture for Crop Improvement, and Bioinformatics).
For more information, see the guidelines and application on the GCP website:
Ministers at APEC Ministerial Meetings
have recognized the important contribution biotechnology can make in
expanding agricultural production, and have affirmed the importance of transparent
and science based approaches to the introduction and use of biotechnology
products. In order to address this issue, the Ministers have assigned
to the APEC Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group (ATCWG) Sub-Group
on Research, Development and Extension of Agricultural Biotechnology (RDEAB)
the task of exchanging information on the new technology and capacity building,
taking into account consumers' interest in food safety and environmental
quality while facilitating the realization of the potential benefits of
October 22, 2004, SciDev.Net, Catherine Brahic
An international fund to help preserve agricultural biodiversity
was launched yesterday (21 October). The Global Crop Diversity Trust, currently
worth more that US$50 million, with an additional $60 million of raised
funds in negotiation, will provide funding for national and international
crop collections around the world.
Books and papers
Genetically Modified Crops: Their Development, Uses, and Risks
Edited by G. H. Liang and Daniel Z. Skinner, Hard Cover, ISBN:
1-56022-280-8, $69.95; Soft Cover, ISBN: 1-56022-281-6, $49.95. College
faculty can request an examination copy at
“Impacts on U.S. Agriculture of Biotechnology-Derived Crops Planted
in 2003 – An Update of 11 Case Studies”, by Sujatha Sankula and Edward
Blumenthal. The complete study is available at
INVENTORY OF OECD BIOTECH STATS
A working paper that attempts to provide an accurate assessment of the
current state of biotechnology statistics in the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) member and observer countries is now
available. For more of the inventory of biotechnology statistics, visit
“Genetically Modified Rice Adoption: Implications for Welfare and
Poverty Alleviation.” is a title of a World Bank Policy Research Working
Paper by Kym Anderson et al. The conclusion states that welfare gains stand
to be more significant than farm productivity gains as a result of the potential
health-enhancing attributes of golden rice. See the full report at
Nurture the Heart, Feed the World
by Leon Hesser; Amazon.com price $13.97; Hardcover, 132 pages, Synergy
Books; (November 2004); ISBN: 0974466883.
ISB News Report - October 2004 Issue
* National Research Initiative: Animal Protection Funding Opportunity
* * Biosafety Considerations in the use of Genetically Modified
* * Organisms for Management of Animal Populations
* * The Development Of The D-amino Acid Selectable Marker System
* * T7 RNA Polymerase-Based Over expression of Foreign Genes in Plants
* * HOS9 Mediated Cold Acclimation Outside the CBF Regulon
* * Plant-made Pharmaceuticals: Progress and Protests
* * Biotechnology & Biodiversity Symposium and Discussion Educates
* * Conservation Biologists
* * The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology (PIFB) Posts Archived W
“Biotechnology in Mauritius: Current Status and Constraints” by
Daneshwar Puchooa of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Mauritius,
in the Electronic Journal of Biotechnology published by the Pontificia Universidad
Catolica de Valparaiso.
noted that the African country was engaged in various biotechnology applications
that include micro propagation, crop breeding particularly in sugarcane,
and diagnosis of diseases. The author noted that biotechnology has not yet
produced the expected impact of the country’s economy due to several constraints.
Despite these problems however, the government is in the process of setting
up the Mauritius Agricultural Biotechnology Institute. Much of the issues,
according to Puchooa, can be resolved with appropriate policies.
Environmental Risk Assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms, Volume
1: - Edited by A Hilbeck, Geobotanical Institute, Swiss Federal College
of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland, and D Andow, Department of Entomology,
University of Minnesota, USA; October 2004 304 pages HB; ISBN 0 85199 861
5; Price ?60.00 (US$110.00)
The Status of Plant Biotechnology in Africa by Jennifer A. Thomson
of the University of Cape Town, South Africa recounts the progress made
so far by South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya in the field of plant biotechnology.
Read Thomson’s article at
http://www.agbioforum.org/v7n12/v7n12a02-thomson.htm. For more
articles, access the full issue at
White Paper entitled "Designing Genes" by Don Doering (World Resources
Institute) The paper added that there must be policy that rewards sustainability
in agriculture and GE and ecology-based alternatives to current agricultural
methods. The paper is available on-line at:
To contact the author, email Don Doering at
The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has released
guiding principles on the use of genetically modified (GM) maize and
wheat varieties. While the CIMMYT promotes plant breeding that utilizes
non-transgenic approaches, it does not exclude GM technology, and recognizes
its potential to contribute to CIMMYT’s principal goals.
"Mendel in the Kitchen A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified
Foods by Nina Fedoroff and Nancy Marie Brown; Joseph Henry Press, -
as announced in September – has been reviewed by David Pimentel, Science,
Vol 306, Issue 5697, 815, 29 October 2004
Conferences and events
International Fresenius Conference "GM Crops and Foods" Cologne/Germany,
28-29 October 2004
Second FAO/WHO Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators, Bangkok,
Thailand, 12-14 October 2004
2004 in Cologne: Biosafety research in the public eye - Impact of transgenic
plants on the ecosystem - 08/23/04
2004 Cologne: Plants as Drug Factories - 08/09/04
renewables at the ABIC 2004 - 07/19/04
Green Gene Technology help to feed the world? - 05/28/04
Philippe Busquin sets Europe on the technology course - 04/23/04
recognises the chances of Green Gene Technology - 02/11/04
End of the moratorium on genetically modified food turns the ABIC 2004 conference
into Europe’s most important date for AgBiotech in 2004 - 07/31/03
The National Academies' Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources and
Board on Life Sciences will host a workshop on October 25-26, 2004 in
Washington, DC. This workshop is unlike all others on the topic of biotechnology
because it will provide prognostic views about what biological technologies
should and should not do in the future, concentrate on sustainable and socially
acceptable solutions to problems, and examine the challenging and contentious
issues of transgenics in plant production systems.
Gordon Research Conference - Agricultural Science
- February 13-18, 2005; Ventura, CA
Chairs: Ann M Hirsch & Keith D Wing; Vice Chairs: Ken Feldmann & David A
* Crop Efficiency and Yield Enhancement through Conventional Breeding and
* * Molecular approaches to improve yield sustainability: Challenges and
opportunities - Roundtable and
* * Improving Plants for Nutrition, Sustainable Ag, and Pest Control
* * Agromedicine: Plants and Human Health
The fifth International Plant Tissue Culture and Biotechnology Conference
will be held at the Department of Botany, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
on December 4 to 6, 2004. It is organized by the Bangladesh Association
for Plant Tissue Culture and Biotechnology and is co-sponsored by the Ministry
of Science, Information and Community Technology, and University of Dhaka.
ETAE 2004 International Conference, to be held on the 14th to
17th of December at the Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering,
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. Emerging technologies
in agricultural and food engineering is the focal theme.
Technical sessions will deal with Power and Machinery Systems, Natural
Resources Engineering and Management, Food and Bioprocess Engineering, Agro
Environmental Engineering, and Ergonomics Safety and Health
For more details visit
http://www.agri.iitkgp.ernet.in/etae2004/index.html or e-mail the organizing
secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the proceedings of the Two-day public conference in Mexico
City Gene Flow: What Does It Mean for Biodiversity and Centers of Origin?
The conference in September 2003 was organised by The Pew Initiative
on Food and Biotechnology (PIFB) and the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science
(FUMEC). The conference drew over 200 participants, including scientists,
government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), industry representatives, and reporters.
International Conference on Cassava
This is a preliminary information on the upcoming meeting on cassava
Location: Brasilia or Africa
Tentative date: 1st-5th December, 2006
For more details kindly contact with
Prof. Nagib Nassar email@example.com
Dr Rodomiro Ortiz firstname.lastname@example.org
THE 8TH EUROPEAN BIOTECHNOLOGY CROSSROADS - MARSEILLE,
October 27, 28, 29. For three days, Marseille becomes Europe's biotech
capital. Please click here for more information.
The RDEAB Workshop on Technical Cooperation, Capacity Building, Risk
Management and Emerging Issues in Agriculture Biotechnology will be
held on November 8 - 17, 2004 in Seoul and Suwon, Korea.
The sponsorship is available for up to two persons (active participants)
from the following travel-eligible member economies: Brunei Darussalam,
Chile, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines,
Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Please contact (no later than October 9) Dr. Wan Soon Kim, International
Technical Cooperation Center, RDA by e-mail:
<email@example.com> or Fax
(+82-31-293-9359) for application form and registration details.
The Biosafety Clearing-House will be hosting its first online
conference on "Biosafety Considerations in the use of Genetically Modified
Organisms for Management of Animal Populations" from 18 October to 15 November
2004. To subscribe, visit <
> or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
with the subject line blank and the message "Subscribe GMOAM FirstName LastName"
in the message body.
Breeding for Success: Diversity in Action is the theme of the
next Australasian Plant Breeding Conference, to be held on the 18th to 21st
of April 2006 at the Christchurch Convention Center in Christchurch, New
Zealand. For more details, visit
or email Helen Shrewsbury, Conference Secretariat, at
Fundamental Genomics Research - New website available
This website aims to take a proactive role by informing citizens and
European scientists about most recent EU research activities in the field
of Fundamental Genomics, with particular emphasis on collaborative fundamental
research into genomics.
Publications (Conference proceedings):
New Vision on European Food and Agricultural Research
(summary of EURAGRI conference, Athens, 8-9 May 2003)
The European Union (EU) has finally approved the NK603 Maize line
for food use, after safety assessments that took into account its potential
environmental impact; compositional, safety, and agronomic characteristics;
potential allergenicity; and nutritional content. In the end, a panel convened
by the Union found that NK603 “is as safe as conventional maize and…its
placing on the market – for import for processing and food or feed use—is
unlikely to have an adverse effect on human or animal health, or in this
context, on the environment.” Access the European Food Safety Authority
(EFSA) release on NK 603 maize at
http://www.efsa.eu.int/pdf/pressrel_gmo_0203_final_en.pdf. For more
information, contact Adeline Farrelly at
Simon Barber at email@example.com
EU Science and Technology Foresight in FP7 (closing date: 15/11/2004)
The Commission would welcome views and comments from all regarding EU Science
and Technology Foresight in FP7. Contributions would be particularly welcome
from the foresight practitioners, policy-makers at national and regional
level, research organisations, universities, industry, international organisations
In Spain GM corn varieties have been grown alongside conventional crops
for the last seven years. This year, some 60,000 hectares of Bt maize are
being cultivated commercially around the country, representing around 12
per cent of Spain's total maize harvest.
There have been no cases where coexistence measures have failed and resulted
in economic loss for Spanish farmers. 'In Spain, co-existence has operated
smoothly for seven years, and that's without formal rules. Industry, in
the absence of such rules, has issued guidelines and advice on how farmers
can manage co-existence issues,'said Miguel Leon, Monsanto and ABE (Agricultural
Biotechnology in Europe) representative.
Journalists were invited to visit the Bujaraloz Farmer Cooperative, just
outside Zaragoza in the Aragon region of Spain. Eduardo Escanillas, president
of the cooperative, explained that both GM and conventional corn are grown
in Bujaraloz, with around 13 per cent of its total area given over to genetically
modified Bt maize. 'I firmly believe the future is in GM: it produces better
crop yields, and in a nutshell, farmers make more money,' he said.
Germany - October 6, 2004; In Pharma,
BASF has threatened to relocate research into 'green genetic engineering'
to other countries if German law continues to restrict R&D into plant biotechnology,
with applications as diverse as crop biomanufacturing of proteins and GM
The German chemicals group said it hopes that an agreement can be reached
with the Federal Government and the science and economics communities about
the legal conditions of this genetic manipulation of crops.
The bill to reform German biotechnology law, which is currently going
through the committee stage, has rung alarm bells with the Union of German
Science Academies (UDAW), Dow Jones reports.
The proposed Biotechnology Law, designed to implement the EU's guidelines
on genetic modification (GM), will mean "practically the end for research
and development in the field of agricultural biotechnology," and will strike
at the heart of the seed industry that is built upon it, claimed UDAW representatives
at last week's presentation in Berlin of a memorandum on the safety of GM
New report by the Union of the German Academies of Science and Humanities.
Download the article at
The report, released in Cologne, Germany, during the AgBiotech International
Conference (ABIC) boldly declares that "GM products offer the advantage
that they have been exceptionally thoroughly tested with respect to health
risks". Genetically Modified food many be healthier than conventional food
is the message presented.
'Bt cotton benefits, costs and impacts in China' by Jikun Huang,
Carl E. Pray and Scott Rozelle, Working Paper 202, Institute of Development
Studies, September 2003
'Bt Cotton Benefits, Costs, and Impacts in China' by Jikun Huang, Carl E.
Pray and Scott Rozelle, AgBioForum, 5(4): 153-166
Key findings are that:
* Bt cotton has positive crop yield impacts, shifting the crop yield
frontier by nearly ten percent. * It reduces yield loss and at the same
time reduces pesticide use by 35.7 kg per hectare.
* * The rapid commercialisation of GM crops in China - compared to other
developing countries - has been due in part to the lead role of China's
public sector biotechnology research programme.
* * The absence of effective intellectual property rights on novel genes
or new plant varieties has combined with competition between local government
firms and foreign firms providing Bt cotton varieties to keep down prices
of cotton seed and to make GM technology affordable.
* * Authorities have been providing conflicting Bt messages - while commercialised
government and private seed companies have encouraged farmers to buy Bt
cotton seed, plant protection stations and state-owned pesticide companies
have tried to discourage uptake in order to sell more pesticides.
the authors suggest that wherever it is introduced it is incumbent on policy-makers
to: discourage unnecessary pesticide use through information, extension
related training, pesticide price and marketing policies
* * commission research to monitor bollworm resistance to Bt cotton over
time and, if necessary, implement measures to reduce the risk that widespread
use of Bt will lead to the development of pest resistance
* * strengthen local biotechnology research capacity - the fact that Bt
cotton was developed in China by government researchers in tandem with international
companies made it more politically palatable and fostered the emergence
of a local pro Bt lobby.
Hossain, F., Pray, C., Lu, Y., Huang, J., Fan, C., Hu, R. 2004. Int J
Occup Environ Health. 10: 296-303.
Genetically Modified Cotton and Farmers' Health in China
This study provides the first evidence of a direct link between the adoption
of a genetically modified (GM) crop and improvements in human health. Estimation
of the impact of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton adoption on pesticide
use from data from a survey of cotton farmers in northern China, 1999-2001,
showed that Bt cotton adoption reduced pesticide use. Download the full
Oct 18, 2004, Nao Nakanishi, Reuters News,
China, the world's top producer and consumer of rice, could release its
genetically modified rice as early as next year, as pressure mounts
to boost domestic production and spur farmer income. Scientists in China
believe Beijing is likely to give the green light for commercialisation
of insect and disease-resistant GMO rice as soon as next year after more
than six years of trials.
Pressure to launch GMO rice comes at a time when Beijing faces a tough
task in raising the country's grain output and in narrowing the income gap
between farmers and urban citizens. After 2003 grain production slid to
435 million tonnes from 457 million tonnes the previous year and a record
512 million in 1998, Beijing is encouraging farmers to grow more grain,
such as rice or wheat.
Dayuan Xue, professor at the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences,
is concerned about GMO rice after studying the environmental impact of BT
cotton in China. He fears GMO rice pollen could contaminate the other 75,000
conventional rice varieties in China, the birthplace of rice. "We are concerned
about the commercialisation," he said. "The gene-flow is a problem and it
Oct. 5, 2004Business Line (The Hindu),
International symposium, "Rice from Green Revolution to Gene Revolution"
Hyderabad -- The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is moving
forward in functional genomics and has already formulated a Rs 32-crore
project that would initially focus on the production of transgenic rice
variety, which would be resistant to yellow stem borer, according to ICAR
Director-General, Dr Mangala Rai.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an, on Monday, Dr Rai said
the project would subsequently focus on other aspects of transgenic rice
like salinity, development of drought-resistant varieties, improvement of
yield and quality, reduction of crop duration and efficient use of inputs
like water and fertilisers.
Lola Nayar (IANS), Hindustan Times (India), August 14
Fears of environmental damage and food safety have held up India's plans
to develop varieties of genetically modified (GM) nutrition enriched
rice that could solve some of India's malnutrition problems.
"Products like salinity- and drought-tolerant rice varieties as well
as the vitamin-A enriched Golden Rice have been developed but we are not
getting the green signal to go ahead with field-testing," said Swapan K
Datta of the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
IRRI is also awaiting clearance for a blight resistant variety of Bt rice
for which multi-location field-testing has already been successfully carried
out in India, China and the Philippines. "So far only China has agreed to
consider commercial cultivation of the stem borer-resistant Bt rice. It
may start commercial cultivation of Bt rice next year," the scientist said.
As India looks to double its food grain production to 400 million tonnes
by 2020, research is under way to develop transgenic crops by state-owned
organisations as well as globally funded organisations like IRRI and the
International Crop Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
ICRISAT has been responsible for releasing 150 varieties of quality crops
in India, according to William D Dar, director general of the Andhra Pradesh
Uttara Choudhury Agence France Presse, October 17, 2004
Asian giants India and China are accelerating investment in biotechnology
research to fight the odds in agriculture and feed their teeming millions,
say scientists and officials.
Scientists at a workshop in one of Indias biggest gene research centres
in Patencheru in southern Andhra Pradesh state said China and India accounted
for more than half the developing world's expenditure on plant biotechnology.
There are around 50 public research units in India and they make investments
of 15 million dollars per year while private spending in India on agri-biotech
research amounts to over 10 million dollars annually," said Margarita Escaler
of the US-based International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech
"In China, funding for agri-biotech research comes entirely from the government
and China is only second now to the United States in research investment.
China invested 112 million dollars in biotechnology research in 1999 --
that figure will grow by 400 percent in 2005," she forecast.
At the moment, India has not approved any genetically modified food for
commercialisation or consumption. But Indian state-run laboratories are
pumping millions of dollars into developing 22 different food items ranging
from protein-rich potatoes, rice to groundnut.
Chad Holiday, Dupont Chairman and CEO, during his talk on “Biotechnology:
Progress and Promis” during BioJapan 2004 in Tokyo, Japan.
It took 30 years for hybrids to be fully adopted in the U.S. and more
than 75 years for hybridization to be accepted globally, though still at
only 60 percent. “In contrast, after only eight years, plant biotech adoption
now stands at 80 percent for soybeans in the U.S. and 55 percent worldwide.
Cotton adoption in the U.S. is 73 percent and 21 percent worldwide. Corn
is 40 percent of the U.S. market and 11 percent worldwide. This is, by far,
the most rapid acceptance of any technology in agricultural history,” Holiday
Oct 16, 2004, Jerry Perkins, Des Moines Register,
'The Golden Rice Humanitarian Board will make the crop available
to developing nations; biotech opponents have doubts.'
Syngenta, the giant agribusiness based in Switzerland, will donate the
seed and genetic lines of its vitamin A-enhanced "Golden Rice" to a humanitarian
agency that will make the genetically modified crop available to developing
Syngenta made the announcement Friday during World Food Prize activities
in Des Moines. Syngenta's donation to the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board
was hailed by Ingo Potrykus , one of the developers of Golden Rice and co-chairman
of the humanitarian organization.
Oct. 20, 2004, AgProfessional,
Compared with conventional crops, the study suggested that the six biotech
crops -- canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soybean and squash -- increased
grower incomes by an additional $1.9 billion, boosted crop yields by
5.3 billion pounds and reduced pesticide use by 46.4 million pounds in 2003.
GM ALFALFA READY FOR FIELD
Commercial varieties of Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa are expected to be
available to California forage producers next year. This is according to
a team of University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisors,
who have been evaluating the genetically modified (GM) crop for four years.
For the full story, visit
Oct 15, 2004, Amy Lorentzen Associated Press, DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) –
Dr. Norman Borlaug, known as the "father of the Green Revolution,"
issued an impassioned plea Thursday for international cooperation to boost
crop production in Africa, saying the payoff would be a catalyst for peace.
"You can't build peace on human empty stomachs and human misery," said
90-year-old Borlaug, who spoke to hundreds of scientists and diplomats attending
the World Food Prize International Symposium in downtown Des Moines.
Uganda’s State Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Kibirige Sebunnya, has now
paved the way for a new GM policy through the publication of Uganda’s first
Biosafety Policy Bill. The enactment of the Bill into law is likely to pave
way for new GM projects, including Bt cotton, disease-tolerant banana, improved
virus-tolerant potatoes, and insect-tolerant sorghum varieties.
National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) director-general George
Otim-Nape Otim-Nape clarified that, “Uganda will continue to build capacity
to understand, assess, evaluate, and manage potential risks and benefits
Read the full article at
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) was few years
ago instrumental in the development and subsequent adoption of the Nigerian
Biosafety Guidelines, and the establishment of a national policy on
biotechnology. Other stakeholders supporting the public awareness drive
of biotechnology in Nigeria include the National Biotechnology Development
Agency (NABDA) and several national universities with specific study programs
The Parliament of Zimbabwe recently approved the Cartagena Protocol
on Biosafety. Zimbabwe has already accepted GM food, but has restricted
the country’s use to tightly controlled shipment, milling, and distribution.
With the protocol in place, consumers and business people alike will be
ensured an adequate level of protection in transferring, handling, and use
of GM products. Read the full story at
October 1, 2004, CIMMYT Newsletter,
Debunking the Myths of GM Crops for Africa: The Case of Bt Maize in
Kenya." The paper by Hugo De Groote, Stephen Mugo, and David Bergvinson
from CIMMYT, along with Ben Odhiambo of the Kenya Agricultural Research
Institute, reported on the study, which argues for a discussion based on
scientific evidence and evaluation of potential benefits against concerns,
and finds that most objections are not backed by evidence.
Farmers in Kenya lose 400,000 tons, or about 14%, of their maize to stem
borers. That is roughly the amount the country imports each year. De Groote
says Bt maize alone will not solve this problem, but could help reduce losses
and increase food security.
Egypt has formulated a strategy to link development of scientific research
and higher education. Using a plan drawn up by the Supreme Council of Universities
(SCU), the country aims to strengthen research capacity, improve the quality
of scientific research, and foster innovation and promote public understanding
of science. These include plans to create science parks and develop policies
for protection of intellectual property rights, as well as to set up and
run a scientific research development fund. Visit the SCU at
14 October 2004, SciDev.Net, By Wagdy Sawahel,
Scientists in Egypt have produced drought-tolerant wheat by transferring
a gene from barley into a local wheat variety. The researchers, at Cairo's
Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute (AGERI), say their technique
reduces the number of irrigations needed from eight to one, and that the
wheat could be cultivated with rainfall alone in some desert areas. The
research findings, which have been accepted for publication in the journal
Physiologia Plantarum, were presented last month at a symposium on applied
biotechnology in Egypt organised by AGERI and the Egyptian Centre for Biotechnology
Center for the Application for Molecular Biology to International
Agriculture (CAMBIA), a non-profit research institute based in Canberra,
Australia. Richard Jefferson, the initiative's leader and chairman says
BIOS (The Biological Innovation for Open Society) could spur an "open source
movement" in biotechnology, analogous to the one that has developed in the
computer software industry. BIOS initiative is being established with a
US$1-million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to make research tools
more readily available to biologists who could not otherwise afford them.
BIOS seeks to do so by merging intellectual property analysis, innovation
policy reform, and cooperative technology development activities, to foster
democratic innovation in applications of biological technologies to sustainable
New York Times, October 13, 2004, ByLarry Rohter
Planting-time soy quandary for Brazil
BRASÍLIA -- With the spring planting season just beginning in the Southern
Hemisphere, Brazil, the world's leading exporter of soybeans, is, according
to this story, in a quandary. The government has been unable to secure congressional
approval for the planting of genetically modified seed stock, but farmers
are ignoring the ban and sowing the seeds, many obtained illegally, anyway.
The story says that the Brazilian Senate approved a Biotechnology Law
last week that covers areas from genetically modified organisms to stem-cell
research, but the modified legislation is still subject to approval by the
lower house of Congress, where it is likely to face delays and additional
debate. As a result, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva may be forced to
issue a temporary decree that would apply only to this year's harvest, as
he also had to do in 2003.
Gazeta Mercantil, Fortaleza,October 8, 2004
The public agricultural research company, Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa
Agropecuaria (Embrapa), expects to place on the market, within five years,
the first genuinely Brazilian strain of transgenic cotton.
Bloomberg ,October 15, 2004,
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed an executive order
to allow planting and trade of genetically modified soy in the 2004-2005
harvest, enabling farmers to buy seeds from companies such as Monsanto Co.
The order, which is published in the official gazette today, allows farmers
to plant the transgenic soybeans until Dec. 31 and to sell them until Jan.
31, 2006. The trade deadline can be delayed for another 60 days, the decree
The government of Paraguay recently approved planting and marketing of
four Monsanto Roundup Ready soybean varieties. A framework agreement has
likewise been approved, which provides for a royalty collection system designed
to encourage continued innovation in agriculture. With information from
American City Business Journals Inc, and Seedquest. Read the full article
GMO Resolution Passed During the 2004 Democratic State Convention of
the State of Hawaii Democratic Party (Hawai'i); Forwarded by Drew Kershen
<firstname.lastname@example.org> REGULATION of
GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)
BANGKOK, Oct. 13 (Xinhuanet)
WHO Urges Thailand to Study Further on GMOs China View.
The World Health Organization (WHO)has urged Thailand to make further
research on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in order to be fully prepared
to cope with possible risks posed by transgenetic food.
"At this point, we have no evidence to say that it is dangerous to consume
food products that contain GMOs, so we have to say that we don't know the
adverse health effects of GM food," Bangkok Post newspaper on Wednesday
quoted WHO Assistant Director-General Kertstin Leitner as saying at a food
safety conference here.
Leitner suggested more study on the issue be conducted to make sure that
should there be a negative health effect, appropriate action could be taken.
With more than 500 food safety regulators and scientists from 104 countries
participating, the second World Food Safety Conference kicked off in Bangkok
on Tuesday. The aim of the conference is to enhance food safety controls
in developing countries and to curb food-related illness by setting up effective
The Malaysian government has allotted RM1.5 billion for agriculture
projects to fast track agri-research activities as the country shifts
its growth strategy from one based on exports to one driven by domestic-led
growth in the face of global competition. Visit the Malaysian Biotechnology
Information website for more biotechnology news at
BT CORN PERFORMANCE ASSESSED AFTER A YEAR IN PHILIPPINE FIELDS
Dr. Jose Yorobe of the College of Economics and Management, University of
the Philippines Los Ba?os (CEM-UPLB) assessed the performance of Bt corn
in Philippine fields a year after its commercial approval. For corn harvests
in the last year, Dr. Yorobe found, farmers earned an additional PhP 10,132
(about $US 170) per hectare of Bt corn planted (/ha) and saved PhP 168/ha
(about $US 3) on pesticide use.
The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research reports that Dutch
researcher Marco Kruijt has discovered two genes, Cf-4 and Cf-9, which provide
resistance against the fungus Cladosporium fulvum in several wild tomato
species. Cladosporium fulvum causes a fungal disease in tomato plants. Email
Marco Kruijt at email@example.com
for more information regarding his research.
Futures of artificial life
Researchers involved in synthetic biology need to take steps to engage more
with the public. Nature Contents: 07 October 2004 Volume 431 No. 7009, 613
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.
Saraswathy and Kumar, both of the National Research Centre for Plant
Biotechnology in New Delhi, describe the protein engineering studies conducted
on different endotoxins, which led to an understanding of their molecular
mode of action, as well as the construction of novel toxins with enhanced
insecticidal activity and specificity. Proteins were mutated at each domain
and tested for binding capacity and toxicity. Mutations at Domain I resulted
in low or no toxicity on tested insects, while mutations at Domains II and
III resulted in altered toxin specificity and receptor binding.
Download the full paper at
Jim Paul, Washington Post, September 30, 2004
Low allergen soy. Hymowitz and fellow University of Illinois researcher
Leina Mary Joseph found a seed that lacks the protein, known as P34, responsible
for most allergic reactions. It took them about eight months of crushing
seeds from 15,000 varieties in the U.S. Agriculture Department's soybean
germplasm collection at the university. "This thing is so rare
that you need the huge collection to find the needle in a haystack," Hymowitz
Scientists already had used genetic engineering to silence the gene that
creates P34 in most soybeans. But it likely will be much easier to market
soybeans that naturally lack the protein, said Eliot Herman, the USDA researcher
who developed the biotech bean two years ago.
October 13, 2004, Ronald Bailey, Reason Online,
Transgenics Gone Wild! Why it's OK for Transgenic Plants and Animals
Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His new book, Liberation
Biology: A Moral and Scientific Defence of the Biotech Revolution will
be published in early 2005.
Norman Ellstrand, a genetics professor at the University of California
at Riverside notes that "there is now substantial evidence that at least
44 cultivated plants mate with one or more wild relatives somewhere in the
world...crop-to-wild gene flow is not uncommon, and on occasion, it has
caused problems. Would we expect transgenic plants to behave any differently?
The answer is 'no.'"
Professor of plant physiology Jodie Holt, also from Riverside, observes,
"As use of herbicides has increased, increased cases of selection for resistance
in weeds have been documented. Since the first reported case of weed resistance
in 1970, 258 weed species have evolved resistance to one or more of 18 herbicide
classes." Despite the fact that for nearly a decade millions of acres have
been sown with biotech crops, there have been precious few outbreaks of
the much-dreaded "superweeds" caused by crossbreeding between biotech crops
and wild plants.