News in January 2005
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Program for Biosafety Systems: Call For Pre Proposals for Funding

The 2005 Request for Pre-Proposals for the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) Biotechnology and Biodiversity Interface (BBI) Competitive Grant Program can be found at the Program for Biosafety Systems webpage:   http://www.ifpri.org/themes/pbs/pbs.htm

The BBI Grant program will fund collaborative research on the impacts on biodiversity of biotechnology in agriculture in developing countries in Africa and Asia. The deadline for pre-proposals is February 8, 2005.

Global Review of GM Crops – ISAAA Brief 32

http://www.botanischergarten.ch/ISAAA/ISAAA-Briefs-32-Preview-ExecSumm.pdf

Brief 32 provides the most recent data on biotech crops globally for 2004, and confirms that the global biotech crop area continued to grow for the ninth consecutive year at a sustained double-digit rate.

In 2004, the global area of biotech crops continued to grow at a substantial rate of 20%, compared with 15% in 2003.

The estimated global area of approved biotech crops for 2004 was 81.0 million hectares, equivalent to approx. 200 million acres, up from the 67.7 million hectares or 167 million acres in 2003.

In 2004, 5% of the 1.5 billion hectares (3.7 billion acres) of all global cultivable cropland was occupied by biotech crops.

Biotech crops were grown by 8.25 million farmers in 17 countries in 2004, up from 7 million farmers in 18 countries in 2003. Notably, 90% of the beneficiary farmers were resource-poor farmers from developing countries, whose increased incomes from biotech crops contributed to the alleviation of poverty.

The increase in biotech crop area between 2003 and 2004, of 13.3 million hectares or 32.9 million acres, is the second highest on record.

ISB News Report, January 2005 Issue

at  http://www.isb.vt.edu/news/2005/news05.jan.html#jan0505

bulletLong Distance Pollen-Mediated Gene Flow from Creeping Bentgrass
bulletGenetic Acclimation for Freezing Tolerance
bulletEngineered Ribosomal Protein Limits Plant Resistance to Mycotoxins
bulletApproval for Genetically Engineered Bentgrass Creeps through Agency Turfs
bulletSymposium on Biosafety of GMOs: Highlights

ORDER PUBLICATIONS

It is possible to order publications by filling in the order form.
Publications: The Forestry Wood Chain: The impact of EU research (1998-2004) Eur Code 21349
Rural Development: The impact of EU research (1998-2004) Eur Code 21331

Nap, J.P., Atanassov, A., & Stiekema, W.J. (2004)
Genomics for Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology 359 NATO,  IS: 1 58603 432 4, pp 256
http://www.iospress.nl/html/boek1087383333.html

a chapter in this volume:
Ammann, K. (2004),
How To Learn About Risk Assessment For Novel Crops Based On Future Genomics Research, Borovets, Sofia, Bulgaria NATO, NATO Advanced Research Workshop on "Genomics for Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology: New Challenges" (eds J. Nap & A. Atanassov) http://www.botanischergarten.ch/Bulggen/Ammann-Nato-Bulgaria-2003KA.pdf

IOBC/wprs Working Group on ‘GMOs in Integrated Plant Production’
Meeting on
Ecological Impact of Genetically Modified Organisms
June 1-3, 2005, Lleida, Spain website http://www.eigmo.udl.es/

The proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on the Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms have been released. – See separate announcement on this page.

Energy for Life - European Energy Strategy for the 21st Century
22-24 May 2005
Prague
Czech Republic

EUROPA

EU

http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/environment/index_en.htm - new site

EUROAGRI Citizens Conference
Brussels, Belgium, 3-4 February 2005

Under the slogan 'Science for Society - Science with Society', this conference will explore ways of adapting the knowledge base for the optimal functioning of the food-health-agriculture triangle. It seeks to demonstrate that society needs to be engaged in order to strike a balance between the management of rural areas, food production, nutrition and human health. It will bring together stakeholders from the agri-food industry, farmers, scientists, representatives of concerned civil society organizations and policy-makers.
> Contact - Website - Registration

First annual congress of the QualityLowInputFood EU funded Integrated Project
January 6 - 9 2005, Newcastle, UK

The international congress on Organic Farming, Food Quality and Human Health was held January 6 - 9 2005 at Newcastle, UK. The conference explored the neglected relationship between public health and the way we farm. Distinguished speakers from research institutions throughout Europe presented new research into how methods of production influence the levels of harmful pathogens and beneficial nutrients in our food. Policy makers debated how the relatively small amounts of public funds invested in agriculture could be used to promote positive health and help control the huge sums consumed by health care budgets. Farmers, growers, processors and academics shared their insights into how methods of husbandry, feeding and fertility management could be used to improve crop and livestock health and enhance the nutritional profile of organic foods.

- Speech of Mr. Janez POTOCNIK, European Commissioner for Science and Research, The importance of research into organic and low-input food production, Newcastle, 07 January 2005- Entire Programme

Integrating safety and nutrition research along the food chain: the new challenge, Lille, 27-29 October 2004 Intermediate report of the parallel sessions available

EUROAGRI Citizens Conference - Brussels, Belgium, 3-4 February 2005

The Identification Committee convened by the European Commission for Science and Research will meet to recommend the composition of the governing body of a future European Research Council. The establishment of the Research Council will be included in the proposal for a Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development that the Commission will present in April 2005.

The Council is expected to focus on basic investigator-driven research in support of future innovation and economic growth. The focus will be on scientific excellence identified by fellow scientists, rather than the Commission.

For more information, visit http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/05/90&format=HTML&aged=0&language=en&guiLanguage=en

Nanotechnology and Medicine: Projects in FP6:

  1. Using nature as model for new nanotechnology-based processes (STREP -einstufig)
  2. Nanotechnology-based targeted drug delivery (IP - zweistufig)
  3. Mastering "Industrial Biotechnology" - Environmental Technology for sustainable production of added value products (IP - zweistufig)
  4. Multi-functional technical textiles for construction, medical application and protective clothing - (IP dedicated to SMEs - zweistufig)
  5. Biomaterials technologies for implants (IP dedicated to SMEs -zweistufig) http://www.bit.ac.at/nmp/Ausschreibung.htm
  6. http://fp6.cordis.lu/nmp/calls.cfm

More information from DI Gerald Kern
Abteilung Industrielle Technologien und Verkehr
FFG - Oesterreichische Forschungsfoerderungsgesellschaft mbH,
Bereich Internationale Forschungs- und Technologiekooperation
1220 Wien, Donau-City-Straße 1
email gerald.kern@ffg.at

Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation of the United Nations Millennium Project commissioned by Secretary-General Kofi Annan prepared a report titled Innovation: Applying Knowledge in Development
It outlines key areas for urgent national and international policy action to accelerate substantive economic and social progress in developing countries, even within the next five years. Access the report at http://www.isaaa.org/kc

Science and Society Forum 2005
Brussels, 9-11 March 2005
Mirror events: Programme information for events in Italy and Austria.

Research Ethics Committees in Europe: facing the future together
Brussels, Belgium - 27-28 January 2005
- Information on the workshops is now available

European Group on Life Sciences (EGLS)
Brochure: "European Group on Life Sciences" (3rd edition, Dec. 2004)
Workshop report: Future Challenges for Life Sciences Research, Brussels, 28 Sept. 2004
EGLS statements: Conclusions of the European Group of Life Sciences (EGLS) at the termination of its mandate (2000-2004)

Nutra Ingredients, January 10, 2005

http://www.nutraingredients.com/news/news-NG.asp?n=57170-gm-foods-as
Brussels addresses the issue of consumer cynicism and fear of agricultural biotechnology in European citizens, setting up a thematic network on the safety risk assessment of genetically modified food crops, the Entransfood project, in order to stimulate the debate.

Funded under the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5), Entransfood sought to identify prerequisites for introducing agricultural biotechnology products in a way that is largely acceptable to European society. The project consortium, consisting of 65 partners from 13 different European countries, including representatives from academia, regulatory agencies, food manufacturers, retailers and consumer groups.

The project noted that process-based labelling of all foods containing GM crops is a necessity in order to dispel the fears of EU citizens, but recognised that difficulties are unavoidable in implementing the EU's labelling requirements. They quote the example that it will be a challenge to achieve international agreement on standards for the labelling and traceability of foods originating from or containing GM crops across countries and even businesses.

On the subject of detection of 'unintended effects and gene transfer,' CORDIS writes that  Entransfood emphasised there is no indication that 'unintended effects are more likely to occur in GM foods or that there is any inherent risk in the transfer of DNA between organisms, since DNA is not toxic.'

It did, however, call for further development and validation of profiling methods before they are used in routine risk assessment. The project also recommends that the use of bacterial DNA in elaborating GM plants should be kept to a minimum in order to reduce the risk of gene transfer to the microbial population in the gut. Finally, the EU group recommended the creation of an evaluation and discussion platform combining a range of diverse perspectives on new food technology to formalise public engagement and consultation in the GM debate.

Reuters, January 18, 2005

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will assess the safety of two GMO maize varieties whose manufacturers have requested cultivation as a use when they applied for an EU-wide authorisation, officials said on Monday.

The two products are Bt-11 sweet maize, marketed by Switzerland's Syngenta, and 1507 maize, jointly made by Pioneer Hi-Bred International -- a subsidiary of DuPont Co -- and Dow AgroSciences unit Mycogen Seeds.

EFSA scientists had been due to give their opinion last September on the two types of maize, modified to resist field insects such as the European corn borer, but have asked for more data.

"The clock is stopped when we send out the request for more information -- but we don't know how long we have to wait to get it. Then we have 90 days (to evaluate)," an EFSA official said.

UK

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4185335.stm GM beet 'can benefit environment' - BBC News, By Alex Kirby, Jan 19, 2005 Some genetically-modified crops can be managed in a way that is beneficial to wildlife, a UK research team believes. Their work, published by the Royal Society, says there is "conclusive evidence" of benefits to wildlife from GM sugar beet crops.

The researchers are from Broom's Barn Research Station, part of Rothamsted Research, which specialises in the study of sugar beet.

To help wildlife in spring, the researchers say, they improved the timing of herbicide application to maximise crop yields and the benefits from leaving weeds between crop rows.

For the more important autumn environmental benefits (weed seeds for bird food and for recharging weed seed banks), they say they developed a system giving maximum crop yield and increased weed seed availability (up to 16-fold). This is by comparison with previous GM or conventional management systems tested in the government's recent Farm Scale Evaluation (FSE) trials. The team says: "The new system is extremely simple: compared to the previous GM management system, it involves applying the first spray fairly early and omitting the second spray." The researchers say their new crop management approaches "could resolve legitimate concerns about indirect environmental effects of GM sugar beet on weeds, insects and birds". Dr John Pidgeon, director of Broom's Barn, told the BBC: "We're scientists, and we go by the evidence. We think this is all about how you manage the crops, not whether they're genetically modified or not.

Germany

German liability law regarding transgenic agriculture-analysis.
http://www.agbioworld.org/word/German-1.doc
http://www.agbioworld.org/word/GermanBiotechLaw04--LiabOnly.DOC

Italy

Italian parliament approved the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops on January 25, 2005. "We sought to guarantee freedom of choice for Italian producers, while heading off the risk of diffuse and uncontrolled contamination by GM (organisms)," said Agriculture Minister Gianni Alemanno in an ANSA news service release. The approval stressed that safeguards needed to be in place to prevent any possible contamination of traditional crops. It will be up to each of Italy’s regions to set the detailed rules, although most of them want to remain GM free.

Hungary

The link is in Hungarian. Below a short unofficial translation of the main points : "The Minister of Agriculture... bans the manufacture, use, sale, and import of the seed hybrids derived from the Mon810 event on the whole territory of Hungary from the 20th January 2005. The ban does not apply to the use of Mon810 in food and feed industry, and the repacking and transporting of Mon810 seeds through the country, when its secured that the corn does not get out into the environment. It is also forbidden to plant any corn seeds with Mon810 event." The official decision of the Hungarian government can be found on : http://www.fvm.hu/main.php?folderID=831&articleID=6168&ctag=articlelist&iid=1

One of the great pest protection experts of the Hungarian Academy [of] Sciences, Professor Bela Darvas, commented on the decision as such:

This decision of the government was highly appropriate in view of the risk analysis of MON 81O. This GM maize has been created to protect the maize plant against the European corn borer.  However, only the southern part of the country is affected by this pest and even then this only occurs once in every ten years. However, even when it occurs its effects are slight and it is more appropriate, less costly and more effective to treat the maize with conventional pesticide when this happens. Moreover, the Bt maize can cross-pollinate with other non-GM maize within a 5OO m circle and about a third of these will be contaminated with the Bt toxin in the first year and accordingly within a few years all the non-GM maize will lose its identity. Hungary has no law that could ensure the purity of the organically or even conventionally grown maize in the vicinity of GM maize cultivation and there are no proper and official tests to prove or disprove this contamination. When the GM maize sheds its pollen protected species of butterflies at the border of the maize field living on the nettles will be affected. One hectare of GM maize produces a thousand times more Bt toxin than it would be lawfully permitted in any country of the world.  This Bt toxin will be transferred into the soil and about 8% of it will still be measurable as active toxin after 11 months with totally unknown but potentially harmful effects on soil bacteria. Also, pests very quickly become resistant to Bt toxin.  This can already be measured in the third generation of the pest and Bt toxin loses its effect on affected species by the tenth generation. Moreover, there are no acceptable scientific results that would exclude the possibility of the harmful effects of Bt toxins on human consumers.

IMPACT OF SELECTED TRANSGENIC CROPS IN HUNGARY ESTIMATED

Dr. Matty Demont and colleagues of the Center for Agricultural and Food Economics, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, estimate the “Potential Impact of Biotechnology in Eastern Europe: Transgenic Maize, Sugar Beet, and Oilseed Rape in Hungary.” Their approximations are based on hypothetical planting of transgenic maize, sugar beet, and oilseed rape in the agricultural season of 2003, in areas of 1,150,000 ha, 53,000 ha, and 71,000 ha, respectively.

Two common pests of maize, the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis Hübner) and Western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte), were both considered in the study. The adoption of Bt maize resistant to the European corn borer, researchers found, could save the Hungarian farmer 19 euros/ha on average, taking into account a seed price premium of 6 euros/ha, or 10% of the actual seed cost. Bt maize resistant to the Western corn rootworm, on the other hand, could also save the Hungarian farmer 46 euros/ha on average, with a seed price premium of 25 euros/ha, or 40% of the actual seed cost.

The introduction of herbicide tolerant maize, sugar beet and oilseed rape could save the Hungarian farmer 22, 81, and 20 euros/ha, respectively. The model predicts seed price premiums of respectively 8, 81, and 12 euros/ha and early adoption rates in 2003 of 40%, 38%, and 35%.

The full study is available at: http://www.agr.kuleuven.ac.be/aee/clo/wp/demont2005a.pdf

WORLD

India

India plans national stem cell initiative

http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1849&language=1

Increasing funding and promoting collaborations are among the items included in a national plan to boost stem cell research being drafted in India.

China

Chinese medicine set for protection
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1852&language=1
Authorities in China have launched a programme to protect traditional medicine from commercial exploitation by foreign companies.

Funding boost for basic science in China
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1841&language=1
China plans to more than double its spending on basic science research in a bid to compete with more developed countries.

Traditional medicine 'threatens China's biodiversity'
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1811&language=1
Chinese scientists say the rise in demand for traditional medicines is a growing threat to the country's wealth of wild plants.

Thailand

http://www.mcot.org/query.php?nid=34871
Government hopes to develop GM rice for saline soil

BANGKOK, Jan 17 (TNA) - The government hopes to solve bitter land disputes between prawn farmers and rice farmers by developing genetically modified rice strains capable of being grown in saline soil, the director-general of the Land Development Department revealed today.

"If we could use salt water for cultivation, the benefits to the nation would be enormous", said Mr. Ard Somrang, adding that the department would work with scientists from all agencies concerned with the genetic modification of crops in order to develop the new rice strains.

Although the commercial cultivation of GM crops is currently illegal in Thailand, Mr. Ard dismissed concerns over their safety, and urged the public to accept them.

FAO and other organisations

FAO Media Release January 27, 2005. via Agnet http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2005/89259/index.html

Rome - A consultation of experts convened at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), recommended that any responsible deployment of Genetically Modified (GM) crops needs to comprise the whole technology development process, from the pre-release risk assessment, to biosafety considerations and post release monitoring.

A benchmark document on the needs and present status of capacity building in biosafety of GM crops in Asia by A.Varma for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that participating countries vary greatly in their capacities related to GMO biosafety, and that most require considerable efforts to build up capacity for regulating GMOs. See the document at http://www.fao.org/biotech/index.asp?lang=en

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which has consultative NGO status with the United Nations, has decided to co-sponsor, along with the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC), an all day conference to examine all sides of this hot issue. Ambassador Aminu Wali, the Permanent Representative to the U.N. from Nigeria has agreed to host this important event. The conference will be part of a 2-day celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday.

On Monday, January 17, 2005 we will honor Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and father of the "Green Revolution", Dr. Norman Borlaug, at our annual King Holiday Ambassadorial Reception & Awards Dinner at the New York Hilton Hotel.
The World Conference will be held on Tuesday, January 18, 2005 at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York.
Full program of the biotech conference at http://www.core-online.org/events/biotech seminar.htm

The Steering Committee of the initiative "Public Research & Regulation", which aims to offer a forum for the public research sector to be involved in the Meetings of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and related meetings, is pleased to inform you that the initiative continues to receive massive support since its initiation last Summer. Much has happened since that time and the information paper at http://pubresreg.org/Members/Kim/vision provides an update. Further updates can be found on www.pubresreg.org

Phase 2 of this initiative will - subject to the availability of sufficient funds - provide an opportunity to public sector scientists to participate in the second Meeting of the Parties to the Biosafety Protocol (MOP2: May 30 - June 3, Montreal, Canada). To ensure that scientists can make optimal use of participation in MOP2, an introductory seminar will be held on 3-4 March, at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St-Louis, USA. Details can be found in the information paper.

The Steering Committee,

bulletProf. Philip J Dale, former Leader of the Genetic Modification and Biosafety Research Group, John Innes Centre, United Kingdom (chairman of the Steering Committee)
bulletProf. Atanas Atanassov, Director of the AgriBiotech Institute of Bulgaria.
bulletDr. Roger Beachy, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St-Louis, USA
bulletWilly de Greef, Institute for Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries (IPBO) and International Biotech Regulatory Services (IBRS), Belgium (vice-chair)
bulletProf. Calestous Juma, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, USA
bulletDrs. Piet van der Meer, esq., Horizons sprl, Belgium (vice-chair)
bulletProf. Marc van Montagu, Institute for Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries (IPBO), Belgium.
bulletProf. Paul S. Teng, Nanyang Technological University, National Institute of Education, Singapore

Kim Meulenbroeks Public Research and Regulation Project Assistant
Secretariat
Oude Delft 60
2611 CD Delft
The Netherlands
Tel: +31-15-212-7800, Fax: +31-15-212-7111

The XIIIth session of the Molecular Biology International Seminar will cover the most recent developments and applications of molecular biology tools as recent major players on the analytical scene. They have proved their usefulness through various applications in sectors such as food authenticity, the traceability of food and feed supply chains, food safety, allergen detection, GMOs.
http://www.formation-conseil.com/seminaires_clubs/agrogene_2004/index.asp

GM boom 'could spell economic growth for poor nations' http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1810&language=1
A review of the global state of agricultural biotechnology says that developing countries are playing a leading role in the sector's growth.

Joel Cohen: “Poorer nations turn to publicly developed GM crops” January 2005 issue of Nature Biotechnology. It says “GM crops are often framed as the products of multinational corporations, but in poorer nations it is public research that is vibrant and attempting their development,” A .pdf of the full article is available at http://www.ifpri.org.

“Plants and Intellectual Property: An International Appraisal,” an article by Dr. Bonwoo Koo and colleagues, published in the November1 19, 2004 issue of Science. Developments in intellectual property (IP) have raised concerns about IP’s implications in food production and animal health, especially throughout the developing world. These same developments, however, are made more in developed countries, and little attention is given to developing nations. Read the enhanced article online at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5700/1295.

NEWS IN SCIENCE

The repair of double-strand breaks in plants: mechanisms and consequences for genome evolution. J. Exp. Bot., 56, 409, pp 1-14
http://jxb.oupjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/56/409/1  or http://www.botanischergarten.ch/GM-General/Puchta-DNA-Repairs-2005.pdf  or http://www.biotechknowledge.com/biotech/knowcenter.nsf/ID/F4652E1FC765465F86256F7200621E58#doc more about the same topic:
http://www.botanischergarten.ch/GM-General/Bibliography-DNA-Novel-Insertion.pdf

Thro, A., Parrott, W., Udall, J., & Beavis, W. (2004),
Genomics and Plant Breeding: the Experience of the Initiative for Future Agricultural and Food Systems, Crop Science, Genomics and Plant Breeding: the Experience of the Initiative for Future Agricultural and Food Systems pp 1893–1919
http://www.botanischergarten.ch/Feral-New/Thro-Genomics-CropScience2004.pdf
a chapter in this summary report
Nelson, R.J., Naylor, R.L., & Jahn, M.M. (2004)
The role of genomics research in improvement of "orphan" crops. Crop Science, 44, 6, pp 1901-1904
<Go to ISI>://000225153000006 http://www.botanischergarten.ch/Feral-New/Thro-Genomics-CropScience2004.pdf

Strauss, S.H. (2003) Genetic technologies - Genomics, genetic engineering, and domestication of crops. Science, 300, 5616, pp 61-62 <Go to ISI>://000181988900023 or http://www.botanischergarten.ch/Feral-New/Strauss-Genomics-Science-2003.pdf

VandenBosch, K.A. & Stacey, G. (2003) Summaries of legume genomics projects from around the globe. Community resources for crops and models. Plant Physiology, 131, 3, pp 840-865 <Go to ISI>://000185076100002 or
http://www.botanischergarten.ch/Feral-New/VandenBosch-LegumeGenomics-2003.pdf

VandenBosch, K.A. & Stacey, G. (2003) Summaries of legume genomics projects from around the globe. Community resources for crops and models. Plant Physiology, 131, 3, pp 840-865 <Go to ISI>://000185076100002 or
http://www.botanischergarten.ch/Feral-New/VandenBosch-LegumeGenomics-2003.pdf

Allen Van Deynze et al (Seed Biotechnology Center of the University of California, Davis): “Crop biotechnology: Feeds for livestock” For the full article, visit
http://sbc.ucdavis.edu/Publications/ABC_Series.htm.

Dmitry Dorokhov of the Centre of Bioengineering of the Russian Academy of Sciences evaluated the possibility of outcrossing of genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready Soybeans 40-3-2 with wild soybean species in the Russian federation. A total of 215 plants representing 40 wild soybean populations and 2 cultivated soybean varieties were used in the study. To test potential cross ability of GM soybean with the local species in both the field and the greenhouse, Dorokhov's team tried to pollinate wild soybeans with GM pollen. No herbicide-resistant soy was found in two subsequent growing seasons, and transgenic DNA was found only in the first, but not in succeeding generations, leading to the conclusion that any out crossing would be relatively rare, or with a frequency below the sensitivity of the experiment. The report may be downloaded at http://www.isaaa.org/kc.

Nematode control: Wheat plants can be destroyed by the soil nematode Heterodera avenae without protection by the Cre genes. Cre-3, in particular, has been incorporated into several wheat varieties lacking nematode resistance; these transgenic plants have already been distributed to breeders.

Identifying wheat carrying the Cre-3 gene is undertaken by marker-assisted selection (MAS), using Cre3spf/2. The process, however, cannot distinguish between plants homozygous for Cre-3 and those heterozygous for it. MAS, moreover, is costly.

E.M. Martin and colleagues of Primary Industries Research in Victoria Australia, however, recently reported the “Identification of microsatellite markers associated with the cereal cyst nematode resistance gene Cre-3 in wheat.” Their findings are published in the Australian Journal of Agricultural Research.
By mapping genes closest to Cre-3, Martin’s
By mapping genes closest to Cre-3, Martin’s research team found a microsatellite marker, designated as Xgwn301. Tests have shown that the association between marker and gene is maintained through different stages of introgression, and is not influenced by the presence of other Cre genes. This is important when considering the incorporation of more than one resistance gene into adapted wheat varieties, and, since Xgwn301 is specific for Cre-3, the marker may help overcome the challenge of pyramiding Cre genes.
Download the article at http://www.publish.csiro.au/journals/ajar

SORGHUM DNA SEQUENCES DONATED TO GENBANK

Orion Genomics, a Second Code biotechnology company, recently donated all of its proprietary gene-enriched DNA sequences from the sorghum plant to the public domain. The sequences are available at Genbank, of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Orion's collection of 500,000 gene-rich sequences and more than 20,000 different gene sequences derived from its sequencing projects provide the first in-depth look at sorghum's gene complement. Access the press release at http://www.oriongenomics.com/pr-01042005.html.

DATABASE ON PLANT BIOTECH PROJECTS

PlantBiotech Projects is a new database of transgenic plants with worldwide coverage of all major sectors of plant biotechnology.  Launched in November 2004, the database contains information on genetically engineered plants in the agricultural biotechnology sector and consists of four modules; input traits, crop production, quality traits and plants as factories.  The data profiles include products currently in research, as well as launched products.

For more information, please contact Ms Rebecca Drake, Editor, PlantBiotechProjects at rebecca.drake@informa.com.

Sarah L Bates, Jian-Zhou Zhao, Richard T Roush & Anthony M Shelton:,  Insect Resistance Management In GM Crops: Past, Present and Future Nature Biotechnology 23, 57 - 62 (2005)

Abstract: Transgenic plants expressing insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) were first commercialized in 1996 amid concern from some scientists, regulators and environmentalists that the widespread use of Bt crops would inevitably lead to resistance and the loss of a 'public good,' specifically, the susceptibility of insect pests to Bt proteins. Eight years later, Bt corn and cotton have been grown on a cumulative area >80 million ha worldwide.

Despite dire predictions to the contrary, resistance to a Bt crop has yet to be documented, suggesting that resistance management strategies have been effective thus far. However, current strategies to delay resistance remain far from ideal. Eight years without resistance provides a timely opportunity for researchers, regulators and industry to reassess the risk of resistance and the most effective strategies to preserve Bt and other novel insect-resistant crops in development.

Politocal Issues
Selective "precautionary principle"

Another herbicide tolerant crop has been quietly marketed in the US with no comment at all from environmental organisations. This crop is sunflowers. Herbicide tolerant sunflowers have been grown for two years now in the US with some success yet there has been no mobilisation of activists.

The centre of diversity for sunflowers is North America. Indeed, sunflowers are often grown in localities close to their progenitor wild sunflowers and close relatives. Sunflowers have modest rates of outcrossing and pollen flow between cultivated plants feral plants and wild sunflowers occurs readily.

Sunflowers can also cross with some close relatives, several of which are rare or endangered.

The Clearfield sunflowers are tolerant to the herbicide Beyond. The active ingredient in Beyond is imazmox, an imidazolinone herbicide. Imazamox can persist in the soil, particularly in acid soils. Some herbicide labels have recommendations that susceptible crops should not be grown for 21 months after using the herbicide. In addition, herbicide resistance to the imidazolinone herbicides occurs rapidly, often with 4 or 5 uses of herbicide. This will then lead to an increase in herbicide use.

Environmental dangers of GM herbicide tolerant crops have been many times used as a reason for them to be banned. These include, according to "activists", cross-breeding with wild relatives, causing extinction of wild relatives through gene flow, genetic contamination of non-GM crops, using more herbicide, invasion of the environment and the creation of super weeds. Yet there have been no attempts to create legislation to ban the cultivation of herbicide tolerant sunflowers, no armies of boiler-suited activists in gas masks pulling up sunflower seeds, and no media pressure to frighten people about eating sunflowers and products from sunflowers. In fact there has not been a whimper from any environmental organisation. What has happened? How did this crop introduction get under their radar?

The answer is simple. The herbicide tolerant sunflowers were created through conventional breeding techniques by crossing the herbicide resistance gene in from a weed that had evolved resistance following herbicide use. You can read the story about how it was bred at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jan05/sunflower0105.htm.

Jeffrey L. Fox, Nature Biotechnology, January 2005, v23, p6. www.nature.com/nbt. Reprinted in Agbioview with the permission of the editor. 'Reports rejects GM import on sociocultural grounds while government passes law to regulate them. Farmers in Mexico should carry on using traditional corn, instead of its genetically modified version, for socio-cultural reasons, a new report recommends.'

Jonathan Birchall, The Australian, January 8, 2005
Monsanto is to pay $US1.5 million ($2 million) in penalties to the US Government over a bribe paid in Indonesia in a bid to bypass controls on the screening of new genetically modified cotton crops. According to a criminal complaint by the Department of Justice, the agrichemical company paid $US50,000 to an unnamed senior Indonesian environmental official in 2002, in an unsuccessful attempt to amend or repeal the requirement for the environmental impact statement for new crop varieties.

Muslim states urged to back therapeutic cloning
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1831&language=1
The Muslim world's first proposed code of medical and health ethics would approve human cloning for therapeutic but not reproductive purposes.

Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 16:17:27 -0600
From: "Dr. Tom DeGregori" <trdegreg@uh.edu>
Subject: BBC - Dioxin Found in Organic Eggs from Free-range Chickens

Previous research elsewhere in Europe (Denmark) has found that 100% of the meat from free-range organic chickens was contaminated with Campylobacter jejeuni compared to 30% for those for conventionally grown chickens. In this case, proper preparation is required for any chicken dinner and cooking and careful handling can solve the problem. To the extent that the dioxin in the chickens is harmful, there is nothing that one can do to reduce the contamination. As far as one is concerned with food safety from microbial contamination, "free-range" is not the way to raise chickens as they are exposed to rats and other outdoor disease vectors. Pity that some people are paying more for a product that has greater contamination by their standards while thinking that it is a safer and more nutritious ALTERNATIVE. Pity!

MALARIA

http://www.techcentralstation.com/012005A.html

- Tech Central Station, By Angela Logomasini, 01/20/2005

DDT is the best tool for controlling the spread of malaria. It can be applied in and around huts and other homes that don't have screens and other devices that effectively keep out mosquitoes. Used this way, DDT repels mosquitoes from entering the homes. This approach is effective because malaria-carrying mosquitoes feed largely at night when people are inside.

DDT has a proven record of effectiveness. Many nations, including the United States, eradicated malaria-carrying mosquitoes using DDT. South Africa nearly did the same, but it stopped using DDT under political pressure. After halting DDT use, cases rose from about 4,100 in 1995 to more than 27,000 by 1999, according to a study conducted by researchers Amir Attaran and Rajendra Maharaj. In recent years, South Africa resumed DDT use, and cases have dropped 85 percent according to Roger Bate of Africa Fighting Malaria.

Despite anti-DDT activist claims, DDT has not been shown to have any adverse impacts on human health. According to A.G. Smith of the scientific journal the Lancet: "If the huge amounts of DDT used are taken into account, the safety record for human beings is extremely good. In the 1940s many people were deliberately exposed to high concentrations of DDT through dusting programmes or impregnation of clothes, without any apparent ill effect." Additionally, limited use of DDT for malaria control does not affect wildlife because of it is not used widely in the environment where animals could be exposed.

DNA study offers hope of blocking spread of malaria
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1848&language=1
Comparing the DNA of four malaria parasites, researchers have identified genes that could lead to a vaccine stopping people spreading the disease.

Mutation for drug resistance in Indian malaria identified
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1851&language=1
Indian scientists have identified the mutation that allows the fatal form of malaria circulating there to resist the drug chloroquine.

Tiny tools tackle malaria
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1847&language=1
Researchers are using 'optical tweezers' — a form of nanotechnology — to study the elasticity of cells infected by malaria parasites.

US$43 million boost for synthetic malaria drug
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1815&language=1
The Gates Foundation is investing in efforts to produce the antimalarial compound artemisinin from genetically modified bacteria.

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