News in August 2006
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Meetings

Workshop on molecular targets for Cancer Abbaye de Neumünster, Luxembourg 6-7 October 2006.

The aim of this workshop is to identify possible bottlenecks and put forward solutions that boost the commercial value of potentially innovative findings on molecular targets, emanating from European research on cancer

Bioprocess Engineering Course (EFB BEC) the doctoral/post doctoral level EFB .The European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) and the European Section on Biochemical Engineering Sciences (ESBES) will perform in September 2006.

Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference

More than 1,000 researchers from 40 different countries attending an agricultural biotechnology conference in Australia August 6 - 9 in Melbourne, Victoria referred about a series of innovations that promise to impact food production around the world.  Drought tolerant wheat and allergy-free grasses among biotechnology advances highlighted at global conference In a series of announcements at the conference, officials of the State of Victoria and scientists in the region described work to develop drought resistant wheat and allergy-free ryegrass, more productive dairy cows, and healing proteins derived from milk. The research breakthroughs and other developments are highlights of the Conference. (http://www.abic2006.org).

Books and contributions

Eurobarometer - Europeans and Biotechnology in 2005: Patterns and Trends - Full Report (2nd ed.).PDF

The Precautionary Principle and the WTO
United Nations University, August 4, 2006.

A new report from the United Nations University's Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) examines the evolution of the debate over the "precautionary principle" in the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO). http://www.ias.unu.edu/binaries2/PrecautionaryPrinciple and WTO.pdf.PDF

Biotech Crops Are Safe for Livestock & Poultry Feed
Ross Korves, Truth about Trade, August 4, 2006
http://www.truthabouttrade.org.

The Council for Agricultural Research and Technology (CAST) recently released a report "Safety of Meat, Milk, and Eggs from Animals Fed Crops Derived from Modern Biotechnology" that provides a good overview of recent research. The report is based on work supported by the United States Department of Agriculture and Iowa State University.

The European Commission (EC) will carry out a comprehensive assessment and cost benefit analysis of the consequences, opportunities, and challenges that applications of modern biotechnology have for Europe. Up for discussion are economic, social, and environmental aspects, results of which will contribute to the midterm review of the life science and biotechnology strategy in 2006-2007. As a guide, the European Union (EU) Directorate General Environment has released “EU policy on biotechnology” which provides the EU strategic context, regulatory framework, regulatory challenges, overview of genetically modified organisms in the EU, and the research and development efforts in support of biotechnology. Download this publication from http://ec.europa.eu/environment/biotechnology/pdf/eu_policy_biotechnology.pdf.PDF

OECD RELEASES BIOTECH STATS

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has recently released the “OECD biotechnology statistics – 2006.” Written by B. van Beuzekom and A. Arundel, the report includes data for 23 OECD countries and 2 observer countries, plus China (Shanghai). Various aspects of biotechnology are included, such as employment, patents, venture capital, and genetically modified (GM) crop hectares and field trials. Download the report at http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/51/59/36760212.pdf..PDF

The PRRI, Public Research and Regulation Initiative has been launched last year. The main purpose is to enhance scientific information about biosafety within the framework of international negotiations such as the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol. You are all invited to become members of the forum of PRRI, Public Research and Regulation Initiative. It is for free and you will get newsletters. See the webpage: www.pubresreg.org > > Write to Kim Meulenbroeks, Meulenbroeks@webmail.bt.tudelft.nl, and she will insert you in the list, which can be viewed on the web.

New Reports and Books on AgBiotech
From ISAAA's CropBiotech Update, August 11, 2006
http://www.isaaa.org/kc

The proceedings of a workshop on "Criteria for Field Testing of Plants with Engineered Regulatory, Metabolic, and Signaling Pathways" has been released. Download the proceedings at http://www.isb.vt.edu/proceedings02/the_proceedings02.pdf.PDF,  Draft Report 0n Africa Biotech Available Freedom to Innovate: Biotechnology in Africa's Development is the draft report of the recently concluded meeting between the High-Level African Panel on Modern Biotechnology of the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Download the complete report at http://www.nepadst.org/doclibrary/pdfs/abp_july2006.pdf.PDF.

New Book on India Biotech Released
"Science, Agriculture and the Politics of Policy: The Case of Biotechnology in India,"
by Prof. Ian Scoones of the University of Sussex (UK) has just been released. . For more information, email Ian Scoones at I.Scoones@ids.ac.uk; or visit http://www.ntd.co.uk/idsbookshop/details.asp?id=882 for international sales, or http://www.orientlongman.com/display.asp?isbn=81-250-2944-3

Risk Assessment Book Published

"Environmental Risk Assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms, Volume 2: A Case Study of Bt Cotton in Brazil" focuses on transgenic cotton in Brazil and addresses both environmental and agricultural impacts. It draws out some general risk assessment guidelines and demonstrates case-by-case analysis. Order the book at http://www.cabi-publishing.org/bookshop/BookDisplay.asp?SubjectArea=&Subject=&PID=1892

POCKET K’S UPDATED The Knowledge Center has released the latest versions of several of its Pocket K’s. These include Pocket K’s 10 (Herbicide Tolerance Technology: Glyphosate and Gluphosinate), 17 (Genetic Engineering and GM Crops), and 19 (Molecular Breeding and Marker Assisted Selection), and are available for free download online. Visit http://www.isaaa.org/kc. Pocket Ks are Pockets of Knowledge, packages of information on crop biotechnology products and related issues. They are produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology (KC) of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). Twenty other topics are available at http://www.isaaa.org/kc/bin/pocketk/index.htm.

Europe – EU

See http://ec.europa.eu/research/whatsnew.cfm?CurrentMonth=August&CurrentYear=2006

European Researchers' Night 2006
Details about the programme of each Researchers' night and links to relevant websites are included.

Research, intellectual property: Huge gender chasm in patenting among life scientists
Male academics register patents at twice the rate of their female colleagues, despite equivalent levels of scientific achievements, a new US study has discovered.

Research, funding: Seventh Framework Programme nears fruition
Following an eleventh-hour breakthrough on EU funding for embryonic stem cell research, the Competitiveness Council of Ministers managed to give the Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) its stamp of approval.

Research, planning: Food for Life technology platform launches public consultation
The knowledge-based bio-economy edged a step closer to bearing fruit with the launch of an on-line consultation by the Food for Life technology platform. The opinions of stakeholders will help it in the drafting of its final strategic research agenda (SRA).

Largest ever biobank backed by international peer review
The biggest ever biobank has been given the go-ahead by an international panel of experts to begin recruiting 500,000 people in the UK to provide medical data and material.

Getting set for FP7 launch
The Seveth Framework Programme (FP7) – the EU's chief instrument for funding scientific research between 2007 and 2013 – has overcome a major hurdle, on 24 July, with an eleventh-hour agreement by ministers over funding for stem cell research and nuclear research. Preparations for a major event on European research, on 7 March 2007 in Brussels, are in full swing.

Biotechnology, strategy: Commission invites stakeholders to review biotech strategy
As part of the mid-term review of the Commission’s 2002-2010 life science and biotechnology strategy, stakeholders have until the end of September to voice their opinion of this key policy document.

Basic research, funding: Forthcoming European Research Council to place its trust in youth and individuality
Once it is launched next year, the European Research Council – which has the task of overseeing EU funding of basic research – will focus on youth, individuality and simplicity, according to the ERC’s Scientific Council.

Biotechnology, policy: Stakeholders attend round-table discussion of biotech competitiveness
The Austrian and Finnish presidencies of the EU co-hosted a round table on boosting the competitiveness of EU biotechnology in the context of the Commission’s 2002-2010 life science and biotechnology strategy, which is currently up for mid-term review.

EU novel foods consultation nears deadline.

An online consultation on the revision of novel food regulations, designed to take into account changes to the status of GM food in the EU, is nearing completion. The food industry has until 1 August to respond to the consultation, which was launched by the Commission's health and consumer protection section as a means of gauging the impact the changes would have on the industry and consumers. The commission said that changes to the novel foods rules were necessary because GM food no longer falls under its scope. The proposed changes are designed to boost product innovation in the industry, and make cross-border trading easier. Nonetheless, the commission is seeking feedback on how best to create a more streamlined authorisation procedure, taking into account, for example, particular needs of traditional exotic food from third countries...
FOOD NAVIGATOR http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/ng.asp?n=69034&m=1FNE711&c=kzldommuocyjajp

EFSA will launch a new public consultation on the approach of its GMO Panel in carrying out risk assessments on 'hybrid' GM plants. The Authority will publish a draft guidance document explaining how its GMO Panel evaluates the potential human health and environmental effects of 'hybrid' GM plants. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/science/gmo/gmo_consultations/1596_en.html (Deadline: 10 September 2006). EFSA will also publish today its guidance for the risk assessment of GM microorganisms (GMMs). The GMM guidance is available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/science/gmo/gmo_guidance/catindex_en.html and http://www.efsa.europa.eu/science/gmo/gmo_guidance/660/efsa_gmo_guidance_riskassess_may061.pdf.PDF. EFSA - http://www.efsa.europa.eu/press_room/press_release/1598_en.html

European commission earmarks €12 million for plant growth research.

Plants are invaluable sources of food, medicine, renewable materials and energy. But we still know relatively little about the biological processes that make them grow. The European Commission is devoting €12 million to AGRON-OMICS, a plant research consortium spearheaded by Pierre Hilson and Dirk Inzé of the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) and Ghent University. The goal of this 5-year initiative led in collaboration with other top European research institutes is to understand the network of biological processes involved in leaf growth.
VIB, FLANDERS INTERUNIVERSITY http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-06/vfii-ece062106.php

European patent laws a 'competitive disadvantage'.

The EU has been urged to subsidise patent applications for young innovative companies in order to ensure that Europe's biotech and agricultural sectors remain competitive. EuropaBio said EPO (European patent office) should reduce fees for biotech SMEs. There is no such thing as a European patent. A company ultimately has to confirm its patent in each member state. "This is costly. We have calculated that for the average patent, Europe is four times as expensive as the US” FOOD NAVIGATOR http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/ng.asp?n=69906&m=1FNE817&c=kzldommuocyjajp

Biodiesel buy-up drives GM-free canola

A burgeoning biodiesel industry in Europe is pushing up canola prices in Australia. European biodiesel manufacturers wanted extra supplies to keep production running. Canola prices in Australia are about $65 a tonne higher than Winnipeg Commodity Exchange futures prices. Mr Koch estimated European buyers may take 200,000 to 400,000 tonnes of Australian canola. They opted for Australian canola rather than Canadian product because of Australia's status as being free of genetically modified oilseed. Canada had been growing GM canola for several years. He said the glycerine by-product of biodiesel manufacturing went into the food chain, so the Europeans wanted to make sure the seedstock was GM-free.

France is set for an explosion in GM corn planting this year. The Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN) study said that French Bt corn acreage is expected to boom from 500 ha in 2005 to 5,000 ha in 2006, as a result of the economic advantages experienced by Bt corn growers in 2005. The French pro-GM farm community is also still hoping to receive some legal clarity in the coexistence area. The French Biotech Bill, which will set rules on GM and non-GM coexistence was voted on by the Senate last March but, since May, has been languishing in the National Assembly.

French Agricultural 'Vandalism'
The Associated Press, Aug 1, 2006.

More than 200 activists tore up 7.3 hectares (18 acres) of the corn in two fields near the southern city of Toulouse. Five suspects were detained by police and held for questioning. France's agriculture minister on Monday condemned the destruction of two fields of genetically modified corn by activists in south-western France. Agriculture Minister Dominique Bussereau called Sunday's slashing of the crops "vandalism contrary to the rule of law and the respect of private property," a statement from his office said. FARMERS PROTESTED MONDAY NEAR TOULOUSE TO SUPPORT THE FARMER WHOSE GM MAIZE FIELD WAS DESTROYED THIS WEEK-END.

Last week, Greenpeace activists entered a GM maize field in Grezet Cavagnan, southern France, and carved a giant 'crop circle' with an 'X' in the maize, marking the field, according to the activists, as a contamination zone. The action was in response to a ruling by a French court, in which Greenpeace France was ordered to take down maps from its website that showed the location of commercial GM maize fields in France. FOOD NAVIGATOR - <http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/ng.asp?n=69506&m=1FNE731&c=kzldommuocyjajp>

Stop the genetic engineering activists

Peter Bleser MdB, chairman of the working group of the CDU/CSU Bundestag faction explains nutrition, agriculture and consumer protection on the occasion of the destruction of a field of GM corn at the weekend in Brandenburg. The farmers cultivate GM corn, in order to protect against corn borers without the application of insecticides and avoid the corn used as feed for dairy cows being loaded with Fusarium. The harvests from previous years confirmed these environmental and health advantages. These facts could also be made known to the environmental activists who destroyed fields on weekend, but these people are obviously propelled by a militant ideology. This criminal activity is to be sharply condemned. It is to be therefore to be welcomed that the police intervened energetically. NEWS AKTUELL -  <http://www.presseportal.de/story_rss.htx?nr=854941>

The European association for bioindustries - EuropaBio - welcomes the Commission's launch today of the Biofuels Technology Platform and is pleased to announce the setting up of a Biofuels Task Force within EuropaBio to coordinate the industry input. EUROPABIO - http://www.europabio.org/articles/PR_BioFuelsTP_060608.docMS Word

The Council for Science and Technology (CST) (UK) will review what the government has done since responding to a 2004 report by the Royal Society (RS) and Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), which assessed both the opportunities and the hazards of nanotechnology.

Unilever's revolutionary GM ice cream protein challenged.

A group of scientists has claimed that Unilever's genetically modified (GM) fish antifreeze protein for ice cream should not be approved without further comprehensive tests. . The company said in its application to the FSA last month that it had used genetically modified baker's yeast, containing an ice structuring protein originally isolated from the blood of the fish, known as ocean pout... FOOD NAVIGATOR - http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/ng.asp?id=69108

Minutes of the 110th Meeting of ACRE,
Ashdown House, London, 13 July 2006...

4.4 Bt11 and MON810 contamination of maize in Slovenia
The secretary informed ACRE that 2001/18 Competent Authorities have had a notification from the European Commission of contamination of seed lots in Slovenia with two GMOS, MON810 and Bt11. Bt11 does not have authorization for cultivation, indicating that the traceability and labeling trail was not adequate.

5.1 Generic ACRE advice on the import and processing of grain derived from GM maize.
The scope excluded cultivation and use as food or feed. In summary the advice was that "ACRE is satisfied at this stage on the basis of the evidence previously provided in several herbicide tolerant and / or and insect resistant GM maize import notifications that the risk to human health and the environment arising from marketing such products for importation and processing will be no different from that of conventionally bred maize imported for processing".

5.3 EFSA GMO Panel Opinion on Safeguard Action by Hungary on cultivation of MON810 maize. EFSA's opinion on the safeguard action by Hungary to prohibit the cultivation of crops containing event MON810 on its territory was adopted by the GMO panel on 8 June 2005. ACRE assessed the arguments put forward by Hungary by circulation. The Committee agreed with EFSA in that no new scientific information had been put forward to support this safeguard action. ACRE also expressed its full support for the GMO panel's view that supporting evidence submitted to justify safeguard actions should be of a quality sufficient to be subjected to detailed scientific scrutiny.

Safeguard action taken by Austria on GT73 oilseed rape. The evidence provided by Austria in support of a safeguard action for GT73 was circulated to ACRE. ACRE is of the opinion that no new evidence has been provided by the Austrians that would cause ACRE to doubt it's previous risk assessment of this GM product. The Committee is also of the view that the Austrian submission fails to identify any factors unique to Austrian habitats. ACRE therefore recommends that the safeguard action should not be supported on the basis of the data presented in the Austrian submission relating to the environmental risk assessment of this product.DEFRA - http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/acre/meetings/06/min060713.htm

ITALIAN SCIENTISTS PETITION FOR GMO RESEARCH
Galileo2001, an association of Italian scientists, has submitted a petition to the European Commission (EC) calling for research into genetically modified organisms (GMO) to continue in Italy. GM crops are still under moratorium in the country, despite recent directives in the European Union (EU) that allow field trials to be conducted. Meanwhile, regional governments have been given the task of establishing areas where field trials may be conducted, a measure that overloads the regulatory process. For more information, contact Professor Bruno Mezzetti of the Universit? Politecnica delle Marche, at b.mezzetti@univpm.it. Find out more about the association at http://www.galileo2001.it/.

GM Crops To Be Grown In Secret
The Times and Sunday Times (London) - 21-Jul-2006 - Valerie Elliott

The Government plans to let farmers grow GM crops in England in secret. Ian Pearson, the Environment Minister, has rejected the need for a public register informing consumers where genetically modified crops are grown. Under the new rules farmers need only inform neighbouring farmers if they are growing GM crops within 35 metres of their land. The rules would give no redress to homeowners whose properties may be blighted.

Bt maize in Spain found to improve production by 7.3%.

Scientists of the Institute and Agricultural Research and Technology (IRTA) of Catalonia report an average increase in Bt maize production of 7.3%, equivalent to 1,055 kilograms per hectare, when compared to non biotech varieties. In addition, the experts reported an increase in the quality of the grain, with an 83% decrease in the level of mycotoxins found in transgenic seeds, and increased grain moisture content during harvesting. The biotech varieties were also reported to have increase tolerance to fungal pathogens. More than 53,000 hectares of transgenic Bt maize were cultivated in Spain in 2005. The study also confirmed that a buffer zone of 15-20 m between Bt maize and conventional crop varieties is sufficient to insure coexistence and prevent the flow of the transgene. The technical dossier is available at http://www.ruralcat.net. For more information visit: http://www.antama.net/imgNews/25-07-06.htm. CROP BIOTECH NET

UK: BASF Requests Trial of GM Potatoes
Lisa Urquhart, Financial Times, Aug. 23, 2006.

If the government gives it approval, two trials of one hectare each in Cambridgeshire and Derbyshire will mark the first production of GM foods in more than three years in the UK, following cultivation of oilseed rape in 2003. BASF is proposing to grow potatoes that have been genetically modified to give them resistance to late blight, a fungal disease. The potatoes will contain a natural trait, resistant to the blight, found in wild potatoes.

No Special Control Over Genetically Modified Products in Turkey.

''We do not apply any special control on genetically modified products neither in domestic market nor in import market in Turkey,'' stated Turkish Agriculture & Rural Affairs Minister Mehdi Eker. ''Turkey imported 88,674 tones of corn, 48,331 tones of soy and 8,674 tones of canola in 2005 to use as food product or in food industry. We have imported corn from Argentina, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania, the United States and Moldova; soy from Ukraine, the United States, Argentina, Belgium, Romania and Serbia-Montenegro; and canola from Ukraine.'' He stated, ''we do not apply any special control over genetically modified products neither in domestic market nor in import market. But, we have not allowed import of products which have the label of 'genetically modified organism' so far.'' ''Also we do not plant products which have genetically modified organisms in Turkey,'' added Eker.
TURKISH PRESS - http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=129691

Dupont, BP join to produce butanol as biofuels
The Associated Press - 6/20/06.

Chemical maker DuPont said Tuesday that it is joining forces with energy giant BP to develop and market advanced biofuels. DuPont and BP are working with British Sugar, a subsidiary of Associated British Foods plc, to convert the UK's first ethanol fermentation facility to produce biobutanol. They also are looking at the feasibility of constructing larger facilities in the United Kingdom.

Africa

Nigerian oil riches: a huge boost for African science.
http://www.scidev.net/Opinions/index.cfm?fuseaction=readOpinions&itemid=515&language=1
Nigeria's plans to use oil revenues to fund an independent science foundation could prove a boon for all Africa, says a Nature editorial. [Source: Nature]

America and Canada

GM salmon may make U.S. stores by 2009. it grows to the size of a normal salmon, but does so twice as quickly. http://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/content/free/2006/Comment/article_gen_04266.html

Fashion from GMO.

Models dressed in Oscar de la Renta and Versace clothing paraded down the runway during the recent Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) conference in Toronto.  While it may seem an odd place for a fashion show, the fit was perfect - the dresses were made of Ingeo, a new fiber made mostly from genetically modified (GM) corn., The Canadian Press

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias has announced that the cultivation of genetically modified crops will be prohibited on Venezuelan soil, possibly establishing the most sweeping restrictions on transgenic crops in the Western Hemisphere.

Next Farm Bill Should Recognize Alternative Crops.
The Associated Press - 8/10/06.

Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Thursday that next years farm bill should provide added incentives for alternative crops  that produce energy and medicine.

Venezuela to prohibit transgenic crops

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias has announced that the cultivation of genetically modified crops will be prohibited on Venezuelan soil, possibly establishing the most sweeping restrictions on transgenic crops in the Western Hemisphere. BIOX.cn - http://www.biox.cn/content/20060708/47669.htm

A two-year moratorium of purchasing soybeans from newly deforested areas in the Amazon major soybean traders declared. The agreement also includes an element to ensure traceability of soybeans and to avoid sourcing from farms that are involved in deforestation. Farmers owning land cleared after July 24, 2006 in the Amazon forest zone will not, according to this agreement, be able to sell their soybeans to these companies... USDA FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE GAIN REPORT NO. BR6620 - http://www.fas.usda.gov/gainfiles/200607/146208449.pdf.PDF

Asia

Iraq gets US help in agriculture.

Mike Johanns, Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Dr. Salam Zukam Ali Al-Zawba'I, Deputy Prime Minister, signed a joint statement of intent to strengthen and broaden Iraq's agricultural extension system and universities through partnerships between U.S. and Iraqi universities. Read the complete press release at http://www.fas.usda.gov/scriptsw/PressRelease/pressrel_dout.asp?Entry=valid&PrNum=0092-06

Japan has suspended imports of U.S. long-grain rice following a positive test for trace amounts of a genetically modified strain not approved for human consumption, a news report said Sunday. The Associated Press - 20-Aug-2006 TOKYO. The rice, modified to withstand herbicide applications, was developed by Bayer CropScience, a Raleigh, N.C.-based unit of German conglomerate Bayer AG. It was field tested between 1998 and 2001, but the company abandoned its commercialization. Two other varieties of rice containing the same genetic trait were extensively tested and approved by the Agriculture Department for consumption and release into the environment -- but Bayer chose not to také them to market. On July 31, Bayer voluntarily reported it had found trace amounts of the unapproved rice, known as LLRICE 601, in samples taken from commercial long-grain rice. The company will not say where it was grown, or why it was testing commercial samples.

Bt cotton – China – pesticide.

The study found that after three years, the GM farmers had cut pesticide use by 70 per cent and were earning over a third more than conventional farmers. But, by 2004, the GM cotton farmers were using just as much pesticide as their conventional counterparts and were spending far more because GM cotton seed is three times the price of conventional cotton seed... THE INDEPENDENT - http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article1199339.ece. Making cotton resistant to bollworm can leave it open to other insect attacks - NATURE - http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060724/full/060724-5.html THE RESPONSE BY SENIOR CHINESE SCIENTIST HUANG JIKUN, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRE FOR CHINESE AGRICULTURAL  CROPS, WHO WORKED WITH THE MAIN AUTHOR AT CORNELL, GIVES THE REASONS WHY HE DISAGREES WITH PROFESSOR PER PINSTRUP-ANDERSEN'S CONCLUSIONS.  JIKUN SAYS THAT UNUSUAL WEATHER IN 2004 PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN THE INCREASED MIRID POPULATIONS IN CONVENTIONAL COTTON AS WELL.  See http://www.scidev.net/content/news/eng/chinas-gm-cotton-profits-are-short-lived-says-study.cfm

Summing up this China Bt cotton debate with Greenpeace in short words: THERE ARE INSECT RESISTANT CROPS PERFORMING WELL AND FACT-RESISTANT ACTIVISTS WHO NEED TO CHANGE THEIR CHEAP PROPAGANDA STUNTS. A farm-scale evaluation demonstrates clear positive results in favour of the transgenic Bt cotton. Here are the abstract and link of a publication from May 16 in PNAS: > Cattaneo, M.G., Yafuso, C., Schmidt, C., Huang, C.Y., Rahman, M., Olson, C., Ellers-Kirk, C., Orr, B.J., Marsh, S.E., Antilla, L., Dutilleu, P., & Carriere, Y. (2006) > Farm-scale evaluation of the impacts of transgenic cotton on biodiversity, pesticide use, and yield. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103, 20, pp 7571-7576 > http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/103/20/7571 > and the supporting tables http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/0508312103/DC1 > and figures only http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/figsonly/103/20/7571

Kazakh Paper Calls For Tighter Control Of GM Products

Genetically modified products in Kazakhstan must be strictly controlled, a Kazakh paper has said, urging the obligatory testing of foods for GM content. To join WTO, Kazakhstan needs a system of controlling GM products, the paper says. Genetically modified organisms could be used as biological weapons. Therefore, strict control is necessary to ensure that unregistered GM products do not enter the market... KAZAKHSTANSKAYA PRAVDA (Almaty) - via BBC

General

Cross-continent survey on GM food conducted

About 62% of South Africans and 43% of Singaporeans who are familiar with genetically modified (GM) foods are accepting of the technology, as long as it makes food taste better. This is one of the findings of a recently concluded survey by Synovate, a global market research company, which surveyed 3,127 respondents in Greece, Indonesia, Poland, Singapore, and South Africa. Other findings of the survey include the following: 1) 84% of Greeks and a majority of respondents in South Africa and Poland are familiar with GM foods, while 92% of Indonesians and 65% of Singaporeans are not familiar with the term; 2) among the consumers who are aware of GM foods, 89% of those from Greece, 68% from Poland, 59% from Singapore, 66% from Indonesia, and 33% of South Africans believe they may be harmful; and 3) despite these cautious feelings, 46% of Indonesians, 45% of South Africans, and 42% of Poles and Singaporeans believe that the benefits of GM foods outweigh the risks. For more information on Synovate, visit http://www.synovate.com. Read the press release at http://www.synovate.com/current/news/article/2006/08/gm-foods-8211-delight-or-fright.html.
CROP BIOTECH NET http://www.isaaa.org/kc/CBTNews/2006_Issues/Aug/CBT_Aug_11.htm#4

A total benefit of Bt corn's reduction of fumonisin and aflatoxin in the US was estimated at $23 million annually. Finally, the paper examines the potential policy impacts of Bt corn's mycotoxin reduction, on nations that are making a decision on whether to allow commercialization of this genetically modified crop. TRANSGENIC RESEARCH (2006) 15:277-289 - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=16779644&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docsum

News in science

Biopharmaceutical corn that doesn't pollinate.

Researchers at Iowa State University say they are developing biopharmaceutical corn that doesn't produce pollen, preventing the plants from contaminating other crops. The team of researchers is using traditional breeding techniques to cross a male-fertile corn line with a biopharmaceutical line to produce a hybrid containing a therapeutic protein. That protein is then crossed with a sterile corn that hampers pollination, preventing nearby traditional corn and other crops from being contaminated by the genetically modified corn.
AP via SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/business/biotech/20060706-0107-farmscene-biocorn.html

GM Potato Crops to Produce Vaccines.

German researchers obtained this year permission to plant genetically-modified potatoes that produce vaccines and proteins on an outdoor plantation. University of Rostock scientists aim to plant three rows of the GM crop on 2,200m2 in Gross Luesewitz, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, over the next two years. The scientists intend to grow one row of potatoes containing a non-toxic cholera protein that is already used as an auxiliary substance in immunisations against cholera and similar illnesses. They aim for a second row to produce elements of a vaccine against a type of rabbit disease. The third line will produce a special protein that could be used as a raw material in the chemical industry.
WORLD GROWER - http://www.worldgrower.com/news/news_story.ehtml?o=259

GM goats and the milk of kindness.

Genetically modified goats could help to save the lives of millions of children worldwide who die from diarrhoeal diseases every year. Scientists at the University of California, Davis, say that they have bred goats with the gene for an enzyme found in human breast milk that can kill harmful bacteria. They report in the journal Transgenic Research. GTC Biotherapeutics has bred goats whose milk contains a human plasma protein with anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory properties. The company will extract the human protein from the goats' milk and use it to produce anti-thromibin, which inhibits blood clots from forming, and may help to prevent deep-vein thrombosis and clotting problems during major surgery.
TIMES - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,589-2307378,00.html

Western Corn Rootworm Feeding Behavior on a Transgenic Hybrid Described in Detail In a recent journal article (Journal of Economic Entomology, June 2006), researchers from the University of Nebraska and Monsanto Company described the feeding behavior of western corn rootworms on a transgenic corn rootworm hybrid (MON 863, Cry3Bb1) and its nontransgenic isoline.

Impact of Bt maize pollen (MON810) on lepidopteran larvae living on accompanying weeds.

Environmental risks of Bt maize, particularly pollen drift from Bt maize, were assessed for nontarget lepidopteran larvae in maize field margins. In our experimental approach, we carried out 3-year field trials on 6 ha total....... For these species no differences were detected between the Bt treatment and the control, but the chemical insecticide treatment reduced larval abundance significantly. Conclusions regarding experimental methodology and results are discussed in regard to environmental risk assessment and monitoring of genetically modified organisms.
MOLECULAR ECOLOGY, vol. 15(9). page 2677 http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.02962.x

Another weed confirmed glyphosate-resistant

Herbicide tests in a western Missouri soybean field have confirmed that tall waterhemp is the sixth glyphosate-resistant weed in the U.S. and the ninth such weed in the world. Their confirmation this week placed tall waterhemp on the international herbicide-resistant weeds web site, http://www.weedscience. The site lists 183 weed species that have been proven to be resistant to one herbicide or another.
BROWNFIELD - http://www.brownfieldnetwork.com/gestalt/go.cfm?objectid=5F511184-E821-B59D-12E5C4D5051A31BB

DUPONT INTRODUCES HERBICIDE-TOLERANT SUNFLOWER HYBRIDS

To meet the demand for oilseed and biofuel, science company Dupont has introduced the first sulfonylurea (SU)-tolerant sunflower hybrids in Europe — Pioneer® brand sunflower hybrids with the Express® SX Herbicide-Tolerant trait. The hybrids provide post-emergent control option for annual broadleaf weeds, a leading problem affecting sunflower yield. Dupont reports that with the new hybrids farmers need not rely on more expensive, less effective pre-emergent options. Instead farmers have the potential for more yield advantages, more weed management flexibility, and improved control alternatives. The Express® Herbicide Tolerant Sunflower seed is derived from traditional plant-breeding methods. A herbicide-tolerant trait, proprietary to DuPont, was integrated into the germplasm of high-yielding sunflower hybrids. http://pioneer.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=press_releases

GM omega-3 from plants.

Industry giants are locked in a "fish oil arms race" to develop genetically modified crops that could challenge the supremacy of fish as the best source of omega-3 fatty acid, with both BASF and DuPont reporting progress in the field. DuPont, one of the major movers and shakers in this area, revealed last week that it has developed a transgenic soybean with a long-chain omega-3 content of 40 per cent, and is heading for field testing of the crop...BASF, meanwhile, is an industrial partner the EU-sponsored LIPGENE project, an EU Sixth Framework Programme Integrated Project and is made up of a consortium of 25 research laboratories across Europe, including Trinity College Dublin, University of Reading, University of Oslo...
FOOD NAVIGATOR - < http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/ng.asp?n=69506&m=1FNE731&c=kzldommuocyjajp

Rice – C4 plant.
Anthony Fletcher.  Food Navigator, August 29, 2006
http://www.foodnavigator.com/

Experts are working on converting rice from being a C3 plant to a C4 plant. "We need to meet the challenge of feeding a growing world population which is projected to reach 8.3 billion in 2030 with an accompanying rice demand of 771 million tonnes," said the International Rice Commission secretary Nguu Nguyen. In order to meet this expected demand for rice in 2030, Nguyen said that global rice production 618 million tonnes in 2005 would need to increase by about 153 million tonnes. "This is an enormous challenge as land and water resources available for rice production keep diminishing as a result of urbanisation and industrialisation," Nguyen said that C4 rice could have the potential to out-yield the best performing existing rice varieties and hybrids by 15 to 20 per cent. However, it will take several more years before the C4 rice varieties may become available. However, concerns related to bio-safety, conservation of rice genetic diversity and intellectual property rights remain. These will have to be dealt with before C4 rice becomes a reality.

Waterproof Rice Gene Identified
BBC, August 9, 2006
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4777561.stm.

Most rice plants die within a week of being underwater. The team from the University of California, Davis, US, and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) based in the Philippines says the gene, called Sub1A-1, will give the plants greater protection against damaging flooding. The findings have been published in the science journal Nature.

Genetic Rice
Business Recorder July 12, 2006
http://www.brecorder.com

Scientists in Tando Jan Sindh Agriculture University published in journal 'Science'a report on the genetically modified rice that  reduced production cost, improving per acre yield, and reducing use to pesticides to zero level. . Greenpeace still insists that the rice could possibly be harmful, as  its long-term effects were unknown.

GM maize protects chickens from deadly virus
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3058&language=1

Mexican scientists have genetically modified maize to create a vaccine against one of the developing world’s major poultry killers.

SOYBEAN QTL FOUND TO BACK UP BT

Scientists working on improving soybean have faced several obstacles when working on insect resistance for the crop. Resistance to insects in soybean is a quantitatively inherited trait. Genetic engineering could assist in making soybeans resistant to pest, but Bt genes are widely used, raising issues about the evolution of resistance in susceptible insect populations. To engineer insect resistance into soybean, scientists have to not only introduce Bt genes into soybean cells, but to find, characterize, and use native soybean insect resistance genes to manage insect resistance, as well as broaden the resistance of plants with Bt genes. S. Zhua and colleagues from the University of Georgia, USA undertake the “Fine Mapping of a Major Insect Resistance QTL in Soybean and its Interaction with Minor Resistance QTLs.” Their article, published in a recent issue of Crop Science, mapped a major quantitative trait locus (QTL-M) for insect resistance from soybean, which controls antibiosis (the ability of a crop to excrete one or several metabolites that can harm organisms) and antixenosis (the ability of a plant to keep pests from colonizing it). The study aimed to fine map QTL-M, as well as to evaluate the effects on and interactions between it and other resistance QTLs using the Benning soybean cultivar, which is susceptible to defoliating insects. These QTLs were introgressed into the Benning cultivar using marker-assisted backcrossing to produce eight near-isogenic lines (NILs). These NILs were then tested for antixenosis and antibiosis. Scientists found that two minor resistance QTLs provided insect resistance only when QTL-M was also present. This is important, since QTL-M has also been shown to increase the effectiveness of the Bt transgene in soybean, and can thus be used in future resistance engineering efforts. Subscribers to Crop Science can read the complete article at http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/content/full/46/3/1094.

Syngenta is developing new trait for soybean aphid resistance.

Syngenta is showcasing plots of its new aphid-resistant soybeans at the Syngenta Learning Centers across the  Midwest this summer. The aphid-resistant trait is based on the Rag1 gene discovered at the University of Illinois in 2003.  It is a "native" trait, meaning the gene that provides resistance to the soybean aphid is naturally occurring in soybeans and is not genetically modified through biotechnology.  Once the Rag1 gene was discovered, Syngenta was able to successfully transfer it by using multiple backcrosses into elite Midwestern varieties. "In any given field where aphids occur and are left to multiply, research shows that yield losses have been as high as 50 percent," said Virgil Sparks, soybean product development, western head, Syngenta.  Syngenta's new aphid-resistant trait provides growers with a genetic choice to manage aphid damage..."
SEEDQUEST - http://seedquest.com/News/releases/2006/august/16548.htm
www.avcr.cz

Gene silencing.

Scientists from the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (ARS-USDA) have successfully used a technique called Virus-Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS) to find scab-resistance genes in wheat and barley seed heads. Developing the test is part of a wide initiative that has allowed farmers and scientists to work together to combat scab, also known as Fusarium head blight. Scab is one of the most devastating wheat and barley diseases worldwide, and there are only a few varieties with effective levels of resistance to the disease.

Dengue virus replication discovered

Researchers in Argentina have found out how the virus responsible for dengue fever replicates in the cells it infects. [Spanish Full Text] http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3026&language=2

TOBACCO MAKES BETTER ANTIBODIES

Plants express in antibodies N-glycans, that is different between plants and animals. The N-glycans of plant-derived antibodies contain xylose and fucose which can generate an immune reaction in humans, posing a very serious problem for vaccine production. Hans Bakker and colleagues from Wageningen University and Research Center aimed to restore function to plant-produced antibodies, by expressing along the gene encoding the antibody, a second gene, GalT, which removes the unwanted carbohydrate residues. The authors report their findings in the article “An antibody produced in tobacco expressing a hybrid -1,4-galactosyltransferase is essentially devoid of plant carbohydrate epitopes,” published in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers replaced a region of the gene for the human GalT enzyme with its corresponding region in Arabidopsis. This fusion gene yielded a hybrid enzyme, xylGalT, which was expressed in tobacco cells along with a monoclonal antibody. Monoclonal antibodies from the transgenic plants expressing xylGalT had fewer xylose and fucose residues. When tested with grass pollen protein and sera of allergic patients, these antibodies had much lower immunogenicity than antibodies from transgenic plants that did not express xylGalT. The techniques can thus be used to produce more efficient antibodies, with much lower immunogenicity, without compromising their therapeutic efficacy. For more information, read the complete article at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/103/20/7577

GM Potato Crops to Produce Vaccines

German researchers obtained this year permission to plant genetically-modified potatoes that produce vaccines and proteins on an outdoor plantation. University of Rostock scientists aim to plant three rows of the GM crop on 2,200m2 in Gross Luesewitz, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, over the next two years. The scientists intend to grow one row of potatoes containing a non-toxic cholera protein that is already used as an auxiliary substance in immunisations against cholera and similar illnesses. They aim for a second row to produce elements of a vaccine against a type of rabbit disease. The third line will produce a special protein that could be used in the chemical industry.
WORLD GROWER http://www.worldgrower.com/news/news_story.ehtml?o=259

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