Green Biotechnology Manifesto
EuropaBio, web dated March 7, 2007, http://www.greenbiotech-manifesto.org/screen-manifesto-900.pdf
"Biotech industry leaders publish Green Biotech Manifesto and set out policy challenges," March 13, 2007, http://www.europabio.org/ne_Greenmanifesto130307.htm
Released at a biotechnology gathering in Lyons, France, organized by BioVision, an international platform that fosters dialogue, debates and proposals in Life Sciences, the manifesto underscores the importance of agricultural or "green" biotechnology to Europe.
Are GM and conventionally bred cereals really different?
Abstract: Concerns over the safety of GM crops have led to detailed comparisons of their composition and performance with those of conventionally bred crops, under both field and glasshouse conditions. Such studies of wheat have shown that it is possible to develop GM lines, which are substantially equivalent to conventional varieties. This information is important to inform the debate on the future development of GM food crops.
The two most important lines are: Comparison of the pairs of transgenic and ''parental'' lines (B102-1-1 v L88-31, B13554 v Cadenza, B1118 v Cadenza) showed only a small number of differentially expressed genes, with none differing by more than 2-fold. In contrast, comparison of the two non-transgenic sister lines (L88-31 and L88-18), which were produced from a single cross between the cultivars Olympic and Gabo, showed that a larger number of genes were differentially expressed in developing endosperms, 92 at 14 days (13 by greater than 3-fold) and 527 at 28 days (85 by greater than 2-fold).
A striking result from our studies was the small numbers of differentially expressed genes between the transgenic and control lines when compared with sister lines (L88-31, L88-18) produced by a conventional crossing programme. This is consistent with the hypothesis that transgenesis is a highly precise and controlled method of crop improvement compared to conventional breeding in which many thousands of genes may differ between the lines.
Now is the time for international action on patents
Pressure is growing for a major shift in international intellectual property rules that addresses the interests of the poor.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture (FAO) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently signed an agreement that will strengthen cooperation between the two in their bid to support the development of a sustainable global agriculture system. Under the terms of the framework agreement, USDA funds and resources, including h uman resources, can be mobilized to support FAO projects promoting sustainable agricultural development and the attainment of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals in developing countries. The agreement was signed by FAO Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns. Read the news release at http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2007/1000509/index.html
It's Futile to Refute ISAAA's Report on Global Status
of Biotech Crops
Soon after Clive James, the chairman, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) released this year's report on adoption of biotech crops, anti-technology activists had a field day trashing it.
Hours before the report's release, Greenpeace International released its own version showing that "there is irrefutable evidence that governments, farmers and consumers throughout the world recognize that GE (genetically engineering) is unreliable, unviable or downright dangerous."
I had a chance to skim through Greenpeace's report, and my conclusion was it is not field-based. The report has all the hallmarks of armchair research. I figure out that all it was compiled from media clippings, and was solely for publicity purposes. Tactics like these have no place in the debate about genetically modified crops.
Greenpeace is a well-endowed organization, financially. The world would have expected it , just as ISAAA did, to dispatch researchers to the field to obtain first-hand information on the global status of genetically modified crops. It certainly didn't. Instead it resorted to fabrications which in itself puts its reputation on the line.
A Call for Expressions of Interest for EuroBioFund is now open. Life science researchers are invited to submit Expressions of Interest for future pan-European research programmes that demand a coordinated funding policy at the European level. Further details can be found at www.esf.org/eurobiofund/eoi
The European Federation of Biotechnology is pleased to support EuroBioFund's networking event for professionals from science, industry, government, foundations and finance to engage with top research consortia to develop ambitious programmes that require coordination at a European level. More info at www.esf.org/eurobiofund/eoi.
'Indefinite funding' safeguards biodiversity of
An agreement between a crop trust fund and the International Rice Research Institute could safeguard the biodiversity of rice.
OECD Health and Safety News
OECD issued new issue of the Environment, Health and Safety News. This Newsletter provides an update on the main events and activities of the OECD Environment, Health and Safety Programme. Information on new publications arising from the Programme as well as dates and venues of upcoming events and meetings are given.
The BioPesticides Steering Group (BPSG), led by the Netherlands, met in June 2006 to continue its work to develop guidance on the evaluation of microbials for pest control. The document will cover such topics as: the taxonomic identification of micro-organisms in microbial pest control products; genetic toxicity assessment of microbial pesticides: needs and recommended approaches; occupational, bystander and consumer exposure and risk assessments for microbial pest control products; microbial metabolite residues in treated food crops; how to evaluate the environmental safety of microbial pest control products; and efficacy evaluation of microbials. A first draft Working Document was reviewed by the Working Group on Pesticides at their 20th Meeting in November 2006. The BPSG will hold a meeting on 24-25 April 2007 in Braunschweig, Germany. It is expected that the document will be finalised in 2008.
OECD/EC Seminar on Harmonised Environmental Indicators for Pesticide Risk
A seminar jointly organised by OECD’s Risk Reduction Steering Group and the EC HAIR Steering Committee and hosted by the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, was held on 13 November 2006 in Bonn.
HARMONISATION OF REGULATORY OVERSIGHT IN BIOTECHNOLOGY
The 19th Meeting of the Working Group on Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology met in Paris, 21-23 February 2007. The meeting agreed to a draft operational plan for the project on Environmental Considerations, which is intended to provide a comprehensive package of information elements used for risk/safety assessment of transgenic plants. The lead country (Canada) has started drafting the document.
A potential new project on adventitious presence (or low level, unavoidable presence) of transgenic seeds in conventional bulk shipments, which is an important issue for some sectors of industry and governments was also discussed. A parallel project on adventitious presence of transgenic crops is being undertaken by FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Committee – from a food safety point of view. This issue will be revisited at the next meeting of the Working Group to be held in October 2007.
The 19th meeting also made progress on various other projects, including: the Unique Identifier for transgenic micro-organisms; Consensus Document on Bt trait; Consensus Document on Lodgepole pine;
Consensus Document on North American Larches; Guidance Document on Horizontal Gene Transfer between Bacteria; and Guidance Document on Potential Health Effects of Bacteria. It was reported at the meeting that considerable progress has been made on the project on Molecular Characterisation and on Consensus Document on Atlantic Salmon since the 18th meeting of the Working Group.
People, Plants and Genes: The Story of Crops and
Modern societies still rely on plants for most of their food needs, not to mention clothing, shelter, medicines and tools. This special relationship has tied together people and their plants in mutual dependence for over 50,000 years. Yet despite these millennia of intimate contact, people have only gone on to domesticate and cultivate a few dozen of the tens of thousands of edible plants available. Thanks to the latest genomic studies, we can now begin to explain how, when, and where some of the most important crops came to be domesticated, and the crucial role of plant genetics and climatic change in these processes. Indeed, it was their unique genetic organisations that ultimately determined which plants eventually became crops, rather than any conscious decisions by their human cultivators.
Eco-Freaks: Environmentalism Is Hazardous to Your
Mother Nature is not a gentle person, and Berlau's pointed reporting reveals the very real dangers to people and their environments when Eco-Freaks prevent us from restraining her. In Eco-Freaks, award-winning journalist John Berlau provides a much needed and startling expose about how the environmental movement with its radical, shortsighted eco-activists has actually helped amplify the dangers of natural disasters and destroyed the lives and property of millions of Americans.
Bt, Non-Bt Maize Coexistence Tested in Germany
Results of a pre-commercial field scale trial conducted in 30 sites in Germany demonstrated that coexistence between Bt maize and the non-transgenic counterpart is possible. The study conducted by W. E. Weber and colleagues at the Martin Luther University, showed that levels of the transgene in the grains of the non-transgenic maize can be kept below 0.9 percent, the threshold level for labeling GM products in the European Union.
Subscribers to the Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science can access the full article at http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1439-037X.2006.00245.x
Corn resistant to Diabrotica MON863 was approved in Europe an several other countries. One of the basic studies performed under the responsibility of Monsanto Company has been subjected to questions from regulatory reviewers in Europe, where it was finally approved in 2005. The above authors On the request of Greenpeace the group CRIIGEN (Committee for Independent Information and Research on Genetic Engineering, Paris, France) re-analyzed these data. Results were published by Gilles-Eric Séralini, Dominique Cellier and Joël Spiroux de Vendomois in Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. (Received: 18 July 2006 Accepted: 20 November 2006 Published online: 13 March 2007).
The authors claim: Appropriate statistics were added, such as a multivariate analysis of the growth curves, and for biochemical parameters comparisons between GMO-treated rats and the controls fed with an equivalent normal diet, and separately with six reference diets with different compositions. We observed that after the consumption of MON863, rats showed slight but dose-related significant variations in growth for both sexes, resulting in 3.3% decrease in weight for males and 3.7% increase for females. Chemistry measurements reveal signs of hepatorenal toxicity, marked also by differential sensitivities in males and females. Triglycerides increased by 24–40% in females (either at week 14, dose 11% or at week 5, dose 33%, respectively); urine phosphorus and sodium excretions diminished in males by 31–35% (week 14, dose 33%) for the most important results significantly linked to the treatment in comparison to seven diets tested. Longer experiments are essential in order to indicate the real nature and extent of the possible pathology; with the present data it cannot be concluded that GM corn MON863 is a safe product.
EFSA statement on the recent CRIIGEN  publication
on MON 863 maize
EFSA is aware of the recently presented publication by the CRIIGEN research group on genetically modified maize MON 863 containing a revised statistical analysis of the 90 day rat study considered in the risk assessment. EFSA will carefully evaluate this new publication and its new statistical analysis including any possible significance this publication may have on the risk assessment of MON 863. MON 863 maize has been subject to a comprehensive risk assessment by EFSA and by other authorities which did not identify any adverse effects on human and animal health or the environment. The 90 day rat study analysed by CRIIGEN is one element of the comprehensive risk assessment of MON863 maize. The CRIIGEN analysis findings on MON 863 will be discussed by the GMO Panel at its next meeting to be held in Parma on 22/23 March 2007.
CORPORATE DECISIONS ABOUT LABELING GM FOODS
The full paper can be accessed by subscribers at http://www.springerlink.com/content/q2h7872473t77452/
Genetically Modified Organisms - is the whole day meeting organised by the Czech ministry od agriculture in Prague May 17.
Ecological Impact of Genetically Modified Organisms
International Symposium on Genetic transformations - challenges and possibilities for horticulture of the world.
The symposium will be held in Ski, near Oslo, Norway, from 16th to 20th September, 2007, under the auspices of the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS). Please, check out the website, http://www.gmo2007.no, where you will find a copy of the First Announcement.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND THE FUTURE OF EUROPEAN AGRICULTURE: EURAGRI
MEMBERS CONFERENCE XX
Two new documents occurred: "SECOND REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT - on the experience of Member States with GMOs placed on the market under Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms", COM(2007) 81 final, Brussels, 5.3.2007 and SEC(2007) 274, Brussels, 5.3.2007.
EU may change environment requirements for farmers
Brussels - EU regulators plan to slice through much of the red tape surrounding a series of strict environment requirements that must be met before farmers receive subsidies for growing crops, a document showed on Friday.
In a report due to be unveiled this month, the EU's executive Commission will propose streamlining the system known as cross-compliance, where farmers who qualify for agricultural cash must comply with various environmental laws that aim to keep farming land, and the countryside, in good condition.
If they fail to adhere strictly to a list of 18 EU standards in environment, food safety and animal health and welfare, then farmers can quickly lose funding. Cross-compliance was the main environmental element within the EU's sweeping 2003 farm reform.
European Commission creates registry for human embryonic stem cell lines
EUROPEAN COMMISSION, IFAD TO INCREASE INVESTMENT IN AGRIC
As a means of eradicating rural poverty in developing countries, the European Commission (EC) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) pledged an increased investment in agriculture. The outcome of the meetings between the President of IFAD and senior officials of the EC will serve as a common platform from which the two organizations can identify and develop joint programs and investment in the sector of agriculture, rural development and food security that have the highest impact on rural poverty reduction. Proposed areas of focus will include rural finance and remittances, natural resource management including land degradation and desertification, livestock management, pro-poor market access, and agricultural research.The complete press release is available at http://www.ifad.org/media/press/2007/20.htm.
France adopts disputed EU laws on GMO crop growing
Paris - France said on Tuesday it had brought its national legislation into line with European Union laws on growing genetically modified (GMO) crops, hoping to end a legal battle with Europe's top court.
French consumers are well known for their skepticism, if not hostility, to GMO crops, often dubbed "Frankenstein foods" and many fields have been destroyed. The spokeswoman for France's anti-GMO lobby said her fellow activists would continue destroying GMO fields to oppose the growing of the crops for commercial and experimental use. "France has listened to the EU, we now ask it to listen to French citizens who massively reject GMOs," she said.
"In the meantime we'll continue symbolic actions. We'll be even more determined."
The biotech industry insists its products are perfectly safe. France has only approved one type of GMO crop, the "MON 810" maize produced by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto (MON.N: Quote, Profile, Research), to be cultivated for commercial purposes.
In 2006, around 5,200 hectares were grown with the maize, which has been modified to resist certain insect pests, the French maize growers association AGPM said.
That is only a minor part of the total grain sowings in France which account for more than nine million hectares, including 1.8 million hectares of maize.
Under the new rules, farmers will be obliged to give precise details on their GMO sowings, which should enable France to create a national register of all GMO crops in the country, including their number, surface and location, it added.
The register will be available on the Internet.
EU may miss "invisible revolution" because of biotech
The European Union operates an effective ban on new gene-engineered seeds
and risks missing out on the "invisible revolution" that's developing crops
for cleaner fuels or washing detergents, the industry says.
"We have a go-slow situation in the EU, and the process needs to be accelerated because there's a long queue of applications," he said in a telephone interview from Lyon, France. In the last three months, EU governments have refused to strike down Hungarian and Austrian bans on imports of Monsanto Co. and Bayer biotech corn varieties. They also blocked a BASF request to allow farmers to grow a potato genetically modified to boost its starch content, in the first EU vote on permission for planting of a biotech crop in eight years.
Genetically Modified Fluorescent Fish Illegally
Smuggled into Germany
German authorities are concerned that genetically modified fluorescent fish are being smuggled into the country. Even though the fish are legal in the US, dealers here face fines of EUR50,000 or five years in jail. There has been widespread concern in Europe about genetically modified organisms, with protesters warning of the dangers of "Frankenstein foods." Now glow-in-the-dark Frankenstein fish have been smuggled into Germany -- and the authorities are concerned about the illegal trade.
The genetically modified fish, which have had their DNA tinkered with so they exhibit red, green or orange fluorescence, are sold in the United States under the trade name "GloFish" for $5 each. But the refashioned fish are banned in Europe. Recently, though, they have been surfacing illegally in Germany. Specimens were discovered in a specialist store in the northern German city of Kiel, authorities from Schleswig-Holstein's Ministry of Agriculture confirmed Monday.
Romania's GMO dilemma: who to side with - corporations
or the EU?
The Environment Ministry in Bucharest is due to push for public debate two new initiatives on genetically modified food - one for the introduction of GM soy testing and one for tests of GM plum trees. The Ministry recently authorized tests on GM corn. The moves come as agricultural experts are pushing hard to make Romanian citizens understand that GM crops are not harmful.
But environmental militants are redirecting the debate towards studies they say may help stop the expansion of non-conventional crops, while modified corn is the only GM plant allowed in the EU agriculture.
CLIVE JAMES HONORED BY ROMANIAN ACADEMY
Leaders from the Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences in Bucharest presented Dr. Clive James, chairman of the ISAAA Board of Directors, with its most prestigious honor - the distinction of “Academic Merit” for James' “outstanding contribution to a safer environment and more sustainable agricultural development by biotechnology transfer to the developing world.” James was at the academy to present a lecture on the commercialization status of biotech crops and future prospects at the invitation of Professor Cristian Hera, President of the Academy. The presentation titled "The Commercialization of Biotech Crops 1996 to 2006, and Future Prospects," offered an overview on the global status of biotech crops, which are now planted in 21 countries meaning more than half the world's population of 6.5 billion reside in areas where biotech crops are cultivated.
MON863: Nothing New Nor Dangerous
"Monsanto Corn Allegedly Toxic," reads Greenpeace release and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said it would, in the words of FoodNavigator.com, "review the new data presented by French scientists that revealed toxicity concerns in rats fed the MON863 variety of GM maize from Monsanto."
However, there is no "new data." It's old data, which European authorities used in the course of approving the corn for import, feed and processing on August 8, 2005 and again under the Novel Food and Food Ingredient Regulation on January 13, 2006. The data are available online, http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/content/products/technicalandsafety/fullratstudy.pdf but beware--the .pdf file is 1,140 pages long. What, then is new? Merely a reinterpretation of the data, supported by Greenpeace. It, too, is available online. "New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity," http://www.springerlink.com/content/02648wu132m07804/fulltext.html. The paper seeks to contradict findings made in 2003 by Germany's Robert Koch Institut by the EFSA and France's Commission du Génie Biomoléculaire in 2004--all based on the same data, and all concluding that the rats were normal and the corn was safe.
In a nutshell, the Greenpeace-backed reinterpretation rests on data which show statistically significant differences in serum protein values or triglycerides mainly in rats fed *low* doses of MON863, but not in rats fed high doses of the corn. It's generally thought that the dose makes the poison, but in this case high doses showed no discernible effects. Does this truly reveal, as the title of the new paper suggests, "Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity?" The authors of the paper attempt to explain this by saying, cryptically, "This sex- and dose-related effect resulted in the fact that the growth variations of the 11% GMO males are *highly statistically lower* [em added] than their controls, and 33%-GM fed females higher."
European Fderation of Biotechnology asks Dr Eduardo
FB: Dr. Trigo, what is the background to the report"
Ten Years of Genetically Modified Crops in Argentine Agriculture" and why
did you decide to carry it out? Where there specific issues you wanted to
draw attention to or was this intended to highlight the overall experiences
and lessons of 10 years of GM crops in Argentina?
DEVELOPMENT OF GOLDEN INDICA RICE VARIETIES
Researchers at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines discussed in their review paper the progress toward the development of Golden Rice IR64 and BR29, both indica rice types. The transgenic rice lines express b-carotene and other carotenoids in its endosperm resulting to the observed yellow-orange color.
The IRRI researchers presented results of screenhouse evaluations conducted in the Philippines and Bangladesh of the rice varieties Golden IR64 and Golden BR29. The transgenics were found to have enhanced carotenoid content compared to control varieties but are similar in other agronomic characters, such as plant height, days to flowering, seed set, 100-seed weight and total biomass. The levels of b-carotene in the transgenic IR64 and BR29 were determined to be 2.32 µg/g and 9.34 µg/g, respectively.
Transgenic plants with elevated thioredoxin level
Abstract: The present invention is directed to a transgenic plant wherein at least a part of said plant includes a recombinant nucleic acid with a promoter active in the part operably linked to a nucleic acid encoding a thioredoxin polypeptide wherein the promoter is a seed or grain maturation-specific promoter and the thioredoxin polypeptide includes the amino acid sequence WCGPC. The present invention is further directed to transgenic plants that overexpress thioredoxin in seed wherein the overexpression of thioredoxin h effects a significant increase in the reduction of proteins (--SH as compared to S--S) of the albumin fraction of the seed.
Creating poultry and other animals resistant to
Abstract: The invention is directed to genetically modified animals which are resistant to viral infections. Also provided are methods for creating animals which are resistant to viral infections.
New transgenic Roundup-resistant soybean variety, RG7008RR, has been developed and released by the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station. The new variety has a 1.8 bushel-per-acre higher yield, plant height is about 2 inches shorter, while protein and oil content are similar.
Researchers show that benign, genetically engineered mosquitoes can out compete disease-causing ones, suggesting a possible way to control the disease. Mosquitoes genetically engineered for malaria resistance can out compete their wild counterparts--at least in the lab, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. While previous studies have described the creation of malaria-resistant mosquitoes, this is the first time that researchers have shown a reproductive advantage for the genetically engineered organisms, which is an important requirement if such mosquitoes are to be used as a practical malaria-control strategy.
Large gene dataset for rice plant developed
by National Science Foundation Biologists - Leads to increased understanding
of essential food crop
Scientists have reported development of a large dataset of gene sequences in rice. The information will lead to an increased understanding of how genes work in rice, an essential food for much of the world's population.
DEADLY PROTEIN AS NEW NATURAL INSECTICIDE
Nematode worms are known to infect and kill insect pests with the help of a bacterium that thrives inside their intestine. It was only recently that researchers at the University of Warwick, together with their colleagues at Coventry and Nottingham Universities, discovered the mechanism of how the bacterium kills an unwitting victim with a protein.
The proteinXptA1, was formed from four subunits in the shape of a hollow cage or box. This shape allows the protein to bind specifically to a part of the gut of cabbage white butterfly caterpillar,a pest for many growers. The hollow shape allows the protein to act as a receptacle for two other proteins, and this ensemble forms a poison “complex” that is 300 times more toxic to the caterpillars than XptA1 would be by itself. The researchers also discovered other variants of this family of toxic proteins that targeted other insects. This new family of naturally occurring proteins offers an alternative to current commercial protein-based insect toxins that are now starting to meet some resistance, according to Dr Sarah Lee from the University of Warwick.
Read the news release at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/secret_of_worms/
PRODUCTION OF FEED ADDITIVE IN GM POTATO
The production of the feed additive xylanase using potato was demonstrated possible by a group of researchers in the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Xylanase is an important enzyme incorporated in animal feeds to help poultry and monogastric animals, such as pigs and horses, break down xylan - a protein that hampers the rate of digestion and the absorption of nutrients in those animals.
Xylanase is currently commercially produced using microbial fermentation. However, the researchers led by Peilong Yang have proposed that producing the compound in potato can be an economical alternative. In addition, the biotech potato can be directly fed to poultry or other animals