News in September 2007
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2007-10-14

General

Biotech crops safe and pro-poor say FAO economists
http://www.reason.com/blog/show/122089.html
- Ronald Bailey, REASON August 29, 2007

Two U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization economists, Terri Raney and Prabhu Pingali write a sharp article in the September issue of Scientific American (sub required) on how genetically enhanced crops can and do help poor farmers in developing countries.

The chief food-safety concerns are are fears that allergens or toxins may be present and that other unintentional changes in the food composition may occur. Yet to date no verifiable toxic or nutritionally deleterious effects resulting from the consumption of transgenic foods have been discovered anywhere in the world (emphasis mine). National food safety authorities of several countries have evaluated the transgenic crops currently being grown commercially and the foods derived from them, using procedures based on internationally agreed upon principles, and have judged them all safe to eat.

Cry3Bb1 protein does not persist or accumulate in soil and is degraded rapidly.
Cry3Bb1 protein from Bacillus thuringiensis in root exudates and biomass of transgenic corn does not persist in soil

Isik Icoz and Guenther Stotzky, Transgenic Research, September 13, 2007
http://www.springerlink.com

Abstract

The Cry3Bb1 protein, insecticidal to the corn rootworm complex (Diabrotica spp.), of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) subsp. kumamotoensis was released in root exudates of transgenic Bt corn (event MON863) in sterile hydroponic culture (7.5 ± 1.12 ng/ml after 28 days of growth) and in nonsterile soil throughout growth of the plants (2.2 ± 0.62 ng/g after 63 days of growth). Kitchawan soil, which contains predominantly kaolinite (K) but not montmorillonite (M), was amended to 3 or 6% (vol./vol.) with K (3K and 6K soils) or M (3M and 6M soils) and with 1, 3, 5, or 10% (wt./wt.) of ground biomass of Bt corn expressing the Cry3Bb1 protein and incubated at 25 ± 2°C at the -33-kPa water tension for 60 days. Soils were analyzed for the presence of the protein every 7 to 10 days with a western blot assay (ImmunoStrip) and verified by ELISA. Persistence of the protein varied with the type and amount of clay mineral and the pH of the soils and increased as the concentration of K was increased but decreased as the concentration of M was increased. Persistence decreased when the pH of the K-amended soils was increased from ca. 5 to ca. 7 with CaCO3: the protein was not detected after 14 and 21 days in the pH-adjusted 3K and 6K soils, respectively, whereas it was detected after 40 days in the 3K and 6K soils not adjusted to pH 7. The protein was detected for only 21 days in the 3M soil and for 14 days in the 6M soil, which were not adjusted in pH. These results indicate that the Cry3Bb1 protein does not persist or accumulate in soil and is degraded rapidly.

Books and Articles

Research site keyword index (EU)

The Research site keyword index has been updated. It now contains over 9500 English keywords to help you find what you are looking for. It also contains over 3000 keywords in French, over 2700 in German, over 2400 in Spanish, and about 300 in Italian and Dutch.

GMO Compass Newsletter
Issue 16, Sept. 26, 2007
http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/home/

Bt maize: Spanish cultivation has risen significantly New Spanish statistics show an increase of forty per cent in the cultivated area of Bt maize, largely concentrated in the north-western Aragon region. The study also highlights the attractiveness to Catalonian farmers of pest-resistant Bt maize, which also displays a lower incidence of fungal infections.
more http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/messages/200709.docu.html#156

Upper-Austrian GMO cultivation ban ultimately invalid The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in September that the ban on gene technology locally legislated by Upper Austria is invalid. The attempt by Upper Austria legally to declare itself a "gene-technology-free zone" now has been decisively rejected by both the European Commission and the ECJ.
more http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/messages/200709.docu.html#155

German rapeseed recalled The EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson highlighted the gap between the EUs GM approval system and those of feed exporting countries in a speech at European Biotechnology Info Day in Brussels. He warned of "hungry cows" and "struggling farmers", if the EU wont close this gap. "There is an economic risk in Europe, if we fall behind the global economy in approving safe biotechnology."
more http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/messages/200709.docu.html#154

GM wheat: release trials approved in Switzerland Despite the five-year GMO moratorium declared in Switzerland in 2005, the Swiss National Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape has approved field trials for genetically modified wheat. Conducted as basic research, the trials address biosafety and the effectiveness of GE resistance to fungal infections. more http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/messages/200709.docu.html#153

MON810: approved for commercial use in Brazil According to a statement released by the developing company in August, the National Biosafety Committee of Brazil approved the Monsanto GM maize MON810 for commercial use. more
http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/messages/200708.docu.html#152

Suspected cause found for bee deaths in USA American researchers have identified the IAPV virus as a probable cause of the mass bee deaths affecting as many as ninety per cent of regional colonies. In combination with other stress factors, the imported virus seems to trigger the condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder. more
http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/messages/200709.docu.html#159

GM maize: new Chinese line promises environmental benefits The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences announced in September the beginning of field trials on a new GM maize intended for animal feed. Developed to produce phytase, the new line promises increased digestibility and a reduction in environmental pollution derived from animal waste.
http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/messages/200709.docu.html#158

New GM eucalyptus ingest three times as much carbon dioxide A joint Taiwanese-American project has successfully developed GM eucalyptus trees which absorb far greater quantities of carbon dioxide than conventional eucalyptus. Added benefits include the production of more cellulose and less lignin, which may enhance the industrial production of paper pulp and bio-fuel. more http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/messages/200709.docu.html#161

New Philippine study indicates high consumer acceptance of GM rice The Philippine Rice Research Institute and the Strive Foundation have published study results which indicate widespread acceptance of the use of GE in the Philippines. A locally-developed rice line with stacked traits is expected to be on the market by 2011. more
http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/messages/200709.docu.html#160

Highest Indian agri-science institution would consider terminator technology Speaking at the International Conference on Agricultural Biotechnology in September, the director-general of ICAR recommends discussion and research on the topic of applicable terminator technology for India. more
http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/messages/200709.docu.html#157

GMO labelling of foodstuffs produced from animals -- the discussion continue According to European law, the meat, milk and eggs from animals which have been fed with genetically modified feed need not be identified specially. Consumers' groups and politicians repeatedly have criticized this legislation. GMO-Compass outlines the latest headlines and facts. more http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/stories/286.labelling_foodstuffs.html

Webtip "Talking Biotech with the Public": a special issue of the Biotechnology Journal. Especially in Europe, the great majority of the general public is scared, anxious and fearful of green biotechnology. Public understanding and a thorough exchange with scientists need methodically to be encouraged. Since scientists depend on society - and vice versa - the current issue of the Biotechnology journal focuses on this area of conflict. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the status quo of public debate, of public perceptions and of new approaches to bridging the gap between society and scientists. The papers are available online during September free of charge: www.biotechnology-journal.com  http://www.biotechnology-journal.com

Public Perceptions of Biotechnology
-Alan McHughen, Biotechnology Journal, July 18, 2007; Vol. 2, Issue 9, Pages 1105 - 1111
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/114293840/ABSTRACT

OECD Biotechnology Updates
http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/3/44/39314743.pdf

Table of Contents

bulletInternal Co-Ordination Group for Biotechnology (ICGB) OECD Guidelines on Licensing of Health Care Genetics
bulletGuidelines on Human Genetic Research Databases
bulletCollaborative Mechanisms for the Management of Intellectual Property
bulletCounterfeiting and Piracy of Pharmaceuticals
bulletThe Bioeconomy to 2030: Designing a Policy Agenda
bulletAn Economic Assessment of Biofuel Support Policies
bulletBiofuels: Linking Support to Performance
bullet19th Round Table on Sustainable Development: Biofuels
bulletHarmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology ..
bulletBiotrack Online
bulletSafety of Novel Foods and Feeds
bulletHigh Level Forum on Medicines for Infectious Diseases
bulletOECD Guidelines on Quality Assurance in Molecular Genetic Testing
bulletPharmacogenetics
bulletBiomarkers and Targeted Therapies
bulletEmerging Research Models for the Delivery of Health Innovation
bulletKnowledge Markets
bulletOECD Innovation Strategy: Health Biotechnology Contributions
bulletUptake and Diffusion of Health Related Biotechnologies
bulletSynthetic Biology
bulletBiosecurity
bulletBiological Resource Centres.
bulletBiotechnology For Sustainable Industrial Development
bulletBiotechnology Statistics In OECD Member Countries
bulletCo-Operative Research Programme (CRP): Biological Resource Management For Sustainable Agricultural Systems
bulletOECD's Seed Certification and Forest Reproductive Material Schemes
bulletOECD Biotechnology and the World Wide Web
bulletFuture Events
bulletWho’s Who In Biotech at OECD 22
bulletContact Point:
bulletMedia Enquiries:
bulletEndnote: a Brief Guide to the OECD

Policies for a Better Environment: Progress in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia

OECD report describes progress being made - and barriers to progress - on environmental policies and programmes in the countres of Eastern Europe, Causasus and Central Asia.
Now available from the Online Bookshop (OECD)

Annual Agricultural Biotechnology Reports were presented by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Sept. 10, 2007:
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291547
CZECH REPUBLIC - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291707
SWITZERLAND - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291710
CHINA, PEOPLES REPUBLIC - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291718
MEXICO - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291733
INDONESIA - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291737
NICARAGUA - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291747
UZBEKISTAN, REPUBLIC - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291752
THAILAND - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291754
COSTA RICA - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291762
ITALY - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291765
BRAZIL - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291792
RUSSIAN FEDERATION - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291797
SRI LANKA - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291816
THAILAND - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291841
KENYA - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291848
GERMANY - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291854
ECUADOR - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291874
FRANCE - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291890
KOREA, REPUBLIC - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291900
HONG KONG - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291946
PAKISTAN - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291983
GERMANY - http://www.fas.usda.gov/scripts/gd.asp?ID=146291984

CropBiotech Update
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Sept. 14, 2007 http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/online/default.asp?Date=9/14/2007#878

IN THIS ISSUE

Global
Discovery Promises More Nutritional Cassava
Agriculture in the Face of Climate Change

Africa
Setting a Biotechnology Stage in Africa
ICGE -Africa Formally Opened Regional Consultation on Biotechnology and Biosafety

Americas
Maximizing the Biofuel Potential of Sweet Sorghum and Sugar Cane
Biotechnologists Inducted into ARS Hall of Fame
Texas A&M Receives Sun Grant Funding for Bioenergy Research
New HTF Ethanol Hybrids from Pioneer
Monsanto Acquires Brazilian Seed Company
Sorghum Fit for Fuel and Feed
UD Leads Research Project on Rice Epigenetics
Bayer Opens First Agricultural Technology Center in Argentina

Asia and the Pacific
RP to Boost Production of Agri-Products through Biotech
Invitation to Comment on a Risk Assessment Plan for GM Cotton
Scottish Seed Potatoes' Journey to China
New Zealand's ERMA Approves GM Onion Trial

Europe
Intragenic Modification for Crops
German Gene-tech Law - Coalition Compromise

Research
GM Potatoes with Improved Freezing Tolerance
Genome Analysis of a Plant Growth-Promoting Bacillus
Production of Herbicide-Resistant Transgenic Sweet Potato

Biofuels Supplement
News and Trends
Distance Learning for Jatropha Biodiesel Established
New Zealand Starts Rapeseed Biodiesel Trials
"Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining": A New Journal for Biofuels
Grain Ethanol Comparable with Advanced Biofuel Technologies
"Largest" Soybean Biodiesel Production in the US Opens

Biofuels Processing
Quest for Alternative Fermenting Microbes
Biofuels Policy and Economics
China Energy Plan Targets 15% Renewable Energy Use by 2020

Crop Biotech Update
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), September 21, 2007
http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/online/default.asp?Date=9/21/2007

IN THIS ISSUE

Global OECD Reports on the Roundtable Discussion for Biofuel
Performance Plants Inc. Announces New Patents for Crop Drought Protection Technology
ICRISAT Strategies for Climate Change and Desertification

Africa PhD Program for African Students Launched
Africa too Slow on Biosafety Legislation
Protein-Rich Yam Bean in Africa?

Americas Bayer Adds Third License to Senesco's Gene Technology
Monsanto and Dow to Develop Eight-Gene Stacked Combination in Maize
IICA and Croplife Join Forces to Transfer Agro-Technologies
IFIC Study Shows Little Change in Americans' Perception of Food Biotech

Asia and the Pacific India's MOEF Exempts Rule on Approval for GMF Imports
Argentine Food Officer Says GM Crops to Raise Farm Income in India
Biofuel Consultation for the Asia Pacific Region
Cornell U. Helps Develop GM Eggplant for Asia
Australia Approves Limited Release of GM Cotton
Study Finds Widespread Herbicide Resistant Ryegrass in West Australia
LIPI to Compile Biotechnology Indicators
Biotech Course for RP Local Chief Executives
IPR Workshop for Vietnam

Europe Area under GM Maize in Spain Increased by 40 Percent in 2007
Austrian GMO Ban, Illegal Says EU Court

Research Transgenic Rice with Improved Water Use Efficiency
Producing Diarrhea and Cholera Vaccines in GM Carrots
Recombinant Protein in Tobacco for Fungal and Insect Resistance
Bt Protein from GM Corn Does Not Persist in Soil

Events

Sept.12/13:      BioRiver Congress on Technology Transfer in Düsseldorf, Germany,

Sept. 20:         Max-Planck Symposium on BioRefineries in Cologne, Germany,

Sept. 23/26:    ABIC2007 on BioProducts and BioFuels in Calgary, Canada,

BIOTEC 2007 Brno, Czech Republic, October 16-19. http://www.gate2biotech.cz/biotec-3

The Council of European Biotech Regions (CEBR) in collaboration with EuropaBio and BioSmile organises on 4th October a consultation meeting in Brussels on the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). IMI is a public private partnership and the partnership will issue calls for projects, stimulating for 2 billion? research in the next years. At the eve of the final approval of IMI by the Commission, a number of points of discussion/concern remain: The calls will be public and all companies/research organisations will be able to submit. SMEs will not be asked to match there grant, however companies that are not SMEs will be asked to invest as much in the research as the grant they get from the authority. This is a first potential problematic issue for the Biotechnology companies that have outgrown the SME phase.

Hoping to be able to welcome you in Brussels on 4th of October. To register online, please see http://www.cebr.net/Event.aspx?id=50 or contact registration@flandersbio.be.

Global

Islamic countries 'dragging their feet' on science plan
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3884&language=1

The Organization of the Islamic Conference needs to accelerate its implementation of its ten-year science plan, say experts.

GM glowing fish could be sold
Brisbane Times, Sept. 12, 2007
http://news.brisbanetimes.com.au/gm-glowing-fish-could-be-sold/20071412-yi7.html

A United States-based biotechnology company applied earlier this year to the Gene Technology Regulator for permission to import and sell the so-called GloFish. The zebra fish have been modified to include a fluorescent protein gene that comes from reef coral. The gene makes the fish absorb light and then release it, so they appear to glow either red, green or yellow. According to the latest report from the Gene Technology Regulator, consultation with experts and key stakeholders was held between April and June to identify any risks to human health and safety and the environment. The regulator said its technical advisory committee found the fluorescent proteins were not likely to be toxic to humans or other organisms, or cause an allergic reaction. The regulator noted the fish were already being sold in the US and Singapore.

Europe - EU

10 EU countries block approval of import of 3 biotech maize varieties
The Age, Sept. 26, 2007
http://www.theage.com.au

Agriculture ministers from 10 EU countries on Wednesday blocked approval of three genetically modified varieties of maize for use on the European market, reflecting continued deep divisions among EU nations over whether biotech crops pose a risk to human or animal health. The products had been given the all-clear by the EU's food safety authority, EFSA, which said they would not have adverse effects on health or the environment.

Diplomats said Austria, Malta, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg voted against, while France and Italy abstained, ensuring a deadlock. Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden led the group of biotech crop supporters.

GM Policy Has EU livestock In A Stranglehold
The Pig Site, Sept. 26, 2007
http://www.thepigsite.com/swinenews/15737/gm-policy-has-eu-livestock-in-a-stranglehold

FEFAC President Mr. Pedro Corręa de Barros called on the EU Farm Council to take urgent measures ensuring adequate access of livestock farmers to feed materials. He welcomed the proposed decision to eliminate set-aside for the new crop season but stressed that this measure is not effective to address the present acute shortage of feed materials for the EU livestock population. He noted that the only way out to cover current market needs are additional imports of energy-rich feed materials of which the EU needs to import 15-25 million tonnes according to trade and industry experts. However, access to imports is severely restricted due to the present EU GM policy.

Mr Pedro Corręa de Barros warned the EU Farm Council that "The current EU GM policy will cripple the EU livestock industry. Livestock producers in third countries will be able to use the GMO crops not yet approved in the EU to feed their animals and will increasingly sell their products of animal origin to EU consumers at a lower price compared with EU operators".

He stressed that the systematic slowdown of GM approvals in the EU combined with a strict 0-tolerance policy for the presence of non EU-approved events already resulted in the loss of 4 million tonnes of CGF (Corn Gluten Feed) and DDGS (Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles) that the EU used to import for years from the US. CGF and DDGS are staple feeds mainly for cattle in the "Atlantic" EU countries (Ireland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK). Their substitution has artificially inflated feed prices in the EU by 2-3 bio. €, out of a total cost increase for compound feed of 10 bio. € since last year due to higher world prices for cereals.

Further massive feed price increases in the EU, which livestock farmers may not be able to recover from consumers, must be expected in the new marketing year, if traces of newly authorised GM events in export countries appear in the supply of soybean meal to the EU, before they obtain full EU approval.

Future of Science and Technology in Europe
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal, 08-10 October 2007

The conference consists of a series of sessions aimed at discussing a broad range of issues at the centre of the debate on future research policy developments in the EU and brings together many of the relevant institutional actors and stakeholders.

Joint development of knowledge-based bioeconomy agreed in EU-China statement
To underscore the EU's efforts to become the world's most competitive knowledge-based economy, the European Commission recently signed an agreement with the future home of the world's biggest economy, China. The commitment, signed by Christian Patermann, Director of the Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food Directorate within the Commission's Research DG, and Wang Hongguang on behalf of the China National Centre for Biotechnology Development, was the result of a workshop highlighting the successes and future cooperation opportunities for the EU and the world's most populous country.

Two-year consultation culminates in long-term plant tech agenda
If Wilhelm Gruissem, President of the European Plant Science Organisation has his way, Europe's economic outlook will not only be rosier, but greener. The European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO), an independent body representing 58 members in 24 European countries that councils the EU and Member States on scientific policy and co-founder of one of the first European Technology Platforms, 'Plants for the Future', recently released the platform's Strategic Research Agenda.

EU project publishes bioethics guidelines for nutrigenomics research
Inextricably linked with the exponential growth of scientific and technological discovery are concerns over human health and safety. Increased understanding of the human genome in recent years has unlocked enormous potential in improving our well-being, and as a result public officials are careful to take the requisite measures to protect public safety in emerging fields. One such example is the field of nutrigenomics, the study of the interaction between nutrients and genes. Consequently. the European Commission has funded the European Nutrigenomics Organisation (NuGO) Network of Excellence which recently published a set of bioethics guidelines designed to help scientists undertaking nutrigenomics research using human subjects.

Europe

Personal and Property Damages to "Protect" the Environment
Federal Association of German Plant Breeders e.V (press release - translated), Sept. 21, 2007
http://www.bdp-online.de/index.php#

By destroying farm fields, the opponents of genetic engineering devastate research projects, cause harvest losses, and create millions in economic damage. However, that doesn't seem to go far enough for some of them. In a recent letter claiming responsibility, a militant group of biotechnology opponents are now threatening to prevent the harvest of GM maize across the entire country by concealing metal objects in fields.

With the pretext of protecting the environment, this is intended to prevent a harvest of Bt-maize which has been duly certified and determined to be safe. This shows that they assign little value to expensive harvest machinery, and to human safety as well. It was sheer luck that nobody was hurt at Prädikow, Brandenburg when rocks attached to maize plants caused severe damages to a combine. "By hiding dangerous objects in maize fields, the actions of the opponents of genetic engineering have taken on an appallingly different character," said Dr. Ferdinand Schmitz, managing director of the Federal Association of German Plant Breeders about the announcement of new criminal tactics.

"Destruction tourism" was first enabled by the public location register introduced in 2005, which is the perfect "travel guide" for precisely locating fields of GM maize. Even so, politicians still dispute a connection between location registers and field destruction. The fact that determined "environmental" groups have no interest in a constructive dialogue on the basis of scientific findings should now be clear with this latest public provocation. "It is high time that field destruction is treated and condemned for what it is: a punishable criminal offense, and not mere mischief," Schmitz concluded.

Biofuels in Europe - EuropaBio position and specific recommendations
http://www.europabio.org/positions/Biofuels_EuropaBio%20position_Final.pdf

The European biotech industry strongly supports EU initiatives to boost the use of biofuels. EuropaBio also shares the concern of European leaders that the high use of energy stemming from fossil resources is untenable in the long term. The challenges of increasing CO2 emissions, climate change, increasing import dependence and higher energy prices all send clear signals that Europe needs to act now to deliver sustainable, secure and competitive energy.

EuropaBio believes that biotechnology can offer a solution - ensuring an energy supply, in particular in the transportation sector – that is heavily independent of oil and that leads to significant reductions in CO2 emissions.

A tragic GM 'outing'
Nature Biotechnology 25, 950 (2007) doi:10.1038/nbt0907-950a
http://ealerts.nature.com/cgi-bin24/DM/y/egEY0Sp4DG0HjC0Bbya0Ej

last month, one French farmer chose to take his own life rather than witness anti-GM campaigners 'picnicking' among his transgenic corn. At 8:30 a.m. on Sunday August 5, after telephoning the local police in Saint-Céré, Claude Lagorse placed at his feet a corn seedling and a leaflet announcing the anti-GM 'picnic/debate' planned for later that day and then hung himself under a tree.

He had notified all the relevant government authorities. However, only his brother knew about the Bt corn. He had not told his neighbours. He had not even told his wife. Why not? In the context of prevailing, ill-informed perceptions of GM crops in Europe, perhaps he feared his decision might poison relations with neighbors or damage his eco-friendly credentials. Even if Largorse recognized that the avoidance of chemical insecticides can make Bt corn more eco-friendly, would he have been able to convince surrounding farmers, especially those with entrenched anti-GM views?

Successful media activities to counter anti-GM campaigners

In July 2007 the InnoPlanta AGIL, the Innovative Farmers’ Working Group in Germany, organized a press conference in Berlin and an information event in the Bt-countryside to counterbalance the action planned by anti-GMO activists. The press conference, involving speakers such as MPs and representatives of German agricultural cooperative, was mentioned in nearly all regional newspapers and in a number of national newspapers.

Ireland: Resistance to GM Cereals Slammed
http://www.independent.ie/farming/resistance-to-gm-cereals-slammed-1070720.html

Professor Jimmy Burke, who is head of the Crops Research Centre at Oak Park, claimed that the Government's stance on GM crop varieties was undermining the viability of whole sectors within Irish agriculture. "This policy is anti-competitive and doomed to failure. Only sourcing non-GM material is an unrealistic approach and we need to sit up and take notice of this," Professor Burke insisted.  He maintained that Ireland's decision to abstain earlier this year in a key vote at EU level on the maize variety, Herculex, had serious implications.

As Herculex had failed to secure EU approval, European feed importers had been forced to pay inflated prices for scarce supplies of non-GM material.  The Teagasc specialist said the implications for the pig and poultry sectors were particularly serious, since half the protein requirement for both industries was sourced in the US. "If we are saying we don't want GM material, then this is a serious issue because, in the not too distant future, people won't be able to get non-GM feed stocks," he said. He also questioned the assertion that consumers were willing to pay a premium for the meat from animals which had been fed non-GM feed.

He pointed out that studies carried out in a number of countries had found that supermarkets were not willing to pass on to consumers the additional feed costs associated with using non-GM material. Meanwhile, feed importers now fear that shipments of corn gluten and corn distillers will be disrupted again this autumn, because the US maize crop, which is due to be harvested in a month's time, includes another GM variety which has not been approved in Europe

Authorities give GM crop trials the green light
Despite a five-year ban on the use of GMOs in Swiss agriculture, research is still permitted
swissinfo, Sept. 4, 2007 http://www.swissinfo.org

The Federal Environment Office has given Swiss scientists the go-ahead to carry out crop trials involving genetically modified (GM) wheat. The trials, which will run over a two-year period from 2008 in Reckenholz near Zurich, and in Pully, on the outskirts of Lausanne, are part of a four-year SFr12-million ($9.8 million) programme funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. "We came to the conclusion that we could approve these tests with the appropriate monitoring and safety conditions," Bruno Oberle, head of the Environment Office, told swissinfo. "We concluded that there is no danger for human's health or for the environment."

No GM free zone
Wiener Zeitung, Sept. 13, 2007
EU rejects Upper Austrian ban on genetically modified farming. http://www.wienerzeitung.at/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=4082&Alias=wzo&cob=302167¤tpage=0

Linz. The European Court of Justice has ruled that Upper Austria may not impose a complete ban on genetically modified farming, thereby isolating itself as a "GM free zone". Upper Austria devised a ban in 2002, which was rejected by the European Commission in 2003 and unsuccessfully appealed by the region in 2005. The final ruling has squelched the province's latest plea of annulment.

GM grains may be only option for EU as prices rise
Stephen Cadogan, Irish Examiner. Sept. 13, 2007
http://www.examiner.ie/irishexaminer/pages/story.aspx-qqqg=sections-qqqm=farming-qqqa=general-qqqid=42365-qqqx=1.asp

LIFTING restrictions on imports of genetically modified crops is now seen as the EU's only solution to cool down its overheating grain markets.

Britain losing out on GM crops, says expert
Graham Tibbetts, The Telegraph (UK), Sept. 18, 2007
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/18/ngm118.xml

A senior Government agriculture advisor has warned Britain would miss out on important advances if it did not sanction the growing of genetically-modified crops.

Professor Sir Howard Dalton, chief scientific advisor to the Department for the Environment, told the Daily Telegraph that developing GM produce would bring enormous environmental benefits. He spoke out after a Government source reignited the whole debate by saying that the introduction of GM crops was not a question of "whether" but "how". Moves to grow GM crops have proved hugely controversial and in 2004, mindful of the public concern, the Government announced no GM crops would be grown in the "foreseeable" future. But now Prof Dalton claimed the public was now broadly supportive of GM crops. No such crops are currently grown in Britain but Defra - the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - has said that they could conceivably be produced from 2009 onwards.

Prof Dalton said: "We are being left behind. Most companies have gone to the United States or China. "Having developed the science in the UK we are losing out in the development and utilisation of it. Farmers in the US are benefiting significantly from this - their yields are dramatically improved." Prof Dalton, who was part of a committee that produced a report on the health effects of GM four years ago, said that public opinion had been affected by the use of the term "genetic modification".

But Lord Melchett, policy director of Soil Association, said: "Everyone knows it definitely won't happen. If you take genetically modified potatoes, Walkers crisps and McDonald's, who buy large volumes of potatoes, won't have anything to do with it. "Unless someone is prepared to come out of the GM closet it's not worth taking seriously. No actual GM crops have yielded more than normal crops."

Africa

Egypt. Members of Parliament and National Biosafety Committee visited Bt corn field trials. Egypt Biotechnology Information Centre organised field trips for agricultural extensions from 8 governates.

America

International Soybean Growers Alliance (ISGA) was established by USA, Brazil and Argentina. ISGA is producing 80% soybeans globally.

Brazil Biosafety Agency Approves Syngenta GMO Corn
Cattle Network, Sept. 20, 2007
http://www.cattlenetwork.com/content.asp?contentid=161976

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--Multinational seed maker, Syngenta Seeds, had its genetically modified sweet corn, Bt-11, approved by the Brazilian biosafety agency, CTNBio, Thursday.

Argentina approved corn with stacked transgenes – YieldGard + RoundupReady for planting in the next season.

Argentina To Track Bundled Transgenic Corn On EU Concerns
The Cattle Network, Sept. 24, 2007
http://www.cattlenetwork.com/content.asp?contentid=162716

BUENOS AIRES (Dow Jones)--Argentina will track corn grown from a recently approved transgenic bundled trait to avoid shipping that type of grain to the European Union, where the trait is not approved, according to a resolution published in the government's official bulletin Monday. "Providers or distributors can only sell corn seeds with the bundled genes to users who have made a sworn statement ... that the seeds are destined for domestic consumption," the resolution reads.

A bundled trait combines two distinct transgenic characteristics into one seed variety. At the end of August, Monsanto Company's (MON) bundled MG and RR2 transgenic corn seed variety was approved for planting in the 2007-08 season. The approval marks the first time bundled genetic traits have been approved in Argentina. In February, the government simplified the approval process for bundled traits, allowing applications for a transgenic crop combining two already approved genes without a full analysis of the new crop. The seeds are genetically modified to produce a substance toxic to corn borer parasites and for glyphosate resistance, widely used as a herbicide to control weeds.

Mexican President vetoes biofuel law
http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3892&language=1

The Mexican president has vetoed a biofuels law for focusing too much on maize and sugarcane sources.

Herbicide-Tolerant Sugar Beets gaining in MN
Seed Today, Sept. 18 2007
http://www.seedtoday.com/articles/Herbicide_Tolerant_Sugar_Beets_gaining_in_MN__-48502.html

MOORHEAD, MN - Sugar beet seed that has built-in resistance to the popular Roundup herbicide is expected to be in widespread use next year, as governments and sugar processors approve the biotech beets. In the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota, American Crystal Sugar Co. has decided to make the jump. The Worland, Wyo.-based Wyoming Sugar Co. planted about one-sixth of its 12,000 acres to Roundup Ready beets this year. Wahpeton, N.D.-based Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative has announced tentative plans to move to biotech seed.

Asia

Greenpeace activists in Thailand recently tried a publicity stunt to emphasize the imaginary threat of genetically engineered papaya. They were upset, as usual, about an suggestion by the Agriculture ministry to allow open field testing of GM crops.

So the Greenpeace scare mongers decided to take some GM papaya, eleven tons of it, and dump it in front of the Ministry blocking three of their gates. The protest ran into a problem. It didn't last long. A large crowd of onlookers rushed the pile of fruit and started packing it up and carting it off thrilled at the "free lunch" that Greenpeace had inadvertently provided them. Even officials from the Ministry grabbed some of the free food, apparently unconcerned about any supposed danger.

Greenpeace activists who tried to convince the crowd of the fictional dangers of the fruit were ignored as the happy recipients of the unintended largess took all they could carry.
http://freestudents.blogspot.com/2007/08/greenpeace-poisons-hungry-crowd-or-not.html

3-in-1" rice country's first GM rice
Minerva BC Newman, PIA Daily News (press release), Sept. 13, 2007
http://www.pia.gov.ph/?m=12&fi=p070913.htm&no=45

Cebu, Philippines -- The country's first genetically modified (GM) rice is gaining acceptance experts believe by 2011, it will become a hit to fight global malnutrition.

Scientists at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and Strive Foundation called this golden grain wonder as "3-in-1" rice because it is a genetically improved variety fortified with Vitamin A, iron and Zinc; identified by researchers as the vitamin and minerals mostly lacking in children and pregnant women around the world. Gerard Barry, coordinator of the Golden Rice Network said that about one billion pregnant women in Asia are iron deficient; another 2-billion people lack zinc and an estimated of about 250-million children are Vitamin A deficient. A study from the DA's Biotechnology Program Office revealed that more farmers are eager to try the new rice variety hoping to reduce their costs and losses that are brought about by pests.

Between 49 and 55 percent of the respondents, the study said are willing to pay more for the GM Vitamin A rice while 85% expressed their desire to know more about rice biotechnology through the media.

Study shows farmers, consumers go for Pinoy GM rice
Philippine Information Agency (press release), Sept. 12, 2007
http://www.pia.gov.ph/?m=12&fi=p070912.htm&no=79

Manila -- Most consumers are likely to accept the country's genetically modified (GM) rice, which is expected to be commercially available by 2011, a recent study conducted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and Strive Foundation showed.

Majority of those polled said they are willing to plant, buy and sell GM rice. Between 30 percent and 33 percent of the respondents were aware of rice biotechnology and genetic engineering, while 17 percent of all respondents heard about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Among the respondents, urban consumers had the highest level of awareness on GMO, GE and rice biotechnology compared to rural consumers and farmers. The same survey showed that 15 percent of respondents have heard about the potential risks and benefits of biotechnology.

Majority of respondents accept GMO rice in general (63 percent), GM pest resistance rice (64 percent) and bio fortified rice (69 percent). Only five percent of the respondents do not accept GM rice. Fifty-eight percent of the respondents said they were willing to plant, buy and sell while nine percent said they were not willing to do the same. Thirty-two percent of the respondents gave a conditional yes.

For Vitamin A and Iron-enriched GM rice varieties, the willingness to plant and buy was generally the same figure-- 66 percent indicated their willingness, eight percent were not willing and 26 percent expressed conditional willingness.

For Vitamin A, slightly above 20 percent of respondents are not willing to pay a higher price for GM rice. However, between 49 percent and 55 percent of the respondents said they were willing to pay up to 10 percent increase in the price of GM Vitamin A rice. Majority (85%) of the respondents expressed their desire to know more about rice biotechnology through radio, television and newspapers.

China

Chinese develop new high phytase corn
AllAboutFeed.net, Sept. 14, 2007
http://www.allaboutfeed.net/news/id10222104/chinese_develop_new_high_phytase_corn.html

Chinese scientists have developed a genetically modified (GM) corn that could help improve the nutritional value of livestock feed and reduce pollution. The research is carried out by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS). The corn has now entered pre-production field trials. The GM corn produces seeds containing high levels of the phytase enzyme.

India

India Exempts GM Processed Food Imports From Prior Approval
Agriculture Online, Sept. 21, 2007
http://www.agriculture.com

NEW DELHI--India's federal Ministry of Environment and Forests has exempted the use and imports of genetically modified processed foods from prior regulatory permission or approval, a government official said Friday.

A proposal has been submitted to the federal cabinet to set up a new authority to monitor the manufacturing, use, imports and exports of GM foodstuffs such as soy oil. But until a new authority is put in place, the import and use of GM processed foods won't be regulated.

The ministry will now only regulate the manufacturing and use of living modified organisms such as seeds, the official told Dow Jones Newswires. Because processed foods can't generate any further GM organisms, they will now come under the Food Safety and Standards Act. India is one of the largest importers of crude soyoil derived from GM soybeans.

Cornell helps develop pest-resistant eggplant, the first genetically modified food crop in South Asia
Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell University (press release), Sept. 19, 2007
http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Sept07/EggplantBt.kr.html

Cornell researchers and Sathguru Management Consultants of India have successfully led an international consortium through the first phase of developing a pest-resistant eggplant. By about 2009 this eggplant is expected to be the first genetically engineered food crop in South Asia. Farmers have grown genetically altered cotton in India since 2002.

The engineered eggplant expresses a natural insecticide derived from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), making it resistant to the fruit and shoot borer (FSB), a highly destructive pest. The tiny larvae account for up to 40 percent of eggplant crop losses each year in India, Bangladesh and the Philippines, and other areas of South and Southeast Asia.

News in Science

DuPont produced first marker-free soybeans by gene excision technique.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/m5725xk427115102/fulltext.pdf.

HARDY rice: less water, more food
PhysOrg.com, September 10, 2007
http://www.physorg.com/news108664129.html

An international team of scientists has produced a new type of rice that grows better and uses water more efficiently than other rice crops. Professor Andy Pereira at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) has been working with colleagues in India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Mexico and The Netherlands to identify, characterize and make use of a gene known as HARDY that improves key features of this important grain crop.
The research, which was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that HARDY contributes to more efficient water use in rice, a primary source of food for more than half of the world's population.

Dr. Andy Pereira, professor at VBI, stated: "This transdisciplinary research project involved the study of two plants. First we used a powerful gain-of-function screening technique to look at a large number of Arabidopsis plants that might have features favorable to water and drought resistance. We were able to identify the HARDY mutant due to its considerable reluctance to be pulled from the soil and its smaller, darker green leaves. Molecular and physiological characterization showed that the improved water usage efficiency was linked to the HARDY gene."

Dr. Aarati Karaba, who worked on the project as a graduate student jointly at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, and at Plant Research International, Wageningen, The Netherlands, commented: "The next step was to introduce the HARDY gene into rice and examine the features arising from this transformation. In rice, HARDY seems to work in a slightly different way than Arabidopsis but it still leads to improved water-use efficiency and higher biomass. Further studies showed that HARDY significantly enhances the capacity of rice to photosynthesize while at the same time reducing water loss from the crop."

Dr. Andy Pereira, added: "DNA microarray analysis allowed us to look at gene expression patterns regulated by HARDY. We specifically focused on genes that have gene ontology (GO) terms, namely genes that have been assigned by the scientific community to specific biological processes or functions. Using this approach we were able to identify clusters of known genes regulated by HARDY whose levels changed under conditions of plant water deprivation. We also saw distinct changes of gene clusters linked to the metabolism of key proteins and carbohydrates, which probably explains some of the feature differences we have detected in Arabidopsis and rice."

The scientists have been able to track down these improvements in water-use efficiency to a specific type of molecule known as AP2/ERF-like transcription factor.

Shital Dixit, Graduate student at Plant Research International, Wageningen, The Netherlands, commented: "At this point in time, we do not know the exact function of this transcription factor although we suspect that it impacts maturation processes linked to tissue desiccation.

Gene sequence of Fusarium discovered by scientist at Michigan State University and published in Science. In the genome of Fusarium graminearum unstable sequences of genes are responsible for toxins production and are ready to evolve.

Honeybee virus Israeli acute paralysis virus responsible for CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder). This is the result of the team of scientists from US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture research Service, Pennsylvania state University and Columbia University. The virus was detected by comparing the DNA sequences of colonies with and without CCD. www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/114649.

One Species' Entire Genome Discovered Inside Another's
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070830150118.htm

Scientists at the University of Rochester and the J. Craig Venter Institute have discovered a copy of the entire genome of a bacterial parasite residing inside the genome of its host species.

Wolbachia may be the most prolific parasite in the world--a "pandemic," as Werren calls it. The bacterium invades a member of a species, most often an insect, and eventually makes its way into the host's eggs or sperm. Once there, the Wolbachia is ensured passage to the next generation of its host, and any genetic exchanges between it and the host also are much more likely to be passed on. Since Wolbachia typically live within the reproductive organs of their hosts, Werren reasoned that gene exchanges between the two would frequently pass on to subsequent generations.

Based on this and an earlier discovery of a Wolbachia gene in a beetle by the Fukatsu team at the University of Tokyo, Japan, the researchers in Werren's lab and collaborators at J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) decided to systematically screen invertebrates. Julie Dunning-Hotopp at JCVI found evidence that some of the Wolbachia genes seemed to be fused to the genes of the fruitfly, Drosophila ananassae, as if they were part of the same genome.

Alleviating peanut allergy using genetic engineering: the silencing of the immunodominant allergen Ara h 2 leads to its significant reduction and a decrease in peanut allergenicity
Hortense W. Dodo, Koffi N. Konan, et. al., Plant Biotechnology Journal (doi:10.1111/j.1467-7652.2007.00292.x), published online (subscribers only) Sept. 3, 2007
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-7652.2007.00292.x

Summary

Peanut allergy is one of the most life-threatening food allergies and one of the serious challenges facing the peanut and food industries. Current proposed solutions focus primarily on ways to alter the immune system of patients allergic to peanut. However, with the advent of genetic engineering novel strategies can be proposed to solve the problem of peanut allergy from the source. The objectives of this study were to eliminate the immunodominant Ara h 2 protein from transgenic peanut using RNA interference (RNAi), and to evaluate the allergenicity of resulting transgenic peanut seeds. A 265-bp-long PCR product was generated from the coding region of Ara h 2 genomic DNA, and cloned as inverted repeats in pHANNIBAL, an RNAi-inducing plant transformation vector. The Ara h 2-specific RNAi transformation cassette was subcloned into a binary pART27 vector to construct plasmid pDK28. Transgenic peanuts were produced by infecting peanut hypocotyl explants with Agrobacterium tumefaciens EHA 105 harbouring the pDK28 construct. A total of 59 kanamycin-resistant peanut plants were regenerated with phenotype and growth rates comparable to wild type. PCR and Southern analyses revealed that 44% of plants stably integrated the transgene. Sandwich ELISA performed using Ara h 2-mAbs revealed a significant (P < 0.05) reduction in Ara h 2 content in several transgenic seeds. Western immunobloting performed with Ara h 2-mAb corroborated the results obtained with ELISA and showed absence of the Ara h 2 protein from crude extracts of several transgenic seeds of the T0 plants. The allergenicity of transgenic peanut seeds expressed as IgE binding capacity was evaluated by ELISA using sera of patients allergic to peanut. The data showed a significant decrease in the IgE binding capacity of selected transgenic seeds compared to wild type, hence, demonstrating the feasibility of alleviating peanut allergy using the RNAi technology.

Human Trials For Diabetes Cure
WESH2 (Florida), Sept. 13, 2007 http://www.wesh.com/news/13985634/detail.html?taf=orl

Dr. Henry Daniell and his team of 20 bio-medical researchers have worked for five years, experimenting with genetically modified lettuce and its affect on diabetes patients. Genetically modified lettuce containing a human gene for insulin is grown in a lab at University of Central Florida. Daniell is currently conducting clinical trials with a major pharmaceutical company.

Ryegrass resistance evolution uncovered
Grains Research and Development Corporation, Sept. 19, 2007
http://www.grdc.com.au/director/events/mediareleases/?item_id=1BF189DEC1AD690BE49600A00E092D6A

A GRDC funded study found widespread multiple herbicide resistant annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) in WA and concludes there are severe management and sustainability issues for graingrowers. In less than 25 years, ryegrass across the WA wheatbelt has evolved from being susceptible to being resistant to many herbicides. Randomly selected from 14 million hectares of WA wheatbelt, 500 cropping paddocks were visited at crop maturity, with ryegrass seed collected from 452 of these paddocks.

Mechelle Owen, a researcher at the GRDC supported WA Herbicide Resistance Initiative at the School of Biology, University of Western Australia said 68 per cent of the ryegrass populations were resistant to the Group A herbicide diclofop-methyl (Hoegrass) and 88 per cent to the Group B herbicide sulfometuron (Oust). On a more optimistic note, most ryegrass populations are still susceptible to the wheat belt's most popular knockdown herbicide, glyphosate, with less than one per cent showing resistance.

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