News in October 2004
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UN Media & public General issues Books & Papers Conferences & events Europe CHINA INDIA USA AFRICA AUSTRALIA SOUTH AMERICA OTHER REGIONS NEW RESULTS
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Draft of a summary report of the UN Millennium Project, an initiative carried out by an influential group of scientists, economists and public policy specialists convened by UN secretary general Kofi Annan:

" The world's rich nations need to provide US$7 billion a year for the next decade to support research and development (R&D) relevant to the needs of developing countries, if they are serious about meeting a pledge to end extreme poverty by 2015."

The draft summary can be downloaded from

The draft Report of the Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation of the Millennium Project commissioned by UN S-G Kofi Annan is now available for public comment at
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FAO - The United Nations "Food and Agriculture Organisation"

celebrates World Food Day every October 16 in commemoration of its founding in Quebec City in 1945.

"The world's biodiversity is under threat and this could severely compromise global food security, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf said in a message for World Food Day. Diouf added that "As a consequence, the food supply becomes more vulnerable, there are less opportunities for growth and innovation in agriculture, and less capacity for agriculture to adapt to environmental changes or to the appearance of new pests and diseases." Various sectors, therefore, need to implement measures to preserve the environment, and encourage better education and increased research and government support. For the full speech, visit

For more details of FAO’s program of activities, visit

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Oct. 29, 2004
Nobel Laureate Supports Biotech Capacity Building
Crop Biotech Update

The 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai

has called for biotechnology capacity building in Kenya and other developing countries to enable safe adoption of the technology. Maathai, who is also Kenya's assistant minister for environment and natural resources, won the coveted prize for her long standing crusade against environmental destruction in Africa.

During a live national television talk show in Kenya, the Nobel Peace Laureate said that agricultural biotechnology is here to stay and the best "we could do is to train the people involved to be able to minimize any inherent risk." She gave the example of Kenya where President Mwai Kibaki mid this year supported the use of biotechnology to boost food production in the country while commissioning a modern biosafety greenhouse for Bt maize trials being conducted by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).

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> Express your views on the human cloning controversy by clicking on the link below:

A Science Advisory Board study, "Scientists on Science: The Cloning Controversy"
Many groups including politicians, ethicists, and the media have hotly deliberated the issue of human therapeutic cloning--the process by which a somatic cell is fused with an enucleated oocyte. However, little effort has been made to assess and articulate the views of the global scientific community to public policy makers. To learn more about your views, The Science Advisory Board, a global community of over 22,000 scientists and allied health professionals, seeks your input on key issues such as the acceptability of various cloning applications, legal issues, influences and beliefs, necessary research regulations and policy implications.

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Media and Public

The 4th World Conference of Science Journalists in Montreal, Canada.

Science journalists have a "critical role" to play in informing communities and influencing policymakers in the developing world, Maureen O'Neil, president of Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), said at the opening of Visit the IRDC at


Print and television media practitioners from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal converged in Hyderabad, India to interact with scientists and representatives from government, the regulatory system, civil society, seed industry, and communication fields on “Covering Biotechnology: Issues and Opportunities for the News Media.”
Dr. Farid Walijar, ICRISAT plant pathologist and head of the biotechnology program, averred that scientists like him now understand how the media thinks, and now know how to deal with them.

Plans are underway to form a virtual network that will link media practitioners with key institutions like ICRISAT and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) to allow sharing of experiences and access to science-based information on crop biotechnology.

Organizers of the workshop were ICRISAT, ISAAA, Asian Media, and Information Center of India, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

EMBO - European Molecular Biology Organization

David Ropeik takes a look at “The Consequences of Fear,” (EMBO) paper that explores the effects of both fear and risk misperception, and correlates them with risk management strategies. Download the full article in PDF format at

In “Principles of Risk Perception Applied to Gene Technology” - a paper by Lennart Sjöberg in the latest copy of the EMBO journal correlates principles of risk perception with the public’s view of gene technology. Sjöberg acknowledges that the experts in scientific issues differ from the general public in their definition of risk, a fact that has often hampered communication between these groups. Download the full article in PDF format at

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General Issues


In a fitting tribute to the International Year of Rice, this year's World Food Prize will be awarded to rice breeders Yuan Longping of China and Monty Jones of Sierra Leone.

Professor Yuan, Director-General of the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center in Changsha, Hunan, China, developed the genetic tools for hybrid rice breeding in the early 1970's. Using the "three-line system" now being adapted to many other countries around the world, Dr. Yuan was able to produce the world’s first successful and widely grown high-yielding hybrid rice varieties, with yields 20% above conventional varieties. His efforts have since led to increased rice yields and grain output in China, providing food to feed an additional 60 million people each year.

Dr. Jones, former senior rice breeder at the West Africa Rice Development Center (WARDA), and presently Executive Secretary of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), in Accra, Ghana, successfully crossed the Asian O. sativa with the African O. glaberrima strains to produce drought and pest resistant, high yielding rice varieties, a feat which had not been achieved before in the history of rice breeding. His work has produced enhanced harvests for thousands and thousands of poor farmers, most of them women, with potential benefit for 20 million farmers in West Africa alone.

The awarding will take place formally on October 14, 2004 in the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines, as part of The World Food Prize International Symposium, “From Asia to Africa: Rice, Biofortification and Enhanced Nutrition.”

Jennifer Thomson and Pew Initiative on Biotech Among 2004 Technology Award Finalists.

From In the biotechnology category, Jennifer Thompson of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, was nominated for her research into genetically modified (GM) maize. See complete list at

Generation Fellowship - Deadline 30 November;

Fellowship opportunity for scientists from developing countries to conduct research outside their home countries for 3 mos.-1 yr. The are two fellowships per sub programme (Genetic Diversity of Global Genetic Resources, Comparative Genomics for Gene Discovery, Trait Capture for Crop Improvement, and Bioinformatics). For more information, see the guidelines and application on the GCP website:

Ministers at APEC Ministerial Meetings

have recognized the important contribution biotechnology can make in expanding agricultural production, and have affirmed the importance of transparent and science based approaches to the introduction and use of biotechnology products.  In order to address this issue, the Ministers have assigned to the APEC Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group (ATCWG) Sub-Group on Research, Development and Extension of Agricultural Biotechnology (RDEAB) the task of exchanging information on the new technology and capacity building, taking into account consumers' interest in food safety and environmental quality while facilitating the realization of the potential benefits of biotechnology.

October 22, 2004, SciDev.Net, Catherine Brahic
An international fund to help preserve agricultural biodiversity was launched yesterday (21 October). The Global Crop Diversity Trust, currently worth more that US$50 million, with an additional $60 million of raised funds in negotiation, will provide funding for national and international crop collections around the world.

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Books and papers

Genetically Modified Crops: Their Development, Uses, and Risks

Edited by G. H. Liang and  Daniel Z. Skinner, Hard Cover, ISBN: 1-56022-280-8, $69.95; Soft Cover, ISBN: 1-56022-281-6, $49.95. College faculty can request an examination copy at

Impacts on U.S. Agriculture of Biotechnology-Derived Crops Planted in 2003 – An Update of 11 Case Studies”, by Sujatha Sankula and Edward Blumenthal. The complete study is available at


A working paper that attempts to provide an accurate assessment of the current state of biotechnology statistics in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member and observer countries is now available. For more of the inventory of biotechnology statistics, visit

Genetically Modified Rice Adoption: Implications for Welfare and Poverty Alleviation.” is a title of a World Bank Policy Research Working Paper by Kym Anderson et al. The conclusion states that welfare gains stand to be more significant than farm productivity gains as a result of the potential health-enhancing attributes of golden rice. See the full report at

Nurture the Heart, Feed the World

by Leon Hesser; price $13.97; Hardcover, 132 pages, Synergy Books; (November 2004); ISBN: 0974466883.

ISB News Report - October 2004 Issue


* National Research Initiative: Animal Protection Funding Opportunity
* * Biosafety Considerations in the use of Genetically Modified
* * Organisms for Management of Animal Populations
* * The Development Of The D-amino Acid Selectable Marker System
* * T7 RNA Polymerase-Based Over expression of Foreign Genes in Plants
* * HOS9 Mediated Cold Acclimation Outside the CBF Regulon
* * Plant-made Pharmaceuticals: Progress and Protests
* * Biotechnology & Biodiversity Symposium and Discussion Educates
* * Conservation Biologists
* * The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology (PIFB) Posts Archived W

Biotechnology in Mauritius: Current Status and Constraints” by Daneshwar Puchooa of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Mauritius, in the Electronic Journal of Biotechnology published by the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso. Puchooa noted that the African country was engaged in various biotechnology applications that include micro propagation, crop breeding particularly in sugarcane, and diagnosis of diseases. The author noted that biotechnology has not yet produced the expected impact of the country’s economy due to several constraints. Despite these problems however, the government is in the process of setting up the Mauritius Agricultural Biotechnology Institute. Much of the issues, according to Puchooa, can be resolved with appropriate policies.

Environmental Risk Assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms, Volume 1: - Edited by A Hilbeck, Geobotanical Institute, Swiss Federal College of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland, and D Andow, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, USA; October 2004 304 pages HB; ISBN 0 85199 861 5; Price ?60.00 (US$110.00)

The Status of Plant Biotechnology in Africa by Jennifer A. Thomson of the University of Cape Town, South Africa recounts the progress made so far by South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya in the field of plant biotechnology. Read Thomson’s article at  For more articles, access the full issue at

White Paper entitled "Designing Genes" by Don Doering (World Resources Institute) The paper added that there must be policy that rewards sustainability in agriculture and GE and ecology-based alternatives to current agricultural methods. The paper is available on-line at: and To contact the author, email Don Doering at

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has released guiding principles on the use of genetically modified (GM) maize and wheat varieties. While the CIMMYT promotes plant breeding that utilizes non-transgenic approaches, it does not exclude GM technology, and recognizes its potential to contribute to CIMMYT’s principal goals.

"Mendel in the Kitchen A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Foods by Nina Fedoroff and Nancy Marie Brown; Joseph Henry Press, - as announced in September – has been reviewed by David Pimentel, Science, Vol 306, Issue 5697, 815, 29 October 2004

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Conferences and events

International Fresenius Conference "GM Crops and Foods" Cologne/Germany, 28-29 October 2004

Second FAO/WHO Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators, Bangkok, Thailand, 12-14 October 2004

ABIC 2004 in Cologne: Biosafety research in the public eye - Impact of transgenic plants on the ecosystem - 08/23/04
ABIC 2004 Cologne: Plants as Drug Factories - 08/09/04
Transgenic renewables at the ABIC 2004 - 07/19/04
Will Green Gene Technology help to feed the world? - 05/28/04
Commissioner Philippe Busquin sets Europe on the technology course - 04/23/04
Europe recognises the chances of Green Gene Technology - 02/11/04
The End of the moratorium on genetically modified food turns the ABIC 2004 conference into Europe’s most important date for AgBiotech in 2004 - 07/31/03

The National Academies' Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources and Board on Life Sciences will host a workshop on October 25-26, 2004 in Washington, DC. This workshop is unlike all others on the topic of biotechnology because it will provide prognostic views about what biological technologies should and should not do in the future, concentrate on sustainable and socially acceptable solutions to problems, and examine the challenging and contentious issues of transgenics in plant production systems.

Gordon Research Conference - Agricultural Science

- February 13-18, 2005; Ventura, CA
Chairs: Ann M Hirsch & Keith D Wing; Vice Chairs: Ken Feldmann & David A Somers
* Crop Efficiency and Yield Enhancement through Conventional Breeding and Molecular-Assisted Breeding
* * Molecular approaches to improve yield sustainability: Challenges and opportunities - Roundtable and
* * Improving Plants for Nutrition, Sustainable Ag, and Pest Control
* * Agromedicine: Plants and Human Health

The fifth International Plant Tissue Culture and Biotechnology Conference will be held at the Department of Botany, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh on December 4 to 6, 2004. It is organized by the Bangladesh Association for Plant Tissue Culture and Biotechnology and is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Science, Information and Community Technology, and University of Dhaka.

ETAE 2004 International Conference, to be held on the 14th to 17th of December at the Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. Emerging technologies in agricultural and food engineering is the focal theme.

Technical sessions will deal with Power and Machinery Systems, Natural Resources Engineering and Management, Food and Bioprocess Engineering, Agro Environmental Engineering, and Ergonomics Safety and Health

For more details visit or e-mail the organizing secretary at

Download the proceedings of the Two-day public conference in Mexico City Gene Flow: What Does It Mean for Biodiversity and Centers of Origin? at

The conference in September 2003 was organised by The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology (PIFB) and the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science (FUMEC). The conference drew over 200 participants, including scientists, government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry representatives, and reporters.

International Conference on Cassava

This is a preliminary information on the upcoming meeting on cassava plant breeding
Location: Brasilia or Africa
Tentative date: 1st-5th December, 2006
For more details kindly contact with
Prof. Nagib Nassar
Dr Rodomiro Ortiz


October 27, 28, 29. For three days, Marseille becomes Europe's biotech capital. Please click here for more information.

The RDEAB Workshop on Technical Cooperation, Capacity Building, Risk Management and Emerging Issues in Agriculture Biotechnology will be held on November 8 - 17, 2004 in Seoul and Suwon, Korea.

The sponsorship is available for up to two persons (active participants) from the following travel-eligible member economies: Brunei Darussalam, Chile, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Please contact (no later than October 9) Dr. Wan Soon Kim, International Technical Cooperation Center, RDA by e-mail: <<> or Fax (+82-31-293-9359) for application form and registration details.

The Biosafety Clearing-House will be hosting its first online conference on "Biosafety Considerations in the use of Genetically Modified Organisms for Management of Animal Populations" from 18 October to 15 November 2004. To subscribe, visit < < > or send an email to with the subject line blank and the message "Subscribe GMOAM FirstName LastName" in the message body.

Breeding for Success: Diversity in Action is the theme of the next Australasian Plant Breeding Conference, to be held on the 18th to 21st of April 2006 at the Christchurch Convention Center in Christchurch, New Zealand. For more details, visit, or email Helen Shrewsbury, Conference Secretariat, at

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Fundamental Genomics Research  -  New website available

This website aims to take a proactive role by informing citizens and European scientists about most recent EU research activities in the field of Fundamental Genomics, with particular emphasis on collaborative fundamental research into genomics.


Publications (Conference proceedings):
New Vision on European Food and Agricultural Research
(summary of EURAGRI conference, Athens, 8-9 May 2003)

The European Union (EU) has finally approved the NK603 Maize line for food use, after safety assessments that took into account its potential environmental impact; compositional, safety, and agronomic characteristics; potential allergenicity; and nutritional content. In the end, a panel convened by the Union found that NK603 “is as safe as conventional maize and…its placing on the market – for import for processing and food or feed use—is unlikely to have an adverse effect on human or animal health, or in this context, on the environment.” Access the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) release on NK 603 maize at For more information, contact Adeline Farrelly at and Simon Barber at


EU Science and Technology Foresight in FP7 (closing date: 15/11/2004)
The Commission would welcome views and comments from all regarding EU Science and Technology Foresight in FP7. Contributions would be particularly welcome from the foresight practitioners, policy-makers at national and regional level, research organisations, universities, industry, international organisations and associations.

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EU Countries


In Spain GM corn varieties have been grown alongside conventional crops for the last seven years. This year, some 60,000 hectares of Bt maize are being cultivated commercially around the country, representing around 12 per cent of Spain's total maize harvest.

There have been no cases where coexistence measures have failed and resulted in economic loss for Spanish farmers. 'In Spain, co-existence has operated smoothly for seven years, and that's without formal rules. Industry, in the absence of such rules, has issued guidelines and advice on how farmers can manage co-existence issues,'said Miguel Leon, Monsanto and ABE (Agricultural Biotechnology in Europe) representative.

Journalists were invited to visit the Bujaraloz Farmer Cooperative, just outside Zaragoza in the Aragon region of Spain. Eduardo Escanillas, president of the cooperative, explained that both GM and conventional corn are grown in Bujaraloz, with around 13 per cent of its total area given over to genetically modified Bt maize. 'I firmly believe the future is in GM: it produces better crop yields, and in a nutshell, farmers make more money,' he said.

Germany - October 6, 2004; In Pharma,
BASF has threatened to relocate research into 'green genetic engineering' to other countries if German law continues to restrict R&D into plant biotechnology, with applications as diverse as crop biomanufacturing of proteins and GM foods.

The German chemicals group said it hopes that an agreement can be reached with the Federal Government and the science and economics communities about the legal conditions of this genetic manipulation of crops.

(Agra Europe)

The bill to reform German biotechnology law, which is currently going through the committee stage, has rung alarm bells with the Union of German Science Academies (UDAW), Dow Jones reports.

The proposed Biotechnology Law, designed to implement the EU's guidelines on genetic modification (GM), will mean "practically the end for research and development in the field of agricultural biotechnology," and will strike at the heart of the seed industry that is built upon it, claimed UDAW representatives at last week's presentation in Berlin of a memorandum on the safety of GM food.

New report by the Union of the German Academies of Science and Humanities. Download the article at

The report, released in Cologne, Germany, during the AgBiotech International Conference (ABIC) boldly declares that "GM products offer the advantage that they have been exceptionally thoroughly tested with respect to health risks". Genetically Modified food many be healthier than conventional food is the message presented.

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'Bt cotton benefits, costs and impacts in China' by Jikun Huang, Carl E. Pray and Scott Rozelle, Working Paper 202, Institute of Development Studies, September 2003
'Bt Cotton Benefits, Costs, and Impacts in China' by Jikun Huang, Carl E. Pray and Scott Rozelle, AgBioForum, 5(4): 153-166

Key findings are that:

* Bt cotton has positive crop yield impacts, shifting the crop yield frontier by nearly ten percent. * It reduces yield loss and at the same time reduces pesticide use by 35.7 kg per hectare.
* * The rapid commercialisation of GM crops in China - compared to other developing countries - has been due in part to the lead role of China's public sector biotechnology research programme.
* * The absence of effective intellectual property rights on novel genes or new plant varieties has combined with competition between local government firms and foreign firms providing Bt cotton varieties to keep down prices of cotton seed and to make GM technology affordable.
* * Authorities have been providing conflicting Bt messages - while commercialised government and private seed companies have encouraged farmers to buy Bt cotton seed, plant protection stations and state-owned pesticide companies have tried to discourage uptake in order to sell more pesticides.
the authors suggest that wherever it is introduced it is incumbent on policy-makers to: discourage unnecessary pesticide use through information, extension related training, pesticide price and marketing policies
* * commission research to monitor bollworm resistance to Bt cotton over time and, if necessary, implement measures to reduce the risk that widespread use of Bt will lead to the development of pest resistance
* * strengthen local biotechnology research capacity - the fact that Bt cotton was developed in China by government researchers in tandem with international companies made it more politically palatable and fostered the emergence of a local pro Bt lobby.

Hossain, F., Pray, C., Lu, Y., Huang, J., Fan, C., Hu, R. 2004. Int J Occup Environ Health. 10: 296-303.
Genetically Modified Cotton and Farmers' Health in China

This study provides the first evidence of a direct link between the adoption of a genetically modified (GM) crop and improvements in human health. Estimation of the impact of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton adoption on pesticide use from data from a survey of cotton farmers in northern China, 1999-2001, showed that Bt cotton adoption reduced pesticide use. Download the full article at

Oct 18, 2004, Nao Nakanishi, Reuters News,
China, the world's top producer and consumer of rice, could release its genetically modified rice as early as next year, as pressure mounts to boost domestic production and spur farmer income. Scientists in China believe Beijing is likely to give the green light for commercialisation of insect and disease-resistant GMO rice as soon as next year after more than six years of trials.

Pressure to launch GMO rice comes at a time when Beijing faces a tough task in raising the country's grain output and in narrowing the income gap between farmers and urban citizens. After 2003 grain production slid to 435 million tonnes from 457 million tonnes the previous year and a record 512 million in 1998, Beijing is encouraging farmers to grow more grain, such as rice or wheat.

Dayuan Xue, professor at the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences, is concerned about GMO rice after studying the environmental impact of BT cotton in China. He fears GMO rice pollen could contaminate the other 75,000 conventional rice varieties in China, the birthplace of rice. "We are concerned about the commercialisation," he said. "The gene-flow is a problem and it is dangerous."

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Oct. 5, 2004Business Line (The Hindu),
International symposium, "Rice from Green Revolution to Gene Revolution"
Hyderabad -- The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is moving forward in functional genomics and has already formulated a Rs 32-crore project that would initially focus on the production of transgenic rice variety, which would be resistant to yellow stem borer, according to ICAR Director-General, Dr Mangala Rai.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an, on Monday, Dr Rai said the project would subsequently focus on other aspects of transgenic rice like salinity, development of drought-resistant varieties, improvement of yield and quality, reduction of crop duration and efficient use of inputs like water and fertilisers.

Lola Nayar (IANS), Hindustan Times (India), August 14,00040006.htm

Fears of environmental damage and food safety have held up India's plans to develop varieties of genetically modified (GM) nutrition enriched rice that could solve some of India's malnutrition problems.

"Products like salinity- and drought-tolerant rice varieties as well as the vitamin-A enriched Golden Rice have been developed but we are not getting the green signal to go ahead with field-testing," said Swapan K Datta of the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). IRRI is also awaiting clearance for a blight resistant variety of Bt rice for which multi-location field-testing has already been successfully carried out in India, China and the Philippines. "So far only China has agreed to consider commercial cultivation of the stem borer-resistant Bt rice. It may start commercial cultivation of Bt rice next year," the scientist said.

As India looks to double its food grain production to 400 million tonnes by 2020, research is under way to develop transgenic crops by state-owned organisations as well as globally funded organisations like IRRI and the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). ICRISAT has been responsible for releasing 150 varieties of quality crops in India, according to William D Dar, director general of the Andhra Pradesh centre.

Uttara Choudhury Agence France Presse, October 17, 2004
Asian giants India and China are accelerating investment in biotechnology research to fight the odds in agriculture and feed their teeming millions, say scientists and officials.

Scientists at a workshop in one of Indias biggest gene research centres in Patencheru in southern Andhra Pradesh state said China and India accounted for more than half the developing world's expenditure on plant biotechnology. "

There are around 50 public research units in India and they make investments of 15 million dollars per year while private spending in India on agri-biotech research amounts to over 10 million dollars annually," said Margarita Escaler of the US-based International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications.
"In China, funding for agri-biotech research comes entirely from the government and China is only second now to the United States in research investment. China invested 112 million dollars in biotechnology research in 1999 -- that figure will grow by 400 percent in 2005," she forecast.

At the moment, India has not approved any genetically modified food for commercialisation or consumption. But Indian state-run laboratories are pumping millions of dollars into developing 22 different food items ranging from protein-rich potatoes, rice to groundnut.


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Chad Holiday, Dupont Chairman and CEO, during his talk on “Biotechnology: Progress and Promis” during BioJapan 2004 in Tokyo, Japan.

It took 30 years for hybrids to be fully adopted in the U.S. and more than 75 years for hybridization to be accepted globally, though still at only 60 percent. “In contrast, after only eight years, plant biotech adoption now stands at 80 percent for soybeans in the U.S. and 55 percent worldwide. Cotton adoption in the U.S. is 73 percent and 21 percent worldwide. Corn is 40 percent of the U.S. market and 11 percent worldwide. This is, by far, the most rapid acceptance of any technology in agricultural history,” Holiday explained.

Oct 16, 2004, Jerry Perkins, Des Moines Register,
'The Golden Rice Humanitarian Board will make the crop available to developing nations; biotech opponents have doubts.'

Syngenta, the giant agribusiness based in Switzerland, will donate the seed and genetic lines of its vitamin A-enhanced "Golden Rice" to a humanitarian agency that will make the genetically modified crop available to developing countries.

Syngenta made the announcement Friday during World Food Prize activities in Des Moines. Syngenta's donation to the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board was hailed by Ingo Potrykus , one of the developers of Golden Rice and co-chairman of the humanitarian organization.

Oct. 20, 2004, AgProfessional,
Compared with conventional crops, the study suggested that the six biotech crops -- canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soybean and squash -- increased grower incomes by an additional $1.9 billion, boosted crop yields by 5.3 billion pounds and reduced pesticide use by 46.4 million pounds in 2003.


Commercial varieties of Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa are expected to be available to California forage producers next year. This is according to a team of University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisors, who have been evaluating the genetically modified (GM) crop for four years. For the full story, visit

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Oct 15, 2004, Amy Lorentzen Associated Press, DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) –
Dr. Norman Borlaug, known as the "father of the Green Revolution," issued an impassioned plea Thursday for international cooperation to boost crop production in Africa, saying the payoff would be a catalyst for peace.

"You can't build peace on human empty stomachs and human misery," said 90-year-old Borlaug, who spoke to hundreds of scientists and diplomats attending the World Food Prize International Symposium in downtown Des Moines.


Uganda’s State Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Kibirige Sebunnya, has now paved the way for a new GM policy through the publication of Uganda’s first Biosafety Policy Bill. The enactment of the Bill into law is likely to pave way for new GM projects, including Bt cotton, disease-tolerant banana, improved virus-tolerant potatoes, and insect-tolerant sorghum varieties.

National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) director-general George Otim-Nape Otim-Nape clarified that, “Uganda will continue to build capacity to understand, assess, evaluate, and manage potential risks and benefits of biotechnology".

Read the full article at


The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) was few years ago instrumental in the development and subsequent adoption of the Nigerian Biosafety Guidelines, and the establishment of a national policy on biotechnology. Other stakeholders supporting the public awareness drive of biotechnology in Nigeria include the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) and several national universities with specific study programs in biotechnology.


The Parliament of Zimbabwe recently approved the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Zimbabwe has already accepted GM food, but has restricted the country’s use to tightly controlled shipment, milling, and distribution. With the protocol in place, consumers and business people alike will be ensured an adequate level of protection in transferring, handling, and use of GM products. Read the full story at


October 1, 2004, CIMMYT Newsletter,

Debunking the Myths of GM Crops for Africa: The Case of Bt Maize in Kenya." The paper by Hugo De Groote, Stephen Mugo, and David Bergvinson from CIMMYT, along with Ben Odhiambo of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, reported on the study, which argues for a discussion based on scientific evidence and evaluation of potential benefits against concerns, and finds that most objections are not backed by evidence.

Farmers in Kenya lose 400,000 tons, or about 14%, of their maize to stem borers. That is roughly the amount the country imports each year. De Groote says Bt maize alone will not solve this problem, but could help reduce losses and increase food security.


Egypt has formulated a strategy to link development of scientific research and higher education. Using a plan drawn up by the Supreme Council of Universities (SCU), the country aims to strengthen research capacity, improve the quality of scientific research, and foster innovation and promote public understanding of science. These include plans to create science parks and develop policies for protection of intellectual property rights, as well as to set up and run a scientific research development fund. Visit the SCU at

14 October 2004, SciDev.Net, By Wagdy Sawahel,
Scientists in Egypt have produced drought-tolerant wheat by transferring a gene from barley into a local wheat variety. The researchers, at Cairo's Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute (AGERI), say their technique reduces the number of irrigations needed from eight to one, and that the wheat could be cultivated with rainfall alone in some desert areas. The research findings, which have been accepted for publication in the journal Physiologia Plantarum, were presented last month at a symposium on applied biotechnology in Egypt organised by AGERI and the Egyptian Centre for Biotechnology Information.

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Center for the Application for Molecular Biology to International Agriculture (CAMBIA), a non-profit research institute based in Canberra, Australia. Richard Jefferson, the initiative's leader and chairman says BIOS (The Biological Innovation for Open Society) could spur an "open source movement" in biotechnology, analogous to the one that has developed in the computer software industry. BIOS initiative is being established with a US$1-million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to make research tools more readily available to biologists who could not otherwise afford them. BIOS seeks to do so by merging intellectual property analysis, innovation policy reform, and cooperative technology development activities, to foster democratic innovation in applications of biological technologies to sustainable development.

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New York Times, October 13, 2004, ByLarry Rohter

Planting-time soy quandary for Brazil
BRASÍLIA -- With the spring planting season just beginning in the Southern Hemisphere, Brazil, the world's leading exporter of soybeans, is, according to this story, in a quandary. The government has been unable to secure congressional approval for the planting of genetically modified seed stock, but farmers are ignoring the ban and sowing the seeds, many obtained illegally, anyway.

The story says that the Brazilian Senate approved a Biotechnology Law last week that covers areas from genetically modified organisms to stem-cell research, but the modified legislation is still subject to approval by the lower house of Congress, where it is likely to face delays and additional debate. As a result, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva may be forced to issue a temporary decree that would apply only to this year's harvest, as he also had to do in 2003.

Gazeta Mercantil, Fortaleza,October 8, 2004

The public agricultural research company, Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuaria (Embrapa), expects to place on the market, within five years, the first genuinely Brazilian strain of transgenic cotton.

Bloomberg ,October 15, 2004,

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed an executive order to allow planting and trade of genetically modified soy in the 2004-2005 harvest, enabling farmers to buy seeds from companies such as Monsanto Co. The order, which is published in the official gazette today, allows farmers to plant the transgenic soybeans until Dec. 31 and to sell them until Jan. 31, 2006. The trade deadline can be delayed for another 60 days, the decree said.


The government of Paraguay recently approved planting and marketing of four Monsanto Roundup Ready soybean varieties. A framework agreement has likewise been approved, which provides for a royalty collection system designed to encourage continued innovation in agriculture. With information from American City Business Journals Inc, and Seedquest. Read the full article at

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GMO Resolution Passed During the 2004 Democratic State Convention of the State of Hawaii Democratic Party (Hawai'i); Forwarded by Drew Kershen <> REGULATION of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)


BANGKOK, Oct. 13 (Xinhuanet)
WHO Urges Thailand to Study Further on GMOs China View.

The World Health Organization (WHO)has urged Thailand to make further research on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in order to be fully prepared to cope with possible risks posed by transgenetic food.

"At this point, we have no evidence to say that it is dangerous to consume food products that contain GMOs, so we have to say that we don't know the adverse health effects of GM food," Bangkok Post newspaper on Wednesday quoted WHO Assistant Director-General Kertstin Leitner as saying at a food safety conference here.
Leitner suggested more study on the issue be conducted to make sure that should there be a negative health effect, appropriate action could be taken. With more than 500 food safety regulators and scientists from 104 countries participating, the second World Food Safety Conference kicked off in Bangkok on Tuesday. The aim of the conference is to enhance food safety controls in developing countries and to curb food-related illness by setting up effective systems.


The Malaysian government has allotted RM1.5 billion for agriculture projects to fast track agri-research activities as the country shifts its growth strategy from one based on exports to one driven by domestic-led growth in the face of global competition. Visit the Malaysian Biotechnology Information website for more biotechnology news at


Dr. Jose Yorobe of the College of Economics and Management, University of the Philippines Los Ba?os (CEM-UPLB) assessed the performance of Bt corn in Philippine fields a year after its commercial approval. For corn harvests in the last year, Dr. Yorobe found, farmers earned an additional PhP 10,132 (about $US 170) per hectare of Bt corn planted (/ha) and saved PhP 168/ha (about $US 3) on pesticide use.

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The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research reports that Dutch researcher Marco Kruijt has discovered two genes, Cf-4 and Cf-9, which provide resistance against the fungus Cladosporium fulvum in several wild tomato species. Cladosporium fulvum causes a fungal disease in tomato plants. Email Marco Kruijt at for more information regarding his research.

Futures of artificial life
Researchers involved in synthetic biology need to take steps to engage more with the public. Nature Contents: 07 October 2004 Volume 431 No. 7009, 613

Recent work on Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) endotoxins has revealed that modifications in a few key protein domains may increase toxin activity, Nachimuthu Saraswathy and Polumetla Ananda Kumar report in the current issue of the Electronic Journal of Biotechnology.

Saraswathy and Kumar, both of the National Research Centre for Plant Biotechnology in New Delhi, describe the protein engineering studies conducted on different endotoxins, which led to an understanding of their molecular mode of action, as well as the construction of novel toxins with enhanced insecticidal activity and specificity. Proteins were mutated at each domain and tested for binding capacity and toxicity. Mutations at Domain I resulted in low or no toxicity on tested insects, while mutations at Domains II and III resulted in altered toxin specificity and receptor binding.

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Jim Paul, Washington Post,  September 30, 2004
Low allergen soy. Hymowitz and fellow University of Illinois researcher Leina Mary Joseph found a seed that lacks the protein, known as P34, responsible for most allergic reactions. It took them about eight months of crushing seeds from 15,000 varieties in the U.S. Agriculture Department's soybean germplasm collection at the university.   "This thing is so rare that you need the huge collection to find the needle in a haystack," Hymowitz said.

Scientists already had used genetic engineering to silence the gene that creates P34 in most soybeans. But it likely will be much easier to market soybeans that naturally lack the protein, said Eliot Herman, the USDA researcher who developed the biotech bean two years ago.

October 13, 2004, Ronald Bailey, Reason Online,
Transgenics Gone Wild! Why it's OK for Transgenic Plants and Animals to Spread

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His new book, Liberation Biology: A Moral and Scientific Defence of the Biotech Revolution will be published in early 2005.

Some topics:

Norman Ellstrand, a genetics professor at the University of California at Riverside notes that "there is now substantial evidence that at least 44 cultivated plants mate with one or more wild relatives somewhere in the world...crop-to-wild gene flow is not uncommon, and on occasion, it has caused problems. Would we expect transgenic plants to behave any differently? The answer is 'no.'"

Professor of plant physiology Jodie Holt, also from Riverside, observes, "As use of herbicides has increased, increased cases of selection for resistance in weeds have been documented. Since the first reported case of weed resistance in 1970, 258 weed species have evolved resistance to one or more of 18 herbicide classes." Despite the fact that for nearly a decade millions of acres have been sown with biotech crops, there have been precious few outbreaks of the much-dreaded "superweeds" caused by crossbreeding between biotech crops and wild plants.

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