Books & Articles
Comprehensive Biotechnology, 2nd edition. Edition No. 2
The second edition of Comprehensive Biotechnology continues the tradition of the first inclusive work on this dynamic field by presenting up-to-date and essential entries on the principles and practice of biotechnology. The integration of the latest relevant science and industry practice with fundamental biotechnology concepts is presented with entries from internationally recognized world-leaders in their given fields. With two volumes covering basic fundamentals, and four volumes of applications, from environmental biotechnology and safety to medical biotechnology and healthcare, this work serves the needs of newcomers as well as established experts combining the latest relevant science and industry practice in a manageable format.
Plant food supplements in the spotlight
Natural food does not always mean safe food. EU-funded researchers have discovered that the compounds found in some botanicals and botanical preparations, such as plant food supplements, may be detrimental to one's health. Presented in the journal Food and Nutrition Sciences, the study was funded in part by the PLANTLIBRA.
Bioeconomy in Action - Boosting bioeconomical growth in Europe in a smart and sustainable way
26-28 March 2012, Copenhagen
Bioeconomy in Action will be the major event to discuss the Commission strategy “A Bioeconomy for Europe” which was adopted in February 2012. The aim of the bioeconomy strategy is to create a more favourable environment and coherent policy framework for developing the bioeconomy in Europe.
The conference has been organised under the aegis of the Danish Presidency of the EU.For more info, detailed programme and to register: http://bioeconomy.dk/
ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY & BIOTECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE 2012
10 - 12 April 2012, Facoltŕ di Ingegneria - via Terracini 28, Bologna - Italy
Research infrastructures for cultural heritage and global change
Brussels, 14 March 2012
This workshop is organized by the European Commission and hosted by KIK-IRPA, Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, in Brussels.
Mar 14 - Mar 15, 2012
5th International Congress on Bio-based Plastics and Composites more...
ICRI 2012 - Global research infrastructures and the Grand Challenges
Copenhagen, 21-23 March 2012
The International Conference on Research Infrastructures, ICRI 2012, will take place under the auspices of the Danish Presidency of the European Union, in cooperation with (and with the support of) the European Commission. This will be the Seventh Conference on Research Infrastructures. The Conference will address how global research infrastructures can tackle Athe so-called Grand Challenges.
Programme and practical information on the ICRI 2012 website
World Gene Therapy Congress 2012
21 - 23 May 2012, London, UK
The senior director-level conference that tackles all the key scientific and technical issues facing the gene therapy industry and where decision-makers from the complete Gene Therapy value chain meet to learn and plan for the future.
5th International Congress on Bio-based Plastics and Composites
March 14-15 2012, Cologne (GER)
The year 2011 has experienced acceleration regarding the raw material shift in the chemical and plastics industry. Clear political requirements towards a bio-based economy have become a world-wide phenomenon which includes bio-based plastics and composites along with bio-based additives and green chemistry. In over 20 lectures and an exhibition we will introduce the latest developments of main players from Italy and Scandinavia as well as Germany, North America and Asia. The theme covers the whole area of bio-materials, additives and industrial biotechnology. Additionally agents from assemblies along with political representatives will present the new proposed political frameworks.
Contact: Dominik Vogt, nova-Institut GmbH, firstname.lastname@example.org
Patenting Antibodies Seminar
March 20, London (UK)
March 26-28, Copenhagen (DK)
Europe provides a contrasting perspective to the global drug market that is not fully understood by colleagues around the world. The EuroMeeting provides a once-a-year opportunity to explain it all, for example the EU healthcare regulation, the pharmaceuticals market and drug development activities. Speakers from the EMA, the European Commission, the FDA and other regulatory agencies from European Countries and other regions of the world are invited.
Human Genome Meeting – Genetics and Genomics in Personalised Medicine
March 11-14, Sydney (AUS)
The genetics community of Australia, and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, have developed an exciting programme that spans human migration to human disease, from common to Mendelian disorders, from the impact of a single gene to the network control of physiologic conditions, and from technology to ethics. Special programmes on the makings of a bioeconomy, and on the genomics of indigenous populations will be included.
Environmental Microbiology & Biotechnology Conference 2012
Apt. 10-12, Bologna (I)
Contact: European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB), www.efb-central.org
International Conference of Genomics
May 24-26, Copenhagen (DK)
9th European Workshop Biotechnology of Microalgae
5th Familial Cancer Conference - 7-8 June 2012, CNIO Auditorium - Madrid, Spain
• To update recent advances in familial cancer
6th International Congress on Biocatalysis
Sep 02-06, Hamburg (D)
Conference series, which focuses on the rapidly evolving fields of biocatalysis and industrial biotechnology. Topics: Enzyme discovery, recombinant production, synthetic biology and design; Structure-function analysis and modelling; Enzymatic and whole cell biotransformations; Bioprocess engineering and downstream processing; Biorefinery and sustainable development of industrial processes.
Europe - EU
Denmark suggest move in GMO issue in Europe
Denmark took the Presidency in the EU and came with a proposal of new procedure for national banning of GMO. It should be discussed in March. Country proposing the planting of GM crops should reach an agreement with certain other MS the will not sell the GM seed there. Germany is afraid this will disturb common market. UK is against such fragmentation of the centralised GM registration. France and Spain are also oposing.
Europe and India sign Joint Declaration on Research and Innovation Cooperation
The European Commission and the Indian Government have today signed a Joint Declaration on Research and Innovation Cooperation. The Declaration provides an opportunity to step up relations between Europe and India towards an "Indo-European Research and Innovation Partnership". The Declaration was signed at the EU-India Summit in New Delhi by the Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht and by Mr. Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Science & Technology.
Nutrition labelling: not as effective as you might think
Consumers use nutrition labels to make informed decisions about eating the 'right' foods for better health. But new research from Europe shows how there are limitations on how these labels can be used in real-life situations. The results are an outcome of the FLABEL ('Food labelling to advance better education for life ') project, which has clinched almost EUR 2.9 million in funding under the 'Food, agriculture and fisheries, and biotechnology' (European Knowledge Based Bio-Economy or KBBE) Theme of the EU's FP7.
The FLABEL team found that the presence of nutrition information on food labels in Europe is very high. More than 37 000 products across 5 product categories in all EU Member States, plus Turkey, were evaluated in this study. Overall, 85% of food products had nutrition information on the back of the pack, and 48% had nutrition information on the front of the pack. The product categories were biscuits, breakfast cereals, chilled pre-packed ready meals, carbonated soft drinks and yogurts.
The FLABEL consortium consists of experts from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Germany finds: Genetically modified Bt maize is safe
Scientists presented a clear conclusion during International Green Week in Berlin: genetically modified Bt maize is as safe as conventional maize. In fact, they say it is better for protecting species diversity in fields and that cultivation of Bt maize could help prevent soil erosion and conserve soil fertility. This is one of the results of research projects on the environmental impacts of GM plants that have been funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) over the past 25 years.
Stefan Rauschen from RWTH Aachen University and Joachim Schiemann, head of the Institute for Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology at the Julius Kühn-Institut, emphasized the fact that none of the GM plants investigated so far have been found to have harmful effects on the environment. Stefan Rauschen from RWTH Aachen University and Joachim Schiemann, head of the Institute for Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology at the Julius Kühn-Institut, emphasized the fact that none of the GM plants investigated so far have been found to have harmful effects on the environment.
In the opinion of Petra Steiner-Hoffmann, Head of Section at the BMBF the research findings needed to play a greater role in the public debate about plant biotechnology. For its part, the BMBF intends to continue to promote plant biotechnology, particularly in view of the proven environmental safety of GM plants, and is advocating freedom of research and an openness towards new technologies: “We must not rule out certain technologies from the outset. We need an intelligent mix of new technologies and these include plant biotechnology”.
The panel members expressed their concern that the current anti-GMO climate in Germany could lead to a further brain drain of top researchers. “Plant biotechnology was invented in Germany in the 1980s,” says Joachim Schiemann, who claims many scientists are now leaving this field of research, partly because of the risk of crop vandalism. According to Stefan Rauschen, it is therefore understandable that only a small number of the new generation of scientists are interested in plant biotechnology, but it means that Germany is starting to fall behind its international competitors in this field of research.
GM plants in animal feed: No long-term consequences
Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences concludes.
The use of GM plants in food and feed is not likely to cause adverse long-term effects, according to the results of a new meta-study. The authors come to the conclusion that 90-day feeding trials are generally sufficient to ensure that a GM plant is safe. Longer and more elaborate studies would not normally provide any additional findings.
A team of scientists led by Agnes Ricroch of AgroParisTech, the Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences, has now conducted a literature review to investigate whether feeding trials that lasted longer than 90 days or were conducted across several generations revealed effects that would not have been discovered in standard 90-day studies. They reviewed 24 of these long-term and multi-generational studies that have been reported in the scientific literature since 1996. Of these, 22 were conducted by public research facilities. One multi-generational study with mice that was conducted at the University of Vienna in 2008 and caused a public sensation was not included because it was never published in a scientific peer-reviewed journal.
In addition, the scientists evaluated 90-day standard feeding studies of GM plants for which there are also long-term or multi-generational studies available.
Most of the 24 feeding trials selected involved Bt maize and herbicide-tolerant soya beans, although a few studies dealt with GM potatoes, triticale and rice. GM soya was fed primarily to mice and rats, while Bt maize tended to be fed to farm animals like cows, pigs and hens. A wide range of investigations was conducted on the trial animals in the different studies. They included measuring parameters like growth, food intake and organ weight, but also biochemical analyses of body fluids such as milk and blood, and histological examinations of various organs.
The authors write that the results of the studies analysed do not suggest any health hazards connected with the consumption of GM plants. In a few cases where there were statistically significant differences between the test and control groups, these fell within the normal biological variation range and had in most cases been regarded as irrelevant by those in charge of the trials.
However, the authors criticise the fact that a large number of the studies were based on flawed experimental protocols. In only six of the 24 studies was the number of trial animals in line with the OECD guidelines. All the other studies used fewer animals. The studies also frequently omitted to feed animals with an isogenic line corresponding to the GM plant in question as a control. Another criticism is that many of the studies did not repeat the experiments enough times, if at all.
In general, the authors interpret their results as showing that long-term and multi-generational studies do not usually produce any additional findings compared with 90-day studies. However, if such trials do need to be carried out, because questions still remain unanswered after completion of the 90-day trial, the authors recommend that the experimental protocols should be harmonised. In general though, they say that the meta-study shows that consumption of GM plants is not likely to have negative long-term effects.
France – labell “GMO-free”
Such label can be used from July for products containing less than 0.1% of GMO. Rules for GMO-free feeding of food-producing animals will be established.
Monsanto stops selling MON810 maize in France
Monsanto will not sell the MON810 maize in France during 2012 and 2013. This is the reaction to the recent politics in France. It is expected that the ban of Bt corn planting might be issued. This follows from the reaction by president Sarkozy.
A) Recently submitted notifications for deliberate
release (experimental releases trials)
A-b) Clinical trials, pharmacy
B) FINAL reports
News in Science
Singapore Scientists Lead in 3D Mapping of Human Genome to Help Understand Human Diseases
GENOMICS, , February 02, 2012
This discovery is crucial in understanding how human genes work together, and will re-write textbooks on how transcription regulation and coordination takes place in human cells.
Malaria and the cloak of invisibility
An international team of scientists has discovered a key molecule that helps the malaria parasite evade the human body's immune system. Partially funded by the EU-backed EVIMALAR ('Towards the establishment of a permanent European virtual institute dedicated to malaria research') project and presented in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, the findings of this study could provide fresh insight into how the parasite that triggers disease can dodge the defences built by the immune system. EVIMALAR, meanwhile, is funded under the Health Theme of the FP7 to the tune of EUR 12 million.
Why vitamins could be key in fight against malaria
British and German researchers led by the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom have found that vitamins could help fight malaria. The findings of the study, presented in the journal Structure, could encourage the development of more effective drugs to fight this disease. This disorder affects more than 250 million people each year, and kills over 650 000 people. The study was funded in part by a grant under the FP6.
Scientists raise red flag on fish sustainability
An international team of scientists has discovered that the effect of fishing for tuna and similar species since the early 1960s has led to a decline in these populations by around 60%. The study, presented in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded in part by the METAOCEANS ('Elucidating the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems through synethesis and comparative results') project, which clinched a Marie Curie Early Stage Research Training grant worth EUR 2.23 million under the FP6.
Specialised cells have the capacity to keep a memory of their individual identity by remembering which genes need to be active or not, even when making copies of themselves. Led by Lars Jansen from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Cięncia (IGC) in Portugal, researchers say that while this type of memory is not written directly into the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), it is heritable. Meanwhile, non-genetic or 'epigenetic' instructions usually appear to be contained in proteins, and control both genes and the arrangement of chromosomes.
The team discovered how one of these epigenetic organising centres is passed on from mother to daughter cells. The findings could help scientists determine how a glitch in the cell division process can trigger cancer.
The researchers put the spotlight on the centromere, a protein structure on each chromosome that attaches it to the skeleton of the cell (cytoskeleton) during the division of the cell. This effectively guarantees that each daughter cell gets one set of new chromosomes. The scientists emphasise the importance of correctly functioning centromeres..When the process is not perfect, cells can receive an incorrect number of genes, which then leads to the emergence of tumour cells. Presented in the journal Developmental Cell.
Scientists investigate how warming trend impacts mountain plant communities
Environmentalists the world over been investigating and measuring climate change over the years, and they found that the period from 2000 to 2009 was the warmest since they began taking worldwide climate measurements. Although their studies focused on local areas, there is proof that mountain plant communities are changing, and that this is linked to the warming trend. An EU-funded team of researchers recently took this one step further by looking at the problem from a continental perspective. The study, presented in the journal Nature Climate Change, was backed in part by the ENSEMBLE ('Ensemble-based predictions of climate changes and their impacts') project. This EU-funded project received EUR 15 million under the Sustainable development, global change and ecosystems' Thematic area of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
The results of this study are important for two reasons: 1) the change in plant communities can be detected over time; and 2) plants that have adapted to colder temperatures face greater competition from other species, potentially leading 'to declines or even local disappearance of alpine plant species. In fact, declines of extreme high-altitude species at their lower range margins have recently been observed in the Alps'.
Genetically modified Bt maize: New test with bee larvae
Scientists at the University of Würzburg have for the first time investigated how well bee larvae cope with Bt maize pollen under controlled laboratory conditions. The results of their experiments have now been published: Pollen from Bt maize MON810 and from a Bt maize variety that produces three different Bt proteins was not found to have any harmful effect on the sensitive larval stages of bees. The larval test is part of a biological safety research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).