|GM COTTON APPROVED FOR BRAZIL
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva recently signed
into law a new biosafety bill that would create a regulatory
process for approving genetically modified (GM) crops in
the country. Within the same week, the local National Commission
for Biosafety (CTNBio) issued its approval for Monsanto's
GM cotton 'Bollgard' to be commercialized, allowing farmers
to both plant and sell the GM crop.
The approval of Monsanto's Bollgard cotton
by CTNBio is an important step in the regulatory process
for this product,
said Jerry Glover, Vice-President for External Affairs of
Monsanto. "This is a positive step forward," he
said, "However, commercialization of the product cannot
proceed until the Minister of Agriculture registers the various
varieties of cotton seed containing the Bollgard trait, and
those applications must be done by companies that we can
With reports from http://stlouis.bizjournals.com/stlouis/
stories/2005/03/21/daily66.html and http://www.scidev.net. Read the press releases at http://www.monsanto.co.uk/news/
ukshowlib.phtml?uid=8727 and http://www.monsanto.co.uk/
NEW POLICIES FORMULATED FOR INDIA
India's Department of Biotechnology, under the Ministry
of Science and Technology, has formulated a new national
biotechnology development strategy for the country. Acknowledging
that biotechnology can revolutionize agriculture, healthcare,
industrial processing, and environmental sustainability for
India, the development strategy aims to meet the country's
potential of generating revenues through biotechnology as
The strategy also aims to integrate its scientific
resources to "create a productive enterprise." These include
its scientists, laboratories, and its biotech parks, all
of which may work together to advance biotechnology, as well
as the affordability and accessibility of its products. The
challenge, the policy states, "Is to join the global
biotech league. This will require larger investments and
an effective functioning of the innovation pathway."
The new strategy charts a ten year roadmap for the country,
stressing human resource development at the academic and
industry interface, infrastructure development, development
of laboratories and manufacturing procedures, promotion of
industry and trade, development and maintenance of biotechnology
parks and incubators, strengthening of regulatory mechanisms,
and promotion of public education and awareness building.
Download the document at http://www.isaaa.org/kc
EU COMMISSION CONFIRMS SUPPORT FOR GM REGULATORY PROCESS
The European Union (EU) Commission orientation
debate on genetically modified (GM) organisms confirmed
to Europe’s regulatory and approval process for GM
products. EuropaBio, the association of bioindustries in
Europe, noted that the Commission recognized that the EU’s
legal framework for approving safe GM products must function
properly if Europe is to foster innovation and competitiveness
“It is frustrating that some Member States continue
to ignore overwhelming science as to the safety of GMOs and
fail to approve these safe and innovative products in Europe.
We support the Commission in its goals to ensure the proper
functioning of the system and urge all Member States to fulfil
their responsibilities,” says Simon Barber, Director
of the Plant Biotechnology Unit at EuropaBio.
The association asked the Commission to ensure
that Member States that have invoked bans based on “safeguard clauses” and
that have failed to provide the required scientific justification
to support these bans, withdraw these illegal bans immediately.
It welcomed the Commission’s call for establishing
practical thresholds for the adventitious presence of GM
material in non-GM seed. In addition, it further called on
the Commission and Member States to ensure coherence of policy
between promoting research and innovation on the one hand
and approving the products that are developed out of that
research on the other.
See the Europabio release at http://www.europabio.org or
contact Adeline Farrelly at email@example.com.
UK STUDY SHOWS GM CROPS COULD ALTER WEED SPECIES BALANCE
A three year study commissioned by the United Kingdom government
reported that in fields of transgenic winter oilseed rape
(canola), the balance of weed species that thrive on British
farmland could be altered causing a decrease in bees and
As reported by Nature magazine, the project's weed-control
system was pinpointed to cause this incidence. It noted that
the crops are engineered to resist a particular herbicide,
which hits broad-leafed weeds harder than grassy varieties.
Bees and butterflies suffer because they prefer the former
type of weed.
While some environmental groups said this
could be a problem, Tony Combes, deputy chairman of the
Council said that "As with all weed-management systems,
some weed and insect species will be positively affected
while others may be negatively affected, but the vast majority
The full report is published in the Proceedings of the Royal
Society B. See the Nature article in http://www.nature.com/
FAO RELEASES WORKSHOP PROCEEDINGS
The Food and Agriculture Association (FAO)
held an international workshop on "The role of biotechnology for the characterization
and conservation of crop, forestry, animal, and fishery genetic
resources" last March 5-7, 2005 in Turin, Italy. Proceedings
are now available online.
Covering 20 papers on applications of molecular markers,
cryopreservation, and reproductive technologies, the proceedings
are organized into three sessions. Session I deals with the
status of the world's agricultural biodiversity, with papers
covering livestock, fisheries, and forest genetic resources.
Session II discusses the use of biotechnology for conservation
of genetic resources, and includes papers on the use of various
molecular strategies for animal and plant genetic conservation.
Lastly, Session III and IV comprise the genetic characterization
of populations and its use in conservation decision-making.
The workshop was organized by the FAO Working
Group on Biotechnology, the Fondazione per le Biotecnologie,
the ECONOGENE project,
and the Società Italiana di Genetica Agraria. Download
the proceedings at http://www.fao.org/
biotech/torino05.htm or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request the proceedings
NEW NERICA VARIETIES ADDED
The latest batch of New Rice for Africa (NERICA) varieties
were recently named by the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) Variety
Nomination Committee, as based on their performance and popularity
in the field. The 11 new varieties have been tested in national
programs in Burkina Faso, Mali, Congo-Brazzaville and Kenya.
NERICA varieties been planted on more than 100,000 ha across
Africa, including 70,000 ha in Guinea and more than 10,000
ha in Uganda. A total of 18 varieties have been characterized
and named by WARDA to date, and all are suitable for the
upland rice ecology of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
For more information, visit http://www.warda.org.
ICRISAT SIGNS MOU WITH LOCAL AGRI-BIOTECH FIRM
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid
Tropics (ICRISAT) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
with Nandan Biomatrix Ltd., India, a local firm engaged
agri-biotech activities such as direct and contract farming
of various herbs, aromatic plants, and bio-fuel plants. Nandan
Biomatrix is also the first company to set up Horti Processing
Park, in association with the Andhra Pradesh Government,
to process horticultural produce for greater value addition
and integration into the supply chain.
The MOU envisages collaboration on wasteland development
through the raising of bio-fuel plantations, as well as research
and development of superior varieties and improved agronomic
practices. Apart from providing expertise and technical backstopping
services, ICRISAT will also extend infrastructure support
through its state-of-the-art laboratories and farm facilities.
For further information, contact V Raghavendra Prasad at
email@example.com. Visit ICRISAT at http://www.icrisat.org.
INCREASED PRO-VITAMIN A CONTENT IN RICE
Scientists from Syngenta reported improving the nutritional
value of Golden Rice through increased pro-vitamin A content.
Golden rice is a variety of rice engineered to produce beta-carotene
(pro-vitamin A) to help combat vitamin A deficiency. They
were ale to increase total carotenoids by up to 23-fold compared
to the original Golden Rice and a preferential accumulation
Jacqueline Paine and colleagues noted in an article in Nature
Biotechnology that the daffodil gene encoding phytoene synthase
(psy), one of two genes used to develop Golden Rice, was
the limiting step in beta-carotene accumulation. Through
systematic testing of other plant psys, they were able to
identify a psy from maize that substantially increase carotenoid
accumulation in a model plant system. They were then able
to develop Golden Rice 2 by introducing this psy in combination
with the Erwinia uredovora carotene desaturase used to generate
the original Golden Rice.
For more information email co-author Rachel Drake at Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org or read the March 27, 2005 article at Nature Biotechnology.
High aluminum levels in soil, which is present
in almost 40 percent of the world’s arable land,
make it difficult to grow wheat. J. Perry Gustafson of
the U.S. Agricultural
Research Service hopes to solve this problem by developing
wheat that is more aluminum-tolerant by using a gene from
Gustafson and colleagues discovered that the Alt3 in rye
makes it tolerant to aluminum. They physically mapped the
rye gene to enable its transfer into wheat by marker-assisted
selection and breeding. Due to gene similarity, they studied
available DNA sequence and gene map of rice to find out where
the aluminum-tolerance candidate gene is located.
Gustafson's group was able to narrow the gene's location
to a tiny region in rice, but it has not been able to utilize
the rice DNA sequence to find the Alt3 gene in rye. Notwithstanding
this, Gustafson found that rice is a great source of DNA
markers that can be used to map the rye genome.
See the full article in the journal Theoretical and Applied
Genetics or for the press release version from the ARS visit
EMAIL CONFERENCE ORGANIZED BY FAO
The Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) has organized
an email conference on Biotechnology and the characterization/conservation
of genetic resources, where discussions will center around
the role that biotechnology can play in the characterization
and conservation of crop, animal, forestry, and fishery genetic
resources in developing countries.
The conference is open to the public, and
will be free and moderated. Sessions begin on May 30, 2005,
and will run until
the 26th of June. All messages will be posted on the forum's
website at http://www.fao.org/biotech/forum.asp. To join,
send an e-mail to email@example.com by leaving the
subject blank and entering the following text on two lines: <line
1> subscribe; <line 2> BIOTECH-L subscribe biotech-room1.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
SYMPOSIUM ON NATURAL PRODUCTS SLATED IN COLOMBO
The Centre for Science and Technology of
the Non-Aligned and Other Developing Countries (NAM S&T Centre), in association
with the Institute of Chemistry, Ceylon, Colombo, and the
National Science and Technology Commission (NASTEC) of Sri
Lanka, present a symposium on "Herbal Medicine, Phytopharmaceuticals,
and Other Natural Products: Trends and Advances." The
symposium will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on the 15th
to the 17th of June, 2005.
The gathering will broadly address current trends and advances
in herbal medicine, phytopharmaceuticals, and other natural
products that have taken place in academia as well as industry,
with particular emphasis on technological innovations in
the spice and herbal industry in developing countries.
The last date for submission of nomination forms is on May
16, 2005. For further inquiries, contact email@example.com,
or visit http://www.namstct.org.