RABOBANK SAYS HALF OF WORLD COTTON MAY SOON BE GM
modified (GM) cotton planted worldwide may account for more
than 50 percent by 2006-07 from the
present 35 percent.
This was the projection of a cotton industry report released
by the Netherlands-based Rabobank Groep. Bloomberg News quotes
Rabobank as saying that “The expansion of GM production,
particularly in regions which already operate under a fairly
low-cost production system, will have long-term implications
upon the marginal cost of production and, subsequently, prices.”
noted that farmers in India and Brazil have started to use
the technology and thus will contribute
to yield increase.
Brazil, the world's fifth-largest cotton-grower, is projected
to become the largest growth market for biotech cotton. It
noted that the inherent cost savings was expected to encourage
the use of GM seed and thus strengthen the South American country’s
the full article at http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/
BIOTECH AND IPR IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
countries need to cope with the fast developing intellectual
property rights (IPR) regime.
They should ensure
that their legislation and procedures emphasize the enforcement
of IPR through administrative action and through the existing
civil justice system. In like manner, efforts must be made
to exploit the maximum possible benefits in terms of cost reduction
and administrative efficiency from existing regional and international
cooperation mechanism, through various bilateral agreements
in IPR. These were some of the recommendations raised by K.K.
Tripathi of India’s Department of Biotechnology under
the Ministry of Science and Technology in an article “Biotechnology
and IPR regime: In the context of India and development countries.”
Tripathi also called for developing countries to encourage
policy research and analysis on IP subjects especially those
concerning protection of plant varieties, traditional knowledge,
folklore, and technology transfer.
Read the full paper in the Vol. 7, No. 2 issue of Asian Biotechnology
and Development Review or email Tripathi at email@example.com.
CROATIA PASSES LAW ON GMOS
Croatian Government passed a new law on Genetically Modified
Organisms (GMO) that replaced the “biotechnology-regulating
provisions” of the Law on Protection of Nature. The United
States Department of Agriculture reports that the new law stipulates
that the Ministry of Health will become the lead ministry for
all biotech issues.
Previously, the Law on Protection of Nature and the Food Law
including future sub-laws regulated the importation, transshipment,
production, usage, and sale of products of agricultural biotech
products (including all food, feed and seed). The GMO Law removed
the previous provisions regarding biotechnology in the Law
on Protection of Nature and replaced them as a new separate
piece of legislation. The Food Law remains as the main law
for regulating biotech food and feed.
See the USDA report in http://www.fas.usda.gov/gainfiles/
CGIAR AWARDS FELLOWSHIPS TO EAST AFRICAN WOMEN CROP SCIENTISTS
The Gender and Diversity Program of the Consultative Group
on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) recently announced
the names of the first recipients of a new fellowship for East
African women crop scientists. The fellowship offers the recipients
a two year mentoring relationship with a senior scientist in
their field, as well as funds to support presentation of their
research at a major scientific conference each year, among
This year's 11 winners come from national research institutions
and universities in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, such as the
Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), the Makerere
University in Uganda, and the Kenyatta University of Agriculture
and Technology, Kenya. Winners were selected on the basis of
their scientific achievement and leadership potential.
The next round of selection will take place in 2006. For more
on the program, as well as the list of the fellows, visit http://www.genderdiversity.cgiar.org/resource/
WORKSHOP REPORT DETAILS SORGHUM GENOME
Members of the worldwide sorghum community met in 2004 at
the Sorghum Genomics Planning Workshop. The workshop aimed
to 1) obtain a status report on the development and accessibility
of sorghum genome research information, technologies, and infrastructure;
2) identify future priorities and needs for sorghum genomics
research; 3) better organize the sorghum community; and 4)
foster sorghum improvement. The workshop report is now available
online on the Plant Physiology Journal's website.
Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world,
providing food, feed, fiber, and fuel to much of the developing
world. It is closely related to major crops such as sugarcane and pearl
millet, and information on its genome may provide
a better roadmap for studying the domestication of cereal crops.
The complete genome of sorghum comprises about 700 million
base pairs, 60% larger than that of rice, but one fourth the
size of the maize genome.
Workshop participants proposed a three-stage strategy to complete
the sequencing of the sorghum genome. This strategy would include
gene space characterization, which would progress into a gold-standard
physical map, and which would eventually end in a complete
genome sequence. Participants also recognized the need for
a unified sorghum database, similar to those for maize (the
Maize GDB) and rice (Gramene) which are available online.
is also sorghum's home, and scientists see the sequencing
project as "an attractive vehicle
for engagement of the African scientific community in genomics
and its applications,
in particular regarding documentation and analysis of in situ
diversity that is presently inaccessible to Western scientists."
Read the article at http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/reprint/
PLANT GENE LENDS ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE TO TOBACCO
antibiotic resistance genes into plant cells allows successful
transformants to be selected on the basis of their
survival in a medium containing a certain antibiotic. However,
the source of these genes has hitherto been bacteria, and some
scientists are concerned that horizontal gene transfer may
occur, transferring DNA from plants into microbes, and resulting
in the latter's antibiotic resistance.
the latest issue of Nature, however, Ayalew Mentewab and
C. Neal Stewart Jr.
of the University of Tennessee report that "Overexpression
of an Arabidopsis thaliana ABC transporter confers kanamycin resistance to transgenic plants." Their research makes
use of a gene derived from Arabidopsis, called Atwbc19, three
times larger than the antibiotic resistance gene from bacteria.
transferred the gene cassette into tobacco plant cells, then
subjected these cells to varying levels of kanamycin
treatment. They found that using Atwbc19 alone was enough
to make plant cells recover from a medium containing as
200 mg/l kanamycin. The cells were also resistant to kanamycin
treatment alone, and not to other antibiotics such as geneticin,
gentamycin, and streptomycin, whose chemical structures
are similar to kanamycin.
Plants resulting from the transformation developed and grew
normally, making the technique an ideal one for meeting biosafety
requirements, since the gene is derived from a fellow plant
species. The researchers propose that such a technique can
be applied to agriculturally important species such as soybean,
cotton, Brassica crops, and tomato, and even forest tree species
such as elms, pines, and spruce.
Subscribers to Nature can read more at http://www.nature.com/
ROLE OF PLANT GENE IN HEAT TOLERANCE STUDIED
The greatest problems of plants in tropical climates are drought
and high temperature stress. The latter inhibits plant photosynthesis,
disabling nutrient accumulation and stunting plant growth.
Plants have been known to also accumulate certain chemical
compounds under salinity, drought, and temperature stress.
of these chemicals, glycinebetaine (GB), is the subject of
a recent study, where Xinghong Yang and colleagues from
the Chinese Academy of Sciences Plant Physiology report that
the "Genetic Engineering
of the Biosynthesis of Glycinebetaine Enhances Photosynthesis
against High Temperature Stress in Transgenic Tobacco Plants." Their
findings appear in the latest issue of Plant Physiology.
introduced the betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase (BADH) gene
from spinach into tobacco cells,
allowing the transgenic
cells to produce GB. The plants started accumulating GB, and
resulted in their increased tolerance to high temperature stress
during growth. Plants, to some extent, were also able to assimilate
carbon dioxide better than their wild-type counterparts at
temperatures as high as 45°C, showing that their photosynthetic
pathway had not been greatly damaged by the heat stress.
The findings suggest a new function of GB in plants, in that
it can protect photosynthesis against high temperatures. They
likewise lend strength to the option of introducing BADH into
plant cells in order to effect heat tolerance, a process which
bypasses biosafety concerns, since the gene can come from a
Physiology subscribers can access the full article at
Other readers can access the abstract at http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/content/abstract/
LIGHT IMPROVES CARBON STORAGE, GROWTH IN RAPESEED
The future health of a young seedling depends largely on the
amount of food reserves available in its seed. Successful storage
of these reserves depends, in turn on photosynthesis, which
can influence the seed's carbon economy, how carbon is stored,
and plant fitness and productivity. Greater carbon storage
is harder for oilseeds, since carbon supplies are constantly
being converted into oil.
the latest Plant Physiology Preview, Fernando D. Goffman
and colleagues from Michigan State University
report that "Light
Enables a Very High Efficiency of Carbon Storage in Developing
Embryos of Rapeseed."
By radioactively labeling all carbon sources in media supporting
the growth of rapeseed embryos, scientists found that large
amounts of light not only improved the efficiency of carbon
storage, but also increased the growth rate of rapeseed plants.
Despite the easy conversion of carbon into seed stores, scientists
still found that increased amounts of light enhanced the conversion
of carbon stores into oil.
the abstract at http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/
Plant Physiology subscribers can access the article at http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/
WORLD LIFE SCIENCE WEEK IN LONDON
London, United Kingdom is the site of the October 9-13, 2005
celebration of World Life Science Week. Events include a conference,
exhibition, workshop classes, and partnering opportunities
and networking events for delegates from Europe, the US and
Asia. Coinciding with the UK hosting the European Union Presidency,
the week will start with BioPartnering Europe and continue
with the international exhibition CORDIA. Detailed information
on the various events is available at http://www.cordiaconvention.com.
CANADA’S BIOTECH WEEK
A series of various activities have been set to celebrate
Biotechnology Week in Canada from September 26-30, 2005. Across
country events include career fairs, tour of Canadian biotech
companies, exhibits, and seminars with leaders of the industry
and with federal and provincial decision makers. For more information,
EUROPEAN BIOTECH CROSSROADS
major events – a biotech trade show; Bioagenda,
a business and technology transfer convention; a seminar program
with 40 workshops; and Biotalent, a recruitment convention – are
features of European Biotech Crossroads scheduled November
28-30, 2005 at Lille Grand Palais, France. Online information
may be obtained at http://www.bcbiotech.ca/scripts/index_.asp?action=31&P