BRAUN: POLICIES NEEDED TO IMPROVE WORLD FOOD SITUATION
factors have not changed in the world food situation:
the world’s population continues to increase; small
farmers continue to dominate agriculture in the developing
world; and poverty remains to be the root cause of hunger
and malnutrition. To improve the world food situation
requires concrete moves, said Joachim von Braun, Director
General of the International Food Policy Research Institute
(IFPRI), during the Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Annual General Meeting
at Marrakech, Morocco.
Braun noted that achieving the Millennium Development
Goals to reduce hunger and malnutrition will entail:
governance of the food and agriculture system at the
global, country and local levels;
- Scaling up public investment for agricultural and rural
- Taking targeted steps to improve nutrition and health;
an effective global system for preventing and mitigating
to reduce poverty has taken place in Asia and
Latin America and it is now necessary to “direct
efforts towards Africa and towards smaller and poorer
countries that have few resources and little capacity
to plan and
implement effective policy action,” Von Braun stressed. He enumerated
several strategies which include the need for bio- and info-technological
innovations based on science for the poorest and marginalized.
the IFPRI release, visit http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/agm05/jvbagm2005.asp.
HOLDS DIALOGUE ON BT COTTON
one-day National Dialogue on the ‘Resurgence of
Cotton’ was recently held at the Central Institute
for Research on Cotton Technology in Mumbai, India. The
national dialogue was organized as a stocktaking exercise
to assess the Indian cotton outlook amidst the implementation
of various mini missions of the Technology Mission on
Cotton (TMC) and introduction of Bt cotton in India.
speakers were present at the event. Dr. CD Mayee traced
important events in the history of cotton development
in India, and attributed the increase in cotton production
over the past decade to the successful implementation
of TMC and commercialization of Bt cotton in India in
Dr. CD Mayee presides over the
session of the Bt cotton conference in India.
Andrew McDonald, an international expert on cotton, also
lauded Indian policy makers and scientists for the excellent
work done in the successful promotion of Bt cotton in
India. He also stated that ecological issues should also
be given importance besides the quality and production
Inaugural Session also featured the release of a documentary
film on Bt cotton, “The Story of Bt Cotton in India,” produced
by ISAAA and the South Asia Biosafety Program (SABP);
and a publication entitled “Cotton Production,
Technology Mission and Need for Paradigm Shift” by
Sh UC Sarangi and Sh TSR Subramanian.
day’s sessions discussed “Indian Cotton Outlook,” where
four speakers presented their views on various aspects
of Indian Cotton; and the joint sessions “Role
of Government in Stimulating Growth and Investment Opportunities
for Cotton/Cotton Textiles” and “Expanding
Trade Prospects in Cotton Textiles.” All sessions
were chaired by Dr. CD Mayee.
For more information, please contact Bhagirath Choudhary
of the ISAAA South Asia Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download the press release at http://www.isaaa.org/kc/Publications/pdfs/documents/Proceedings-ISAAA-ISCI.pdf.
WORKING ON NEW GENOMIC MAP FOR MAIZE APPLICATION
at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
(CIMMYT) in Mexico are developing a new genomic map that
applies to a wide range of maize breeding populations.
This may help scientists develop maize more tolerant
reports that previous genomic maps for drought tolerance
in tropical maize applied only to specific lines or populations.
Researchers have developed a single map that combines
data from many experiments involving different tropical
maize types in diverse environments. “Having all
the QTL information integrated into a single map should
allow us to identify the outstanding genomic regions
involved in drought tolerance,” says Jean-Marcel
Ribaut, former CIMMYT molecular geneticist and now Director
of the CGIAR’s Generation Challenge Programme.
The teams are linking field data for traits such as ear
number, chlorophyll content, and carbohydrate content
with DNA analyses for the same plants.
the full story, visit http://www.cgiar.org/monthlystory/december2005.html.
OF GM AND NON-GM CROPS IN IRELAND
Department of Agriculture and Food (DAF) released its
Report on “Coexistence of GM and non-GM Crops in
Ireland," which examines issues relating to the
growing of GM crops in Ireland.
Working Group convened by the Department forwarded several
recommendations which include:
- A combined mandatory and voluntary arrangement best meets
the objective of implementing coexistence measures. Mandatory
measures require that they be given legal status, while
voluntary measures should be specified in a Code of Good
- Growers must obtain prior approval from the DAF to grow
GM crops and applications should be lodged a minimum
of 60 days prior to the planned date of sowing.
- Growers of GM crops must attend prescribed education
and training courses. All other interested parties, e.g.
neighboring non-GM crop growers, seed suppliers, machinery
and transport operators, contractors, advisers/extension
workers should attend education and training courses
on GM crop production and coexistence.
GM crop grower must obtain signed written agreement
with his/her neighbor, where part of the neighbor’s
farm is required to satisfy the necessary separation
distance. This agreement must be submitted as part of
the application for approval to grow a GM crop.
complete set of recommendations is available online at
IITA PROJECT TO INCREASE AWARENESS OF BIOTECH IN NIGERIA
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
has established the Nigeria Agriculture and Biotechnology
Project (NABP) to assist the government to enhance institutional
and scientific capacity to conduct biotechnological research,
implement priority regulatory guidelines, and increase
public awareness of biotechnology.
research collaborative program aims to develop insect-resistant
cowpea varieties through biotechnology which have the
potential to significantly improve agricultural productivity.
It intends to link with partners like the Ahmadu Bello
University in Zaria, which has a mandate for cowpea improvement
in Nigeria; the Biotechnology Advanced Laboratory at
the Sheda Science and Technology Complex in Abuja; and
the University of Agriculture in Abeokuta.
project also intends to provide training and capacity
building to the members of the National Biosafety Committee
and the National Agricultural Research Institutes’ biosafety
officers. Workshops and related activities will be implemented
to various stakeholders to popularize biotechnology.
Taye Babaleye of IITA at email@example.com for additional
CROP RESEARCHERS WINS 2005 SCIENCE AWARDS
Singh of India won the “Science Award for Outstanding
Scientist” for developing “slow rusting” wheat
varieties with improved resistance to diseases such as
leaf rust, yellow rust, powdery mildew, and spot blotch,
among others. The Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research (CGIAR) reports that these improved
wheat varieties have saved poor farmers an estimated
US$5 billion worth of production losses. The research
is being conducted at the International Maize and Wheat
Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico.
Shaobing Peng of China and his co-authors won the “Science
Award for an Outstanding Scientific Article” for
the research article “Rice yields decline with
higher night temperature from global warming” published
in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences
in 2004. The researchers provide the first direct evidence
of decreased crop yields that result from increased night
time temperatures associated with global warming. Findings
indicate that climate change will have a negative impact
on food production in some tropical areas. The research
was done at the Philippines-based International Rice
Research Institute (IRRI).
winners are announced in http://www.cgiar.org/newsroom/releases/news.asp?idnews=346
UPDATE ON CHINA’S AG-BIOTECH SCENE NOW AVAILABLE
Agricultural Biotechnology Information Center (CABIC)
has just released “Crop Biotech Update in China”,
a summary of current developments in China’s agri-biotech
scene, written in English and composed for the global
audience. Housed at the China National Center for Biotechnology
Development (CNCBD), and working in cooperation with
ISAAA, the CABIC will deliver the update every quarter.
the latest update, researchers report, among others,
that significant headway has been made in breeding super
hybrid rice. They also find a new cotton resistant to
glyphosate and cotton bollworm, and write that a gene
has allowed maize seeds to produce more lysine and protein
than its conventional counterparts. More news and research
are available in the quarterly report itself, and are
presented as short news bulletins, with links to the
latest issue is now available at http://www.isaaa.org/kc.
To find out more about CABIC, visit their Mandarin website
You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
though important to trade and science, is a crop whose
genome is still incompletely sequenced. The costs and
complexity of completing the maize genome has long held
back such a project, not only because of the crop’s
genome size, but because of the presence of repetitive
elements, which pose computational challenges for accurately
assembling the entire sequence.
In the latest issue of Plant Physiology, Georg Haberer of the Munich Information
Center for Protein Sequences, and colleagues take the first shot at studying
the “Structure and Architecture of the Maize Genome.” Researchers
carry the analysis out by selecting 100 random regions of the genome averaging
144 kilobases of DNA in size, and using these regions as a dataset possibly
representative of the entire maize genome.
analysis showed, among others, that a) at least 66% of
the whole maize genome is composed of repetitive elements;
b) maize has 42,000-56,000 genes in total, substantially
more than rice or Arabidopsis; c) these same genes average
about 4,000 DNA base pairs in size; and d) much of the
increase in genome size of maize relative to rice and
Arabidopsis can be attributed to an increase in number
of both repetitive elements and genes.
to Plant Physiology can read the complete article at
readers may access the abstract at http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/content/abstract/139/4/1612.
MAKES PLANTS LIVE IN COLD
Fiorani and colleagues of Duke University report that “The
Alternative Oxidase of Plant Mitochondria Is Involved
in the Acclimation of Shoot Growth at Low Temperature:
A Study of Arabidopsis AOX1a Transgenic Plants.” Their
findings appear in the latest issue of Plant Physiology.
using the AOX1a gene, transforming Arabidopsis plants
with it, and monitoring the growth of the plants at 12°C,
researchers found that plants thrived and survived the
low temperature. Among others, they found that AOX activity
plays a role in shoot acclimation to low temperature
in Arabidopsis at relatively early growth stages, but
growth diminished as plants approached flowering.
Subscribers to Plant Physiology can read the complete article at http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/reprint/139/4/1795.
Other readers may access the abstract at http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/content/abstract/139/4/1795.
MARKERS FOR OAT INTRODUCED
Jannink and S. W. Gardner of Iowa State University present
their work on “Expanding the Pool of PCR-Based
Markers for Oat.” Their research appears in the
latest issue of Crop Science.
There are only a few polymerase chain reaction (PCR)–based markers for
oat, and the crop would benefit from such markers, as PCR is a less expensive
alternative to current methods used to analyze, classify, and breed oat (such
as restriction fragment length polymorphisms, or RFLP).
their research, Jannink and Gardner design 32 markers
based on oat sequence data available. Subscribers to
Crop Science can access the complete article, as well
as the sequences of the markers, at http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/reprint/45/6/2383.
Other readers may see the abstract at http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/45/6/2383.
BT COTTON DOCUMENTARY NOW AVAILABLE
and the South Asia Biosafety Program (SABP) have released “The
Story of Bt Cotton in India”. This 20-minute
documentary captures the history of India’s first commercial
approval of a genetically modified crop. It focuses on the
various stakeholders in bringing Bt cotton to farmers’ fields
and recounts the experiences of farmers, including an objective
treatment of some of the challenges and opportunities that
have arisen with the deployment of Bt cotton.
addition to English and Hindi, the video is available in
six other regional languages: Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi,
Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.
For copies, please contact Bhagirath Choudhary of the ISAAA South Asia office
at email@example.com, or Purvi Mehta-Bhatt of SABP at P_Mehta_Bhatt@rediffmail.com.
European Plant Science Organization (EPSO) will hold its
3rd Plant Science Conference, “Plant Dynamics: from
Molecules to Ecosystems” in Visegrád, Hungary,
from May 28 - June 1, 2006. The conference promises to bring
together scientists from Europe and other continents to present
and discuss cutting edge science. The number of participants
is limited to 300, and the deadline for early registration
is on January 31, 2006. For more information, visit http://www.epsoweb.org/catalog/Conf2006.htm.
ICABR CONFERENCE CALLS FOR PAPERS
International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research
(ICABR), in association with several European and U.S. universities,
calls for papers to the “10th International Conference
on Agricultural Biotechnology: Facts, Analysis and Policies.” The
conference will take place at Ravello, Italy, on June 29 – July
2, 2006, and will focus on, among others, the impact of agricultural
biotechnology on international trade, public acceptance of
the technology, intellectual property rights, and biotechnology
and developing countries. Proposals for contributing papers
should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information,
OF VIETNAM’S DECISION ON GMO
No. 212 on genetically modified organisms formulated by the
Vietnamese Government is now available in English. The complete
text is available at http://www.agbiotech.com.vn/en/?mnu=preview&key=349.