Archive for 2020


INT - GM RICE RESEARCH FOR HYPERTENSION

Source: Science Focus – 24 June 2020

Researchers have lowered rats’ blood pressure by feeding them rice harvested from a plant genetically edited to produce medicine known to reduce hypertension… the research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry noted that ACE Inhibitors derived from natural sources like milk, eggs and vegetables tend to have fewer side effects.

With that in mind they engineered a breed of rice plant to produce a range of these compounds along with a few chemicals known to relax blood vessels.


AUS - FROST-TOLERANT WHEAT RESEARCH IN WA

Source: ABC, WA Country Hour – 25 June 2020
Researchers using gene-editing technology to create frost-tolerant wheat say their work could save Australian farmers millions of dollars in lost productivity. 

Plant biotechnologists at Murdoch University are working on a two-year project using gene-editing technology to encourage frost tolerant proteins already present in wheat to become active during the coldest months of Australian winter.


AUS - GM COLOURED COTTONS IN THE PIPELINE

Source: ABC Landline – 27 June 2020
A few dozen petri dishes in a high-tech greenhouse in Canberra hold the potential to transform the global textiles industry. They contain plant tissue, which within days will grow into cotton plants: not standard, everyday white cotton, but ones with a dazzling array of colours. They are the product of CSIRO plant breeders … Colleen MacMillan leads the team of scientists who have cracked cotton’s molecular colour code, adding genes to make the plants produce a colour.


AUS - DESPITE DROUGHT COTTON INNOVATION SHINES

Cotton crop the smallest in 40 years, but tough times forge innovative new generation of growers

Source: ABC 7.30 Report – 17 June 2020

Cotton was once known as crop that required a lot of water and a lot of insecticide, but … Since the 1990s the cotton industry has strived become more efficient, and according to industry figures, cotton grown today in Australia uses using 48 per cent less water, 97 per cent less insecticide and 34 per cent less land.

The varieties of cotton grown today have been genetically modified to resist insects and allow the crop to be sprayed for weeds without killing the plant.


INT - GENE DISCOVERY TO BOOST NUTRIENT UPTAKE

Newly discovered plant gene could boost phosphorus intake
Source: University of Copenhagen – 16 June 2020
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have discovered an important gene in plants that could help agricultural crops collaborate better with underground fungi – providing them with wider root networks and helping them to absorb phosphorus.


INT - A GENE-EDITED FUTURE

Source: The Western Producer – 04 June 2020
Two and half decades after herbicide-resistant canola came onto the market, scientists have now adopted newer techniques to design crops. That’s because the new technologies are more efficient and partly because the strict regulations on GM crops have become a barrier to innovation. 

The beginning of the gene editing era and the demise of transgenic crops may have officially occurred in the middle of May [when] the United States Department of Agriculture announced its final rule to modernize biotechnology regulations for plant breeding.

In simple terms, the USDA will now treat gene editing the same as conventional plant breeding.


AUS - GM SAFFLOWER TRIALS

Source: ABC Landline

Australian scientists may have achieved a decades-long quest to find a plant-based alternative to petroleum-based engine oils, one that can be recycled, reused and breaks down in the environment.

Initial studies show safflower oil to be a superior lubricant that has lower emissions than conventional petroleum-based products, and reduces friction and wear on engine components.

The biofuel is produced from specially-bred safflower with high levels of oleic acid, the culmination of 18 years of work by CSIRO plant scientists.

The result is a variety which yields up to 93 per cent oil, the highest level of purity in any currently available plant oils.


AFRICA - MORE COUNTRIES WARMING TO GM CROPS

Source: Cornell Alliance for Science (via Genetic Literacy Project– 22 May 2020 

Though only a few African countries are now growing genetically modified (GM) crops commercially, governments across the continent are increasingly recognizing the crucial role that biotechnology can play in improving food security.

In response, African governments are moving to establish an enabling policy framework to support adoption of biotechnology, including GM crops and derived products…

Currently, only farmers in South Africa, Swaziland and Sudan are growing GM crops commercially. Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria and Kenya have approved the release of GM crops, but just the latter two countries have begun the rollout to farmers. About a dozen other African countries have GM crop research projects under way, with some of the experiments ongoing for more than a decade now.

Case studies from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda highlighted in the paper show broader agricultural policies in these countries are encouraging support for GM crops on the continent because the policies are science focused.


AUS - SA GROWERS SHOULD RESEARCH GM CROP NEEDS

Source: Stock Journal – 22 May 2020

While this year’s crops are only just going in, grain growers are being advised to start preparing for the 2021 season if they want to use GM technology.

Grain Producers SA’s Adrian McCabe says croppers need to start researching GM varieties and trial data because they may need to give pre-order indications to seed companies as early as next month…


AUS - ACCESS TO GM CROPS FOR SA FARMERS LOCKED IN

14 May 2020. Source: Grain Producers SA Media Release

After 16 long years, South Australian growers are one step closer to having the freedom of choice to grow the same crops as their mainland interstate counterparts.

This follows the passage of the Genetically Modified Crops Management (Designated Area) Amendment Bill through State Parliament today, which Grain Producers SA has welcomed.

The Bill will enable growers on mainland SA to access GM crop varieties while allowing a path for those councils which believe they derive a premium the ability to apply to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development in the next six months to retain the moratorium for that council area.

The final decision on whether that exemption is granted will reside with the Minister.

GPSA CEO Caroline Rhodes said the passage of the Bill reflected GPSA’s strong commitment to restoring grower choice in South Australia.

“This Bill establishes a level playing field for South Australian growers with their mainland interstate counterparts,” she said…

See also:

GM Crops Bill Passes Parliament – Tim Whetstone, SA Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Media Release

Science finally prevails with GM cropping getting the green light in South Australia – CropLife Australia Media Release


AUS - LEGISLATION DEAL SET TO ALLOW GM CROPS IN SA

28 April 2020 – Source: Stock Journal

The state government is confident it will be able to legislate to lift the Genetically Modified food crops moratorium, after reaching an agreement with the opposition.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone said the government has negotiated with the Opposition in good faith about amendments that would enable legislation to pass…Mr Whetstone [is] calling the agreement a win for SA farmers.

“This agreement is a great outcome for South Australian famers who will have the opportunity to reap the benefits of growing GM where that is best for their business,” he said.


INT - GM AND ORGANIC CROPS CAN COEXIST

Source: Genetic Literacy Project – 09 April 2020

GMO and organic crops can coexist with minimal risk of contamination, multiple studies confirm

In 2020, the world accommodates nearly 7.8 billion people. By 2050, world population is expected to reach 9.8 billion. With the exponentially growing population, decreasing resources, and intensifying climate change, it is compelling to adopt various production systems to attain food security. Thus, coexistence of different production systems has become a viable option for some countries according to ISAAA

The North American experience in coexistence has shown that even if the greatest share (60%) was devoted to GE crops, the majority (96% of those surveyed) of organic farmers have not incurred economic losses due to the presence of biotech crops.