Latest Biotech News


INT - NUTRIENT-BOOSTED CASSAVA

Source: American Council on Science and Health

In poor parts of the world, people may rely on a single staple crop to meet a substantial proportion of their energy requirements. Many denizens of Africa rely on cassava. The trouble with cassava, however, is that it is nutrient-poor. Partially as a result, iron and zinc deficiencies are common in Africa. Iron deficiency results in anemia, zinc deficiency in susceptibility to death by diarrhea, and each is also associated with impaired cognitive development. Breeding better varieties of cassava that absorb and store more of these nutrients is made difficult by a lack of genetic diversity. So, scientists have turned to biotechnology.


INT - 20+ YEARS OF DATA FOR ‘POWERFUL’ TOOL

Source: Genetic Literacy Project

Genetically engineered (GE) crops producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) (mainly Cry proteins) have become a major control tactic for a number of key lepidopteran and coleopteran pests, mainly in maize, cotton, and soybean.…Over the past 20+ years, extensive experience and insight have been gained through laboratory and field-based studies of the non-target effects of crops producing Cry proteins. Overall, the vast majority of studies demonstrates that the insecticidal proteins deployed today cause no unintended adverse effects to natural enemies.


AUS - FAKE NEWS THWARTS GENE TECH

Source: The Land

Fake news from powerful lobbies is thwarting the urgent access producers need to gene technologies to adapt to drought, flood and the myriad of other challenges climate change is throwing forward. This was the message delivered at a workshop of global economists and researchers dealing with agricultural and food policy, held in Melbourne. Dr Alison Van Eenennaam, from the University of California, said fear mongering around gene technologies was a far larger hindrance to the take-up of critical farming innovation than slow producer adoption.


AUS - WA INQUIRY SUPPORTS STATUS QUO

Source: Farm Online

A move by the Greens in Western Australia to bring in legislation protecting farmers in the wake of contamination by GM crops, is unlikely to progress. A parliamentary inquiry in WA found the current mechanisms in place to deal with compensation claims for farmers who believe they have suffered economic loss caused by contamination by genetically modified material are adequate.



USA - GOV RELEASES GM LABELING RULES

Source: Genetic Literacy Project

New disclosure requirements finalized by USDA for biotech foods will mandate the use of the term “bioengineered” while providing a key exemption for ingredients such as vegetable oils, sugar and other foods where the genetically altered DNA of the GMO crop can’t be detected. The requirements, which will be enforced starting in 2022, also will exempt foods that contain as much as 5 percent of a bioengineered ingredient that the manufacturer can prove was sourced as non-GMO. USDA released two symbols for bioengineered foods that companies can use on labels. One symbol is for products on which disclosure is required, while the other is for companies that want to label ingredients that are otherwise exempt from the rules. The symbols can be used in full color or black-and-white display.

For more, see: USDA Press Release


USA - GM PLANTS WITH GROWTH BOOSTED BY 40%

Source: BBC News

Scientists in the US have engineered tobacco plants that can grow up to 40% larger than normal in field trials. The researchers say they have found a way of overcoming natural restrictions in the process of photosynthesis that limit crop productivity. They believe the method could be used to significantly boost yields from important crops. The study has been published in the journal Science. The team is now hoping to use these findings to boost the yields of soybean, rice, potato and tomato plants. The research is being funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the UK’s Department for International Development.


USA - GM CROPS CAN OFFSET CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS

Source: Cornell Alliance for Science

New research suggests that the type of yield gains made possible by genetic engineering (GE) will be needed to offset climate change impacts on agriculture.

The researchers said their study, published yesterday in Environmental Research Letters, has “important implications for regions lagging in the adoption of new technologies which could help offset the detrimental effects of climate change.”

Though agricultural productivity in Africa and Asia is predicted to be heavily impacted by climate change, political leaders in those regions have been slow to adopt GE technology in the face of intense opposition driven primarily by western-funded anti-GMO activists.

However, this new study suggests that nations may not have the luxury of avoiding new technology if they want to ensure food security in a warming world.


AUS - GM COTTON THRIVES IN NORTHERN AUS

Source: ABC Landline

It’s being described as a possible game changer for farmers and even the pastoral industry in northern Australia — the resurgence of cotton.

The CSIRO has predicted that if 15,000 hectares of the crop were grown in the Ord region of the Kimberley, it would be worth $80 million.

If the same was done in Queensland, beef spin-offs would grow that figure to $340 million…

The turning point was the development of a genetically modified cotton variety called Bollard III in 2016.

It’s able to withstand the insects that can plague the northern wet season and was part of cotton’s demise last time.


SPAIN - DROUGHT RESISTANT PLANTS DEVELOPED

Source: phys.org

Extreme drought is one of the effects of climate change that is already occurring. This year, the decrease in rainfall and the abnormally hot temperatures in northern and eastern Europe have caused large losses in cereals and potato crops and in other horticultural species. Experts have long warned that to ensure food security, it is becoming necessary to use plant varieties that are productive in drought conditions. Now, a team led by the researcher at the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) Ana Caño-Delgado has obtained plants with increased drought resistance by modifying the signaling of plant steroid hormones known as brassinosteroids. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, is the first to find a strategy to increase hydric stress resistance without affecting overall plant growth.


USA - USDA APPROVES EDIBLE COTTON

Source: The Scientist

The US Department of Agriculture has announced it would deregulate a strain of cotton that university researchers had genetically engineered to carry low levels of poisonous gossypol in its seeds. The idea is that the modified cotton’s seeds could be grown for food.

Cotton is known for its white fibers that can be woven into soft fabrics. But for every pound of fluffy, white lint, the plant produces 1.6 pounds of peanut-size seeds. Those seeds contain high levels of gossypol, which protects the plant against pests and disease but makes cotton seeds inedible.

Texas A&M University’s Keerti Rathore and colleagues inserted DNA into the cotton plant to turn off the gene responsible for producing gossypol in the seeds. The genetically engineered strain still has protective levels of gossypol in its shoots and leaves, but reduced amounts in its oil- and protein-rich seeds, which could potentially be eaten by humans, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announcement.


INT - PROJECT UNDERWAY TO MAP EVERY PLANT, ANIMAL, FUNGUS GENOME

Source: The Guardian

An ambitious international project to sequence the DNA of every known animal, plant and fungus in the world over the next 10 years has been launched.

Described as “the next moonshot for biology”, the Earth BioGenome Project is expected to cost $4.7bn (£3.6bn) and involve reading the genomes of 1.5m species.

“Having the roadmap, the blueprints … will be a tremendous resource for new discoveries, understanding the rules of life, how evolution works, new approaches for the conservation of rare and endangered species, and … new resources for researchers in agricultural and medical fields,” said Prof Harris Lewin of the University of California, Davis.


AUS - SCIENCE BEHIND GM “NEEDS PROMOTION”

Social licence still a GM canola issue

Source: Farm Weekly (WA) – 16 September 2018

The WA agriculture industry must do more to promote the science behind genetically modified (GM) produce to ensure the technology realises its potential in the State’s grain industry.

That was one of the key messages taken home by Australia’s grain industry leaders who heard multiple presentations on the successes, developments and future prospects for GM technology from world-leading scientists at the 2018 AusCanola conference in Perth last week…


AUS - ACADEMY OF SCIENCE SETS AMBITIOUS FUTURE PLAN

Australia’s agriscience future
Australian Academy of Science, Communique – 13 September 2018
Leaders from Australia’s science and innovation sector met in Canberra today to discuss an ambitious vision for Australia’s rural research and innovation system over the coming decade. Participants included CropLife Australia, CSIRO and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.


AUS - SA LABOR SUPPORTS GM BAN REVIEW

Labor supports move to review GM moratorium

Source: Shadow Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Eddie Hughes MP, Media Release

EddieHughes_LaborSA_GMMoratorium_MR  – 14 September 2018

Labor supports a decision to review South Australia’s genetically modified crop moratorium – which is in place to 2025.

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Eddie Hughes said the independent review should focus on the economic impact of lifting the moratorium.

Mr Hughes said policy should be guided by the best available evidence – both scientific and economic and the Marshall Government must reinvest in public research and development, in order to help our primary producers to thrive.


AUS - SA GOVT ANNOUNCES GM BAN REVIEW

Globally recognised agriculture policy analyst to lead independent review of GM moratorium

Minister for Primary Industries and Regions SA, Tim Whetsone MP, Media Release– 14 September 2018

Source: http://pir.sa.gov.au/alerts_news_events/news/primary_industries/globally_recognised_agriculture_policy_analyst_to_lead_independent_review_of_gm_moratorium

Experienced economist and agriculture policy analyst emeritus professor Kym Anderson AC has been appointed to undertake an independent review of the genetically modified food crops moratorium in South Australia. The state government is delivering on a pledge to commence a high-level independent review of the state’s GM moratorium within six months of forming government.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the independent review will evaluate the benefits and costs to the South Australian economy and our agricultural industries of the GM moratorium.“The former Labor Government rushed through a six-year extension to the GM moratorium prior to the election without any consultation,” said Minister Whetstone.

“There was no attempt by Labor to assess whether the moratorium was good or bad for the economy or our grains and agricultural industries.