Development underway for first transgenic sugarcane plantation

20 May 2013. Source: Jakarta Post

The National Genetically Modified Product Biosafety Commission (KKHPRG) recently approved the first genetically-altered sugarcane crop, paving the way for the development of transgenic sugarcane for commercial production.

Bambang Purwantara, a member of the commission, said that the institutions which held the mandate to approve biotech plants had all given the nod to a drought-resistant transgenic sugarcane seed

The cane, developed by state plantation firm PT Perkebunan Nusantara, the Indonesian Sugarcane Plantation Research Center (P3GI) and experts from the State University of Jember in East Java, is currently under a limited field testing.

“We are proud to announce that the first biotech staple crop will be a drought-resistant sugarcane. We expect to see the transgenic sugarcane planted by next year at the latest,” Bambang explained.

The commission is currently assessing another sugarcane variety — said to be resistant to herbicide — developed by the state plantation company and scientists from the research center and the university.

The drought-resistant sugarcane is the first out of 14 recommended biotech crops that are being assessed by the commission, which was established in 2010 to oversee the developing biotechnology.

Thirteen other transgenic food crops have passed food safety testing, which ensures that the products are safe for human consumption.