Archive for June, 2017


23 June 2017. Source: Business Insider Australia 

The controversy over GMOs can be traced to a single fruit

Slicing into the green skin of a Hawaiian papaya ordinarily yields juicy, salmon-coloured fruit that’s almost custard-like in its consistency and sweetness. But in the early 1990s, one Hawaiian farmer instead found bits of whitish, dried-out flesh in his recently harvested fruit. On the skin were discolored spots resembling tiny rings.

It was a sign of trouble for hundreds of Hawaiian papaya farmers who, for the next several years, would lose field after field of their crop — altogether an $US11-million dollar industry. The culprit was an incurable virus called Papaya Ring Spot Virus (PRSV).

In 1992, Dennis Gonsalves, a plant pathologist at Cornell University who grew up in the region most acutely affected by the virus, came up with a wild idea to stop it. He wanted to vaccinate the papaya crop from the virus using genetic engineering. …After nearly a decade of work, Gonsalves and his team established a papaya plant that was genetically resistant to ring spot. The Gonsalves’ crops blossomed across farms that had been decimated by the virus. Today, their fruit, which they named the Rainbow papaya, dominates Hawaii’s papaya exports…


20 June 2017. Source: SciDevNet

Brazil’s transgenic sugarcane stirs up controversy

A genetically modified (GM) cane variety that can kill the sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis) has been approved in Brazil,  to the delight of some scientists and the dismay of others, who say it may threaten Brazilian biodiversity.

Brazil is the second country, after Indonesia, to approve the commercial cultivation of GM sugarcane. The approval was announced by the Brazilian National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio) on June 8.

Sugarcane borer is one of the main pests of the sugarcane fields of South-Central Brazil, causing losses of approximately US$1.5 billion per year.


12 June 2017. Source: Daily Nation

Genetic engineering boosts immunity against crop disease

The chemicals that farmers spray on their crops in form of pesticides to kill pests and prevent diseases have always been a bone of contention, with researchers trying to find safer alternatives. A new variety of rice that fights multiple pathogens with no effect on the yield of the crop, is thus a welcome relief for both farmers and scientists.

The discovery is based on a study of the plant’s immune system. Plants use receptors on the outside of their cells to identify molecules that signal a microbial invasion, and respond by releasing antimicrobial compounds. Therefore, identifying genes that kickstart this immune response yields disease-resistant plants…The researchers tested the superiority of engineered rice over regular rice by inoculating crop leaves with the bacterial pathogens that cause rice blight and leaf streak, as well as the fungus responsible for blast disease. Whereas the infections spread on the leaves of  wild rice plants, the engineered plants confined the invaders to a small area.


14 June 2017. Source: Reuters (UK)

China approves two new GMO crop varieties for import, renews 14 -ag ministry

China approved two new varieties of genetically modified (GMO) crops for import from June 12, after the world’s top buyer of GMO soybeans pledged to speed up a review of biotech products as part of a recent trade deal with the United States.

The approvals of new GMO imports follow an agreement on protocols for shipments of U.S. beef to China that was also promised under the broader trade deal last month.

The new GMO varieties are Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist corn and Monsanto’s Vistive Gold soybean, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement on Wednesday.



05 June 2017. Source: PG Economics

New report highlights 20 years of economic and environmental benefits from using biotech/GM crops

A new report released today by PG Economics has found that over the last 20 years, crop biotechnology has significantly reduced agriculture’s environmental impact and stimulated economic growth in the 26 countries where the technology is used. The innovative agricultural technology has contributed to preserving the earth’s natural resources while allowing farmers to grow more, high quality crops. It has also helped alleviate poverty for 16.5 million, mostly smallholder farmers, in developing countries.