Archive for 2022


Source: Food Ingredients First – 14 December 2022

For the first time in history, scientists have genetically engineered a hen that lays eggs from which only female chicks hatch. The “Golda hen” was bred from a special technology that transfers a biological trait through sex chromosomes, which prevents the development of male embryos.

In addition to reducing the many resources needed for hatching chicks, the costs of sorting and culling the day-old male chicks – which are considered an “unnecessary by-product” in the edible egg industry – will be reduced by almost half, the researchers behind the technology note.

The new advancement for farmed poultry has drawn support from UK animal welfare group, Compassion in World Farming.

The innovation is a result of the collaboration between the Huminn Company (formerly NRS) and the Volcanic Institute, an Israeli agri-food research hub.

“The scale of the egg-laying market in the world is estimated at about 7 billion laying hens, and for each hen a male chick is destroyed,” Dr. Yuval Cinnamon, founder and chief scientific officer at the Huminn Company.


Source: Genetic Literacy Project – 09 September 2022

This paper updates previous estimates for the global value of using genetically modified (GM) crop technology in agriculture at the farm level. … Over the period 1996 to 2020, the economic benefits have been significant with farm incomes for those using the technology having increased by $261.3 billion US dollars. This equates to an average farm income gain across all GM crops grown in this period of about $112/hectare.

Over the last 25 years, GM crop seed technology has helped many farmers to grow more food, feed, and fiber using fewer resources by reducing the damage caused by pests and better controlling weeds. The highest yield increases have occurred in developing countries and this has contributed to a more reliable and secure food supply base in these countries.


Source: Food Ingredients 1st – 09 September 2022

A British spin-off science company has been given the green light from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its GM purple tomato after a long-running varietal project. And, now this could pave the way for GM to continue research into increasing the health benefits of whole foods. Its goal is to find ways of commercializing its research into foods with enhanced healthy compounds for consumers.

The USDA approved the sale of Norfolk Plant Sciences (NPS) nutrition-dense purple tomato seeds for spring 2023.


Source: QUT News – 02 September 2022

Professor Dale and the Banana Biotechnology Program from the QUT Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy received the KCA Award for Best Industry Collaboration for work between Australia and Africa that will impact future health, food security and biosecurity.

The multi-million-dollar Golden Banana project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is now close to farmer release of a pro-vitamin A fortified banana that will deliver life-saving health benefits to millions of people in Africa.

The Tropical Race 4 (TR4) Program has developed a genetically modified Cavendish banana resistant to the devastating TR4 disease. Likely to be available for commercial production in 2024, the QCav-4 promises to protect the global Cavendish industry, worth up to US$25 billion annually.

GHANA - GM Cowpea Rollout

Source: Alliance for Science – 02 September 2022

The approval of genetically modified cowpea in Ghana is paving the way for agricultural advances and economic opportunities, researchers say. Ghana adopted its first biotech crop, the pod borer-resistant (PBR) cowpea, in June this year, making it the second country in the world to approve genetically modified cowpea for commercialization. It took researchers about nine years to achieve this feat.

Farmers, who are at the receiving end of the technology, have expressed excitement at the development and hope to have the PBR cowpea seeds in their hands soon. Fifty-six year old Emmanuel Attakorah, who farms a 10-acre cowpea field, expressed his joy at this development and asked that more education be given to sensitize them on best cultural practices to adopt in cultivating the product.

INT - CRISPR for Cassava Mosaic Virus

Source: Alliance for Science – 01 September 2022

Work has begun to possibly develop CRISPR cassava varieties that are resistant to the deadly cassava mosaic virus (CMD), after an international team of research scientists managed to identify a gene responsible for the resistance. The team, led by Wilhelm Gruissem, a professor of Plant Biotechnology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH Zurich), finally pinned down the gene responsible for what is known as the cassava mosaic disease 2 (CMD2) resistance in some cassava cultivars. 

USA - Gene-editing cotton

Source: AgDaily, 29 August 2022

According to a news release, Texas A&M University’s novel cotton-gene editing project will focus on enhancing cotton plant resistance to insect pests — paving a way for plant protection. Using gene-editing technology, the researchers are working to remove a characteristic to make plants more resistant to pests, marking a giant leap in new methodologies designed to protect plants from insects and other threats. 

The goal is to essentially silence genes in cotton that produce monoterpenes, chemicals that produce an odor pest insects home in on. By removing odors that pests associate with a good place to feed and reproduce, scientists believe they can reduce infestations, which will in turn reduce pesticide use and improve profitability.


Source: ABC Radio National – 31 August 2022

A handful of food startups around the world are racing to develop and mass produce animal-free dairy – that is, synthetic milk identical to cow’s milk. Eden Brew CEO and co-founder Jim Fader says the company first batch of non animal dairy ice cream is a few months away, and its non animal dairy milk is about a year away from shelves. 


Source: Ecos, CSIRO – 23 August 2022

Nitrogen is key to producing the world’s crops – but it comes at a cost. New research from CSIRO is developing future crops that produce their own fertiliser. Cutting environmental impacts, without impacting global food security – this challenge is being tackled by Dr Craig Wood and his team at CSIRO using advanced synthetic biology and crop biotechnology to create new crops that that can fix their own nitrogen for growth.

“Some bacteria are able to make their own fertiliser, and this unique and natural pathway is giving us the template for engineering crops with the same capacities,” Dr Wood says. His team, including Drs Christina Gregg and Rob Allen, are using the genetic templates available in bacteria and re-engineering them to have stable expression in agricultural crops. 


Source: Crop Biotech Update (ISAAA)

The TaCOL-B5 gene in wheat plants can enhance yield by more than 10% and is an excellent candidate for getting the most out of one’s wheat crop, according to a report by the Oklahoma State University. The gene was discovered in wheat cultivar CLtr176 from Mexico. It was found to increase the number of spikelets on a wheat spike by more than three, as well as increase the number of fertile tillers per plant. The gene is also rare, as it can only be found in only about 2% of wheat species across the globe.


Source: Crop Biotech Update (ISAAA)

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) announced that it has chosen the province of Lanao del Norte to identify a farmer cooperative that will plant Golden Rice as part of the seed production in preparation for the distribution to households in the Philippines…

Dr. Ronan Zagado, Program Leader of Golden Rice-Project Management Office of the Department of Agriculture-PhilRice, announced that they are now working on the Golden Rice seeds deployment in the province of Lanao del Norte located in the northwestern part of the main island of Mindanao in the Philippines. The seeds will be given for free as part of the pilot scale deployment…


Source: Cornell Alliance for Science

Africa has a more urgent need than the rest of the world to adopt genetically modified organisms for agricultural improvement, says Prof. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, founding director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana.

Challenges like climate change and population rise are increasing food insecurity on the continent, heightening the urgent need for technological innovations to stem that trend, he said. Disrupted rainfall patterns, drought, extreme weather events, pest infestations, plant diseases, crop losses and hunger are negatively impacting the continent.


Source: Genetic Literacy Project

In 2019, about 8.9 percent of the world population, or 690 million people, were considered to be undernourished. This total probably increased recently because of the COVID pandemic, which led to a loss of economic activity in many developing countries. It is also likely to rise still further as the war in Ukraine has sent the prices of several food staples, such as corn, barley and wheat, surging higher as Russia and Ukraine are major producers and exporters of these crops.

A 2020 paper from two Pakistan biologists, “Transgenic Crops for Biofortification,” noted, “It is evident that biofortification holds great promise for improving the nutritive value of major crops. By the use of recombinant DNA technology, the bioavailability of several essential micronutrients and vitamins could be increased…”


Source: Alliance for Science

In our modern age of biotechnology, new tools are constantly being developed for agricultural improvement. Whether it’s DNA sequencing, plant tissue culture or gene editing, these advances are facilitating the development of better crops.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are one well-known example of agricultural biotechnology. The release of GMO products, starting in the 1990s, was followed by an onslaught of information from varied sources about the relative merits of the technology. A quick search will fill your browser with contrasting viewpoints about GMOs from sources with varying levels of credibility.

Newer to the agricultural biotechnology space is gene editing, often known as CRISRPR/Cas. It’s adding yet another term and even more complexity to a field already brimming with misperceptions and misinformation.


Source: Yahoo

Argentina announced the authorization on Thursday of the commercialization within the country of the HB4 GMO wheat variety developed by Bioceres , as Argentine farmers are about to start planting wheat for the 2022/23 season. The move will make Argentina the first country where farmers can plant GMO wheat, which in the case of Bioeceres’ HB4 is more tolerant to water scarcity and resistant to the herbicide glufosinate-ammonium.

In a related development, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), approved the sale of imported foods made from wheat genetically modified to withstand drought and the herbicide glufosinate. At present, neither country allows the GMO wheat, developed by Bioceres Crop Solutions, based in Argentina, to be grown by its farmers.