Latest Biotech News


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_140918 copy 2 – 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.


AUS - ANALYSIS SHOWS THERE ARE NO PRICE PREMIUMS UNDER THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN GM CROP MORATORIUM

A report titled ‘Analysis of price premiums under the South Australian GM moratorium’ released today provides clear facts and evidence that the moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops in South Australia does not deliver price premiums to any farmer in the state and if repealed, would not cause any loss to non-GM farmers.

The report by independent expert market analysts Mecardo, commissioned by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) and Grain Producers South Australia, has been released to provide facts and evidence on the presumed trade and marketing premiums achieved by farmers through the South Australian ban on GM crops in what to date has been a discussion based on hearsay and anecdotes.

To download your copy of the report ‘Analysis of price premiums under the South Australian GM moratorium’ visit www.abca.com.au

See also ABCA’s media release


AUS - $1 BILLION CANOLA EXPORT MARKET SECURED

Source: CSIRO Media Release – 18 December 2017

Following the submission of a CSIRO report funded by the Australian Oilseed Federation (AOF) members and the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC), the European Commission has confirmed Australian canola meets strict new feedstock requirements for EU biodiesel.

To meet its own greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, Europe would have shut its doors to Australian canola from 1 January 2018 unless Australian farmers demonstrated that they grow low-emission canola…

“The EU market is too valuable to lose for Australian canola growers. In 2016/17, Australian canola exports to the EU were typically worth over $1.0 billion, with nearly all those exports being used for biodiesel production,” Mr Goddard said. [Read more…]

 


AUS - OGTR PROPOSAL REGARDING GENE TECH CRITICISED

Source: Stock & Land – 16 December 2017

Groups against genetically modified (GM) food crops are protesting against a proposal from the Office of the Gene Technology (OGTR) to alter the regulatory status of a series of new plant breeding techniques…However, Matthew Cossey, chief executive of CropLife, Australia’s plant science peak body, welcomed the proposed changes…“The move to clarify the regulations by the OGTR will provide some level of certainty for researchers and industry and will enable innovative agricultural tools to be made available to Australia’s farmers in a more timely manner.” [Read more…]

 


INT - CRISPR TECHNOLOGY TO ACCELERATE CROP DEVELOPMENT

Source: Genetic Literacy Project – 08 December 2017

Gene editing technology, particularly the technique called CRISPR, is expected to accelerate the introduction of new crops. This involves making very precise changes to the DNA already present in the plant, unlike conventional GM technology which introduces new genes. As a consequence, the agricultural biotechnology industry hopes it will be subject to lighter regulation, particularly in Europe. To demonstrate the power of CRISPR in plant breeding, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the US recently edited the tomato genome in three different ways to make three distinct changes in the way the plant grows: its fruit size, branching pattern and overall shape. [Read more…]


AUS - ABCA LAUNCHES NEW EDITION OF AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY GUIDE

The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) launched the third edition of The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops at the AusBiotech AusAg & Foodtech Summit in Adelaide.

Mr Ken Matthews AO, ABCA Chairman said that although the role of agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified (GM) crops in meeting production and sustainability challenges is widely recognised by farmers, public discussion is not always based on factual and accessible information.

“This updated Guide provides independent, factual, science-based information to contribute to a more informed national discussion about agricultural biotechnologies,” said Mr Matthews.

The third edition of the Guide was developed using the latest scientifically valid data and reviewed by ABCA’s Expert Scientific Panel, which is chaired by Dr TJ Higgins from the CSIRO. The Guide covers the science, performance, safety and regulation of commercialised GM crops as well as products in the pipeline. This updated edition of the Guide highlights the evolution of plant breeding innovations, such as genome editing using CRISPR-Cas9.

“Australia’s agriculture sector is a significant exporter, employer and driver of rural and regional communities. The uptake of innovative and emerging agricultural biotechnologies allows the sector to remain competitive and innovative in the face of global challenges like a changing climate and a reduction in arable land,” said Mr Matthews.

A record 185.1 million hectares of GM crops were grown globally in 2016, and 60 per cent of the world’s population live in the 26 countries growing GM crops. Despite the widespread adoption by farmers, the technology continues to stimulate considerable community discussion.

“Public policy and a regulatory environment that is guided by scientifically credible and factually correct information on agricultural biotechnology is crucial as Australian farmers and the world’s farming sector seek to double production of food, feed and fibre to meet the nutritional demand of a growing global population.”

In addition to providing factual information on agricultural biotechnology, the third edition of the Guide answers common questions about GM crops and clearly outlines the regulatory arrangements and food safety assessment requirements.

The Guide also presents information on ways to enable continued coexistence between GM and non-GM farming systems and features cases studies of Australian farmers growing GM crops.

The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops is now available online.


AUS - VITAMIN BOOSTED GM BANANAS FOR AFRICA

07 July 2017. Source: ABC News

Bananas with boosted vitamin A developed in Queensland to save African lives

Bananas genetically modified by Queensland researchers to be vitamin A-enriched are being grown in Uganda, in a breakthrough hoped to save the lives of thousands of east African children.

After more than a decade of development, the first crop has been produced in Uganda using the local variety of cooking banana.

“We are getting over four times our target level [of vitamin A] so we are very happy about that,” researcher Professor James Dale said.

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness, an impaired immune system, and can impact brain development…


USA - THE GM PAPAYA JOURNEY

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…


BRAZIL - GM SUGARCANE APPROVED FOR COMMERCIAL USE

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.


USA - GM RICE WITH IMMUNITY BOOST

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.


CHINA - TWO NEW GM CROPS APPROVED

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.

 


INT - NEW REPORT SHOWS GM BENEFITS

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.