Asia-Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology and Bioresources

Current News

 

GM crops increased farm income and production more in the developing countries than the developed countries
11 JUN 2018
On the basis of cultivation of four main GM crops – soybean, corn, cotton and canola, annual updated analysis shows that there continues to be very significant net economic benefits at the farm level amounting to $18.2 billion in 2016 and $186.1 billion for the period 1996–2016 (in nominal terms). These gains have been divided 48% to farmers in developed countries and 52% to farmers in developing countries.

Making healthy, cheap animal feeds
10 JUN 2018
Dr. Laura Pham, a chemist and food scientist from the University Researcher IV in the Oils and Fats Laboratory and Feeds and Specialty Products Laboratory of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (Biotech) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños in Laguna, developed copra meal (generally considered as waste) enriched with protein and mixed in animal feeds, making the livestock and fish healthy for human consumers.

Scientists develop early flowering transgenic mustard
07 JUN 2018
Scientists at Tata Energy Research Institute, India, developed an early flowering transgenic mustard variety. The research will help to develop a plant variety in mustard with shorter life cycle and with better yields through reduced exposure to the harsh climatic conditions in the fields.

 

Smart tech to help PHL achieve sustainable agri goals
07 JUN 18
The Philippines is promoting the adoption and practice of advanced technology and smart farming methods such vertical farming, micropropagation, cryopreservation and hydroponics, with the aim of developing technology to increase crop production and minimize losses.

 

These Indian farmers are using Whatsapp and Facebook to demand GM seeds technology
30 MAY 2018
Indian farmers are using social media to demand GM seeds of cotton. The Shetkari Sanghatana (Farmer organization) is organizing conferences for farmers and consumers to create awareness about GM seeds and its volunteers are also going directly to villages to speak to farmers about it. It will help the smallholder farmers to cut down the cost of cultivation and increase farmers’ income.

Simultaneous editing of two copies of Gh14-3-3d confers enhanced transgene-clean plant defense against Verticillium dahliae in allotetraploid upland cotton
30 MAY 2018
The CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system is a robust and highly efficient tool for generating target gene mutants, by which the genes of interest may be functionally dissected and applied through genotype-to-phenotype approaches. Using this new breeding method, Chinese scientists developed fungus-resistant cotton. These lines can be used as a germplasm to breed disease-resistant cotton varieties.

US FDA approves GMO Golden Rice as safe to eat
29 MAY 2018
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Golden Rice, marking the third positive international assessment for the genetically engineered biofortified crop. Previously, Food Standards Australia, New Zealand and Health Canada gave Golden Rice the stamp of approval in February and March 2018 respectively.

 

CRISPR-Edited Rice Plants Produce Major Boost in Grain Yield
29 MAY 2018
A team of scientists from Purdue University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has used CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to develop a variety of rice that produces 25-31 percent more grain and would have been virtually impossible to create through traditional breeding methods.

 

Disrupting agricultural and tree biodiversity science – a review of Bioversity International’s 2017
22 MAY 2018
On the International Day of Biological Diversity, Bioversity International published its 2017 Annual Report. This report presents scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.

 

The future of genetically modified crops in India
21 MAY 2018
Intellectual property rights in relation to plant varieties, including transgenic varieties, are the subject matter of protection under the provisions of the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Act, decided by Indian court. It may affects the investment by private sector in GM research and future of GM crops in India.

 

APSA/WorldVeg Vegetable Breeding Consortium: Growing stronger with every new member
18 MAY 2018
The Asia & Pacific Seed Association (APSA)/World Vegetable Center Vegetable Breeding Consortium held its second annual workshop on 16-17 May 2017 in Shanhua, Taiwan. 32 seed companies from the Asia Pacific region joined the workshop, for two days of discussions, seminars, and in-field evaluations of various crops. 

 

More sustainable potato production through extended IPM for late blight
15 MAY 2018
Cultivation of cisgenic or conventionally bred, late blight resistant potato varieties in combination with pathogen population monitoring and a “do not spray unless” strategy resulted in an 80 – 90% reduction of the fungicide use as compared to current common practice. A team of scientists from Wageningen University & Research andTeagasc – the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority published these findings in the scientific journal European Journal of Agronomy.

USDA’s hands-off approach to gene-edited crops could revolutionize research and development
15 MAY 2018
USDA does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests. The USDA’s recent decision to stay out of the business of regulating gene-edited crops could be a game changer for a sector long dominated by a handful of companies armed with massive research and development budgets.

PARC Organised Workshop on Plant Genetic Resources, Gene Bank Operations
07 MAY 2018
On May 8th, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) and COMSTECH Secretariat, Islamabad organized an ‘International Workshop on Plant Genetic Resources and Gene bank Operations Management Systems’, to train 35 participants from OIC member states.

 

Agricultural biotechnologies that improved safety, yields, food security in developing nations
02 MAY 2018
Genetic Literacy Project reports that agricultural biotechnologies has significant impact on food security and environmental safety developing countries including China, India and Pakistan.

 

Brainstorming Meeting on Strategies for Implementation of ‘Delhi Declaration for Agrobiodiversity Management’ in India – Proceedings and Action Points
02 MAY 2018
A brainstorming meeting on Strategies for Implementation of ‘Delhi Declaration on Agrobiodiversity Management’ was organized in India to chalk out a plan for effective implementation of the 12-point Delhi Declaration on Agrobiodiversity Management, adopted by the 1st International Agrobiodiversity Congress (IAC 2016). This document summarizes the deliberations of the meeting and the proposed action plan for management of genetic resources in India to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Aichi targets.

Discovery of new genes in rice for abiotic stress tolerance
25 APR 2018
A group of scientists from IRRI, the Institute of Crop Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), BGI-Shenzhen, and 13 other partner institutions, published a collaborative research that will enable scientists to discover new gene variants and characterize known genes for important traits, such as the natural ability of a particular variety to resist diseases and withstand floods, drought, and salty water. This study is recently published in Nature (doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0063-9).

Role of genomics in promoting the utilization of plant genetic resources in genebanks
23 APR 2018
It is estimated that about 1% of germplasm conserved in genebanks are utilized. Genomics has potential to revolutionize the utilization of genebank collections for having positive impact on food and nutritional security, concluded by Australian scientists.

 

Can genomics deliver climate-change ready crops?
21 APR 2018
This review summarizes how germplasm collections are utilized to identify superior alleles/haplotypes through NGS based sequencing approaches and how genomics-enabled technologies together with precise phenotyping are being used in crop breeding. Pre-breeding and genomics-assisted breeding approaches are contributing to the more efficient development of climate-resilient crops. 

South Asia Biosafety Program – April newsletter
APR 2018
Relevant news about biosafety regulation and policy developments in India and Bangladesh, as well as updates about the capacity building activities through the South Asia Biosafety Program are highlighted in this newsletter.

 

Injecting diversity to bolster immunity to climate change and food insecurity
16 APR 2018
Agricultural biodiversity is essential for our survival and well-being. Much like the way vaccines work to protect human health, a rich diversity of species and varieties bolster agricultural production systems to be more resilient and in many cases even ‘immune’ to climate change and food insecurity. Bioversity International and its partners in Guatemala recently implemented one such diversity ‘injection’.

Late-blight resistant potatoes hold promise for farmers in Uganda and beyond
12 APR 2018
Late blight disease is a major constraint for potato production, costing farmers an estimated $3-$10 billion per year globally. Scientists at the International Potato Center (CIP) decided to try genetic engineering to transfer genes that confer resistance to late blight in wild relatives of potato into potato varieties that are popular with farmers and consumers.

 

Plant scientists welcome the US decision to not regulate the gene edited crops
08 APR 2018
The US decision to not regulate the crops developed by gene editing method paves the way for generating genetically altered crops without major regulatory restrictions. This will also open new vistas for other countries in the world.

 

Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) labelling in plant genetic resources
02 APR 2018
Maintaining this relationship is particularly important when material from genebanks is used to develop new varieties, explains Matija Obreza, Genesys Information Systems Manager at the Crop Trust. The proper identification of parents via DOIs allows the use of the material to be tracked and that helps when determining the impact of genebank collections. DOIs also allow for automated discovery of publications by scanning the Internet for a specific DOI. It will also support the effective conservation and use of PGR in crop improvement programs.

Rice tungro virus disease-resistant plants were developed by IRRI using CRISPER-Cas9
31 MAR 2018
Rice tungro disease (RTD) is a serious constraint in rice production across tropical Asia. RTD is caused by the interaction between Rice tungro spherical virus (RTSV) and Rice tungro bacilliform virus (RTBV). RTSV resistance found in traditional cultivars has contributed to a reduction in the incidence of RTD in the field. New RTSV-resistant plants were produced by CRISPR/CAS9-targeted mutagenesis and were found to no longer contain the Cas9 sequence.

 

GMOs are ‘substantially equivalent’ to conventional foods. So should they face reduced regulations?
28 MAR 2018
Dividing debate is continued between the proponents who have scientific consensus that GMOs are safe on the basis of ‘substantial equivalence’ and are not to be considered more risky than the products developed through conventional breeding, as all breeding methods carry some small risks of harmful unintended consequences, and the critics who argue against the GMOs. The concept of ‘substantial equivalence’, how it is adjudged and used, and its relativity with regulatory process is discussed here.

Products developed using gene-editing methods do not fall under regulatory process in US
28 MAR 2018
US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today reconfirmed that his agency has no plans to impose new or additional regulation on crops developed through new breeding techniques, such as gene editing. The USDA previously determined that a new variety of corn, an oil-rich camelina and a non-browning mushroom developed using the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 did not fall within its regulatory authority because they did not involve any plant pests.

Cultivation of GM crops kills harmful insects of non-GM crops and reduce usage of pesticides
27 MAR 2018
A team of scientists from US demonstrated that widespread Bt field corn adoption is strongly associated with marked decreases in the number of recommended insecticidal applications, insecticides applied, and damage to vegetable crops in the United States. These positive impacts to growers, including organic producers, in the agricultural landscape expands on known ecological effects of Bt adoption. The scientists provided evidence for the regional suppression of Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner), European corn borer, and Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), corn earworm, populations in association with widespread Bt maize adoption (1996–2016) and decreased economic levels for injury in vegetable crops [peppers (Capsicum annuum L.), green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), and sweet corn (Zea mays L., convar. saccharata)] compared with the pre-Bt period (1976–1995).The results of this study also underscore the need to account for offsite economic benefits of pest suppression, in addition to the direct economic benefits of Bt crops.

Asia-Pacific region faces unprecedented loss of biodiversity
23 MAR 2018
Biodiversity – the essential variety of life forms on Earth – continues to decline in every region of the world, significantly reducing nature’s capacity to contribute to people’s well-being. This alarming trend endangers economies, livelihoods, food security and the quality of life of people everywhere, according to four landmark science reports released today, written by more than 550 leading experts, from over 100 countries.

Message of the executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Dr Cristiana Paşca Palmer on the occasion of the International Day of Forests
21 MAR 2018
Dr Cristiana Pasca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), messaged “Forest and Sustainable Cities” on the occasion of the International Day of Forest, March 21, 2018. Dr Palmer underlined the importance of forests and forest ecosystems for providing water, health, managing disasters and other critical services to the cities particularly in developing countries. She gave a call to protect our precious forests and connect cities to natural environment and manage forests and cities hand in hand. 

Health Canada has no objection to the food use of Provitamin A Biofortified Rice Event GR2E (Golden Rice) developed by IRRI.
16 MAR 2018
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has developed a genetically modified rice event (GR2E) using recombinant-DNA techniques that is biofortified with provitamin A.  GR2E rice will be grown commercially in major rice-producing regions, primarily in Asia.  The main intended market for this product is in countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines where diets are typically low in vitamin A.  Intrinsic food supplementation could be a useful tool for alleviating vitamin A deficiency in children, a known and preventable cause of blindness. In order to determine whether this rice variety could be sold in Canada as food, the scientists at Health Canada conducted a scientific assessment that ensured that GR2E rice is safe for consumption, that the increased provitamin A levels posed no risk to Canadian consumers, and that it still had all its nutritional value. Health Canada has notified the International Rice Research Institute that it has no objection to the food use of Provitamin A Biofortified Rice Event GR2E (Golden Rice).  The Department conducted a comprehensive assessment of this rice event according to its Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods.  These Guidelines are based upon internationally accepted principles for establishing the safety of foods with novel traits.

Disease-resistant GMO crops can reduce pesticide use
15 MAR 2018
Recently, University of Florida plant geneticists Zhonglin Mou and Kevin Folta, along with their team of graduate students, announced a new method to fight common diseases in fruit plants. Their discovery could drastically reduce the use of fungicides if widely implemented by growers! However, activists do not realize that their un-scientific and illogical hue and cry against GMO costs enormously to de-regulate the GM products. Nevertheless, GM products through safe and appropriate technology will continue to contribute in agriculture to ensure food security and proven to be good for all of us.

A maize phytochrome-interacting factors protein ZmPIF1 enhances drought tolerance by inducing stomatal closure and improves grain yield in Oryza sativa
12 MAR 2018
Maize gene improves drought tolerance by reducing stomatal opening to control water loss and grain yield in rice, reported by a group of scientists from China led by Yong Gao, from Yangzhou University. Phytochrome-interacting factors (PIFs) are known to regulate plant growth and development, but their roles in drought stress remain unknown. Scientists studied the function of a maize (Zea mays) PIF transcription factor, ZmPIF1. The expression level of this gene was induced by drought and abscisic acid (ABA) treatments which was expressed in rice also. The ZmPIF1 transgenic rice plants were found to be hypersensitive to ABA treatment without any changes in endogenous ABA level. This suggests that ZmPIF1 was a positive regulator of the ABA signaling pathway. In addition, ZmPIF1 was able to increase the grain yield through yield-contributing traits e.g. an increase in number of tillers and panicles in transgenic rice. This study is published in Plant Biotechnology Journal.

GMOinfo website is launched
08 MAR 2018
The GMOinfo website is launched  which is a pan-European initiative supported by EuropaBio and partners from across Europe, to provide factual information about GMOs to Europeans in their own language.

 

Analysis Shows There Are No Price Premiums Under the South Australian GM Crop Moratorium
06 MAR 2018
Australia approved the cultivation of GM canola through a science-based risk assessment in 2003, but allowed state moratoria to be instituted based on potential trade impacts over the period 2004 to 2008 and 2010 in the main canola growing states. The environmental impacts are measured through the amount of chemical active ingredients applied during pest management. The environmental opportunity costs from delaying the adoption of GM canola in Australia include an additional 6.5 million kilograms of active ingredients applied to canola land; a 14.3% increase in environmental impact to farmers, consumers and the ecology; 8.7 million litres of diesel fuel burned; and an additional 24.2 million kilograms of greenhouse gas and compound emissions released. The economic opportunity costs of the socioeconomic consideration-based moratoria resulted in foregone output of 1.1 million metric tonnes of canola and a net economic loss to canola farmers’ of AU$485.6 million (https://doi.org/10.1080/21645698.2018.1429876). 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.

CRISPR presents an efficient tool to control cotton bollworm by engineering genomes of the insect for its management.
28 FEB 2018
Helicoverpa armigera, cotton bollworm, is one of the most disastrous pests worldwide, threatening various food and economic crops. Functional genomic tools may provide efficient approaches for its management. The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR‐associated protein 9 (Cas9) system, dependent on a single guide RNA (sgRNA), has been used to induce indels for targeted mutagenesis in cotton bollworm. However, genomic deletions may be more desirable to disrupt the function of noncoding genes or regulatory sequences. By injecting two sgRNAs with Cas9 protein targeting different exons, predictable genomic deletions of several hundred bases were obtained by a team of scientists from Southwest University of China who achieved this type of modification with different combinations of sgRNA pairs, including HaCad and HaABCC2. Our finding indicated that CRISPR/Cas9 can be used as an efficient tool to engineer genomes with chromosomal deletion in H. armigera.

Bill Gates calls GMOs ‘perfectly healthy’ — and scientists say he’s right
27 FEB 2018
In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thread on Tuesday, Bill Gates said that not only does he view genetically modified foods as “perfectly healthy,” but that he sees them as a promising tool in a wider array of resources in the fight to reduce world hunger. Bill Gates had a message for those advocating against genetically modified organisms and clearly mentioned “GMO foods are perfectly healthy and the technique has the possibility to reduce starvation and malnutrition when it is reviewed in the right way,” Gates wrote. “I don’t stay away from non-GMO foods but it is disappointing that people view it as better.”

Australia mulls a green light for gene editing
22 FEB 2018
Gene editing technology – CRISPR would be freed from government regulation under a proposal by Australia’s Office of Gene Technology Regulator. After a 12-month technical review of the country’s broad definition of genetic modification, regulator Raj Bhula said gene editing is a faster version of classic breeding practices.

 

Adapting clonally propagated crops to climatic changes: a global approach for taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott) 
FEB 2018
Exchange of germplasm is the key for adaptation of cultivars to changed climatic conditions. For the first time in the history of Aroids research, seeds were exchanged internationally injecting tremendous allelic diversity in different countries. On the basis of participatory on-farm evaluation of hybrids tolerant to taro leaf blight, which were developed under breeding programs of Hawaii, Papua New Guinea and Samoa, performed better that respective local cultivars in most of the 14 countries from America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Does GMO corn increase crop yields? 21 years of data confirm it does—and provides substantial health benefits
19 FEB 2018
On the basis of 21 years data, it is concluded that GMO corn varieties increased crop yields 5.6 to 24.5 per cent relative to their non-GMO equivalents. Also GMO corn crops had lower percentages of mycotoxins (-28.8 per cent), fumonisins (-30.6 per cent) and thricotecens (−36.5 per cent), all of which can lead to economic losses and harm human and animal health. The study also reaffirmed the  scientific consensus that genetically modified corn does not pose risks to human health.

Australian OGTR approves GM cotton (COT102) and canola (DHA canola)
14 FEB 2018
The Australian Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) announced the approval for commercial release of insect resistant cotton (COT102) and GM canola with improved omega-3 oil content (DHA canola).
Issue of licence DIR 157 to Syngenta Australia Pty Ltd for the commercial release of GM cotton
Issue of licence DIR 155 to Nuseed Pty Ltd for the commercial release of GM canola

Ecology and genomics of an important crop wild relative as a prelude to agricultural innovation
13 FEB 2018
Chickpea is one of the most important pulse which is primary source for dietary supplementation of protein of millions of people in Asia and Africa. The journal nature Communication reports the work of Eric Wettberg et al on emphasizing the conservation and use of threated wild relatives diversity in breeding program to develop the improved climate-resilient chickpeas for the benefits of the farmers in near future.

Sweet way to greater yields
07 FEB 2018
A promising technique that make maize more productive even in droughts has now been unpicked and looks set to do the same for other cereals like wheat and rice.

 

Fast-Forwarding Genetic Gain
06 FEB 2018
‘Speed breeding’ enables scientists to exploit gene bank accessions and mutant collections for an unparalleled rapid gene discovery and gene deployment. Combining speed breeding and other leading edge plant breeding technologies with strategic global partnerships, has the potential to achieve the genetic gain targets required to deliver our future crops.

 

Wait nearly over for Golden Rice release in Bangladesh
05 FEB 2018
On the basis of extensive field trail data, Bangladesh is likely to take lead over Philippines and Indonesia to release ‘golden rice’ with high content of beta carotene.

 

Bt cotton doubled production, minimised harm by pest: Govt (05 February 2018)
Indian governments reports that since the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002, there has been a near doubling of cotton production in India from 158 lakh bales in 2001-02 to 351 lakh bales in 2016-17, and increase in productivity from 308 kg/ha in 2001-02 to 568 kg/ha in 2016-17.

Attitude and consumption of Bangladeshi professionals toward biotechnological products (01 February 2018)

The favourable attitude and marginal consumption of professional toward
 biotechnological products reveal that it is important to expand the application of biotechnology to ensure food and nutritional security of Bangladesh.

GMOs can help world hunger (30 January 2018)
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have potential to combat malnutritional problems in developing countries as they have been the subject of thousands of safety tests. The Independent Women’s Forum also mentioned that GMOs are considered safe by every major scientific and medical association and highlighted that why consumers should not be scared of GMOs.

‘Wild’ genes open up opportunities for healthier, climate-smart rice (30 January 2018)
The genome sequencing of seven wild rice varieties has finally been completed. This breakthrough is expected to provide opportunities for breeders worldwide in developing better rice varieties that will respond to the changing needs of the farmers and the consumers.

Genetic modification laws set for shake-up, with health and agriculture research industries to benefit (19 January 2018)
Australia is set to reform how it regulates new genetic engineering techniques, which experts say will help to dramatically speed up health and agriculture research. The changes will enable agricultural scientists to breed higher yielding crops faster and cheaper, or ones resistant to drought and disease.

With a free pass, CRISPR-edited plants reach market in record time (10 January 2018)
The US Department of Agriculture has given CRISPR–Cas9-edited plants, including a false flax with enhanced omega-3 oil and a drought-tolerant soybean, free rein to be cultivated and sold without regulation. The decisions further cements the regulator’s laissez faire attitude, which shaves years and tens of millions of dollars off the cost of bringing a biotech plant to market.

“Terminator Cattle” – breeding of all male cattle using CRISPER (10 January 2018)
Scientists hoped gene-editing might get a lighter touch from regulators, speeding new ideas into the food chain. But in January 2017, as one of the Obama Administration’s last acts, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it intended to treat CRISPR-edited animals as if they were new drugs, requiring elaborate and costly safety studies.

Speed breeding is a powerful tool to accelerate crop research and breeding (01 January 2018)
The growing human population and a changing environment have raised significant concern for global food security, with the current improvement rate of several important crops inadequate to meet future demand. This slow improvement rate is attributed partly to the long generation times of crop plants.

 

GM crops increased farm income and production more in the developing countries than the developed countries
11 JUN 2018
On the basis of cultivation of four main GM crops – soybean, corn, cotton and canola, annual updated analysis shows that there continues to be very significant net economic benefits at the farm level amounting to $18.2 billion in 2016 and $186.1 billion for the period 1996–2016 (in nominal terms). These gains have been divided 48% to farmers in developed countries and 52% to farmers in developing countries.

Making healthy, cheap animal feeds
10 JUN 2018
Dr. Laura Pham, a chemist and food scientist from the University Researcher IV in the Oils and Fats Laboratory and Feeds and Specialty Products Laboratory of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (Biotech) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños in Laguna, developed copra meal (generally considered as waste) enriched with protein and mixed in animal feeds, making the livestock and fish healthy for human consumers.

Scientists develop early flowering transgenic mustard
07 JUN 2018
Scientists at Tata Energy Research Institute, India, developed an early flowering transgenic mustard variety. The research will help to develop a plant variety in mustard with shorter life cycle and with better yields through reduced exposure to the harsh climatic conditions in the fields.

 

Smart tech to help PHL achieve sustainable agri goals
07 JUN 18
The Philippines is promoting the adoption and practice of advanced technology and smart farming methods such vertical farming, micropropagation, cryopreservation and hydroponics, with the aim of developing technology to increase crop production and minimize losses.

 

These Indian farmers are using Whatsapp and Facebook to demand GM seeds technology
30 MAY 2018
Indian farmers are using social media to demand GM seeds of cotton. The Shetkari Sanghatana (Farmer organization) is organizing conferences for farmers and consumers to create awareness about GM seeds and its volunteers are also going directly to villages to speak to farmers about it. It will help the smallholder farmers to cut down the cost of cultivation and increase farmers’ income.

Simultaneous editing of two copies of Gh14-3-3d confers enhanced transgene-clean plant defense against Verticillium dahliae in allotetraploid upland cotton
30 MAY 2018
The CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system is a robust and highly efficient tool for generating target gene mutants, by which the genes of interest may be functionally dissected and applied through genotype-to-phenotype approaches. Using this new breeding method, Chinese scientists developed fungus-resistant cotton. These lines can be used as a germplasm to breed disease-resistant cotton varieties.

US FDA approves GMO Golden Rice as safe to eat
29 MAY 2018
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Golden Rice, marking the third positive international assessment for the genetically engineered biofortified crop. Previously, Food Standards Australia, New Zealand and Health Canada gave Golden Rice the stamp of approval in February and March 2018 respectively.

 

CRISPR-Edited Rice Plants Produce Major Boost in Grain Yield
29 MAY 2018
A team of scientists from Purdue University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has used CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to develop a variety of rice that produces 25-31 percent more grain and would have been virtually impossible to create through traditional breeding methods.

 

The future of genetically modified crops in India
21 MAY 2018
Intellectual property rights in relation to plant varieties, including transgenic varieties, are the subject matter of protection under the provisions of the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Act, decided by Indian court. It may affects the investment by private sector in GM research and future of GM crops in India.

 

More sustainable potato production through extended IPM for late blight
15 MAY 2018
Cultivation of cisgenic or conventionally bred, late blight resistant potato varieties in combination with pathogen population monitoring and a “do not spray unless” strategy resulted in an 80 – 90% reduction of the fungicide use as compared to current common practice. A team of scientists from Wageningen University & Research andTeagasc – the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority published these findings in the scientific journal European Journal of Agronomy.

USDA’s hands-off approach to gene-edited crops could revolutionize research and development
15 MAY 2018
USDA does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests. The USDA’s recent decision to stay out of the business of regulating gene-edited crops could be a game changer for a sector long dominated by a handful of companies armed with massive research and development budgets.

Agricultural biotechnologies that improved safety, yields, food security in developing nations
02 MAY 2018
Genetic Literacy Project reports that agricultural biotechnologies has significant impact on food security and environmental safety developing countries including China, India and Pakistan.

 

Discovery of new genes in rice for abiotic stress-tolerance
25 APR 2018
A group of scientists from IRRI, the Institute of Crop Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), BGI-Shenzhen, and 13 other partner institutions, published a collaborative research that will enable scientists to discover new gene variants and characterize known genes for important traits, such as the natural ability of a particular variety to resist diseases and withstand floods, drought, and salty water. This study is recently published in Nature (doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0063-9).

Can genomics deliver climate-change ready crops?
21 APR 2018
This review summarizes how germplasm collections are utilized to identify superior alleles/haplotypes through NGS based sequencing approaches and how genomics-enabled technologies together with precise phenotyping are being used in crop breeding. Pre-breeding and genomics-assisted breeding approaches are contributing to the more efficient development of climate-resilient crops. 

South Asia Biosafety Program – April newsletter
APR 2018
Relevant news about biosafety regulation and policy developments in India and Bangladesh, as well as updates about the capacity building activities through the South Asia Biosafety Program are highlighted in this newsletter.

 

Late-blight resistant potatoes hold promise for farmers in Uganda and beyond
12 APR 2018
Late blight disease is a major constraint for potato production, costing farmers an estimated $3-$10 billion per year globally. Scientists at the International Potato Center (CIP) decided to try genetic engineering to transfer genes that confer resistance to late blight in wild relatives of potato into potato varieties that are popular with farmers and consumers.

 

Plant scientists welcome the US decision to not regulate the gene edited crops
08 APR 2018
The US decision to not regulate the crops developed by gene editing method paves the way for generating genetically altered crops without major regulatory restrictions. This will also open new vistas for other countries in the world.

 

Rice tungro virus disease-resistant plants were developed by IRRI using CRISPER-Cas9
31 MAR 2018
Rice tungro disease (RTD) is a serious constraint in rice production across tropical Asia. RTD is caused by the interaction between Rice tungro spherical virus (RTSV) and Rice tungro bacilliform virus (RTBV). RTSV resistance found in traditional cultivars has contributed to a reduction in the incidence of RTD in the field. New RTSV-resistant plants were produced by CRISPR/CAS9-targeted mutagenesis and were found to no longer contain the Cas9 sequence.

 

GMOs are ‘substantially equivalent’ to conventional foods. So should they face reduced regulations?
28 MAR 2018
Dividing debate is continued between the proponents who have scientific consensus that GMOs are safe on the basis of ‘substantial equivalence’ and are not to be considered more risky than the products developed through conventional breeding, as all breeding methods carry some small risks of harmful unintended consequences, and the critics who argue against the GMOs. The concept of ‘substantial equivalence’, how it is adjudged and used, and its relativity with regulatory process is discussed here.

Products developed using gene-editing methods do not fall under regulatory process in US
28 MAR 2018
US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today reconfirmed that his agency has no plans to impose new or additional regulation on crops developed through new breeding techniques, such as gene editing. The USDA previously determined that a new variety of corn, an oil-rich camelina and a non-browning mushroom developed using the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 did not fall within its regulatory authority because they did not involve any plant pests.

Cultivation of GM crops kills harmful insects of non-GM crops and reduce usage of pesticides
27 MAR 2018
A team of scientists from US demonstrated that widespread Bt field corn adoption is strongly associated with marked decreases in the number of recommended insecticidal applications, insecticides applied, and damage to vegetable crops in the United States. These positive impacts to growers, including organic producers, in the agricultural landscape expands on known ecological effects of Bt adoption. The scientists provided evidence for the regional suppression of Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner), European corn borer, and Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), corn earworm, populations in association with widespread Bt maize adoption (1996–2016) and decreased economic levels for injury in vegetable crops [peppers (Capsicum annuum L.), green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), and sweet corn (Zea mays L., convar. saccharata)] compared with the pre-Bt period (1976–1995).The results of this study also underscore the need to account for offsite economic benefits of pest suppression, in addition to the direct economic benefits of Bt crops.

Health Canada has no objection to the food use of Provitamin A Biofortified Rice Event GR2E (Golden Rice) developed by IRRI.
16 MAR 2018
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has developed a genetically modified rice event (GR2E) using recombinant-DNA techniques that is biofortified with provitamin A.  GR2E rice will be grown commercially in major rice-producing regions, primarily in Asia.  The main intended market for this product is in countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines where diets are typically low in vitamin A.  Intrinsic food supplementation could be a useful tool for alleviating vitamin A deficiency in children, a known and preventable cause of blindness. In order to determine whether this rice variety could be sold in Canada as food, the scientists at Health Canada conducted a scientific assessment that ensured that GR2E rice is safe for consumption, that the increased provitamin A levels posed no risk to Canadian consumers, and that it still had all its nutritional value. Health Canada has notified the International Rice Research Institute that it has no objection to the food use of Provitamin A Biofortified Rice Event GR2E (Golden Rice).  The Department conducted a comprehensive assessment of this rice event according to its Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods.  These Guidelines are based upon internationally accepted principles for establishing the safety of foods with novel traits.

Disease-resistant GMO crops can reduce pesticide use
15 MAR 2018
Recently, University of Florida plant geneticists Zhonglin Mou and Kevin Folta, along with their team of graduate students, announced a new method to fight common diseases in fruit plants. Their discovery could drastically reduce the use of fungicides if widely implemented by growers! However, activists do not realize that their un-scientific and illogical hue and cry against GMO costs enormously to de-regulate the GM products. Nevertheless, GM products through safe and appropriate technology will continue to contribute in agriculture to ensure food security and proven to be good for all of us.

A maize phytochrome-interacting factors protein ZmPIF1 enhances drought tolerance by inducing stomatal closure and improves grain yield in Oryza sativa
12 MAR 2018
Maize gene improves drought tolerance by reducing stomatal opening to control water loss and grain yield in rice, reported by a group of scientists from China led by Yong Gao, from Yangzhou University. Phytochrome-interacting factors (PIFs) are known to regulate plant growth and development, but their roles in drought stress remain unknown. Scientists studied the function of a maize (Zea mays) PIF transcription factor, ZmPIF1. The expression level of this gene was induced by drought and abscisic acid (ABA) treatments which was expressed in rice also. The ZmPIF1 transgenic rice plants were found to be hypersensitive to ABA treatment without any changes in endogenous ABA level. This suggests that ZmPIF1 was a positive regulator of the ABA signaling pathway. In addition, ZmPIF1 was able to increase the grain yield through yield-contributing traits e.g. an increase in number of tillers and panicles in transgenic rice. This study is published in Plant Biotechnology Journal.

GMOinfo website is launched
08 MAR 2018
The GMOinfo website is launched  which is a pan-European initiative supported by EuropaBio and partners from across Europe, to provide factual information about GMOs to Europeans in their own language.

 

Analysis Shows There Are No Price Premiums Under the South Australian GM Crop Moratorium
06 MAR 2018
Australia approved the cultivation of GM canola through a science-based risk assessment in 2003, but allowed state moratoria to be instituted based on potential trade impacts over the period 2004 to 2008 and 2010 in the main canola growing states. The environmental impacts are measured through the amount of chemical active ingredients applied during pest management. The environmental opportunity costs from delaying the adoption of GM canola in Australia include an additional 6.5 million kilograms of active ingredients applied to canola land; a 14.3% increase in environmental impact to farmers, consumers and the ecology; 8.7 million litres of diesel fuel burned; and an additional 24.2 million kilograms of greenhouse gas and compound emissions released. The economic opportunity costs of the socioeconomic consideration-based moratoria resulted in foregone output of 1.1 million metric tonnes of canola and a net economic loss to canola farmers’ of AU$485.6 million (https://doi.org/10.1080/21645698.2018.1429876). 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.

CRISPR presents an efficient tool to control cotton bollworm by engineering genomes of the insect for its management.
28 FEB 2018
Helicoverpa armigera, cotton bollworm, is one of the most disastrous pests worldwide, threatening various food and economic crops. Functional genomic tools may provide efficient approaches for its management. The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR‐associated protein 9 (Cas9) system, dependent on a single guide RNA (sgRNA), has been used to induce indels for targeted mutagenesis in cotton bollworm. However, genomic deletions may be more desirable to disrupt the function of noncoding genes or regulatory sequences. By injecting two sgRNAs with Cas9 protein targeting different exons, predictable genomic deletions of several hundred bases were obtained by a team of scientists from Southwest University of China who achieved this type of modification with different combinations of sgRNA pairs, including HaCad and HaABCC2. Our finding indicated that CRISPR/Cas9 can be used as an efficient tool to engineer genomes with chromosomal deletion in H. armigera.

Bill Gates calls GMOs ‘perfectly healthy’ — and scientists say he’s right
27 FEB 2018
In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thread on Tuesday, Bill Gates said that not only does he view genetically modified foods as “perfectly healthy,” but that he sees them as a promising tool in a wider array of resources in the fight to reduce world hunger. Bill Gates had a message for those advocating against genetically modified organisms and clearly mentioned “GMO foods are perfectly healthy and the technique has the possibility to reduce starvation and malnutrition when it is reviewed in the right way,” Gates wrote. “I don’t stay away from non-GMO foods but it is disappointing that people view it as better.”

Australia mulls a green light for gene editing
22 FEB 2018
Gene editing technology – CRISPR would be freed from government regulation under a proposal by Australia’s Office of Gene Technology Regulator. After a 12-month technical review of the country’s broad definition of genetic modification, regulator Raj Bhula said gene editing is a faster version of classic breeding practices.

 

Does GMO corn increase crop yields? 21 years of data confirm it does—and provides substantial health benefits
19 FEB 2018
On the basis of 21 years data, it is concluded that GMO corn varieties increased crop yields 5.6 to 24.5 per cent relative to their non-GMO equivalents. Also GMO corn crops had lower percentages of mycotoxins (-28.8 per cent), fumonisins (-30.6 per cent) and thricotecens (−36.5 per cent), all of which can lead to economic losses and harm human and animal health. The study also reaffirmed the  scientific consensus that genetically modified corn does not pose risks to human health.

Australian OGTR approves GM cotton (COT102) and canola (DHA canola)
14 FEB 2018
The Australian Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) announced the approval for commercial release of insect resistant cotton (COT102) and GM canola with improved omega-3 oil content (DHA canola).
Issue of licence DIR 157 to Syngenta Australia Pty Ltd for the commercial release of GM cotton
Issue of licence DIR 155 to Nuseed Pty Ltd for the commercial release of GM canola

 

 

Disrupting agricultural and tree biodiversity science – a review of Bioversity International’s 2017
22 MAY 2018
On the International Day of Biological Diversity, Bioversity International published its 2017 Annual Report. This report presents scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.

 

APSA/WorldVeg Vegetable Breeding Consortium: Growing stronger with every new member
18 MAY 2018
The Asia & Pacific Seed Association (APSA)/World Vegetable Center Vegetable Breeding Consortium held its second annual workshop on 16-17 May 2017 in Shanhua, Taiwan. 32 seed companies from the Asia Pacific region joined the workshop, for two days of discussions, seminars, and in-field evaluations of various crops. 

 

PARC Organised Workshop on Plant Genetic Resources, Gene Bank Operations
07 MAY 2018
On May 8th, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) and COMSTECH Secretariat, Islamabad organized an ‘International Workshop on Plant Genetic Resources and Gene bank Operations Management Systems’, to train 35 participants from OIC member states.

 

Brainstorming Meeting on Strategies for Implementation of ‘Delhi Declaration for Agrobiodiversity Management’ in India – Proceedings and Action Points
02 MAY 2018
A brainstorming meeting on Strategies for Implementation of ‘Delhi Declaration on Agrobiodiversity Management’ was organized in India to chalk out a plan for effective implementation of the 12-point Delhi Declaration on Agrobiodiversity Management, adopted by the 1st International Agrobiodiversity Congress (IAC 2016). This document summarizes the deliberations of the meeting and the proposed action plan for management of genetic resources in India to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Aichi targets.

Discovery of new genes in rice for abiotic stress-tolerance
25 APR 2018
A group of scientists from IRRI, the Institute of Crop Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), BGI-Shenzhen, and 13 other partner institutions, published a collaborative research that will enable scientists to discover new gene variants and characterize known genes for important traits, such as the natural ability of a particular variety to resist diseases and withstand floods, drought, and salty water. This study is recently published in Nature (doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0063-9).

Role of genomics in promoting the utilization of plant genetic resources in genebanks
23 APR 2018
It is estimated that about 1% of germplasm conserved in genebanks are utilized. Genomics has potential to revolutionize the utilization of genebank collections for having positive impact on food and nutritional security, concluded by Australian scientists.

 

Injecting diversity to bolster immunity to climate change and food insecurity
16 APR 2018
Agricultural biodiversity is essential for our survival and well-being. Much like the way vaccines work to protect human health, a rich diversity of species and varieties bolster agricultural production systems to be more resilient and in many cases even ‘immune’ to climate change and food insecurity. Bioversity International and its partners in Guatemala recently implemented one such diversity ‘injection’.

Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) labelling in plant genetic resources
02 APR 2018
Maintaining this relationship is particularly important when material from genebanks is used to develop new varieties, explains Matija Obreza, Genesys Information Systems Manager at the Crop Trust. The proper identification of parents via DOIs allows the use of the material to be tracked and that helps when determining the impact of genebank collections. DOIs also allow for automated discovery of publications by scanning the Internet for a specific DOI. It will also support the effective conservation and use of PGR in crop improvement programs.

Asia-Pacific region faces unprecedented loss of biodiversity
23 MAR 2018
Biodiversity – the essential variety of life forms on Earth – continues to decline in every region of the world, significantly reducing nature’s capacity to contribute to people’s well-being. This alarming trend endangers economies, livelihoods, food security and the quality of life of people everywhere, according to four landmark science reports released today, written by more than 550 leading experts, from over 100 countries.

Message of the executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Dr Cristiana Paşca Palmer on the occasion of the International Day of Forests
21 MAR 2018
Dr Cristiana Pasca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), messaged “Forest and Sustainable Cities” on the occasion of the International Day of Forest, March 21, 2018. Dr Palmer underlined the importance of forests and forest ecosystems for providing water, health, managing disasters and other critical services to the cities particularly in developing countries. She gave a call to protect our precious forests and connect cities to natural environment and manage forests and cities hand in hand. 

Adapting clonally propagated crops to climatic changes: a global approach for taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott) 
FEB 2018
Exchange of germplasm is the key for adaptation of cultivars to changed climatic conditions. For the first time in the history of Aroids research, seeds were exchanged internationally injecting tremendous allelic diversity in different countries. On the basis of participatory on-farm evaluation of hybrids tolerant to taro leaf blight, which were developed under breeding programs of Hawaii, Papua New Guinea and Samoa, performed better that respective local cultivars in most of the 14 countries from America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Ecology and genomics of an important crop wild relative as a prelude to agricultural innovation
13 FEB 2018
Chickpea is one of the most important pulse which is primary source for dietary supplementation of protein of millions of people in Asia and Africa. The journal nature Communication reports the work of Eric Wettberg et al on emphasizing the conservation and use of threated wild relatives diversity in breeding program to develop the improved climate-resilient chickpeas for the benefits of the farmers in near future.