Ag Biotech News
35.4K views | +49 today
Follow
 
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
onto Ag Biotech News
Scoop.it!

France says no need to revisit Monsanto maize approval - Reuters (2012)

A study last month pointing to health risks from a type of genetically modified maize and a related pesticide did not provide grounds for questioning previous safety approvals, the French government said on Monday...

more...
No comment yet.
Ag Biotech News
Scoops on GMOs, agricultural biotech, innovation, breeding, crop protection, and related info, incl. on science communication. (Scoops are not necessarily endorsements). CLICK on the titles to get to the full, original, and possibly hyperlinked versions!
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Bringing light into the discussion about GMOs? – A rather long reading list

[updated May 1, 2017]  

 

These days I received an apparently easy request: “Do you have any recommendations for reading about the debate on GMOs? I think there is a lot of heat, but too little light in the discussion; I trust you can send me some…” To which I answered carelessly: “Sure, I will look into it, select a few references and post them…” 

 

I thought I’d have a quick look into my collection of bookmarks and references and post some of the links to satisfy the request. Obviously there would be too many individual studies and crop-specific or country-specific reports, but focusing only (i) on what was published in recent years, (ii) on sources where all this information was already aggregated (literature reviews, meta-analyses, authoritative statements, FAQs, etc.), and (iii) on academic or publicly funded sources should produce a fairly concise list, I thought. 

 

While not unmanageable, the list has become quite long. To get a rough idea of the current state of knowledge, it may be sufficient to peruse the first 1-2 (starred *) references under each heading, and to have a quick look at the abstracts and summaries of some of the others. (Given the controversy surrounding this topic I did not want to suggest just one or two sources, but show a bit the width of the scientific consensus, and to offer some titbits of related information.) ... 

 

http://ajstein.tumblr.com/post/40504136918/
 

 

more...
Jennifer Mach's comment, March 30, 2013 9:05 AM
I admit I haven't read this list... but for future reference, I'll definitely have a look.
Karen Ashby's curator insight, April 5, 2016 4:26 AM

Conflicted about how your view on GM ties in with a career in Biotech? Look no further

Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

The regulatory status of gene-edited agricultural products in the EU and beyond - Custers (2017) - Emerging Topics Life Sci

Governments all over the world are struggling with the regulatory status of gene-edited organisms. Are they regulated? Should they be regulated? ... 


A stepwise analysis is performed that comes to the conclusion that gene-edited agricultural products that carry edits that can also occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination are not a genetically modified organism... 


It is difficult to require regulatory oversight that would go beyond what we now require for conventional products that can carry the same types of alterations. A regulatory approach is pleaded for that abides to fundamental principles of law making, and which allows for gene editing to develop responsibly.


http://doi.org/10.1042/ETLS20170019


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Genetically Modified Moths Come to New York - Atlantic (2017)

Genetically Modified Moths Come to New York - Atlantic (2017) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Earlier this spring, Anthony Shelton found himself planting a cabbage patch with members of his lab in upstate New York.

“We’re A to Z here”... If “A” is planting cabbages, then “Z” is releasing into that cabbage patch insects genetically engineered to breed themselves out of existence... If the experiment works, it could herald a new era for pest control.

The insects in this case are diamondback moths, notorious among farmers as pests that cause $4 to $5 billion of damage a year worldwide. The moth especially likes to munch on Brassica plants, which include cabbages, cauliflower, and broccoli. And it has become increasingly resistant to available insecticides. So Shelton’s cabbage patch... is the site of a long-awaited field test to see if genetic engineering could control the diamondback moths... Shelton is releasing males carrying a lethal gene that eventually kills all female offspring. Over time, the males will have no one to mate with... 


There is precedent, of a sort, for releasing sterile insects for pest control. From the 1950s to the early 2000s, a massive effort went into eradicating invasive screwworms – which burrow into the flesh of livestock – from the United States down to Panama. That campaign used screwworms raised in a factory and bombarded with radiation, which damaged their DNA so much as to make them sterile... The general sterilization-by-irradiation strategy has also been used to control the Mediterranean fruit fly and the Mexican fruit fly. 


The diamondback moths are not irradiated, though, because the irradiation strategy didn’t work. Shelton tried that back in the 1990s. “You could sterilize them, but they were not very fit. They couldn’t fly”... The radiation had damaged them too much. Genetic engineering is a more precise way make the moths unable to viable offspring, leaving them still fit enough to fly and mate... 

Whether genetically engineered insects can succeed as pest control may be location-specific. In upstate New York, diamondback moths die in the cold winters and others migrate up from the south in the spring. That means there are relatively few moths to deal with in the spring each year. The bigger the natural moth population, the more genetically engineered ones you have to release to be effective. In places where diamondback moths can live year-round, like India, their populations are much, much higher. “To think of it as a cure-all ... that’s asking a lot”... Screwworm eradication in the 20th century worked in part because its populations were relatively low despite causing a lot of damage.

Shelton has spoken at two local forums... and says they went fairly well. “We have a lot of farming community around, and people are quite proud to live in an area where they know the farmers”... One New York farmer told Scientific American, “I think using the insects is an awesome idea.” But what will that cabbage buyer in New York City think of genetically modified insects flitting around their vegetables? And should it be any different than irradiated fruit flies, which are routinely used to control pests on produce?

The fervor of the anti-GMO movement is often traced to Monsanto’s initial mistake decades ago in creating traits like innate insecticides that helped farmers, but whose benefits to the consumer were unclear... 


https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/09/genetically-modified-sterile-insects-take-flight/539040/



more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Contaminants in food: health risks of natural origin are frequently underestimated - BfR (2017) 

60 percent of the German population view undesirable substances in food as a high or very high health risk. The most well-known of these... contaminants are mercury compounds and dioxins. In contrast, only around 13 percent... heard of the natural contaminants pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs)... and only... one in three of those who have heard of PAs believe these substances pose a significant health risk... 


"People feel most at risk from synthetic substances and heavy metals... Appropriate risk communication on contaminants should take this subjective risk perception into account."

Contaminants are undesirable substances that unintentionally find their way into food products. They can occur naturally in the environment and in the processing of raw materials into food products or can be released into the environment through human activity and thereby enter the food chain. Contaminants are undesirable because they can impair health under certain circumstances.

1,001 people were asked about contaminants in food in the representative population survey... The most well-known contaminants in food are mercury in fish and dioxin in eggs or milk (with scores of 78% and 70%, respectively). In contrast, pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) in tea or honey (13%) and arsenic in rice and rice products (26%) as relatively new consumer protection topics are only known to a minority of respondents. Only 36% and 57% of those who have heard of PAs or arsenic see these substances as posing a significant risk to health.

General attitudes towards contaminants in food and the assessment of potential health risks also differ by population group. Compared to women, for example, men see the risks of undesirable substances in barbecued meat as being lower. Men tend to spend less time in general than female respondents thinking about the issue of undesirable substances in food. 


Younger people feel less well informed about undesirable substances in food than their older counterparts: some 41% of 14 to 29 year-olds say they are poorly or very poorly informed about undesirable substances in food compared to 15% of those above the age of 60. And it is particularly those respondents who are relatively well informed who would like additional information on possible protective measures, legal regulations and affected product groups...


http://www.bfr.bund.de/en/press_information/2017/31/contaminants_in_food__health_risks_of_natural_origin_are_frequently_underestimated-201850.html


Underlying study: http://doi.org/10.1007/s00103-017-2557-2


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Fertiliser subsidy and agricultural productivity in Senegal - Seck (2017) - World Econ

Fertiliser subsidy and agricultural productivity in Senegal - Seck (2017) - World Econ | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

One of the most complex and multifaceted agricultural policy decisions faced by African governments... whether it makes sense to subsidise fertilisers... [This paper] examine the productive efficiency of farmers who benefited from the subsidy programme in the very atypical irrigated system of the Senegal River Valley. 


The results based on farm-level data indicate that the subsidy programme seems to be working, as it appears to be associated with increased efficiency; hence, providing empirical support to the political will to revamp subsidy programmes...


http://doi.org/10.1111/twec.12487


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Herbicide rotation ineffective against resistance in waterhemp - U Illinois (2017) 

Herbicide rotation ineffective against resistance in waterhemp - U Illinois (2017)  | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Farmers have been battling herbicide-resistant weeds for generations. A common practice for most of that time has been to rotate between different herbicides every season. But despite farmers’ best efforts, herbicide resistance has grown through the years, with some weed populations showing resistance to not one but four or five different herbicides. A new study... explains why herbicide rotation doesn’t work... 

Herbicide resistance results from random genetic mutations that keep weeds from being harmed by a particular herbicide. When farmers continually spray the same herbicide year after year, those with the mutation, referred to as a resistance allele, survive and reproduce. Over time, the proportion of plants with the resistance allele grows.

Conventional thinking says that any defense trait – in this case, herbicide resistance – should come at a cost to the plant. It might be well protected against the herbicide, but it might not grow as tall, or flower as early. When the trait reduces a plant’s reproductive output, that’s known as a fitness cost.

A fitness cost to herbicide resistance should be apparent in years when alternative herbicides are used. “If plants have glyphosate resistance, but they’re sprayed with 2,4-D, for example, the majority of those plants will die because they’re not resistant to 2,4-D. But no herbicide kills 100 percent of the weeds, resistant or not... You have to think about the small percentage that live.

If there’s a high fitness cost to the glyphosate resistance allele, most of the surviving plants will be small or will flower late and they won’t produce many seeds. But if the fitness cost is low, those plants will produce just as many seeds as plants that don’t have the allele. Herbicide rotation relies on the assumption that the fitness cost is high...

This study tells us that fitness cost isn’t going to help you much in terms of herbicide resistance, so even long rotations aren’t going to work... I tell farmers, ‘Once you have resistance, you’re stuck with it.’ It gives us that much more incentive to do the right things to avoid resistance in the first place. That means using multiple herbicides, using a PRE and coming back with a POST. If you have escapes, getting out of your tractor and getting rid of them before they set seed. Because if they set resistant seed, this study tells you that you will have that resistance trait for life.”


http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/herbicide-rotation-ineffective-against-resistance-waterhemp


Underlying study: http://doi.org/10.1002/ps.4706


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Degrowth, organic agriculture and GMOs: A reply to Gomiero - Bartkowski (2017) - JCLEPRO

Degrowth, organic agriculture and GMOs: A reply to Gomiero - Bartkowski (2017) - JCLEPRO | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

This paper is a critical response to Gomiero’s analysis of the links between degrowth and agriculture… He makes a number of important points, especially regarding the naivety of some degrowth proposals that amount to romanticising organic agriculture. 


However, Gomiero’s criticism of GM crops, which he contrasts with organic agriculture, is partly outdated and partly misguided. This reply thus presents a different interpretation of the potential of modern green biotechnology, including its possible compatibility with organic agriculture... CRISPR/Cas genome editing relativises many anti-GM arguments. GMOs are not necessarily incompatible with degrowth-compatible organic agriculture… 


Agriculture is arguably one of the most environmentally impactful human activities, both presently and historically; at the same time, it is essential for human survival… 


Turning European society into self-sufficient, no-inputs family farms may not even be feasible, because of a simple biophysical constraint: the lack of land to meet the food demand of its large population… even if we ignore issues such as… the need to hold and feed livestock as a source of manure… Organic farming… is often heavily mechanised and based on large-scale operations… Self-sufficient, convivial agrarian societies are heavily dependent on a large labour force and thus have strong incentives for high fertility (contrary to modern industrialised societies that have already completed the demographic transition)… 


Organic agriculture… can be characterised… by a complex of criteria, particularly rejection of GMOs, synthetic fertilisers and pesticides… Biotech-based agriculture… is explicitly defined by one criterion only – the application and use of GM technology. Implicitly, a number of other characteristics are attached to this type of agriculture – that it is large-scale, industrialised, operating on oligopolistic or monopolistic markets… There is no prima facie reason to identify biotechnology with industrial agriculture… The implicit identification of biotech-based agriculture with all that is usually considered ‘bad’ from the degrowth perspective pre-determines the result of the analysis… 


Organic agriculture and genetic engineering need not be mutually exclusive but may rather be complementary. The general technology used to breed a crop does not predetermine breeding goals – and many breeding goals (e.g. resistance to pests or to environmental stresses) do not presuppose a particular method of cultivation. It is entirely imaginable to have organically cultivated GM crops… GM crops cannot be expected to solve global problems of widespread malnutrition and obesity, food security, fossil fuel substitution etc. But they have the potential to contribute to the solution of these problems…  


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652617320681


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Corporate Concentration and Technological Change in the Global Seed Industry - Bonny (2017) - Sustainability

Corporate Concentration and Technological Change in the Global Seed Industry - Bonny (2017) - Sustainability | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

In the past three decades, the seed sector has experienced, and is now again experiencing, corporate concentration trends. The fallout of this consolidation is the subject of numerous concerns. However, the seed sector is rather poorly understood. Thus, it is useful... to investigate the potential impact on the agri-food chain of the trend toward increased corporate concentration. 


The first part of this paper presents the main characteristics of the global seed sector, its stakeholders, and its size in the agri-food chain. Next, the corporate consolidation trends of the seed industry over the past two years are examined. The technological evolution of the seed sector is also briefly presented. In the last part of this paper, the fallout of recent mergers and acquisitions in the seed industry are analyzed... 


Stakeholders disagree about the impact of corporate concentration in the seed industry. For many people, it raises considerable concern, and fear of its negative consequences for food security and of the possibility of too much power held by the biggest companies. For a few others, these large seed companies are seen as very creative, and having the capacity to bring innovations critical for future agriculture, food, and the bioeconomy due to their high capacity for R&D. 


These two contrasting views seem to be linked to the controversy over the direction that agriculture should take to face the challenges of the 21st century, particularly between the two options of high-tech agriculture and agroecology.


http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/su9091632


Alexander J. Stein's insight:
Interesting: Figure 1, showing the size of the largest company of each sector in the agri-food chain and in chemicals globally – in the agri-food chain even the bigger seed companies (such as Monsanto) are small fry compared to the likes of PepsiCo, Cargill or Walmart... (And also if compared to key players in the organic or "natural" sector, such as Whole Foods, seed companies would not be very big.) 
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Evaluation of the safety of a genetically modified DAS-444Ø6-6 soybean meal and hulls in a 90-day dietary toxicity study in rats - Papineni &al (2017) - Food Chem Toxicol

Evaluation of the safety of a genetically modified DAS-444Ø6-6 soybean meal and hulls in a 90-day dietary toxicity study in rats - Papineni &al (2017) - Food Chem Toxicol | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

A 90-day sub chronic toxicity study was conducted in rats to evaluate the safety of genetically modified DAS-444Ø6-6 soybeans expressing herbicide tolerant proteins when compared with its conventional comparators (non-transgenic near isoline control soybean and three commercially available non-transgenic line control soybeans). 


Rats were given diets formulated with either 10% or 20% w/w of soybean meal and 1% or 2% hulls of DAS-444Ø6-6 soybean with an equivalent amount of hulls from an isoline non-transgenic control soybean for at least 90 days. In addition, three separate 20% w/w non-transgenic commercially available soybean varieties were also given to groups of rats to serve as reference controls. 


Animals were evaluated by cage-side and hand-held detailed clinical observations, ophthalmic examinations, body weights/body weight gains, feed consumption, hematology, prothrombin time, urinalysis, clinical chemistry, selected organ weights, and gross and histopathologic examinations. 


Under the conditions of this study, the genetically modified DAS-444Ø6-6 diets did not cause any treatment-related effects in rats following 90 days of dietary administration as compared with rats fed diets with soybean of isoline control or commercial reference controls and are considered equivalent to the diets prepared from conventional comparators.


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691517305070


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Case studies on genetically modified organisms (GMOs): Potential risk scenarios and associated health indicators - Santis &al (2017) - Food Chem Toxicol

Case studies on genetically modified organisms (GMOs): Potential risk scenarios and associated health indicators - Santis &al (2017) - Food Chem Toxicol | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Within the frame of the EU-funded... project, background data were reviewed... measuring health indicators during post-market monitoring for potential effects of feeds, particularly genetically modified (GM) feeds, on livestock animal health... 


Four case studies of potential health effects on livestock were framed and the current knowledge of a possible effect of GM feed was reviewed. 


Concerning allergenicity, there are no case-reports of allergic reactions or immunotoxic effects resulting from GM feed consumption as compared with non-GM feed. 


The likelihood of horizontal gene transfer of GMO-related DNA to different species is not different from that for other DNA and is unlikely to raise health concerns. 


Concerning mycotoxins, insect-resistant GM maize may reduce fumonisins contamination as a health benefit, yet other Fusarium toxins and aflatoxins show inconclusive results. 


For nutritionally altered crops, the genetic modifications applied lead to compositional changes which require special considerations of their nutritional impacts.

No health indicators were thus identified except for possible beneficial impacts of reduced mycotoxins and nutritional enhancement... 


https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2017.08.033


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Pesticides, human health, and food security - Bonner & Alavanja (2017) - Food Energy Sec

Pesticides, human health, and food security - Bonner & Alavanja (2017) - Food Energy Sec | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

The worldwide population is projected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. To accommodate this increase, food production will necessarily need to increase as well. However, new agricultural land is limited, so sustainable production and increasing productivity of existing agricultural land is an important aspect to addressing global food security... 

Given that there is limited additional land available for agriculture and sites for fish farming coupled with increasing economic pressures to produce agricultural commodities for industrial purposes, including fiber and biofuels, strategies to increase agricultural yield will need to be used... For the near and foreseeable future, pesticides may be an important component of a comprehensive strategy to increase crop yield by preventing both pre and postharvest loss to pests. 


With the role that pesticides may have to play to provide food security for an increasing world population, our commentary focuses on the important contribution epidemiology can make in helping to inform environmental health policy to safely meet the many challenges involved with ensuring food security... 


To help provide food security, we need more epidemiological research that evaluates specific pesticides and their mode of action on a number of health outcomes. Identification of the most sensitive outcomes, coupled with balancing the short- and long-term risks is necessary to develop risk management strategies that will optimize benefit and mitigate risks... 


If careful use of pesticides can minimize health risks while increasing nutritional quality and quantity of foods, then a beneficial consequence of pesticide use could be improved nutritional status and a corresponding improvement of public health...


http://doi.org/10.1002/fes3.112


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Genetic Engineering: A Possible Strategy for Protein–Energy Malnutrition Regulation - Guleria &al (2017) - Molec Biotechnol 

Genetic Engineering: A Possible Strategy for Protein–Energy Malnutrition Regulation - Guleria &al (2017) - Molec Biotechnol  | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) has adversely affected the generations of developing countries. It is a syndrome that in severity causes death. PEM generally affects infants of 1-5 age group. This manifestation is maintained till adulthood in the form of poor brain and body development. 


The developing nations are continuously making an effort to curb PEM. However, it is still a prime concern as it was in its early years of occurrence. 


Transgenic crops with high protein and enhanced nutrient content have been successfully developed. Present article reviews the studies documenting genetic engineering-mediated improvement in the pulses, cereals, legumes, fruits and other crop plants in terms of nutritional value, stress tolerance, longevity and productivity. 


Such genetically engineered crops can be used as a possible remedial tool to eradicate PEM.


http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12033-017-0033-8


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Harvesting more grain zinc of wheat for human health - Chen &al (2017) - Sci Reports

Harvesting more grain zinc of wheat for human health - Chen &al (2017) - Sci Reports | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Increasing grain zinc (Zn) concentration of cereals for minimizing Zn malnutrition in two billion people represents an important global humanitarian challenge. Grain Zn in field-grown wheat at the global scale ranges from 20.4 to 30.5 mg/kg, showing a solid gap to the biofortification target for human health (40 mg/kg). 


Through a group of field experiments, we found that the low grain Zn was not closely linked to historical replacements of varieties during the Green Revolution, but greatly aggravated by phosphorus (P) overuse or insufficient nitrogen (N) application. We also conducted a total of 320-pair plots field experiments and found an average increase of 10.5 mg/kg by foliar Zn application. 


We conclude that an integrated strategy, including not only Zn-responsive genotypes, but of a similar importance, Zn application and field N and P management, are required to harvest more grain Zn and meanwhile ensure better yield in wheat-dominant areas.


https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-07484-2


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

The impact of new Rice for Africa (NERICA) adoption on household food security and health in the Gambia - Dibba &al (2017) - Food Sec

The impact of new Rice for Africa (NERICA) adoption on household food security and health in the Gambia - Dibba &al (2017) - Food Sec | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

This paper investigates the impact of NERICA rice adoption on household food security and human health, using country-wide cross-sectional data of 502 rice farming households in The Gambia. 


We used food consumption scores and the number of household sick days per capita as outcome indicators of food security and health, respectively... 


Adoption... significantly increased household food security by 14 percentage points. This helps severely food insecure households to achieve acceptable food security status by enabling them to acquire cereals and tubers, pulses, vegetables and fruits on a daily basis. 


However, there was no significant impact of... adoption on human health... NERICA can play an important role in fighting against food insecurity in The Gambia.


http://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-017-0715-x


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Plant geneticists develop a new application of CRISPR to break yield barriers in crops - CSHL (2017) 

Plant geneticists develop a new application of CRISPR to break yield barriers in crops - CSHL (2017)  | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Scientists... harnessed the untapped power of genome editing to improve agricultural crops. Using tomato as an example, they have mobilized CRISPR/Cas9 technology to rapidly generate variants of the plant that display a broad continuum of three separate, agriculturally important traits: fruit size, branching architecture and overall plant shape. All are major components in determining how much a plant will yield. The method is designed to work in all food, feed, and fuel crops, including the staples rice, maize, sorghum and wheat.

“Current rates of crop yield increases won’t meet the planet’s future agricultural demands as the human population grows... One of the most severe limitations is that nature hasn’t provided enough genetic variation for breeders to work with, especially for the major yield traits that can involve dozens of genes. Our lab has now used CRISPR technology to generate novel genetic variation that can accelerate crop improvement while making its outcomes more predictable.”

The team’s experiments... involve using CRISPR “scissors” to make multiple cuts within three tomato genome sequences known as a promoters – areas of DNA near associated genes which help regulate when, where, and at what level these “yield” genes are active during growth. In this way generating multiple sets of mutations within each of these regulatory regions, the scientists were able to induce a wide range of changes in each of the three targeted traits.

“What we demonstrated with each of the traits... was the ability to use CRISPR to generate new genetic and trait variation that breeders can use to tailor a plant to suit conditions”...  

By using CRISPR to mutate regulatory sequences – the promoters of relevant “yield” genes rather than the genes themselves – the... team finds that they can achieve a much subtler impact on quantitative traits. Fine-tuning gene expression rather than deleting or inactivating the proteins they encode is most likely to benefit commercial agriculture because of the flexibility such genetic variation provides for improving yield traits.

“Traditional breeding involves great time and effort to adapt beneficial variants of relevant genes to the best varieties, which must continuously be improved every year... Our approach can help bypass this constraint by directly generating and selecting for the most desirable variants controlling gene activity in the context of other natural mutations that benefit breeding. We can now work with the native DNA and enhance what nature has provided, which we believe can help break yield barriers.”

Each of the mutated areas creates what are known as quantitative trait loci (QTL). In any given plant, QTL have arisen naturally over thousands of years, the result of spontaneous mutations that caused subtle changes in yield traits. Searching for and exploiting QTL from nature has been an objective of plant breeders for centuries, but the most valuable QTL – those that cause subtle changes in traits – are rare... CRISPR-generated QTL can be combined with existing QTL to create “toolkits” of genetic variation that exceed what is found in nature.


http://www.cshl.edu/news-and-features/plant-geneticists-develop-a-new-application-of-crispr-to-break-yield-barriers-in-crops.html


Underlying study: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2017.08.030


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

CRISPR/Cas9 Mediated Genome Engineering for Improvement of Horticultural Crops - Karkute &al (2017) - Frontiers Plant Sci

CRISPR/Cas9 Mediated Genome Engineering for Improvement of Horticultural Crops - Karkute &al (2017) - Frontiers Plant Sci | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Horticultural crops are an important part of agriculture for food as well as nutritional security. However, several pests and diseases along with adverse abiotic environmental factors pose a severe threat to these crops by affecting their quality and productivity. This warrants the effective and accelerated breeding programs by utilizing innovative biotechnological tools that can tackle aforementioned issues. 


The recent technique of genome editing... CRISPR/Cas9 has greatly advanced the breeding for crop improvement due to its simplicity and high efficiency over other nucleases such as Zinc Finger Nucleases and Transcription Activator Like Effector Nucleases... 


The use of CRISPR/Cas9 in horticultural crops is limited to few crops due to lack of availability of regeneration protocols and sufficient sequence information in many horticultural crops. In this review, the present status of applicability of CRISPR/Cas9 in horticultural crops was discussed along with the challenges and future potential for possible improvement of these crops for their yield, quality, and resistance to biotic and abiotic stress.


https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2017.01635


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Improved access to agricultural biotechnologies needed to help defeat hunger, malnutrition and poverty in the Asia-Pacific region - FAO (2017) 

Improved access to agricultural biotechnologies needed to help defeat hunger, malnutrition and poverty in the Asia-Pacific region - FAO (2017)  | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Smallholder farmers in the world’s hungriest and most populous region need greater access to  biotechnologies to improve food and nutrition security and fight poverty, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said today.

While the safe agricultural uses of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) continue to monopolize the debate, FAO is urging countries in Asia and the Pacific to adopt a more holistic approach and consider the wider range of low- to high-tech solutions present in the biotechnology toolbox. Closer attention should be paid to many of the other forms of agricultural biotechnologies in use today. These include the use of biofertilisers or biopesticides... artificial insemination... DNA-based tools to diagnose diseases of farmed fish... 

“Gaining greater access to, and utilizing, these various forms of agricultural biotechnologies can contribute to greater food security for the region and increased profits for smallholders who produce the vast majority of the food we eat each day,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General... “If this region is to meet the ambitious SDG targets and eliminate hunger, malnutrition and poverty by 2030, countries need to look at every safe, evidence-based form of food production and ensure the benefits of science can reach the smallholders”...  

“There is significant divergence among countries... in the levels of adoption of relevant agricultural biotechnologies as well as in their capacities to develop them and in the degree of support available in each country... The biotechnology divide is widening in the region and... a subset of emerging countries moving forward very quickly while many others are not accessing or investing in recent advances in science and technology”... said Samy Gaiji, Head of FAO's Research and Extension Unit... “exchange of ideas based on concrete and practical case studies where biotechnologies have been applied to benefit smallholder farmers, food producers and consumers, especially in developing countries”... 


FAO is encouraging member countries in the region and beyond to establish partnerships through South-South cooperation, with the aim to increase effective collaboration and resourcing in this field.


http://www.fao.org/asiapacific/news/detail-events/en/c/1036208/


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Reply: Greener revolutions for all require transparency and diversity, not secrecy - Flavell (2017) - Nature Biotechnol

[GMOs] ... the often-quoted principle that food should be judged “by the products themselves, not how they were made”... is in fact how it is and how it has inevitably always been. Very few consumers know how current food varieties and hybrids were created, and not even the most expert evolutionary geneticists understand the mutations, deletions, rearrangements and assimilation of genetic information from other species that made the wild forms of our crop species. So, the inevitable fact is that we judge each food on a product-by-product basis according to its own merits, not on the basis of how it was put together genetically. Therefore, it is logical to question why we single out genes that we do understand and build new regulations around them, whereas we have near-complete ignorance about most of the genetic information in our food and therefore sensibly have safety legislation on the finished products... 




more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Zinc fertilization increases productivity and grain nutritional quality of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata [L.] Walp.) under integrated soil fertility management - Manzeke &al (2017) - Field Crops Res

Zinc fertilization increases productivity and grain nutritional quality of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata [L.] Walp.) under integrated soil fertility management - Manzeke &al (2017) - Field Crops Res | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Cowpea is an important but under-studied grain legume [that] can potentially contribute to improved dietary zinc (Zn) intake in sub-Saharan Africa. 


In this study, surveys were conducted on smallholder farms in Zimbabwe during 2014/15 to determine the influence of diverse soil fertility management options on cowpea grain productivity and nutrition quality... Field experiments were conducted to investigate the influence of Zn fertilizer on the productivity and quality of cowpea under integrated soil fertility management (ISFM)... 


Cowpea grain yields on surveyed farms ranged from 0.3 to 0.9 t/ha, with grain Zn concentration ranging from 24 to 30 mg/kg. The highest grain Zn concentration was on fields where organic nutrient resources were applied in combination with mineral N and P fertilizers. 


Within the field experiments, mean grain yields of cowpea increased by... 12 and 18%... when Zn fertilizer was applied... on red clay and sandy soils, respectively. When Zn fertilizer was co-applied with organic nutrient resources, grain Zn concentrations of cowpea reached 42 mg/kg (red clay) and 45 mg/kg (sandy) against grain Zn concentrations of 36 mg/kg and 31 mg/kg measured in cowpea grown with no Zn fertilizer... 


Agronomic biofortification of legumes is feasible and has the potential to contribute significantly towards increasing dietary Zn intake by humans. A greater increase in grain Zn of cowpea grown on sandy than red clay soils under Zn fertilization illustrates the influence of soil type on Zn uptake, which should be explored further in agronomic biofortification programs.


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378429017307086


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Genome Editing for Global Food Security - Ma &al (2017) - Trends Biotechnol

Global food security is increasingly challenging in light of population increase, the impact of climate change on crop production, and limited land available for agricultural expansion. Here we outline how genome editing provides excellent and timely methods to optimize crop plants, and argue the urgency for societal acceptance and support... 


Global food security is an enormous challenge with multifaceted social and economic implications; it therefore requires enormous coordinated efforts within this century. While large-scale and complex agricultural production chains contribute extensively to satisfying the food supply in highly developed countries, these facilities are not equally available to less-developed nations... 


Precise crop optimization with regard to yield, nutrition balance, and plant fitness using genome editing would be a necessary strategy to address current and potential agricultural challenges, thereby securing the food supply: investment costs for farmers can be kept low while globally diverse threats can be addressed in parallel. 


Rapid developments in genome editing technologies will decrease the costs and time required to produce optimized crops in the future, and the broad adoption of genome editing technologies for crop optimization requires government support in setting up an updated regulatory framework, which should be guided by reasonable discussion with the public. 


In countries that follow product-based regulation (e.g., USA), only minor hurdles are expected regarding the implementation of gene-edited crops. In regions in favor of process-based regulation (e.g., the European Union), crop varieties... [with] no traces of transgenic elements, should be treated similarly to varieties developed through traditional breeding... 


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167779917302238


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Agricultural technology adoption and child nutrition enhancement: improved maize varieties in rural Ethiopia - Zeng &al (2017) - Ag Econ

Agricultural technology adoption and child nutrition enhancement: improved maize varieties in rural Ethiopia - Zeng &al (2017) - Ag Econ | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Adoption of improved crop varieties can lead to multiple benefits to farm households, including increased productivity, incomes, and food consumption. However, possible impacts... on child nutrition outcomes are rarely explored... 


This article helps bridge this gap through an impact assessment of the adoption of improved maize varieties (IMVs) on child nutrition outcomes using a... household survey from rural Ethiopia. 


The conceptual linkage between IMV adoption and child nutrition is first established using an agricultural household model. Instrumental variable estimation suggests the overall impacts of adoption on child height-for-age and weight-for-age... to be positive and significant... 


Impacts are largest among children with poorest nutrition outcomes... The increase in own-produced maize consumption is the major channel through which IMV adoption affects child nutrition.


http://doi.org/10.1111/agec.12358


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Biodiversity analyses for risk assessment of genetically modified potato - Lazebnik &al (2017) - Ag Ecosyst Env

Biodiversity analyses for risk assessment of genetically modified potato - Lazebnik &al (2017) - Ag Ecosyst Env | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Arthropod diversity in potato differs between years and sites... Differences between potato cultivars outweigh those between GM and non-GM lines. 


An environmental risk assessment for the introduction of genetically modified crops includes assessing the consequences for biodiversity. In this study arthropod biodiversity was measured... We tested the impact of site, year, potato genotype, and fungicide management regime... 


Three potato genotypes were compared: the cultivar Désirée, susceptible to the late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans, a genetically modified cisgenic clone of Désirée resistant to P. infestans and the cultivar Sarpo Mira, also resistant to late blight. 


We aimed to test several ways to measure biodiversity in the context of risk assessment by using both univariate biodiversity indices and multivariate ordination methods... 


The effect of genotype was due to cultivar differences... rather than between the GM-event and its isogenic comparator... 


https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2017.08.017


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Health effects of feeding genetically modified (GM) crops to livestock animals: A review - Vos & Swanenburg (2017) - Food Chem Toxicol

Health effects of feeding genetically modified (GM) crops to livestock animals: A review - Vos & Swanenburg (2017) - Food Chem Toxicol | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

A large share of genetically modified (GM) crops grown worldwide is processed into livestock feed. Feed safety of GM crops is primarily based on compositional equivalence with near-isogenic cultivars and experimental trials in rodents. However, feeding studies in target animals add to the evaluation of GM crops with respect to animal health. 


This review aimed to evaluate the possible health effects of feeding GM crops to livestock by reviewing scientific publications on experimental studies in ruminants, pigs, and poultry in which at least one of the following health parameters was investigated: body condition score, organ weight, haematology, serum biochemistry, histopathology, clinical examination, immune response, or gastrointestinal microbiota. 


In most experiments, either Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) maize, Roundup Ready (RR) soybean, or both were fed to livestock animals... most effects measured were unlikely to be of biological significance and were within normal biological ranges... We conclude that there is no clear evidence that feed composed of first generation GM crops has adverse effects on animal health.


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691517304829


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Application of secondary nutrients and micronutrients increases crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa - Kihara &al (2017) - Agron Sust Dev

Application of secondary nutrients and micronutrients increases crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa - Kihara &al (2017) - Agron Sust Dev | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Secondary and micronutrients are important in enhancing crop productivity; yet, they are hardly studied in sub-Sahara Africa. In this region, the main focus has been on macronutrients but there is emerging though scattered evidence of crop productivity limitations by the secondary and micronutrients. Elsewhere, widespread deficiencies of these nutrients are associated with stagnation of yields. 


Here, we undertake a meta-analysis using 40 articles reporting crop response to secondary and micronutrients to (1) determine the productivity increase of crops and nutrient use efficiency associated with these nutrients, and (2) provide synthesis of responses to secondary nutrients and micronutrients in sub-Sahara Africa... 


Data from publications constituted response to S (49.4%), Zn (23.0%), S and micronutrient combinations (11.5%), and <10% each for Cu, Mo, Fe, and B... most yield data are for maize (73.6%), followed by sorghum (6.7%) and wheat (6.1%) while rice, cowpea, faba bean, tef, and soybean each accounted for less than 5%. 


The major points are the following: (1) application of S and micronutrients increased maize yield by... 25% over macronutrient only treatment and achieved agronomic efficiencies (kilograms of grain increase per kilogram of micronutrient added) between 38 and 432 and (2) response ratios were >1 for S and all micronutrients... indicates positive crop response for a majority of farmers. 


We conclude that S and micronutrients are holding back crop productivity especially on soils where response to macronutrients is low and that more research is needed to unravel conditions under which application of S and micronutrients may pose financial risks.


http://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-017-0431-0


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Closing the agricultural nutrient gap worldwide - EurekAlert (2017) 

Closing the agricultural nutrient gap worldwide - EurekAlert (2017)  | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Genetic and agronomic potential do not result in yield without adequate soil fertility. Crops need to grow in nutrient-rich soil, with available nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Recent research also shows the importance of micronutrients... plant nutrients can be managed to alleviate global poverty and hunger while protecting the environment. 


https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-08/asoa-cta082417.php


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Breeding major cereal grains through the lens of nutrition-sensitivity - Yu & Tian (2017) - Molecular Plant

Cereal grains are the common food staples that collectively provide over 50% of dietary calories for the world’s population. Although the Green Revolution has greatly increased the yield of commercial cereal crops, they often lack nutrients essential for human health in the edible tissues. 


In developing nutrition-sensitive agriculture, the nutritional quality of cereal grains has been a target for improvement using breeding and biotechnology approaches. 


This review examines recent progress on biofortification of micronutrients (provitamin A and folates) and an essential amino acid (lysine) in three major cereal grains, wheat, rice and maize, through plant breeding. 


In addition, how natural variations, induced mutations, and the advanced genome-editing technologies can be applied to improving the nutrient content and stability in these cereal grains are discussed. 


High-yield cereal crops pyramided with improved (micro)nutrient contents hold great promise to meet the demand of the nutritionally limited populations and contribute to achieving sustainable nutrition security.


http://doi.org/10.1016/j.molp.2017.08.006


more...
No comment yet.