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Scoops on GMOs, agricultural biotech, innovation, breeding and related info (not necessarily endorsements). CLICK on the titles to get to the full, original and possibly hyperlinked versions!
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Stop worrying; start growing - Fagström &al (2012) - EMBO reports

Stop worrying; start growing - Fagström &al (2012) - EMBO reports | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Ever since the Asilomar Conference on ‘Recombinant DNA' in February 1975, regulatory policies relating to recombinant DNA technology have focused on the idea that this technology implies threats to human health and the environment. As a consequence, the explicit goal of these policies is to protect society and nature from an assumed hazard, or, if protection is not possible, at least to delay the implementation of the technology until scientific evidence shows it to be harmless. These policies were widely accepted at the time, as public concerns were, and still are, important. As time has gone by, the evidence for negative impacts of genetically modified (GM) crops has become weaker. However, the regulatory policies within the EU are still rigid enough to prevent most GM crops from leaving the confined laboratory setting; should some candidate occasionally overcome the hurdles posed by these policies, the precautionary principle is invoked in order to ensure further delaying in its use in the field. The reason for this over-cautious approach is widespread public resistance to GM crops, caused and amplified by interested groups that are opposed to the technology and invest heavily into lobbying against it...

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Brazil Soy Group Warns Farmers: New Soybean Seed Not Yet Approved By China - NASDAQ (2012)

Brazil Soy Group Warns Farmers: New Soybean Seed Not Yet Approved By China - NASDAQ (2012) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

The grains producers' association in Brazil's top soybean-growing state, Mato Grosso, warned farmers this week not to plant a new variety of transgenic soy it says Monsanto Co. (MON) has been distributing. The soybean variety, Intacta RR2 Pro, hasn't been approved in China, where more than two-thirds of Brazil's exports of the oilseed are shipped. Mato Grosso state soybean and corn producers' association Aprosoja said in a statement Monday that farmers using Intacta RR2 seeds could accidentally contaminate shipments of approved soybean varieties, putting exports to China at risk of being refused. Monsanto responded Tuesday, saying the company hasn't allowed commercial sales of Intacta RR2 in Brazil and won't do so until all of the country's main export markets approve it. A stockpile of 600,000 sacks of the seeds, which Monsanto had produced based on the belief that China could approve Intacta RR2 "at any time," will be destroyed, the firm added. Aprosoja said Monsanto had been handing out samples of the new seeds to farmers in Mato Grosso and required them to sign a waiver accepting responsibility for any contamination that occurred.

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European court confirms right to cultivate GM crops - Farming UK (2012)

European court confirms right to cultivate GM crops - Farming UK (2012) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

A decision by the European Court of Justice has clarified the legal requirements concerning the cultivation of GM crops within the European Union member states. The decision confirms the non-legitimacy of national authorizations introduced in addition to the approval of biotech crops established by the European legal framework, and it also confirms that coexistence measures are not mandatory to grow GM plants... In Italy, adoption of GM maize is expected to bring an increased maize production from 40,6 million Euros to 108,2 million Euros, depending to the level of the pest pressure and damages.

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Europe Debates Use of Modified Olive Fly - Olive Oil Times (2012)

Europe Debates Use of Modified Olive Fly - Olive Oil Times (2012) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

As Spain revs up its annual campaign against one of its olive crop’s biggest enemies – the olive fly – another campaign is underway in Europe against allowing a genetically modified (GM) ‘sterile’ fly to be used as a chemical-free alternative. Every year, aerial spraying and ground control including pheromone baits are used in Spain to reduce infestation but the stakes are particularly high now with the country deeper in financial crisis, and drought, frosts and other factors expected to at least halve output next season, which officially starts in October. And in world olive oil capital Andalusia the regional government is reported to have withdrawn subsidies for olive fly control at the same time as farmers face a national sales tax hike. Olimerca reports that in the Baena Denomination of Origin, olive growers will bear the up to €170,000 ($214,000) cost of aerial spraying 60,000 hectares. Meanwhile, a European Food Safety Authority panel has just ended public consultation on a document that could pave the way for use of GM olive flies. This was one of the possible future applications of GM insects listed in its “Guidance on the environmental risk assessment of genetically modified animals.”

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Flavour-active wine yeasts - Cordente &al (2012) - Appl Microbiol Biotechnol

The flavour of fermented beverages such as beer, cider, saké and wine owe much to the primary fermentation yeast used in their production, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Where once the role of yeast in fermented beverage flavour was thought to be limited to a small number of volatile esters and higher alcohols, the discovery that wine yeast release highly potent sulfur compounds from non-volatile precursors found in grapes has driven researchers to look more closely at how choice of yeast can influence wine style. This review explores recent progress towards understanding the range of ‘flavour phenotypes’ that wine yeast exhibit, and how this knowledge has been used to develop novel flavour-active yeasts. In addition, emerging opportunities to augment these phenotypes by engineering yeast to produce so-called grape varietal compounds, such as monoterpenoids, will be discussed... wine yeast ‘flavour phenotypes’ could be effectively uncoupled, making it possible to develop yeast strains that produce wines with flavour profiles that are difficult to achieve currently — or indeed provide the means to rapidly develop new wine styles. Pending societal acceptance of wines made using GM organisms, the potential for future advances will be limited only by knowledge of flavour compounds and their formation.

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Mice fed on a diet enriched with genetically engineered multivitamin corn show no sub-acute toxic effects and no sub-chronic toxicity - Arjó &al (2012) - Plant Biotechnol J

Mice fed on a diet enriched with genetically engineered multivitamin corn show no sub-acute toxic effects and no sub-chronic toxicity - Arjó &al (2012) - Plant Biotechnol J | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Multivitamin corn is a novel genetically engineered variety that simultaneously produces high levels of β-carotene, ascorbate and folate, and therefore has the potential to address simultaneously multiple micronutrient deficiencies caused by the lack of vitamins A, B9 and C in developing country populations. As part of the development process for genetically engineered crops and following European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommendations, multivitamin corn must be tested in whole food/feed sub-chronic animal feeding studies to ensure there are no adverse effects, and potential allergens must be identified. We carried out a 28-day toxicity assessment in mice, which showed no short-term sub-acute evidence of diet-related adverse health effects and no difference in clinical markers (food consumption, body weight, organ/tissue weight, haematological and biochemical blood parameters and histopathology) compared to mice fed on a control diet. A subsequent 90-day sub-chronic feeding study again showed no indications of toxicity compared to mice fed on control diets. Our data confirm that diets enriched with multivitamin corn have no adverse effects on mice, do not induce any clinical signs of toxicity and do not contain known allergens.

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Biotechnology and Seed Use for Major U.S. Crops - Fernandez-Cornejo (2012) - ERS-USDA

Genetically Engineered Crops Have Expanded Rapidly: U.S. farmers have embraced genetically engineered (GE) seeds for soybeans, cotton, and corn since their commercial introduction over 15 years ago (fig. 2.3.1). GE seeds have genes that provide specific traits such as herbicide tolerance (HT) and insect resistance. HT crops tolerate potent herbicides, allowing adopters of these varieties to control pervasive weeds more effectively. Insect-resistant (Bt) crops contain genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis that produces a protein toxic to specific insects, protecting the plant over its entire life. Benefits of GE Seeds Outweigh Added Cost for Most U.S. Farmers: Despite the higher prices for GE seed compared to conventional seed, U.S. farmers are realizing economic benefits from increased crop yields, and/or lower pesticidecosts, and management time savings. The impacts of GE crops vary with the crop, technology, pest infestation levels, and other factors. For example, Bt crops may lead to yield gains and/or lower insecticide costs, while HT crops lead to savings in management time. Moreover, farmers adopting the HT varieties for corn, cotton, and soybeans often substitute glyphosate for more toxic herbicides. HT crops also facilitate the adoption of conservation tillage. By enabling more crop residue to be safely left in the field, conservation tillage reduces soil erosion by wind and water, increases water retention, and reduces soil degradation and water and chemical runoff... http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/874175/eib98.pdf#page=25

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Biotechnology in agriculture: Agronomic and environmental considerations and reflections based on 15 years of GM crops - Mannion & Morse (2012) - Prog Phys Geogr

Genetically modified (GM) varieties of crops, notably soybean, maize, rape (canola) and cotton, were first grown commercially in 1996. In 2010 they occupied 148 million ha in 29 countries, mostly in the Americas and Asia but with an obvious absence in Europe where their introduction has been controversial due to concerns about environmental impairment and adverse impacts on human health. This paper reviews the published literature on the agronomic and environmental impact of GM crops in the last 15 years. Overall, the impact of GM crops has largely been agronomically and environmentally positive in both developed and developing world contexts. The often claimed negative impacts of GM crops have yet to materialize on large scales in the field. Agronomically, there have been yield increases per unit area, mainly due to reduced losses as a result of improved pest (i.e. insect) and weed control; in the case of conventional crops grown near GM varieties with insect resistance there have been benefits due to the so-called ‘halo’ effect. Environmentally, the decrease in insecticide use has benefited non-target and beneficial organisms while surface and groundwater contamination is less significant; human-health problems related to pesticide use have also declined. Equally important is the reduced carbon footprint as energy inputs are reduced. Of particular note, however, is the recognition that the success or longevity of GM crops is reliant on the speed with which resistance develops in target weeds and insects. However, resistance to GM-based plant resistance is already being detected in some pest populations and this suggests that scientists and farmers cannot be complacent. Current GM approaches are relatively transitory as a means of combating pests, as are conventional pesticides, and good management will determine how long this strategy proves positive. However, GM is a comparatively new science and the possibilities are considerable.

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GM rice 'thrives in poor soils' - BBC (2012)

GM rice 'thrives in poor soils' - BBC (2012) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

A gene from wild Indian rice plants can significantly raise the yield of common varieties in nutrient-poor soils. Scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) identified a gene that helps uptake of phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium, and transferred it into commercial strains. Their yield was about 60% above normal in phosphorus-poor soils, the team reports in the journal Nature. Large swathes of Asia have soil that is phosporus-deficient.

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GMO Foods: To Label Or Not To Label? - Savage (2012) - Science 2.0

GMO Foods: To Label Or Not To Label? - Savage (2012) - Science 2.0 | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

This fall, California voters will be asked to vote on Proposition 37, a law which would require that all foods including “GMO Crop ingredients” be labeled as such. There are many reasons that this isn’t a good use of governmental authority for mandatory food labeling. A look at historical logic and precedents for labeling, and at the misleading messages this initiative would foster, should inspire Californians to reject it at the ballot box. If a food is hazardous to some consumers, but not others(e.g. peanut allergy), then it makes sense to require that it be labeled to protect that minority. If a food contains something generally hazardous, but difficult to immediately remove from the food supply, it makes sense to label those foods as well (e.g. trans-fats for which labeling was required after 2006). If a particular GMO crop were to be found to be hazardous to certain people, or people in general, the appropriate response would to ban the use of that particular trait nationally, not to label it at a state level. No such hazard has been documented for dozens of biotech crops crop traits over 16 years of extensive commercialization, so “hazard” has never been a reason to require labeling of a GMO crop.

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“Golden Rice”, a GMO-product for public good, and the consequences of GE-regulation - Potrykus (2012) - J Plant Biochem Biotechnol

Compared to a non-genetically engineered (GE) variety, the deployment of Golden Rice suffers from a delay of more than 10 years. The cause for this delay is GE-regulation. Considering the potential impact of Golden Rice on the reduction in vitamin A-malnutrition, this delay is responsible for loss of numerous lives, mostly children and women. GE-regulation is also responsible for the fact that public institutions are prevented from delivering a public good GE-product with the consequence that we are faced with a de-facto monopoly in favour of a few potent industries. Considering the forgone benefits from putative public good GE-products, GE-regulation can be blamed of being responsible for millions of lives, all of them, of course, in developing countries. As there is no scientific justification for present GE-regulation and as it has, so far, not prevented any harm, our society has the responsibility to reconsider present regulation which is based on the concept of an extreme interpretation of the precautionary principle. It would be justified to change regulation to a science-base and to regulate traits instead of technology. This would make regulation cheaper and faster, without compromising safety. GE-technology has an unprecedented safety record and it is far more precise and predictable than any other "traditional" and unregulated breeding technology.

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Nutrient-boosted Golden Rice should be embraced - New Scientist (2012)

Nutrient-boosted Golden Rice should be embraced - New Scientist (2012) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

One of the more unedifying aspects of the fight over genetically modified food has been the unbending opposition of Greenpeace and others to rice that has been modified to help prevent blindness. Golden Rice contains a precursor of vitamin A, deficiency of which blinds an estimated half a million children every year. Opponents of the rice are not oblivious to the tragedy, but argue there are other solutions. They are correct. One has just been found effective in Uganda - a naturally bred, fortified sweet potato. Good news, but no single solution will work everywhere. To eradicate preventable blindness, we need as many options as possible. The sweet success of the potato doesn't mean that GM can or should be taken off the menu. So it is also good news that the latest research into Golden Rice bolsters the case for its adoption (see "Nutrient-boosted foods protect against blindness"). In light of this, opposition to Golden Rice increasingly looks like bullheadedness rooted in a desire to halt GM at any cost. There are reasons to be wary of GM promoted by big business. But tarring a humanitarian project with the same brush is dogmatic - and wrong.

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California’s Proposition 37: Effects of Mandatory Labeling of GM Food - Carter &al (2012) - ARE Update

Californians will soon vote on Proposition 37, mandating that genetically modified (GM) food is labeled. Supporters argue that mandatory labeling responds to consumers’ rights, offers greater choice, and provides more information on food content. But the specifics of Prop 37 will result in a much different outcome. Food category choice will decrease and the added labeling information will be imprecise. Prop 37 will introduce a double standard for accidental GM purity in organic versus non-organic foods, favoring organic... The stated intentions of the Califor­nia Right to Know Genetically Engi­neered Food Act, Proposition 37, are confusing. Although this legislation is claimed to be for the consumers’ right to know, proponents have indi­cated this is a first step against GM foods. If Prop 37 is approved, then consumers in California could face less choice and confusing informa­tion at their food markets... Choice will be reduced for processed foods with corn, soy, and canola ingre­dients, and prices of these and other processed foods will increase overall... Certified non-GM processed food products will virtually disappear from food stores, Organic food will gain market share, ***Food labels will be confusing for con­sumers: GM labeled products could have very low traces of GM, while organic products might contain acci­dental traces of GM ingredients but not be labeled as such.***

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Greenpeace out to sea on GM rice issue, bioethicist says - NBC (2012)

Greenpeace out to sea on GM rice issue, bioethicist says - NBC (2012) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Greenpeace... has gotten itself involved in a huge controversy over genetically modified food. The group is charging that unsuspecting children were put at risk in a “dangerous” study of genetically engineered rice in rural China. It’s a serious claim, because it is putting research seeking to put more nutrition into food at risk. Genetically engineered rice has the potential to help solve a big nutritional problem—vitamin A deficiency. A lack of vitamin A kills 670,000 kids under 5 every year and causes 250,000 to 500,000 to go blind. Half die within a year of losing their sight, according to the World Health Organization. I think Greenpeace is being ethically irresponsible and putting those lives at continued risk... The only problem with Greenpeace’s cry of scandal is that it is nonsense. You can look at the paper on line... The title of the paper is “Beta-carotene in Golden Rice is as good as b-carotene in oil at providing vitamin A to children”. Without even knowing what the heck this title means, it tells you something very important — this is an experiment that worked! The engineered rice allowed the kids in the study to get more vitamin A, Guangwen Tang of Tufts University and colleagues report... If you live in a country that relies heavily on white rice and not much else for food, you may be vitamin A deficient. The experiment involved tweaking the genes of rice so the plant produced more beta-caroten. The paper reports that when kids ate this rice in the study, they got as much or more vitamin A then they did eating their usual diet or one supplemented with other sources of carotene. The experiment worked... the study was neither risky nor lacking in review. GMO food has been eaten by almost everyone reading this column for years. No study has shown any health danger. The researchers who conducted the China study rightly did not worry about the safety of the rice. The researchers only wanted to see if it helped put Vitamin A into the kids who ate it. It did... “The study recruitment processes and protocol were approved by the Institutional Review Board–Tufts Medical Center in the United States and by the Ethics Review Committee of Zhejiang Academy of Medical Sciences in China. Both parents and pupils [children] consented to participate in the study,” the researchers wrote. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition may not be on your bedroom table for night reading but it is a respected journal... The world needs to tell organizations that have an irrational fear of GMO food even when it might help save kids lives and sight to head back out to sea. (Art Caplan, Ph.D., is the head of the division of medical ethics at the NYU Langone Medical Center)

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The President of Ecuador suggests broadening the perspective on GMOs - Andes.info (2012)

Don't be afraid to seek the truth, nor the scientific debate," said President Rafael Correa... Ecuador is not prohibiting transgenic research; the President spoke of experiences of other pioneers in the production of biotech crops, such as the United States, Brazil and Argentina... "There are myths about GMOs," said the President, but Ecuador must take note of the best use of GMOs; in sectors such as agribusiness, this is reflected in increased production and quality, in the field of environment it is used for bioremediation, in health for vaccines, drugs, disease control and resistance genes, among many other uses and benefits of which Ecuador could benefit... http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&u=http://andes.info.ec/actualidad/5922.html 

 

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First GM camels to be engineered for drug production - SciDev.Net (2012)

First GM camels to be engineered for drug production - SciDev.Net (2012) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Researchers in Dubai hope to create the first genetically modified (GM) camels capable of producing pharmaceutical proteins in their milk,which can then be processed to manufacture cheaper drugs for the region. The project aims to slash the prices of life-saving drugs — including insulin, and clotting factors for treating haemophilia — in the Middle East and North Africa, according to Nisar Wani, head of the Reproductive Biology Laboratory at Dubai's Camel Reproduction Center, in the United Arab Emirates. The cost of camel milk in the region is comparable to that of cow's milk, but the former is more suited to local climates, said Wani. Camels are highly resistant to disease, easier to maintain in the region's arid climate, and are more efficient in converting food [into body mass] than cows.

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The contribution of transgenic plants to better health through improved nutrition: opportunities and constraints - Pérez-Massot &al (2012) - Genes & Nutr

Malnutrition is a prevalent and entrenched global socioeconomic challenge that reflects the combined impact of poverty, poor access to food, inefficient food distribution infrastructure, and an over-reliance on subsistence mono-agriculture. The dependence on staple cereals lacking many essential nutrients means that malnutrition is endemic in developing countries. Most individuals lack diverse diets and are therefore exposed to nutrient deficiencies. Plant biotechnology could play a major role in combating malnutrition through the engineering of nutritionally enhanced crops. In this article, we discuss different approaches that can enhance the nutritional content of staple crops by genetic engineering (GE) as well as the functionality and safety assessments required before nutritionally enhanced GE crops can be deployed in the field. We also consider major constraints that hinder the adoption of GE technology at different levels and suggest policies that could be adopted to accelerate the deployment of nutritionally enhanced GE crops within a multicomponent strategy to combat malnutrition.

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GM Maize as Subsistence Crop: The South African Smallholder Experience - Gouse (2012) - AgBioForum

GM Maize as Subsistence Crop: The South African Smallholder Experience - Gouse (2012) - AgBioForum | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

The South African smallholder GM maize experience has been—to date and internationally—the only example where a subsistence crop is produced by smallholder resource poor-farmers using GM seed. Their experience is thus of great interest, especially to African decision makers, international food and agricultural organizations, and the technology innovators. This article sheds light on eight years of research investigating the socio-economic impacts of GM maize adoption by smallholder farmers in South Africa. The main objective of the article is to highlight methodological and practical research challenges faced in this project in order to inform future socio-economic impact assessments and to contextualize research findings. Limited project findings are presented in the form of a discussion on the characteristics of early-adopting farmers and the yield impacts of GM maize adoption over the eight season period, emphasizing the variability between seasons and to show how methodological limitations impact research findings... Even though this study has limitations and the findings presented in this article are limited, it is possible to conclude that Hlabisa smallholder farmers highly value Bt and HT maize seed. Though seed availability might have played a role, by the final study season (2009/10), none of the farmers in the panel sample planted Bt, few still planted conventional maize, and the rest all planted HT or BR maize. Farmers seem to be willing to pay for the weed-control convenience; it appears as if farmers value the yield increase and (especially) the labor-saving benefit of HT maize more than the borer-control insurance of Bt maize. This inclination should be seen in the context of the relatively low borer pressure over the research period and the limited able-bodied labor force in rural KZN, caused by out-migration in search of employment, a high HIV/AIDS infection level, and elderly farmers. Future analyses and publications will focus on the labor-saving benefit of HT maize, potential expansion of production due to the decreased need for weeding labor, and gender implications of GM maize adoption and use.

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Early adoption, experience, and farm performance of GM corn seeds - Aldana &al (2012) - Ag Econ

Early adoption, experience, and farm performance of GM corn seeds - Aldana &al (2012) - Ag Econ | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

The current article explores the characteristics that distinguish early from late adopters of GM corn and measures the productivity impacts of early adoption, for a sample of farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The results of the adoption analysis confirm that size, education as well as specialization are positively correlated with early adoption. In addition, these results also show that farms that are mostly worked by family labor but hire some off-farm labor are more likely to adopt GM seeds earlier in the diffusion process. The productivity analysis demonstrates the superiority of stacked varieties. At the same time, we find no evidence of a direct impact of experience on yields. Given the previously documented impact of early adoption on the use of stacked varieties, we conclude that experience plays a role through the adoption of these new technologies but does not play a role in allowing the producer to use the technology more efficiently, once it has been adopted.

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Agricultural biotechnology in Switzerland: risks are low, the potential is not used - Swiss Research Program (2012)

The National Research Programme “Benefits and Risks of the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Plants” (NRP 59) has not identified any health or environmental risks related to agricultural ("green") biotechnology. Under the present conditions in Swiss agriculture, the economic benefits are modest. In the future, these could however improve once plants carrying combined traits, such as herbicide and disease resistance, are used...

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Filipino Consumers Awaiting ‘Golden Rice’ - Manila Bulletin (2012)

Filipino consumers favorably anticipate benefits from nutrient-rich genetically modified (GM) crops like the beta carotene-enhanced Golden Rice which would also raise security of supply of the staple. While certain groups have assumptions that consumers fear the use of GM crops, Singapore-based Asian Food Information Centre (AFIC) found in a survey that consumer knowledge of plant biotechnology is high and are on the supportive side. A major number of Filipino consumers, 73 percent, believe they would “personally benefit” from these crops when these are commercially released in the next five years. Aside from the Golden Rice, the GM crop being developed now in the Philippines is the Bacillus thuringiensis eggplant which will be exposed to less insecticide spraying due to its built-in resistance to the pest fruit and shoot borer while retaining much of its fiber, primarily of Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), B vitamins, folate and vitamin C, and other minerals. The production of high quality food that can be made more affordable is on the mind of Filipino consumers.

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Developing GM super cassava for improved health and food security: future challenges in Africa - Adenle &al (2012) - Ag & Food Sec

There is an urgent need to solve the problem of micronutrient malnutrition that is prevalent among young children and women in Africa. Genetically modified (GM) biofortified cassava has great potential to solve part of this problem, but controversy surrounding GM technology and lack of awareness, limited facilities, biased news and other factors may hinder the adoption of GM cassava in the future. Using semi-structured interviews in Ghana and Nigeria, this paper examines the perspectives of scientists, including the BioCassava Plus (BC+) team, on the potential adoption of GM cassava for improving health and food security in Africa. The article also examines issues around the regulatory system and transfer and acceptance of GM cassava among scientists. The result suggests that an overwhelming majority of scientists agree that GM biofortified cassava will benefit the health of millions in Africa, and that GM cassava conferred with disease and pest resistance will increase cassava production as it is currently plagued by cassava mosaic diseases (CMD). However, respondents are wary of long-term effects of GM cassava on the environment and lack of a regulatory framework to facilitate the adoption of GM cassava. Even though scientists expressed little or no concern about health risks of GM cassava, they were concerned that consumers may express such concerns given limited understanding of GM technology. The article concludes with a summary of priorities for policy development with regard to adopting biofortified food products.

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Frankenfood or crops of the future? Gaps in the perception of GM food safety - Tribe (2012) - The Conversation

Frankenfood or crops of the future? Gaps in the perception of GM food safety - Tribe (2012) - The Conversation | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Humans have always faced tricky safety problems with food because we eat plants, which are the most ingenious pesticide chemists on the planet. Plants produce an amazing panoply of chemicals to deter animals from eating them. We’ve responded biologically to this challenge by evolving chemical detoxification mechanisms in the liver. Culturally, we’ve responded by inventing cooking and other food pre-treatments that allow us to eat dangerous foods, such as kidney beans, rapeseed oil and tapioca. We even add spice to life by adding low quantities of plant poisons to recipes to improve flavour. And we breed our crop plants to reduce toxins. In short, “natural foods” are not necessarily safe and most of our crops are not as natural selection produced them.

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Bt crops and insect pests: Past successes, future challenges and opportunities - Gassmann & Hutchison (2012) - GM Crops & Food:

Bt crops and insect pests: Past successes, future challenges and opportunities - Gassmann & Hutchison (2012) - GM Crops & Food: | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

In 1997, 4 million hectares were planted with crops genetically engineered to produce toxins derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). By 2011, the global area planted to Bt crops covered over 66 million hectares. During this time, maize and cotton covered the majority of the world’s agricultural landscape devoted to Bt crops. Benefits of Bt crops include effective control of certain key insect pests and reduced use of conventional insecticides... There are many unquestionable successes in the application of Bt crops
to manage pests and in their companion IRM programs to delay resistance. However, the challenge of pest resistance will be present as long as Bt crops are grown. To meet this challenge, there will need to be continued proactive research on interactions among pests and Bt crops, and continued discussions on how to best apply Bt crops for sustainable pest management and IRM.

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The value of trust in biotech crop development: a case study of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso - Ezezika &al (2012) - Ag & Food Sec

Agricultural biotechnology public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been recognized as having great potential in improving agricultural productivity and increasing food production in sub-Saharan Africa. However, there is much public skepticism about the use of GM (genetically modified) crops and suspicion about private sector involvement in agbiotech projects. This case study sought to understand the role of trust in the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton in Burkina Faso project by exploring practices and challenges associated with trust-building, and determining what makes these practices effective from the perspective of multiple stakeholders... Burkina Faso's well-established and effective cotton selling system laid the foundation for the implementation of the Bt cotton project? particularly, the strong dialogue and the receptivity to collaboration. Interviewees reported that establishing and maintaining trust among partners, researchers and the community in Burkina Faso greatly contributed to the success of the PPP. By addressing challenges to building trust and engaging in trust-building practices early on, improvements in the effectiveness of agbiotech PPPs are likely.

 

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