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GMOs & Sustainable agriculture
Site with information in English and French, used for teaching and educational purposes. Information about sustainable development, mainly related to agriculture, as well as assessment of [CO2] and climate change impact on plants;  or methods to decrease the use or the amount of  pesticides will be included on this site. Because biotechnologies are a part of the answer to these agricultural challenges, information about GMOs will be largely reported here.
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Don’t fear the GM super-spud – we need it to feed mouths | Johnjoe McFadden

Don’t fear the GM super-spud – we need it to feed mouths | Johnjoe McFadden | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
Anti-GM activists will never accept anything ‘unnatural’, but the genetically modified potato being developed in Norwich could be of tremendous benefitThe last great famine in western Europe struck Ireland 170 years ago.

 

The last great famine in western Europe struck Ireland 170 years ago. Writing to their parents on 6 September 1846, Michael and Mary Rush described the situation: “The scourge of God fell down on Ireland, in taking away the potatoes, they being the only support of the people. So, dear father and mother, if you don’t endeavour to take us out of it, it will be the first news you will hear by some friend of me and my little family to be lost by hunger; and there thousands dread they will share the same fate.”

In fact, the immediate cause of the disaster was not a “scourge of God” but the attack of an entirely natural pest, a fungus called Phytophthora infestans whose spores had in 1845 hitched a ride across the Atlantic on a shipment of seed potatoes. Within a few years, about 1 million Irish people starved and about 2 million fled the country. The disease can now be controlled by spraying crops with fungicides; but new and aggressive strains have emerged and chemical control is estimated to cost €15m (£11m) in Ireland alone. Even with spraying, blight causes yield losses worldwide estimated to be worth about £3bn annually.

But there may be an answer. British scientists working at the government-supported Sainsbury laboratory in Norwich are planning to develop a new variety of super-spud that can resist blight and other diseases and may even be better for us. The research is headed by Professor Jonathan Jones, who was a member of the team that sequenced the Irish potato blight fungus in 2009.

Jones aims to make a GM potato with a blight resistance gene from a wild South American potato called Solanum venturii, plus two more resistance genes so that the fungus can’t itself develop resistance. He also aims to add genes that will protect potatoes against nematode worms, another big problem in potato cultivation. The GM potatoes may also be genetically modified to protect against bruising and to lower the risk of producing toxic chemicals when fried in chip fat.

There's no choice: we must grow GM crops nowObserver editorial: Almost a billion people face starvation and that problem will worsen unless we use the most effective technologies Read more

Of course, GM potatoes are not entirely natural. If you want natural potatoes try the rotten, stinking and poisonous variety produced by infestation of the entirely natural Phytophthora infestans. The great plague was entirely natural, as were the cholera epidemics of 19th-century Europe, as are Aids, malaria or Ebola today. All of these have contributed to the process of population control that Thomas Malthus promoted when, in 1817, he wrote: “The land in Ireland is infinitely more peopled than in England; and to give full effect to the natural resources of the country, a great part of the population should be swept from the soil.” Potato blight did precisely as Malthus demanded 170 years ago and the consequent human suffering was devastating.

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Malthus believed that the only way to feed everyone was to reduce the number of hungry mouths. Modern science, medicine and technology have proved him wrong. Modern varieties of potato are already the product of plant breeding, and with GM technologies, the future of potato cultivation could be even brighter.

But only if GM crops are allowed to be grown. The anti-GM lobby continues to campaign for banning GM crops, and activists insist on stomping all over any trial plots. Researchers in the Centre of Life and Food Sciences in Germany and the University of California recently estimated that opposition to the introduction of vitamin A-rich GM “golden rice” – which was designed to prevent blindness and immune deficiency in children – has cost about 1.4 million life-years (years of life and quality of life lost) over the past decade in India alone.

I suspect GM potatoes will not see the light of day on lands owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. But the ancestors of the Prince of Wales didn’t help much in the Irish famine 170 years ago either. If we are to prevent future generations from going hungry, we need to embrace GM technology.

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Breeding-assisted genomics

Highlights



Plant breeding programs operate at a scale much larger than most genetic studies.


Populations of this magnitude are needed to study functional genomics at a systems and ecological scale.


With developments in high-throughput phenotyping, breeding programs will produce the data needed to advance our understanding of plant genomes.


A focus on integrating genomics studies into breeding programs will help to ensure developments for food security.

The revolution of inexpensive sequencing has ushered in an unprecedented age of genomics. The promise of using this technology to accelerate plant breeding is being realized with a vision of genomics-assisted breeding that will lead to rapid genetic gain for expensive and difficult traits. The reality is now that robust phenotypic data is an increasing limiting resource to complement the current wealth of genomic information. While genomics has been hailed as the discipline to fundamentally change the scope of plant breeding, a more symbiotic relationship is likely to emerge. In the context of developing and evaluating large populations needed for functional genomics, none excel in this area more than plant breeders. While genetic studies have long relied on dedicated, well-structured populations, the resources dedicated to these populations in the context of readily available, inexpensive genotyping is making this philosophy less tractable relative to directly focusing functional genomics on material in breeding programs. Through shifting effort for basic genomic studies from dedicated structured populations, to capturing the entire scope of genetic determinants in breeding lines, we can move towards not only furthering our understanding of functional genomics in plants, but also rapidly improving crops for increased food security, availability and nutrition.
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Genetically modified people - Economist (2015)

Genetically modified people - Economist (2015) | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it

Opponents of genetically modified crops often complain that moving genes between species is unnatural. Leaving aside the fact that the whole of agriculture is unnatural, this is still an odd worry. It has been known for a while that some genes move from one species to another... in a process called horizontal gene transfer... Only recently, though, has it become clear just how widespread such natural transgenics is. What was once regarded as a peculiarity of lesser organisms has now been found to be true in human beings, too... 

Results... suggest human beings have at least 145 genes picked up from other species by their forebears. Admittedly, that is less than 1% of the 20,000 or so humans have in total. But it might surprise many people that they are even to a small degree part bacterium, part fungus and part alga... 


On average, worms had 173 horizontally transferred genes, flies had 40 and primates had 109. Humans thus had more than the primate mean. Many of the matches are to genes of unknown purpose – for it is still the case, more than a decade after the end of the human genome project, that the jobs of many genes remain obscure. But some human transgenes are surprisingly familiar... 


Altogether, the researchers found two imported genes for amino-acid metabolism, 13 for fat metabolism and 15 which are involved in the post-manufacture modification of large molecules. They also identified five immigrants that generate antioxidants and seven that are part of the immune system.

This is quite a catalogue. If anything similar were inserted by genetic engineers into corn or cattle, there would no doubt be an outcry. In humans, however, they are doing a good job... Nevertheless there was once a moment for all of them when they were just as alien as a bacterial insecticide is in a maize plant or a herbicide-resistance gene is in a soyabean. 

 

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21646197-human-beings-ancestors-have-routinely-stolen-genes-other-species-genetically

 


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

[updated 08 March, 2015]  

 

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/
 

 


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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.
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Plant hormones: Phyto-antiperspirants : Nature Chemical Biology : Nature Publishing Group

Plant hormones: Phyto-antiperspirants : Nature Chemical Biology : Nature Publishing Group | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
Changes in global water supply present agricultural challenges that have prompted research to enhance plant drought tolerance. Abscisic acid (ABA), a plant hormone produced under drought conditions, regulates aperture closure in stomatal guard cells, thereby reducing plant transpiration. This process is initiated when ABA binds the PYRABACTIN RESISTANCE 1 (PYR1) ABA receptor, which organizes PYR1 to bind type 2C protein phosphatases (PP2Cs); sequestration of inhibitory PP2Cs activates SNF1-related protein kinases, which are positive regulators of stomatal closure and other ABA-mediated pathways.
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OGM : de nouvelles pommes de terre et pommes autorisées à la vente aux Etats-Unis

Des pommes de terre génétiquement modifiées, programmées pour résister aux chocs, ainsi que des pommes qui ne brunissent pas lorsqu'elles sont coupées, ont obtenu vendredi le feu vert pour leur mise sur le marché américain.

 

« Ces aliments sont aussi sûrs et nutritifs que leurs pendants conventionnels », a souligné la FDA, l'autorité américaine de régulation des médicaments et des denrées alimentaires.

 

Cette autorisation concerne six variétés de pommes de terre, vendues sous le nom d'Innate et génétiquement modifiées par la société J. R. Simplot, dans l'Idaho (nord-ouest).

 

Ces patates résistent aux chocs, mais elles produisent aussi moins d'acrylamide, une substance qui peut apparaître lors de la cuisson à haute température de certains aliments et dont des tests sur des rats en laboratoire ont prouvé qu'elle est cancérigène.

 

La FDA a également approuvé la mise sur le marché de deux sortes de pommes modifiées pour résister au « brunissage » généré par l'oxydation lorsqu'elles sont coupées. Ces pommes « Arctic » sont produites par la société Okanagan Specialty Fruits, au Canada.

 

L'agence a dit n'avoir « aucune question supplémentaire quant à la sécurité des aliments issus de ces variétés végétales ».

 


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GMOs: Whose side are you on?

GMO is an acronym for genetically modified organism, and an organism is any multi-cellular living plant or animal. The definition given by The Non-GMO project: “GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.”

There is much discussion about GMOs and their safety in our food. Scientists working for both government and private firms learned how to take favorable genes from organisms such as bacteria or other plants, and entwine them with plants in need of "help." These plants normally are food crops such as corn, soy and even cotton and sugar beets, a common ingredient in pet foods.

The problems scientists are trying to solve are when certain plants are susceptible to disease, mold, chemicals and even drought. In an age when farming is such a volatile industry, some say GMOs are the way to go. They help increase yield in a financially stable manner by avoiding tendencies of rot or disease that normally would destroy some or all of a crop. While there are arguments about whether there actually is enough food for the planet is another topic best left for another day, but the idea of using GMOs for higher yield is to be able to feed the population of the planet, in smaller spaces and with less devastation due to inherent and environmental damages. ...

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Generation of bi-transgenic pigs overexpressing human lactoferrin and lysozyme in milk

Generation of bi-transgenic pigs overexpressing human lactoferrin and lysozyme in milk | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
Intensive swine production industry uses antibiotics to treat diseases and improve pig growth. This can not only cause antibiotic resistance, but can also pollute the environment or eventually affect human public health. To date, human lactoferrin (hLF) and human lysozyme (hLZ) have been known as non-adaptive but interactive antimicrobial members and could act in concert against bacteria, which contribute to host defense. Therefore, their expression in pigs might be an alternative strategy for replacing antibiotics in the pig production industry. In our study, we produced hLF and hLZ bi-transgenic pigs and assessed the milk’s antibacterial ability. Integration of both transgenes was confirmed by PCR and southern blot. Both the hLF and hLZ were expressed in the mammary gland of bi-transgenic pigs, as detected by western blotting. The expression amounts were 6.5 g/L for hLF and 1.1 mg/L for hLZ using ELISA. Interestingly, pig milk containing hLF and hLZ had synergistic antimicrobial activity. Our results suggest an alternative approach for avoiding the use of antibiotics in the pig industry, which would be of great benefit to the commercial swine production.
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Plant characterization of Roundup Ready 2 Yield ® soybean, MON 89788, for use in ecological risk assessment -

Plant characterization of Roundup Ready 2 Yield ® soybean, MON 89788, for use in ecological risk assessment - | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
During the development of a genetically modified (GM) crop product, extensive phenotypic and agronomic data are collected to characterize the plant in comparison to a conventional control with a similar genetic background. The data are evaluated for potential differences resulting from the genetic modification process or the GM trait, and the differences—if any—are subsequently considered in the context of contributing to the pest potential of the GM crop. Ultimately, these study results and those of other studies are used in an ecological risk assessment of the GM crop. In the studies reported here, seed germination, vegetative and reproductive growth, and pollen morphology of Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybean, MON 89788, were compared to those of A3244, a conventional control soybean variety with the same genetic background. Any statistically significant differences were considered in the context of the genetic variation known to occur in soybean and were evaluated as indicators of an effect of the genetic modification process and assessed for impact on plant pest (weed) characteristics and adverse ecological impact (ecological risk). The results of these studies revealed no effects attributable to the genetic modification process or to the GM trait in the plant that would result in increased pest potential or adverse ecological impact of MON 89788 compared with A3244. These results and the associated risk assessments obtained from diverse geographic and environmental conditions in the United States and Argentina can be used by regulators in other countries to inform various assessments of ecological risk.
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Farmer makes his case for planting GMO seeds - LancasterOnline

Farmer makes his case for planting GMO seeds - LancasterOnline | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
No deaths have been attributed to genetically modified seeds, but deaths and malnutrition have been reported in areas of the world where genetically modified crops could be grown, but are not.

...

 

As an increasing number of homes were being built on adjoining farms, I became concerned about soil loss. I realized the current level of loss of precious topsoil and nutrients after heavy rains was unacceptable. So I began a major conservation effort, placing pipe outlet terraces on cropland.

No-till farming was being introduced to this area, and I was eager to try this new technology. I was frustrated when, after establishing a very satisfactory crop, harvests were diminished by insect infestation or weeds that could not be controlled without harming the crop.

In 1996, seed became available that allowed crops to metabolize herbicides without harm to the crop. This technology led to plants being able to ward off destructive insects.

I was initially reluctant to jump into this new technology because I didn’t fully understand it. I needed to be satisfied that it would meet my “stewardship test” — a test informed by my undergraduate studies in chemistry and biology at Messiah College, plus research and graduate studies at the College of Medicine at Penn State.

I learned that the traits being added to my crops were not new, but already existed in nature. Plants already growing in an organic system had the ability to metabolize these crop protection materials and/or fend off an insect attack. No new DNA was being created.

I knew from my college days that plants are infected by viruses and bacteria as part of any normal growing season. These viruses and bacteria do not have all the mechanisms within themselves to reproduce. They “borrow” what they need from other plants and animals to complete their reproductive cycles. They also sometimes leave behind DNA or pick up DNA from the host and carry it with them.

This is a process put in place by our creator, God. My Bible tells me in the first chapter of Genesis that at the end of each day of creation, “God saw that it was good.” My confidence in this technology began to grow, enough that I was willing to try it.

The technology works, and we hope to use it as we move our cropping program forward. Because of traits in the seeds, our operation is moving to no-till planting wherever possible. Weeds and insects that would have threatened our crops can now be controlled. We can now plant, with a very high probability of success, in conditions that 20 years ago would have likely led to crop failure.

My concept of stewardship means I am accountable to God. I have great confidence that, at the end of my life when I stand before my Creator, use of genetically modified seeds will not hinder me from hearing, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Our use of crop-protection materials has dropped significantly through 40-some years of farming. Our farm’s annual use of pesticides has been lowered from quarts and gallons of material per acre to pints and ounces. And the level of toxicity of the materials I use has dropped as well. Many of the products in our family’s cleaning closet and under the kitchen sink carry more worrisome warning labels than the materials in our chemical room on the farm.

I invite an honest dialogue on this subject. Since 1996, billions of acres have been planted with genetically modified crops and trillions of meals eaten. To date, no deaths have been attributed to genetically modified seeds.

Deaths and malnutrition have been reported in areas of the world where genetically modified crops could be grown, but are not.

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The anti-GM lobby appears to be taking a page out of the Climategate playbook

The anti-GM lobby appears to be taking a page out of the Climategate playbook | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
Barely a week goes by, it seems, without some new attack on science. For years, oil and coal lobbies have orchestrated assaults on climate scientists, while the religious right continues to oppose the teaching of evolution in US schools, questioning the basic tenets of evolutionary biology.

Denialism does its damage by driving a wedge between science and society, undermining public understanding of science with misinformation and confusing pseudo-debate. The effects can be seen not just in climate change mitigation efforts, but in peoples’ health – witness the recent US upsurge in childhood measles concentrated in areas where there is opposition to vaccines. No wonder the latest survey of scientists by the Pew Research Center found scientists increasingly pessimistic about how their work is viewed in the wider society.

In the latest organised attack on science, 14 senior US scientists are being targeted by anti-GM lobby group US Right to Know (USRTK), an offshoot of the failed California GM labelling campaign Yes on 37. USRTK is using the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) to demand access to years of private emails and other correspondence of these scientists, undoubtedly aiming to undermine their credentials and sully their names in public.

As three former presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, we know how important it is for scientists to engage meaningfully in societal debates about their work. But we also know how important it is for scientists to be able to speak freely in conducting their work, both publicly and privately. USRTK’s attack is reminiscent of ‘Climategate’, where the release of private emails did immense, unwarranted damage to the reputations of climate scientists. Now the vocal anti-GM lobby appears to be taking a page out of the Climategate playbook.
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Agriculture: Beetles felled by potato RNA : Nature : Nature Publishing Group

Agriculture: Beetles felled by potato RNA : Nature : Nature Publishing Group | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
Plants can be engineered to contain molecules that disrupt insect genes, fending off a superpest that is resistant to all major insecticides.
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China’s scientists must engage the public on GM

China is about to get serious on the use of genetic modification (GM). After years of uncertainty, funding cuts and public arguments, the country’s central government has issued a clear edict: China needs GM, and it will work to become a world leader in the development and application of the technology.

The intent is signalled by the government’s first policy document of the year. Issued on 1 February, the state’s No. 1 Central Document pledges more government support for research on GM techniques, especially for crops. China has expressed similar enthusiasm for GM technology before, and then backed off in the face of public protest. The policy document shows that the Chinese government does not want that to happen again. The document highlights the need for comprehensive studies to make sure that the technology is safe to use, and it also stresses that Chinese scientists must do more to convince a sceptical public of its benefits.

The new responsibility placed on Chinese researchers to communicate with the public is a significant and positive step forward. It could help to counter the widespread and irrational fear in China that GM food is unsafe to eat. A 2010 online poll of nearly 50,000 Internet users conducted by the news portal China Daily found that 84% would not choose GM food for safety reasons. Irrational opinions have sometimes been so strong that scientists have been intimidated and shied away from speaking out. They fear the ‘soft violence of violent language’ that is too often directed at researchers who simply advocate the commercialization of GM technology...

 

 

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OGM : 6 millions d'hectares de plus en 2014 (Isaaa)

Selon l'Isaaa (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications), en 2014, les surfaces mondiales d'OGM ont atteint 181,5 millions d'hectares (Mha), soit plus de 6 Mha d'augmentation depuis 2013.

 

Un total de 28 pays (20 en développement et de 8 industrialisés) auraient mis en culture des récoltes biotechnologiques au cours de l'année 2014. Le rapport indique que les États-Unis restent en tête de la production avec 73,1 Mha. Avec près de 3 Mha, soit une croissance de 4 %, depuis 2013, ce pays a enregistré l'accroissement le plus élevé, surpassant le Brésil, lui-même détenteur de l'accroissement annuel le plus élevé au cours des cinq dernières années. Le Brésil détient donc la seconde place avec 42,12 Mha, ceci représente un accroissement de 5 % par rapport à 2013.

 

 

Un gain de 133 milliards de dollars

 

En Asie, la Chine et l'Inde sont toujours en tête des pays en développement, avec un accroissement respectif des cultures biotechnologiques de 3,9 Mha et de 11,6 Mha plantés en 2014. En 2014, l'Afrique du Sud, avec 2,7 Mha cultivés, est en tête des pays en développement pour les cultures biotechnologiques en Afrique.

 

L'Isaaa estime que, « de 1996 à 2013, les cultures biotechnologiques ont augmenté la production agricole d'une valeur évaluée provisoirement à 133 milliards USD, ont aidé à réduire la pauvreté pour plus de 16,5 millions de petits agriculteurs et leur famille, c'est-à-dire collectivement plus de 65 millions de personnes, comptant parmi les populations les plus pauvres du monde, et ont diminué l'impact environnemental de la production alimentaire et de plantes fibreuses en réduisant l'utilisation des pesticides, en augmentant l'économie du sol et en réduisant les émissions de CO2. »


En savoir plus sur http://www.lafranceagricole.fr/actualite-agricole/ogm-6-millions-d-hectares-de-plus-en-2014-isaaa-102054.html#2vWrm6Qcp0ybbYe6.99

 

 

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Transgenic crops with an improved resistance to biotic stresses. A review - Tohidfar & Khosravi (2015) - Base

Transgenic crops with an improved resistance to biotic stresses. A review - Tohidfar & Khosravi (2015) - Base | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it

Pests, diseases and weeds (biotic stresses) are significant limiting factors for crop yield and production. However, the limitations associated with conventional breeding methods necessitated the development of alternative methods for improving new varieties with higher resistance to biotic stresses.

 

Molecular techniques have developed applicable methods for genetic transformation of a wide range of plants. Genetic engineering approach has been demonstrated to provide enormous options for the selection of the resistance genes from different sources to introduce them into plants to provide resistance against different biotic stresses.

 

In this review, we focus on strategies to achieve the above mentioned objectives including expression of insecticidal, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral resistance and herbicide detoxification for herbicide resistance... 

 

It is observed that the cultivation area of transgenic crops is growing fast each year and many of them are commercially released and produced. Considering the production trend of these crops, it is expected that the production and commercialization of GM crops resistant to abiotic stresses (drought, salinity, etc.) happens in a near future.

 

http://popups.ulg.ac.be/1780-4507/index.php?id=11844

 


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New research finds consumers willing to spend more for biotech potato products - Iowa State U (2015)

New research finds consumers willing to spend more for biotech potato products - Iowa State U (2015) | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it

New research found consumers were willing to spend more for genetically modified potato products with reduced levels of a chemical compound linked to cancer... The findings underscore the importance of efforts to educate consumers on the use of biotechnology in the production of healthful food... 

Acrylamide is a chemical compound that studies have linked to the formation of cancer in animals, and the FDA has encouraged Americans to cut back on foods that contain the substance. It accumulates naturally in starchy foods cooked at high temperatures, such as roasted nuts and coffee beans or the crusts of bread. Potato products like french fries and potato chips make up the biggest source...

Potato growers have tried conventional plant breeding techniques to cut down on the formation of acrylamide, but biotechnology and genetic modification have yielded more promising results...

To gauge consumer attitudes toward experimental genetically modified potato products... the results of the research showed a willingness among consumers to pay more for genetically modified potato products that reduce the formation of acrylamide than for conventional potatoes. That provides evidence that consumers are willing to pay more for enhanced food safety, even when it’s delivered through biotech methods... 

 

For instance, participants were willing to pay $1.78 more for a five-pound bag of potatoes after they received information from a scientific perspective on hazards associated with acrylamide exposure and a potato industry perspective on dramatically reducing acrylamide in potato products using biotechnology... “There was a really strong effect from the industry and scientific perspectives... Another interesting finding was that social and demographic concerns didn’t seem to matter”... 

http://www.news.iastate.edu/news/2015/03/10/biotechpotatoes

 


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Sammie Bryant's curator insight, March 22, 9:54 PM

this article relates to our agriculture unit. this article is different because while most of the kids in my class are opposed to genetically modified foods, this shows that there are some people willing to pay more because it IS genetically modified. this shows that maybe, with the advancement of the green revolution, we can make genetically modified foods have benefits: in this case, a potato may reduce the risk of cancer.

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Towards social acceptance of plant breeding by genome editing

Towards social acceptance of plant breeding by genome editing | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
Highlights



We examine the current development of major crops modified by genome-editing.


We propose a regulatory concept for plant breeding by genome-editing.


Four potential regulatory guidelines are presented for worldwide discussion.


Right-to-know may be necessary for social acceptance of genome-edited crops.

Although genome-editing technologies facilitate efficient plant breeding without introducing a transgene, it is creating indistinct boundaries in the regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Rapid advances in plant breeding by genome-editing require the establishment of a new global policy for the new biotechnology, while filling the gap between process-based and product-based GMO regulations. In this Opinion article we review recent developments in producing major crops using genome-editing, and we propose a regulatory model that takes into account the various methodologies to achieve genetic modifications as well as the resulting types of mutation. Moreover, we discuss the future integration of genome-editing crops into society, specifically a possible response to the ‘Right to Know’ movement which demands labeling of food that contains genetically engineered ingredients.
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Can GMOs Save Chocolate?

Can GMOs Save Chocolate? | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it

GMOs may be able to save chocolate. The bigger question is whether we want them to.

Chocolate–the scrumptious confection of Valentine boxes and Easter baskets–is in trouble. The average American eats about 12 pounds of chocolate a year, and a collective 58 million pounds during the chocolate-laden week of Valentine’s Day.

But all that indulgence may be coming to an end. A chocolate shortage, to the tune of one million metric tons, is predicted to hit within the next five years, the result of climate change, disease, and the demands of rapidly growing populations of chocolate lovers in China and India.

The Nature Conservation Research Center based in Ghana–the world’s second-largest producer of chocolate after the Ivory Coast–predicts glumly that within the next 20 years, chocolate will be as rare and as expensive as caviar.

Chocolate comes from the seeds of the cacao tree, borne in football-sized pods that sprout directly out of the trunk. Dubbed Theobroma cacao, from the Latin for “food of the gods,” cacao is just what one might expect from an ancient, double-dealing deity: a delicious and addictive treat paired with a plant that is tricky, if not downright impossible, to grow. ...


Via Alexander J. Stein
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Zohair Ahmed's curator insight, March 22, 3:54 PM

Chocolate has been enjoyed by many Americans and Europeans, but as more and more chocolate lovers are born (China and India) the delicacy becomes more sparce. Chocolate is in trouble, the cacao trees which produces the cocoa needed for chocolate is a very hard plant to grow, and has many diseases attacking it. The trees are extremely hard to grow, and also bear fruit in 5 years, sometimes even 10! The cocoa conventional cacao tree breading is also unpredictable, and has been criticized as lousy or a nasty taste. This makes many people turn to GMO's as a solution. GMO'S would help make then resistant to the diseases and insects, but there is an overwhelming opposition to the solution of GMO'S. GMO's are a major topic of Unit 5.

Norman Warthmann's curator insight, March 22, 8:52 PM

maybe a chocolate shortage is a good thing ?! however, probably the best bet is to grow the plants outside the native range of the pathogen.

ChocoFinder's curator insight, March 31, 8:31 AM

#chocolate #chocolateshortage #GMOs

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Increasing water-use efficiency directly through genetic manipulation of stomatal density

Increasing water-use efficiency directly through genetic manipulation of stomatal density | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
Improvement in crop water-use efficiency (WUE) is a critical priority for regions facing increased drought or diminished groundwater resources. Despite new tools for the manipulation of stomatal development, the engineering of plants with high WUE remains a challenge.
We used Arabidopsis epidermal patterning factor (EPF) mutants exhibiting altered stomatal density to test whether WUE could be improved directly by manipulation of the genes controlling stomatal density. Specifically, we tested whether constitutive overexpression of EPF2 reduced stomatal density and maximum stomatal conductance (gw(max)) sufficiently to increase WUE.
We found that a reduction in gw(max) via reduced stomatal density in EPF2-overexpressing plants (EPF2OE) increased both instantaneous and long-term WUE without altering significantly the photosynthetic capacity. Conversely, plants lacking both EPF1 and EPF2 expression (epf1epf2) exhibited higher stomatal density, higher gw(max) and lower instantaneous WUE, as well as lower (but not significantly so) long-term WUE.
Targeted genetic modification of stomatal conductance, such as in EPF2OE, is a viable approach for the engineering of higher WUE in crops, particularly in future high-carbon-dioxide (CO2) atmospheres.
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Benefits of Legumes in Agriculture and Crop Rotation

Benefits of Legumes in Agriculture and Crop Rotation | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
Legumes are an extremely popular crop for farmers and consumers, but most do not know the agricultural and environmental benefits of using them during crop rotations. Some grain legumes – such as soybeans, peanuts, pecans, and other notable beans and nuts – are cultivated for their seeds and used for food consumption, oil production, and other industrial purposes. Other pasture legumes, like alfalfa and clover, are grazed by livestock.

But what’s so special about this common plant group? The answer lies in its ability to fix nitrogen and help sustain biological life within soil.

Via Jean-Michel Ané
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A 90-day subchronic feeding study of genetically modified rice expressing Cry1Ab protein in Sprague–Dawley rats

A 90-day subchronic feeding study of genetically modified rice expressing Cry1Ab protein in Sprague–Dawley rats | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) transgenic rice line (mfb-MH86) expressing a synthetic cry1Ab gene can be protected against feeding damage from Lepidopteran insects, including Sesamia inferens, Chilo suppressalis, Tryporyza incertulas and Cnaphalocrocis medinalis. Rice flour from mfb-MH86 and its near-isogenic control MH86 was separately formulated into rodent diets at concentrations of 17.5, 35 and 70 % (w/w) for a 90-day feeding test with rats, and all of the diets were nutritionally balanced. In this study, the responses of rats fed diets containing mfb-MH86 were compared to those of rats fed flour from MH86. Overall health, body weight and food consumption were comparable between groups fed diets containing mfb-MH86 and MH86. Blood samples were collected prior to sacrifice and a few significant differences (p < 0.05) were observed in haematological and biochemical parameters between rats fed genetically modified (GM) and non-GM diets. However, the values of these parameters were within the normal ranges of values for rats of this age and sex, thus not considered treatment related. In addition, upon sacrifice a large number of organs were weighed, macroscopic and histopathological examinations were performed with only minor changes to report. In conclusion, these results demonstrated that no toxic effect was observed in the conditions of the experiment, based on the different parameters assessed. GM rice mfb-MH86 is as safe and nutritious as non-GM rice.
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Frontiers | Chemical diversity of microbial volatiles and their potential for plant growth and productivity

Frontiers | Chemical diversity of microbial volatiles and their potential for plant growth and productivity | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
Microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) are produced by a wide array of microorganisms ranging from bacteria to fungi. A growing body of evidence indicates that MVOCs are ecofriendly and can be exploited as a cost-effective sustainable strategy for use in agricultural practice as agents that enhance plant growth, productivity, and disease resistance. As naturally occurring chemicals, MVOCs have potential as possible alternatives to harmful pesticides, fungicides, and bactericides as well as genetic modification. Recent studies performed under open field conditions demonstrate that efficiently adopting MVOCs may contribute to sustainable crop protection and production. We review here the chemical diversity of MVOCs by describing microbial–plants and microbial–microbial interactions. Furthermore, we discuss MVOCs role in inducing phenotypic plant responses and their potential physiological effects on crops. Finally, we analyze potential and actual limitations for MVOC use and deployment in field conditions as a sustainable strategy for improving productivity and reducing pesticide use.
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Brésil/OGM : des paysannes détruisent des plants d'eucalyptus transgéniques

Près d'un millier de femmes du Mouvement des travailleurs ruraux sans terre (MST), armées de bâtons et couteaux, ont envahi une usine de cellulose et détruit des milliers de plants d'eucalyptus transgéniques dans l'Etat de Sao Paulo.



Leur action s'est déroulée le 5 mars dans le cadre de la Journée nationale de lutte des femmes de la campagne. Sur une vidéo diffusée sur le site du MST (www.mst.org.br), on les voit, le visage masqué par un foulard, rompre les boutures dans les serres de l'entreprise Suzano/Futura Gene à Itapetininga, une ville à 170 km de Sao Paulo. Sur les murs, elles ont écrit « Les transgéniques détruisent la biodiversité » et « Femmes en lutte ».



Pendant qu'elles détruisaient les plants où sont développés les tests avec la nouvelle espèce transgénique d'eucalyptus, 300 paysans de Via Campesina interrompaient une réunion de la commission nationale de biosécurité (CTNBio, organisme qui réglemente les cultures d'OGM) à Brasilia où Suzano présentait justement cette nouvelle espèce. La discussion à la CNTBio reprendra en avril.



« Porter le débat dans la société »



Pour Atiliana Brunetto, de la direction nationale du MST, même si l'espèce transgénique a une productivité supérieure de 20 % à l'espèce traditionnelle, elle demande l'utilisation de plus de pesticides et d'eau pour chaque arbre planté, ce qui présente des risques pour l'environnement. « Le plus important est que nous ayons réussi à porter le débat dans la société », a-t-elle souligné.



La direction de Suzano/Futura Gene a déploré la destruction des plants et d'études qui durent depuis 14 ans. Les femmes qui ont participé à l'action devront répondre de dommages au patrimoine privé.
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Nature Biotechnology: Engineering insect-free cereals (2015)

Nature Biotechnology: Engineering insect-free cereals (2015) | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it

A cluster of three rice lectin receptor kinases confers resistance to planthopper insects.

 

Insect pests reduce yields of crops worldwide through direct damage and because they spread devastating viral diseases. In Asia, the brown planthopper (BPH) decimates rice (Oryza sativa) crops, causing the loss of billions of dollars annually1. In this issue, Liu et al.2 report the cloning of a rice genetic locus that confers broad-spectrum resistance to BPH and at least one other planthopper species (white back planthopper). Introducing this locus into plant genomes is likely to provide an effective means of combating insect pests of rice and of other cereals such as maize.

 

In modern rice agriculture, BPH damage is controlled through breeding and the application of vast amounts of chemical pesticides1. Pesticides are not a sustainable approach, however, owing to high costs, harmful environmental effects and rapid development of resistant insects. Breeding programs have identified more than 20 genetic loci in cultivated or wild rice species that confer BPH resistance1. However, these Bph loci are usually only effective against specific BPH biotypes, and newly evolved BPH populations have rapidly overcome several Bph resistance loci deployed in the field..

 

Of the >20 identified Bph loci, only Bph14 and Bph26 have been cloned. Both of these loci encode coiled-coil, nucleotide-binding and leucine-rich repeat proteins3, 4, the main class of plant intracellular immune receptors5. Bph3 is a resistance locus that was first pinpointed genetically in the Sri Lankan rice indica cultivar Rathu Heenati. Notably, unlike most other Bph loci, including Bph14 and Bph26, Bph3 confers broad-spectrum resistance to many BPH biotypes as well as to the white back planthopper1, 2. The success of Bph3 as a resistance locus might be linked to the fact that it acts against BPH at an early stage of the feeding cycle, before the insect can deploy its arsenal of virulence proteins that circumvent plant defenses.

 

Despite the huge potential of Bph3 for rice agriculture, its molecular identity has been unknown. Liu et al.2 now identify Bph3 through map-based cloning in a cross between the resistant indica cultivar Rathu Heenati and the susceptible japonica cultivar 02428. Bph3 maps to a 79-kb genomic region that contains a cluster of three lectin receptor kinases, OsLecRK1–3 (ref. 2) (Fig. 1). The authors find that single-nucleotide polymorphisms in these genes are associated with BPH resistance in different cultivated rice accessions. They also show that ectopic expression of the OsLecRK1–3 gene cluster in the susceptible japonica Kitaake cultivar confers BPH resistance.

 

See Liu et al. Nature Biotechnology http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v33/n3/full/nbt.3069.html


Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL, Francis Martin
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Scotts' GM grass grows free from regulation : Nature Biotechnology : Nature Publishing Group

Scotts' GM grass grows free from regulation : Nature Biotechnology : Nature Publishing Group | GMOs & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it
Scotts Miracle-Gro is developing a turf grass that has been genetically modified (GM) to grow shorter, thicker and darker green than its conventional counterparts. The enhanced grass from the Marysville, Ohio–based lawn and garden company is yet another novel plant to fall outside the purview of the US Department of…
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