Senators write a letter in support of science-based agriculture and other news from this week in ag biotech…
Here are a few stories that caught our eye this week. From Arkansas to Brussels, policymakers across the globe are considering the benefits of genetically modified (GM) food, and an international consortium continues its work to improve rice crop yields. Read more below.
Court decisions curbing sale of genetically modified foods counter ’science-based regulatory decisions’
Court decisions setting back the sale of genetically modified foods do not comply with sound science, according to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). The Hill reports that the senators sent a letter to USDA Sec.Tom Vilsack last month, arguing that such court decisions may “thrust the U.S. regulatory system for agriculture biotechnology into a non-functioning regulatory system.”
New EU policy gives European governments the freedom to grow biotech crops
The New York Times reports that the European Commission will announce on Tuesday its decision to give national and local governments sovereignty in deciding whether or not to grow biotech crops. The new policy seeks to overcome an impasse that has led to restrictions on the market for biotech seeds in Europe for years.
An international consortium seeking to re-engineer rice to increase yields is about to enter the second phase of its decades-long project. According to SciDevNet, the project-run by the UK-based University of Sheffield-seeks to genetically modify rice in order to use a more effective method of photosynthesis. The researchers hope to enable the crop to produce 50% more grain, and require less water and fertilizer.
Reclaiming cropland with saline-tolerant crops
Last week, Ceres, a biotechnology company in Thousand Oaks, CA, announced that it had developed a trait that allows several common crops to grow under highly saline conditions, even in seawater. According to MIT Technology Review, this may help put back to use the 15 million acres of cropland in the United States, once thought too salty to support plant life.