Research on GM wheat could improve yields and drought tolerance
The New York Times reports that GM research by private companies could lead to drought-tolerant and high-yield genetically modified wheat. Research focuses on “strengthening the rooting structure of wheat, enhancing the intake of water, increasing the plant’s biomass and facilitating CO2 absorption.” Read more.
Increasing number of African countries conducting GM crop trials
According to Reuters, more African countries are likely to start growing genetically modified crops. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Mali, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ghana are conducting research and field trials of GM crops such as rice, wheat and sorghum, which may lead to their adoption. Ephraim Mukisira, a director at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, said, “We should rely on biotechnology to prevent further losses in yields and performance of crops. We need to expedite scientific methods that reduce time needed to develop new crop varieties.” Read more.
Forbes blog: Regulation of GM crops hurts agricultural trade
In a Forbes blog, Dr. Henry Miller, founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the FDA and current fellow at the Hoover Institution, says that “discriminatory” government regulations of genetically modified crops around the world have unintended economic consequences, such as disrupting billions of dollars of agricultural trade in export markets.
“The best and most definitive solution of all would be for the harmonization of regulatory approaches in order to eliminate the existing discrimination against and excessive regulation of innocuous genetically engineered plants.” Read more.
Brigham Young University professor says biotech crops have a long history of success
In the The Daily Herald, Professor of Biology at Brigham Young University Duane Jeffrey says that genetic modification has been around for a long time and many of the concerns about biotech crops have not been verified by facts. The article points out, “This process has been going on for millennia. Indeed, the only common crop I can think of that may not have been so modified is the pine nut.” Over the past 15 years since biotech crops were first planted, the number of hectares of biotech crops has expanded 87 times. “By now, the major concerns, both those with some basis in science and some without, have hugely been laid to rest, and it is time to get on with reality.“ Read more.
Forbes blog: nutrition benefits of GM food could help fight obesity
According to a Forbes blog, policy makers committed to fighting obesity should deregulate genetically modified foods because they provide health and economic benefits. Dr. Henry Miller, founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the FDA and current fellow at the Hoover Institution, says, “The adoption of scientifically sound, risk-based regulation of biotechnology by USDA and EPA could transform the current trickle of commercial products into a torrent. The result would be the founding of new companies; new products; and the creation of jobs and new wealth - as well as lower prices and greater availability of healthful fresh fruits and vegetables. Read more.
USDA Sec. Vilsack calls for recognition of farmers on National Ag Day
According to the Morris Sun Tribune, USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack recognized the valuable contributions of farmers and ranchers on National Ag Day. “Agriculture touches everyone’s life in one way or another, yet our farmers and ranchers can often be overlooked for the important work they do, and we should all take time during this day to thank producers for a job well done,” Vilsack said. Read more.
2010 ISAAA report shows benefits of GE crops for farmers worldwide
A USA Today article citing the 2010 ISAAA report on the global status of biotech crops points out that biotech crops “have been enthusiastically embraced by farmers in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and China.” Higher yields from biotech varieties will help to feed a growing world population faced with the shrinking availability of land. Dr. Peggy Lemaux, at the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Plant and Microbial Biology (and a CBI expert!), discusses the need for humanitarian assistance in order to ensure that the benefits of genetic engineering reach the world’s poorest farmers.
Dr. Lemaux says, “because of the expenses involved, creating engineered crops for developing countries requires humanitarian contributions by philanthropists like (Bill) Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation or perhaps by companies who see value in such endeavors.” Read more.
Forbes blog: Dr. Henry Miller responds to myths about GE crops
In a Forbes article, Dr. Henry Miller, author of The Frankenfood Myth and former founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the FDA, criticizes the New York Times for propagating myths about genetically engineered crops instead of recognizing the worldwide success of the technology. Dr. Miller points out that arguments against the safety and benefits of GE crops fail to explain their widespread adoption. “Higher productivity, lower costs for inputs (including chemical pesticides), economic gains to farmers and environment-friendly agronomic practices have made it the most rapidly adopted agricultural technology in history.”
As was discussed at a recent AAAS panel on GMO crop regulations, Dr. Miller also questions the logic of regulations on genetically engineered crops, “Although they boast significant benefits and an unblemished record of safety, genetically engineered crops are subject to excessive, hugely expensive regulation in every country of the world that grows them.” Read more.