Bangladesh plans Golden Rice field trials to fight vitamin A deficiency
The Daily Star reports that Bangladesh intends to go forward with field tests of Golden Rice, genetically engineered rice that helps fight vitamin A deficiency, which causes blindness in children. With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute is applying to import a variety developed in the Philippines that is rich in beta carotene, a source of vitamin A.
According to the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, “Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Globally, approximately 670,000 children die every year and another 350,000 go blind because they are vitamin A deficient,” Read more.
UK scientist recommends GM crops for global food security
Sainsbury Laboratory scientist Jonathan D.G. Jones wrote an article about the widespread misunderstanding of GM crops and the importance of their adoption, ISAAA reports. The article, titled “Why Genetically Modified Crops?”, strongly recommends the use of genetic modification “at a time when we need every tool in the toolbox to ensure adequate food production in the short, medium and long term.” Read more.
GM banana could help prevent spread of fungal disease in East Africa
According to All Africa, a GM banana with improved resistance to a devastating fungal disease could help smallholder farmers in East Africa save their crops. A leaf fungus has spread through the region over the last three decades, threatening to halve fruit production on affected plantations. A team of scientists at Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Institute (NARL) said field trials of GM bananas have shown “promising results.” Read more.
Biotechnology solutions could help prevent deforestation
According to TIME’s Ecocentric Blog, research on improving agricultural productivity and efficiency is crucial for helping to prevent deforestation. While the UN Climate Summit’s proposed REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) has received international support, this system of carbon credits to maintain trees could face challenges as farmers clear more land to meet growing global demands for food. The article points out, “Over the longer term, better investment in agricultural research-which has lagged in recent years-can lead to better yields and higher efficiency, reducing the need for more land.” Agricultural biotechnology research provides solutions for growing more crops on less land. Read more.
Australian celebrity chefs voice support for GM food
Two of Australia’s top chefs, Luke Mangan and Glenn Austin, recognize the benefits of genetically engineered food, The Daily Telegraph reports. The article points out that Chef Luke Mangan of the Sydney restaurant glass brasserie has remained receptive to the use of GM food since he wrote a blog in 2008 supporting it as an innovation that could “potentially help millions of people around the world.” He explains in the article, “More info is required but some benefits sound fantastic - drought resistance, higher levels of production and sustainability in the food supply.” Glenn Austin, the first Australian to be voted to the World Board of Chefs and a chef of a multinational dairy company that supports agricultural biotechnology, would like chefs to learn more about the benefits of the technology. “There are a few (chefs) who are trying to have a beat-up about it and they are quite ill-informed. If they went through their own cupboards, they would find that most of what is in there contains genetically modified food,” he said. Read more.
Increased rice yields important for feeding growing world population, BBC News reports
According to a report by the BBC News, rice will play an essential role in meeting the demands of a growing world population. “In 40 years, the global population is expected to swell by 2 billion, so rice, today the fastest growing staple which feeds more than half the world’s population, will become increasingly important to global food security.” The article discusses the role of biotechnology in improving yields for Vietnam, now the world’s second biggest exporter after Thailand. Read more.