Buffet Foundation funds development of GM sorghum for Africa
According to Reuters, the Howard G. Buffet Foundation is providing a $4 million grant to support efforts to develop genetically modified sorghum for Africa that is fortified with vitamins.
“Improving the nutrition of this staple crop has the potential to change the lives of more than 300 million Africans,” said Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and father of Howard G. Buffet. The Howard G. Buffet Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for the world’s most impoverished populations, often through agricultural productivity. Read more.
CNBC Special Report discusses role of ag tech in world food supply
A CNBC Special Report on Food Economics says agricultural biotechnology is gaining a bigger role in helping to improve global crop yields. The article points out that diseases and insects reduce global crop production by 35 percent. Biotech crops with insect and disease resistance and drought tolerance help farmers produce healthy crops. Read more.
Science Wins Again: USDA approves partial deregulation of sugar beets
The USDA approved partial deregulation of genetically modified sugar beets while they complete a full environmental impact statement, marking the second regulatory victory for biotech crops in a week, Reuters reports. Following the approval of GM alfalfa last week, the USDA has agreed to allow the commercial planting of Roundup Ready sugar beets under closely controlled conditions. “After conducting an environmental assessment, accepting and reviewing public comments and conducting a plant pest risk assessment, APHIS has determined that the Roundup Ready sugar beet root crop, when grown under APHIS imposed conditions, can be partially deregulated without posing a plant pest risk or having a significant effect on the environment,” said Michael Gregoire, deputy administrator for APHIS’ biotechnology regulatory services. Read more.
Top Government Official in India Supports Biotech to Improve Ag Production
According to Food & Beverage News, a top government official at the ‘AgBio’ 2011-Global Summit, India urged scientists to explore biotechnology solutions for improving the country’s agricultural production. He highlighted the potential for biotechnology to help address environmental challenges and resource scarcities. “Besides developing new technologies for wise and judicious use of water sources, there was also the need to develop new varieties capable of withstanding droughts and floods,” said Dr. P. Rama Mohana Rao, Principal Secretary and Agriculture Production Commissioner, Government of Tamil Nadu. Dr. Rao also discussed the role of biotechnology in helping to improve crop yields. Read more.
New York Times columnist Nick Kristof
New York Times columnist Kristof supports biofortification to battle malnutrition
In a New York Times article, Nicholas Kristof discusses the importance of biofortified crops in aiding the battle against poverty and malnutrition. He points out that sweet potato, golden rice and other crops genetically engineered with vitamin A help poor countries like those in Africa where distribution of vitamin A capsules is costly and vitamin-rich crop varieties are scarce. Kristof also addresses critics of biofortification: “the European left’s sad hostility to scientific tinkering with crops may slow acceptance of biofortification. If that hostility gains ground, it will be harder to save children from blindness and death.” Read more.
USDA petition for genetically modified apples that won’t turn brown
According to the Associated Press, a Canadian biotechnology company petitioned the USDA to approve a genetically modified apple that won’t brown soon after it is sliced. Neal Carter, president of the company that developed the apples, says the improvement could make apples more popular in snacks, salads and other meals. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service explains that biotechnology regulations are meant to ensure that genetically modified crops are just as safe for agriculture and the environment as conventionally bred crop varieties. Read more.
Anti-biotechnology crimes pressure Europe’s brightest researchers to quit
A Wall Street Journal piece calls it “a shame and a tragedy” that France’s National Institute for Agricultural Research will no longer develop new varieties of genetically modified crops. Marion Guillou, head of the organization, explains that the decision followed the destruction of €1.2 million in experimental crops by radical activists, and was just one example of crimes that have caused many other European farmers to quit. Guillou pointed out that advancements in the genetic research of wealthy countries such as France have made significant contributions to improvements in agricultural production. Read more
CBI recently blogged about a coexistence workshop at the Maine Agricultural Trade Show in our Ag Biotech Across the Nation series. The Kennebec Journal also reported on this event that aimed to bring ideas from organic and biotech advocates, and create constructive solutions that will lead to more sustainable crop production.
CBI expert Dr. Pamela Ronald, Professor of Plant Pathology at University of California - Davis, and her husband Raoul Adamchak, Market Garden Coordinator at the UC – Davis Student Farm, were involved in the event and advocated for a sustainable agriculture definition that includes genetically engineered crops and organic production methods. Dr. Ronald pointed out that in China the use of insecticides fell by 156 million pounds with the use of genetically modified cotton. She also said agricultural biotechnology is needed because “genetic technology is key to helping feed the growing population.”
You can read more about the coexistence event here.