Reuters: Mexico plans to approve GM corn for commercial planting
Reuters reports Mexico plans to approve permits for planting genetically modified (GM) corn by the end of the year. The article points out that GM crops should help make Mexico more competitive with the U.S., where genetically modified corn is widespread. Read more.
Biotech research in West Africa aims to reduce poverty
According to All Africa, the U.S. Department of State commissioned the Fulbright scholar and expert on biotechnology Dr. Hortense Dodo to visit a number of West African countries to speak to policymakers, farmers and members of the scientific community on the benefits of biotechnology for reducing poverty.
In the article, Cynthia Gregg at the U.S. Embassy in Gambia says she is excited to have Dr. Dodo in Gambia because biotech crops “can play an important role through increasing productivity while decreasing costs of production by a reduced need for inputs and plowing.” Read more.
BIO Convention panel says biotech regulations harm American competitiveness
Regulatory hurdles for biotech crop approval could harm America’s competitiveness in the global market, BNA reports from a CBI-sponsored panel at the BIO International Convention. “Requiring genetically modified crops to be approved by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture Department drives up the cost of production,” said Dr. Roger Beachy, president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and former Chief Scientist at the USDA. Read more.
Author Stewart Brand: Environmentalists should support biotech
In Dr. Pamela Ronald’s science blog Tomorrow’s Table, eminent author and well-known environmental leader Stewart Brand discusses why environmentalists should consider biotech to help feed the world. Mr. Brand reviews a seminar given by Peter Kareiva, the chief scientist of the Nature Conservancy. Read more.
Kenya plans to approve GM maize to mitigate food shortages
According to Reuters, Kenya plans to approve genetically modified (GM) maize to alleviate food shortages. “The maize shortage threatens to cripple the supply of flour in the country after six major millers closed their main plants, and millers said GM would curb future shortfalls,” the article points out. Read more.
Scientist says ag biotech is necessary for food security
According to the science blog Tomorrow’s Table, ag technology is a solution for helping to reduce global poverty and enables farmers, especially in low-income countries, to produce more crops on less land.
Dr. Robert L. Thompson, senior fellow for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, points out, “Tools available today, including plant breeding and biotechnology, can make presently unusable soils productive and increase the genetic potential of individual crops - enhancing drought and stress tolerance, for example - while also producing gains in yields.” Read more.
Field trials of drought-resistant GM corn show yield increases in drier U.S. regions
Scientific American says GM corn with drought resistance could help the crop to thrive in low-water conditions. The article points out that the technology could be a solution for addressing the challenges of increasing global temperatures, which could impact food and fuel prices worldwide.
In field trials in some of the drier regions of the U.S., GM corn produced seven to 10 extra bushels per acre—a significant increase considering USDA estimates showing the average annual global corn crop losses due to “moderate drought” are 15 percent per year. Read more.
USDA continues to show support for GM crops, Washington Post reports
The Washington Post points out that the USDA has continued to strengthen the position of GM crops with the approval of GM alfalfa, GM corn and limited approval of GM sugar beets. The article notes that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has “long supported genetic engineering.” Read more.
Genetic modification used to fight banana disease in Uganda, CNN reports
According to CNN, research shows that genetic modification may help to fight banana disease in Uganda, the world’s second largest producer of the crop. Thirty percent of Uganda’s banana crop has been infected with the disease. Professor Wilberforce Tushemereirwe at the National Banana Research Program, which is leading the research project, says, “Results from the lab were promising.” He added in the article, “indications are that the field results will follow suit.” Read more
Mexican Ag Ministry approves planting of GM corn for economic benefits
According to Reuters, Mexico’s Agriculture Ministry approved the country’s first pilot program for planting genetically modified (GM) corn because it will help the agriculture economy. “It is necessary to advance the use of biotechnology to reduce imports and promote national production,” the ministry statement said. Farmers in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, where the pilot program will take place, say GM corn will benefit them because it is “higher yielding and more disease resistant.” Read more.
Ugandan scientists testing GM bananas with potential to resist crop disease
Scientists in Uganda believe that genetically modified bananas could help overcome a disease that is devastating the country’s staple food crop, The Guardian reports. The article says that, “laboratory tests on the genetically modified bananas have been highly promising” with six out of eight strains of the GM bananas proving to be 100% resistant to the disease that has threatened the livelihoods of millions of farmers.
According to Dr. Leena Tripathi, a plant biotechnologist at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), “The beauty of the genetic engineering is that you can be very precise,” Read more.
Bangladeshi farmers adopting GM rice for nutritional benefits
According to the United Nations news service, scientists from the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute are testing zinc-rich rice varieties with the goal of mass producing a GM crop within the next five years. Rice, the staple crop of Bangladesh, naturally contains low levels of iron, so farmers in field trials are producing GM rice with high zinc content “to control abnormalities like stunting, poor immune response and pregnancy complications” which can result from too little iron. Read more.