ISAAA releases educational cartoon about GM crops
The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) released an educational cartoon designed to enhance understanding of GM crops. Mandy & Fanny: The Future of Sustainable Agriculture is the first educational cartoon of its kind developed by ISAAA to illustrate the rapid adoption of biotech crops and their role in increasing income for farmers worldwide. The educational cartoon publication is authored by Bhagirath Choudhary and Kadambini Gaur, representatives of ISAAA in India, and illustrated by Irfan Khan, a renowned cartoonist in India. Check out the cartoon.
Women farmers in Africa face regulatory hurdles to agricultural technology and training
A BBC News article discusses female farmers in Africa who call on policy makers to increase women’s access to training, science and technology for agriculture.
Women grow as much as 90% of the food in sub-Saharan Africa, yet they have access to just 5% of resources including information, training and farm inputs, which are mostly provided to men. According to Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, a farmer in Zimbabwe, “A major stumbling block is the lack of cohesion and communication, between the policy makers in the relevant government departments.” Read more.
Indian farmer says biotech crops contribute to agricultural productivity
In a Wall Street Journal online forum to debate the impact of GM crops in India, an Indian farmer said GM crops have “undoubtedly” improved agricultural productivity. Vanchinathan Ravichandran grows biotech cotton, which he says occupies 90% of cotton cultivation since the technology was approved in 2002. He urges policy makers to remove bans on other biotech crops: “We need crops with improved traits such as drought tolerance, submergence tolerance, salinity resistance and so on.” He adds, “When Genetically Modified crops can provide answers to these issues, why deprive us of the opportunity to benefit from science and technology?” Read more.
GM crops could help Zimbabwe achieve food security
News Day, a Zimbabwe publication, said the country should be more open to GM technology to help meet the challenge of food security. The article points out Zimbabwean farmers need the technology to produce more crops on less land. “The Western world is flourishing because of GM food. But then why is GM technology shunned in Zimbabwe?” Read more.
Dr. Pamela Ronald discusses benefits of GM crops at New Zealand lecture
Dr. Pamela Ronald, Professor of Plant Pathology at UC-Davis and author of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food, posted a blog on the benefits of GM crops and the negative impact of regulatory hurdles in New Zealand. Dr. Ronald discussed her lecture at the Royal Society in Wellington, New Zealand, where she made the point that GM crops have “enhanced [the] goals of sustainable agriculture.” Read more.
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.
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
GM Seeds Raise Incomes and Increase Yields in Africa
An article by Voice of America discusses studies showing that genetically modified crops help Africa to overcome poverty and hunger. It points out that in the book, The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, Harvard University Professor Calestous Juma “proposes that biotech seeds could dramatically increase yield and raise incomes.” Juma joins other genetic engineering proponents like Margaret Karembu, Director of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Application’s AgriCenter (ISAAA) in Nairobi, who finds that biotech agriculture reduces harmful insecticides, increases yields and raises incomes in countries like South Africa and Burkina Faso.
Author Voices Benefits of Biotechnology on Fox News GM Food Debate
In a Fox News interview with John Stossel, Gregory Conko, co-author of The Frankenfood Myth, says that modern biotechnology “allows for much safer food.” Mr. Conko points out that “if you’ve eaten food in, say, over the last ten thousand years, you’ve eaten something that farmers or plant breeders have intentionally modified at the genetic level.” He explains that ag technology makes it possible to be more precise by identifying “the changes that are made in the genetic structure of an organism.”
Former USDA Chief Scientist Recommends GM Crops for President’s Plan
According to Scientific American, former U.S. Department of Agriculture Chief Scientist and Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Gale A. Buchanan highly recommends that President Obama incorporate genetically modified crops into his plans to improve global energy productivity and food security. In the article, Buchanan states that “any ‘real, revolutionary’ impact” of the president’s so-called Evergreen Revolution depends on taking advantage of the benefits of GM crops. “The world has got to accept genetically modified plants because not to is to fail to acknowledge one of the most important discoveries of the 21st century,” Buchanan said.