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FAO-Biotech News Update 2008


1) FAO Biotechnology Glossary - Russian translation

The FAO Biotechnology Glossary is now available in Russian. Apart from a translation of the over 3,000 terms and definitions contained in the original English glossary, the 381-page publication also contains an additional English-Russian vocabulary of biotechnology-related terms. The glossary provides consolidated, comprehensive and accessible definitions of terms and acronyms that are used regularly in biotechnology, including genetic engineering, and closely allied fields. The initial draft was prepared by G. Camarova (State Agricultural University of Moldova, Republic of Moldova)
and revised by T. Gavrilenko, I. Anisimova and O. Antonova (N.I.Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry, Russian Federation) for plant-related terminology and by O. Kuznetsova and S. Kharitonov (Russian State Agrarian University, Russian Federation) for animal-related terminology. It is available in PDF, and soon as a web-based searchable database, at http://www.fao.org/biotech/index_glossary.asp or contact karin.nichterlein@fao.org to request a copy, providing your full postal address. The book was prepared by FAO's Research and Extension Division, in collaboration with the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. The original English version was prepared by A. Zaid, H.G. Hughes, E. Porceddu and F. Nicholas in 2001. The glossary has previously been translated into Arabic, French, Serbian, Spanish and Vietnamese and these versions can also be downloaded from the above website.

2) Pest free potato micropropagative material

The Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) has submitted for member consultation a number of draft International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs), one of which is entitled 'Pest free potato micropropagative material and minitubers for international trade'. The standard provides guidance on the production, maintenance and certification of pest free potato (Solanum spp.) micropropagative material and minitubers intended to be moved in international trade. Micropropagation is a biotechnology involving the miniaturised in vitro multiplication and/or regeneration of plant material under aseptic and controlled environmental conditions, while
minitubers are tubers produced in a protected environment from potato micropropagative material. See https://www.ippc.int/id/201049?language=en (in English, French and Spanish) or contact ippc@fao.org for more information. Contracting Parties, Regional Plant Protection Organizations and relevant international organizations are invited to comment on this and other draft ISPMs through their IPPC contact point. Templates for providing comments are available from the above link and the deadline for submission of comments is 30 September 2008. The IPPC is an international treaty relating to plant health, to which 169 governments currently adhere, and its Secretariat is based at FAO Headquarters, Rome.

3) Biotechnology policy documents of FAO members

The annotated list of on-line biotechnology policy documents of FAO members has recently been updated. Most of the 24 entries are national policy documents, covering applications of biotechnology in food and agriculture as well as in other areas, such as pharmaceuticals and human health care. See http://www.fao.org/biotech/country.asp (available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) or contact biotech-website@fao.org to provide comments.

4) Final reports of COP-MOP 4 and COP-9

The final reports of the 4th meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 4), held on 12-16 May 2008 in Bonn, Germany, and of the 9th Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-9), held in the same place on 19-30 May 2008, are now available. See http://www.cbd.int/mop4/doc/ (107 pages, available in all six UN languages, i.e. in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) and http://www.cbd.int/cop9/doc/ (246 pages, in English with other UN languages to come) respectively or contact secretariat@biodiv.org for more information.

5) UNIDO e-Biosafety courses

As part of a network of regional centres providing comprehensive training in biosafety established by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), registration is now open for two
e-Biosafety courses for 2008/2009. The international e-course at 'biosafety and plant biotechnology' at Ghent University (Belgium) begins tentatively on 29 September 2008 and registration is open until 31
August. The 'e-learning master in biosafety in plant biotechnology' at Marche Polytechnic University
(Italy) starts tentatively on 5 November 2008 and applications are accepted between 15 July and 15 October. See http://binas.unido.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page or contact Sylvia.Burssens@UGent.be or b.mezzetti@univpm.it respectively.

6) OECD bioeconomy project: Scenarios, business models, IPRs, regulation, ethics

In 2005, the International Futures Programme (IFP) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) embarked on a project on 'The bioeconomy to 2030: Designing a policy agenda', aiming to assess "how pervasive biotechnological applications are likely to become, the
prospects for further development over the next two to three decades, the potential impact on the economy and society, and the policy agenda needed to promote and diffuse this new wave of innovations in a way that is consistent with broader socioeconomic goals". The IFP has just
released a number of background documents prepared within the context of the project, several of which deal directly with agricultural biotechnology. These include "Agricultural biotechnology to 2030", by A.M. Murphy, D. van Moorsel and M. Ching (22 pages, considering two different future scenarios); "Small and medium enterprises in agricultural biotechnology", by S.C. Blank (41 pages); "Intellectual property rights in agricultural and agro-food biotechnologies to 2030", by M. Trommetter (a 41-page report presenting options for intellectual property rights in agricultural biotechnologies by 2030); "An overview of regulatory tools and frameworks for modern biotechnology: A focus on agro-food", by M. Cantley (a 123-page paper aiming to give a picture of the main aspects of regulatory measures
applied to modern biotechnology, and the products and services derived from it, in selected OECD and non-OECD countries); and "Biotechnology: Ethical and social debates", by N. Rigaud (an 89-page document focusing on six issues - genetically modified (GM) crops and GM food; biomass energy and biofuels; bioprospecting; GM and cloned animals and their welfare; private genetic information; and stem cell research). See http://www.oecd.org/document/56/0,3343,en_2649_36831301_36960312_1_1_1_1,00.html or contact david.sawaya@oecd.org for more information.

7) bEcon bibliography

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has just released bEcon, a web-based bibliography including peer-reviewed applied economics literature that assesses the impacts of genetically modified (GM) crops in developing economies. The publications are organised into
four main categories: the impacts of GM crops on farms, on consumers, on industries/sectors, and on international trade. For inclusion in the database, publications must focus on GM crops in non-industrialised agriculture, including at least one developing economy, and be peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and published conference proceedings. Technical reports, working papers and discussion papers are considered if there is some indication of peer review. The database is updated every 3 months and a CD-ROM is produced annually. See http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/becon/beconabout.asp or contact
P.Zambrano@cgiar.org for more information
or IFPRI-Library@cgiar.org to
request CD-ROM copies of bEcon.

8) Ex situ conservation of plant genetic resources

A new publication, entitled "Multi-institutional distance learning course on the ex situ conservation of plant genetic resources", is now available which covers the basic concepts of plant genetic resources,
germplasm acquisition, introduction, conservation, characterisation, documentation, and germplasm bank management. Funded by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), this
English-language version is based on the materials used in the 2004 Spanish-language distance learning course, organised by the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Bioversity International and the National University of Colombia, with the support of REDCAPA.
See http://www.ciat.cgiar.org/ccc/course_ex_situ.htm or contact e.hesse@cgiar.org for more information.

*** EVENTS *** (http://www.fao.org/biotech/events_list.asp?Cat=133)

8-11 September 2008, Prague, Czech Republic. How to establish and implement a risk management system for genetically modified (GM) crops. A regional workshop organised by the Government of the Czech Republic with the support of FAO's Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. The workshop participants will be senior officials in countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia responsible for GM crop risk assessment and management. The workshop language is English. A small number of
additional places are available for participants involved in GM crop risk assessment and management from the European and Central Asian region. Contact aleksej.tarasjev@fao.org for more information.

3-15 November 2008, New Delhi, India. International training course on in vitro and cryopreservation techniques for conservation of plant genetic resources. Organised by Bioversity International, the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources in India and the Asia-Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology (APCoAB), its aims are to improve the skills of participants in using tissue culture techniques for conservation and management of plant genetic resources (PGR); equip participants with essential knowledge necessary for developing and using cryopreservation techniques; enhance the use of in vitro conservation and cryopreservation protocols for germplasm of crops relevant in their
countries; and acquaint the participants with molecular techniques for PGR management. The maximum number of participants is 15 and deadline for applications is 30 August 2008.
See http://www.bioversityinternational.org/index.php?id=272 or contact p.mathur@cgiar.org for more information.

17-28 November 2008, Patancheru, India. Molecular methodologies for assessing and applying genetic diversity in crop breeding. Organised by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), with support from India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT),
this 2nd training course from ICRISAT's Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG) provides participants with a hands-on opportunity to gain expertise in the use of molecular markers in diversity analysis, gene/QTL mapping and marker-assisted breeding. It focuses on the experimental design and data analysis components of molecular markers. The expenses of selected participants from India are covered by DBT and the course is also open to a few participants outside of India, who
should cover their own expenses. The Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) will sponsor travel costs for 4 participants from selected APAARI institutes. Deadline for applications is 20 September 2008. See http://www.icrisat.org/CEG/cegregistration2.htm or contact
r.k.varshney@cgiar.org for more information.

20-24 April 2009, Rosario, Argentina. VII Simposio nacional de biotecnologia REDBIO-Argentina. The Symposium's theme is 'biotechnology and the future world-wide scenarios' and its programme covers a range of issues including new generations of GMOs (plant and animal), bioenergy, the 'omics' (genomic, proteomics, metabolomics), global climatic change, education and biotechnology, biosafety, public perception and citruses. See http://www.redbio.org/eventos.asp?id=70 or contact
aescandon@cnia.inta.gov.ar for more information. REDBIO is the Technical Co-operation Network on Plant Biotechnology in Latin America and the Caribbean, based at the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile.

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