Fbae Logo
Home | | Support Us | Contact Us
Goals & Objectives Our Position False Propaganda Special Topics Important Publications Important Links Events news Biosafety
Fbae Header Home






Crop Biotech Update 12 September 2008


JRC Study Says Biotech Food Safe
Fifth Anniversary of Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
Arcadia Biosciences Awarded As Global Innovator

UN-backed Carbon Forum Helps Africa Profit from Greenhouse Gas Offset Scheme

Iowa State to Create NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable
KSU Scientists Develop Herbicide-Resistant Sorghum
Enzyme Detectives Uncover New Reaction Products
Syngenta to Develop Heat-Tolerant Broccoli
Two Scientists Inducted into ARS Hall of Fame
Environmental Impact Statement Required for GM Alfalfa
World's First Synthetic Tree for Heat Transfer, Soil Remediation
EPA Fines Syngenta for Pesticide Violation

Asia and the Pacific
China's US$3.5 Billion GM Crops Push
China Gears Up for Biotech Amidst Concerns
Vietnam Builds Biotechnology Research Center
India Develops Mustard Hybrid

Germany's KWS Completes Trials of GM Sugarbeets
EU Approves LibertyLink Soybean
Notification to Field Test GM potato in Germany

Plant Genomes May Incorporate Agrobacterium Chromosomal DNA
Digestion of Bt Proteins by Slugs

Biofuels Supplement ( September 12, 2008 Issue)

News and Trends
Vivipary Reported in Jatropha curcas L.
Study Analyzes the Future Global Biofuels Industry
Vehicle Study Shows 99% Biodiesel Blend (B99) Performs as Well as
Regular PetroDiesel

Energy Crops and Feedstocks for Biofuels Production
Purdue University Scientists' Corn Gene Study to Help Identify Next Generation Biofuels

Biofuels Processing
Scientists Study Microwave Technology to Reduce Cost of Biodiesel Production
Scientists Develop Robust Thermophilic Cellulose Ethanol Bacterium

Biofuels Policy and Economics
New Zealand Passes Legislation Enabling Sustainable Biofuels


Previous Issue
<http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/online/default.asp?Date=9/5/2008>  |

[ TextOnly
| Archive
<http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/archive/default.asp>  |
<http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/translations/default.asp>  |
<http://www.isaaa.org/rss/cropbiotechupdate/default.asp>  ]




JRC Study Says Biotech Food Safe

The Joint Research Centre, The European Union's scientific and technical research laboratory and an integral part of the European Commission, has released its report on the "Scientific and technical contribution to the development of an overall health strategy in the area of GMOs". The overall results of the study indicate that:

*        There is a comprehensive body of knowledge that already adequately addresses current food safety issues including those dealing with GM products; it is considered by the experts as sufficient to
assess the safety of present GM products.
*        Developments in biotechnology will require even more sizeable efforts to maintain an adequate capacity to deal with novel products.
*        Such R& D efforts need to be firmly inscribed in an international context.
*        It is essential that a forum is created where stakeholders meet regularly to share expertise, to identify areas of improvement, to forecast upcoming developments and to anticipate needs for scientific and technical efforts.

Willy De Greef, Secretary General of EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, said "That food made from biotech crops is safe for human and animal consumption is not exactly news. We hope that the European policymakers who have insisted on verifying this fact again will now act in accordance with the findings in the form of more timely and actual approvals of biotech products".

A copy of the executive summary of the report is downloadable from

[ Send to a Friend
<http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/sendtofriend/default.asp?Date=9/12/2008&ID=3130>  | Rate this Article
<http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/ratethisarticle/default.asp?Date=9/12/2008&ID=3130>  ]


Fifth Anniversary of Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

September 11, 2003 marked the entry into force of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. This year's anniversary theme is "The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety: Five years of global cooperation towards sustainable development". More than 140 countries have ratified the Protocol which is among the world's key international environmental instruments to ensure that modern biotechnology is developed and applied in an environmentally sound manner. It aims to improve safety in the transfer,
handling and use of living modified organisms.

In an anniversary statement, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said "I congratulate the 147 Parties to the Protocol for their achievements over the past five years, and urge those countries that have not done so to ratify or accede to the Protocol without delay. Let us reaffirm our commitment to the Protocol, and let us strive even harder to devise the additional measures and initiatives that will be needed to ensure its full implementation."

Details of the anniversary are available at
Download  the U.N. Secretary General's speech at

[ Send to a Friend
<http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/sendtofriend/default.asp?Date=9/12/2008&ID=3132>  | Rate this Article
<http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/ratethisarticle/default.asp?Date=9/12/2008&ID=3132>  ]


Arcadia Biosciences Awarded As Global Innovator

Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., a U.S. agricultural biotechnology company focused on the development of agricultural products that improve the environment and enhance human health, was one of the 2008 Tech Awards Laureates honored by the Tech Museum of Innovation for innovators who are applying technology  "to benefit humanity and spark global change." Arcadia, one of 25 global innovators, was cited for using advanced biotechnology techniques for its nitrogen use efficiency technology (NUE) .

NUE technology enables crops to produce high yields with significantly less fertilizer than conventional crops. Arcadia has commercial licensing agreements with several seed companies around the world for use of NUE technology in crops such as canola, corn, wheat, rice, and sugar beets. The first crops developed using NUE technology are expected to be commercialized by 2012.

Download the press release at

[ Send to a Friend
<http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/sendtofriend/default.asp?Date=9/12/2008&ID=3122>  | Rate this Article
<http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/ratethisarticle/default.asp?Date=9/12/2008&ID=3122>  ]



UN-backed Carbon Forum Helps Africa Profit from Greenhouse Gas Offset Scheme

A three-day deal making and networking was recently concluded at the African Carbon Forum in Senegal which was organized by the United Nations. The discussion focused on how the African continent can improve its standing in the global carbon marketplace. Some 600 participants
from 60 countries participated in the forum where deals were forged such as the use of energy-efficient light bulbs in Senegal and the pledging of $20 million fund towards a public/private partnership to assess carbon offset projects.

"Much remains to be done in the form of awareness-raising and capacity-building before African countries can take full advantage of the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), but progress is being made, and we saw it here," said Daniele Violetti of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

For details, see press release at:



Iowa State to Create NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals

The Iowa State University is the recipient of a $18.5 million grant to create the National Science Foundation Engineering (NSF) Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals. The grant is part of the NSF's Generation Three Engineering Research Centers designed "to create university and
industry partnerships in research and education that promote innovation, transform engineered systems, advance technology and produce engineering graduates who can creatively contribute to US competitive advantage in a global economy".

For Iowa State, the grant will be used to develop technologies for plant based chemical industry and other biorenewables, utilizing both the biocatalytic and chemical catalytic technologies. Undergraduate and graduate students will be educated to become creative and innovative
engineers by exposing them in multidisciplinary research and international partnerships. Education efforts will also be geared towards pre-college students and teachers that bring engineering
concepts into their classrooms to stimulate students to study engineering and science.

For details on the grant and the various efforts planned, see article at


KSU Scientists Develop Herbicide-Resistant Sorghum

Weed management is one of the biggest concerns for grain sorghum producers, but Kansas State University scientists are finding ways to remedy the problem. Kassim Al-Khatib, KSU professor of weed physiology, and his colleagues have developed a herbicide-resistant grain sorghum line. The sorghum line is tolerant to acetolactate synthase (ALS)-inhibitor herbicides such as Steadfast, Accent, Resolve, and Ally.

"This technology has excellent potential for controlling broadleaf and grassy weeds in sorghum, using post-emergence herbicides," Al-Khatib said, adding that he expects producer acceptance to be high because no post-emergence herbicide is now available for managing grassy weeds in sorghum. The team involved in the project is also working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's program for Minor Use Pesticides as well as to register the use of Steadfast herbicide on ALS-resistant

Read the article at


Enzyme Detectives Uncover New Reaction Products

Scientists at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered a fundamental shift in an enzyme's function that could possibly widen the possibilities in bioengineering biofuels and other plant based-oil products. According to John Shanklin, the project leader, "placing double bonds in different positions allows you to change the structures of the fatty acids to make products with different potential applications. Their ultimate goal - engineering designer plant oils to be used as biofuels. The Brookhaven team modified a desaturase enzyme by changing three of the 363 amino acids in its protein sequence producing a shift in double-bond position.

Upon further investigation the enzyme modification yielded three completely new products - two variations of a hydroxylated product called an allylic alcohol and a fatty acid containing two double bonds. This work demonstrated that making small changes to the enzyme's amino acid sequence can facilitate a wide range of chemical potentials. Shanklin added that, engineering designer desaturase-like plant enzymes could tailor-make biofuel feedstocks with optimal properties, instead of relying on the properties of preexisting raw materials.

See the article for more details at:


Syngenta to Develop Heat-Tolerant Broccoli

Syngenta Seeds Inc. has teamed with California-based R&D Ag Inc. to develop heat-tolerant broccoli varieties. The agreement gives Syngenta a license for R&D Ag's patent on heat-tolerant broccoli. In addition, it will also provide Syngenta with research rights as well as exclusive, global marketing rights for joint broccoli hybrids that combine R&D Ag's heat tolerant germplasm with Syngenta-developed germplasm and technology. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Broccoli is a cool-weather crop restricted to specific geographical production regions and planting seasons. The development of heat-tolerant varieties may allow for expansion of the broccoli acreage,
increasing options for growers. Syngenta anticipates the first commercial sales of these new broccoli hybrids in 2011.

The news release is available at http://www.syngenta.com/en/index.html


Two Scientists Inducted into ARS Hall of Fame

Two Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, Andrew L. Sharpley and Robert E. Davis who exemplified the spirit of scientific excellence and creativity with which ARS has served the nation and the agriculture community will be honored for their achievements. Soil scientist Sharpley pioneered the research on farm loss of phosphorous and nitrogen through leaching and has been credited for spearheading the development and refinement of the widely-used Phosphorous Index, a tool to identify the risk of phosphorous loss from agricultural fields. He  recommended technical innovations which are widely adopted by regulatory resources conservations agencies worldwide. Davis on the otherhand, is noted for his pioneering work on spiroplasmas, a new type of microorganism that cause diseases of crops and are harmful to beneficial insects and species of crab and shrimp. His research necessitated a revision of plant pathology textbooks and opened a new research frontier in phytoplasmas - mystery pathogens.

See press release on the honorees at:


Environmental Impact Statement Required for GM Alfalfa

The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue an environmental impact statement on Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa seeds which would have been planted exclusively by Forage Genetics International. Monsanto will thus be unable to plant or sell its seed until the environmental review is submitted. The decision upholds an injunction issued by a district court judge last year.

View the Scientific American article at


World's First Synthetic Tree for Heat Transfer, Soil Remediation

The world's first synthetic tree was created in Abraham Stroock's lab at Cornell University using a palm-sized clear, flexible hydrogel - similar to that found in soft contact lens. The research published in Nature confirms the theory that transpiration in trees and plants is a purely physical process, not requiring biological energy. "The capillary action used in trees might be applicable to developing
new passive heat-transfer methods", Stroock said. More so, the principle used in the synthetic tree may also be the mechanism in better soil remediation systems such that instead of having to soak contaminated soil to pump contaminants out, transpiration could help pull the contaminated fluid out of the soil without the use of more liquid. For dry areas, this technology could also be used to draw water out of relatively dry soil without having to dig a well down to the water table.

For more details on the science behind the synthetic tree see the article at


EPA Fines Syngenta for Pesticide Violation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has reached a settlement that will have Syngenta Seeds Inc. pay $17, 750 in fines for alleged violations of federal pesticide regulations. In a news release, EPA says that it found pesticide worker protection violations by the company at its Kekaha facility in Kauai, Hawaii. These violations included failing to store all personal protective equipment separately from clothing and apart from pesticide. The Agency also alleged that
Syngenta failed to properly post the spraying of the pesticide Liberty.

The settlement is part of three separate administrative complaints totaling $284,050 in civil penalties with Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., and Syngenta Seeds, Inc., for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

The news release is available at

Asia and the Pacific


China's US$3.5 Billion GM Crops Push

The Chinese government is expected to launch a US $3.5 billion, 13-year research and development (R&D) initiative on genetically modified (GM) crops. "The new initiative will spur commercialization of GM varieties," says Xue Dayuan, chief scientist on biodiversity at the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Science of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Huang Dafang, former director of the Biotechnology Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAS), on the
other hand, says that the major aim of the initiative is to help China catch up with the West in the race to identify and patent plant genes of great value.

China's leaders have stood firmly behind transgenic crops. "To solve the food problem, we have to rely on big science and technology measures, rely on biotechnology, and rely on GM," Premier Wen Jiabao told academicians at the annual gathering of the CAS and the Chinese Academy of Engineering last June.

Science magazine reports that although the official budget figure for the initiative has not been released by the central government, half is expected to come from local governments on whose land GM crops will be grown and from agricultural biotechnology companies.

The full article is available at
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/321/5894/1279?ijkey=wa/cAo0qp xBlI&keytype=ref&siteid=sci


China Gears Up for Biotech Amidst Concerns

China's strong pro-biotech policy as a result of Premier Wen Jiabao's announcement of an additional US$3 billion in state support for the development of agricultural biotechnology over the next 15 years suggests that major crops may soon be permitted for planting. However, concerns still need to be addressed with regards China's biotechnology regulatory and approval system and its ability to evolve with changing technology. This is a gist of China Biotechnology Update 2008 published by Resource Investor in Beijing.

The report prepared by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing discusses biotechnology trade and production, biotechnology policy, marketing issues, and capacity building and outreach.

See the full report at


Vietnam Builds Biotechnology Research Center

Dong Nai, a southern province in Vietnam, has started the construction of a Center for Biotechnology Application Research worth 530 billion VND (US $31.8 million). The 200 ha center in Cam My district will carry out research on biotechnology application to produce high-quality and high-yield plant varieties and animal breeds. It will also develop advanced biotechnologies to diagnose diseases, strategies for preventive medicine, and environmental protection. The center will also help create a link between research establishments, farmers and businesses.

In 2010,  the initial infrastructure facilities will be completed which will be used for the development of plant varieties and animal breeds through biotechnology. By 2020, the center will develop a number of biotechnology businesses to provide products and services for local and foreign markets. The project is the first of its kind in Vietnam, paving the way for the formation of a future biotechnology urban area. The center, when completed, hopes to attract more than 10,000 scientists and technicians.

For details, see the press release in Vietnamese at:
http://www.vnanet.vn/Home/EN/tabid/119/itemid/266465/Default.aspx. For biotechnology updates in Vietnam, contact Hien Le of the Vietnam BIC at: hientttm@yahoo.com


India Develops Mustard Hybrid

Scientists of the National Research Centre on Rapeseed-Mustard in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India have developed a hybrid of Indian mustard through heterosis breeding using the moricandia cytoplasmic genetic male sterility system. Considered an important milestone in Brassica research in the country, the hybrid is named NRC Sankar sarson (NRCHB 506).

Dr. K. H. Singh, senior scientist and key breeder, said the hybrid has shown superior oil yield by a margin of about 26, and 20 percent over existing popular varieties of the region in 11 trials across 5 states. This hybrid is of medium maturity duration (133 days), medium in height (190 cm) and has 40.6 per cent high oil content. It has shown wide adaptability. Dr. Arvind Kumar, Director of the Mustard Center, under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, added that mustard is the second most important oilseed crop in the country and is  expected to contribute to self sufficiency in the edible oils.

The full report is at  http://www.icar.org.in/news/mustard_hybrid.htm



Germany's KWS Completes Trials of GM Sugarbeets

KWS Saat Ag (KWS), an agriculture company based in Germany, has completed research trials in six locations of genetically modified (GM) sugarbeets which are tolerant to the herbicide Roundup Ready (r). The trials were done to test the genetically modified sugarbeets in different environments in Germany and their effects on the agroecosystem. Questions on the agronomic and phenotypic features as well as the mechanism of action of the integrated gene were dealt with as well as the effects on non-target organisms such as insects. Cultivation of the GM sugarbeets in the EU is projected by 2015 at the earliest.

News about  KWS in German is available at http://www.kws.com/ while an English translation is provided by
Company profile of KWS in English is at 


EU Approves LibertyLink Soybean

The European Commission has approved Bayer CropScience's LibertyLink soybeans (A 2704-12) for use in feed and food across its 27 nations for the next 10 years. The glufosinate-resistant soybean, however, is not intended to be grown in Europe's fields. The approval was made in the effect of a legal default system that kicks in if the European Council ministers fail to reach a consensus under the EU weighed voting system.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), EU's independent scientific authority, found in August 2007 that the soybean "is unlikely to have any adverse effect on human and animal health or on the environment". LibertyLink soybeans have been fully approved for food, feed and cultivation in the U.S. and Canada. Further import approvals have been granted in Australia, China, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and Taiwan.

For more information, read


Notification to Field Test GM potato in Germany

A notification report has been published for the field trials of genetically modified (GM) potato by the University of Rostock, Germany. The field trial is designed to determine the frost and the frost reaction of Cyanophycin-producing plants; influence of the winter season on rotting of the GM potatoes; the potential accumulation of cyanophycin in the soil; and the influence of rotting of cyanophycin-producing potatoes in soil microbes.

The GM potatoes were modified to contain genes for PsbY-cphATe (cyanophycin synthase) of T. elongates and npt II , thus producing cyanophycin and are resistant against kanamycin. Cyanophycin are the non-protein nitrogen storage polymer in cyanobacteria produced in times of stress, except during nitrogen starvation.

See details of the notificaion report at


Plant Genomes May Incorporate Agrobacterium Chromosomal DNA

Thirty years ago scientists found that the pathogenic soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens is capable of interkingdom genetic transfer. The crown gall-causing bacterium can integrate transfer DNA (T-DNA) on the tumor-inducing (Ti) plasmid into the genomes of most crops. Since this discovery, Agrobacterium-mediated DNA transfer has been exploited to introduce transgenes into plants and to transform other organisms such as yeast, fungi and even human cells.

It has been well documented that part of the Ti plasmid outside the T-DNA borders may be integrated into plant genomes. In a paper published by Nature Biotechnology, Bekir Ulker and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research and Bielefeld University in Germany report that large (up to 18 kb) gene-bearing fragments of Agrobacterium chromosomal DNA (AchrDNA) can also be integrated into Arabidopsis genomic DNA during transformation.

The researchers analyzed databases that contain Arabidopsis-flanking sequence tags (sequences found on both sides of T-DNA insertion sites). They found that one in every 250 transgenic plants (0.4 percent) may carry AchrDNA fragments. The discovery highlights the need for more research to understand the mechanisms of horizontal gene flow through bacteria in the evolution of higher organisms. It also indicates the need for increased vigilance in testing for undesired bacterial DNA in transgenic plants.

Subscribers can download the article at
Non subscribers can read the abstract at

[Send to a Friend
=9/12/2008&ID=3111> ]
[Rate this Article
ate=9/12/2008&ID=3111> ]

Digestion of Bt Proteins by Slugs

Corinne Zurbrugg and Wolfgang Nentwig from Bern University in Switzerland assessed the effects of Cry1Ab and Cry3Bb1 proteins from Bt corn on two slug species to gauge the exposure of non-target predators and decomposer organisms to the insecticidal toxins. Their work appears in the recent issue of Transgenic Research.

The researchers measured Bt protein concentration in intestines and feces of corn leaf-fed Arion lusitanicus (spanish slug) and Deroceras reticulatum (grey field slug) using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and determined how much of the ingested protein is excreted by the slugs. Both Cry proteins were detectable in the intestines of both species after having been fed with Bt corn for three days in a row. The scientists also observed that after slugs had ceased feeding on Bt corn, Cry1Ab was detectable in fresh slug feces for a significantly longer time and often in higher amounts than the Cry3Bb1. The scientists, however, found that there is no significant difference on the mortality of European corn borer larvae fed with diet containing Bt corn exposed slug feces.

The results indicate that both Cry1Ab and Cry3Bb1 are likely to be transferred to higher trophic levels and to the decomposer food web, albeit they have different transfer probabilities. Since the study was conducted in a laboratory set-up, the scientists recommend further examinations to be carried out, specifically on the potential adverse effects of Bt proteins on slugs.

The paper is available at


Call for Evidence: Biological Approaches to Enhance Food Crop Production

The Royal Society is launching a new study to undertake a balanced
assessment of the challenges to world food crop production and detail
the range of different biological approaches that could be used to
enhance yields in addition to their likely consequences and impacts.
Evidence is being sought particularly views of agriculturists,
bioscientists, academics, policy makers, industrialists and other
interested parties.  The deadline for submission is 6 October 2008. 

Evidence can be submitted electronically (preferred format) to sarah.mee@royalsociety.org or by post to Sarah Mee, Science Policy Section, The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG, UK or by fax at +44(0)20 7451 2692. For more information, visit

2009 International Conference on Horticulture

The 2009 International Conference on Horticulture, organized by Prem Nath Agricultural Science Foundation (PNASF) and Vegetable Science International Network (VEGINET), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will be conducted on 9-12 November in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. With the theme, Horticulture for Livelihood Security and Economic Growth, the conference is designed to provide a common forum for all stakeholders to share their experience and expertise so as to suggest much needed technology-institution-policy package for sustainable production and marketing of horticultural products.

 For more information, visit http://www.pnasf.org/ich2009.htm


Document Reminders

New Book on International Regimes and the Management of Crop Genetic Resources

Fritdtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) Senior Research Fellow Regine Andersen has recently published a book that provides the first comprehensive analysis of how the international agreements pertaining to crop genetic resources affect the management of these vital resources for food security and poverty eradication in developing countries. The book analyses the international regimes and their interaction, traces the driving forces across scales and the effects in developing countries. It identifies entry points to shape a better governance of agrobiodiversity.

To learn more about the book and how it can be accessed see

Do not hesitate to tell other colleagues/contacts about this mail list. If they wish to join, they should send an e-mail message to knowledge.center@isaaa.org leaving the subject blank and entering the
one-line text message as follows: SUBSCRIBE Crop Biotech Network

To stop receiving this newsletter, please send an e-mail message to knowledge.center@isaaa.org and write, "unsubscribe newsletter" in the subject box.

Please visit CropBiotech Net web pages (http://www.isaaa.org/kc) to view previous issues of this newsletter and see other available resources for download.

Copyright (c) 2008 ISAAA
Editorial Policy

Related News

Protein Engineering: The Fate of Fingers

Asilomar 1975: DNA Modification Secured

EurekAlert ! Agriculture, Biology, Earth Science.....

Nature News: Big Data (Editorial, Special Report, Features.......)

United States Department of Agriculture: Star Link Test Results (Image)