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JUNE - 2008




Ethics of agricultural technologies under scrutiny
Responding to Commission President José Manuel Barroso's request, the EU executive's ethical advisory body will issue an opinion on modern agricultural technologies by the end of 2008.

Bt-corn does not harm biodiversity
Translated by Christopher Ortler, CheckBiotech

Countering insect resistance with designer Bt toxins
Toxins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) kill some key agricultural pests, but cause little or no harm to people, wildlife, and even most other insects, including the...

ICGEB receives grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen and expand biosafety systems in sub-Saharan Africa
The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) recently announced a US $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help support the development of...

Policy on the transfer of Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) from Asia to Africa by the WorldFish Center
The Mission of The WorldFish Center is to ‘reduce poverty and hunger through improved fisheries and aquaculture’. We work to achieve this through relevant research, development and technology transfer, partnerships, capacity building and policy support. Genetic improvement by selective breedi...

Rules on marketing GM produce face review
The Food Standards Agency is to review how it regulates the marketing and labelling of genetically modified produce after a government paper on food policy yesterday highlighted the difficulties of sourcing non-GM animal feed.

EU ministers to debate Bayer's GM cotton, soybeans
European Union farm ministers will debate next week whether to allow imports of genetically modified strains of cotton and soybeans to be used as food ingredients and in animal feed, a document showed on Monday.

EU's legal labyrinth of GMO legislation
European Union rules on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a legal labyrinth.
Several different procedures apply for authorizing a biotech product, depending on the uses that the manufacturer specifies in its request for EU approval.

Brazil's national biosafety committee gave green light for the sale of Syngenta's (SYNN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) genetically modified Bt11 corn, the company said on Friday.

The latest issue of Plant Physiology (July 2008; Volume 147, Issue 3) has a special section on next generation of biotech crops especially on nutritional improvement.  These papers can
be downloaded free!

Influence of Transgenosis on the Plant-Insect- Relationships, in Particular on Chemically       Mediated Interactions

Effect of Transgenes Conferring Enhanced Pathogen Resistance on the Interaction with Symbiotic        Fungi in Rice

Impact on the Soil Ecosystem through Natural and Genetically Engineered Organisms:
      Effects, Methods and Definition of Damage as Contribution to Risk Assessment

The Decomposition of Bt-Corn on the Fields and its Impact on Earthworms and on other        Macroorganisms in the Soil

Environmental Post-market Monitoring of Bt-maize:
       Approaches to Detect Potential Effects on Butterflies and Natural Enemies

Columns by Dan Gardner

Against the Grains: 'The Terminator Hoax '

Decisions taken in the 84th Meeting of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee

Brazilian Health Biotech: Fostering Crosstalk Between Public and Private Sectors

Biotechnology Related Article Appeared on 'Samyukta Karnataka' ( Regional Language )
June 12, 2008.

Nothing Left to the Imagination
Statistics reveal that television and internet not only harm childrens behaviour, but they also upset their learning of skills like reading, writing and communication, says Uma Ananth

The Politics of GM Food
Kirit S Javali

Hi-tech seed factories: Sowing Seeds of Success

"Indian Seed Industry is Well Placed to Serve Both Domestic and International Markets"
Dr MK Sharma,
Managing Director,
Mahyco Monsanto

"If We Facilitate Seed Industry, We Facilitate Growth in Agriculture"
Dr Govind Garg,
Director, R&D,
Krishidhan Seeds

Metagenomics: Window to the Microbial Universe

Few Checks to Prevent Entry of GM Food

Gene Campaign Criticises India’s ‘Silence’ at Global Bio-Safety Meet

An Enforceable International Compact for Infectious Diseases
Human beings have raced with pathogens but always lagged a few steps behind in combating them. In the 21st century, it is an arms race, not between states, but between the global community and naturally occurring pathogens.

"Indian Science in Genomics has been Able to Place Itself on the Global Map"
These are exciting times for Indian science. India is all set to play host to the 13th human genome meeting in September this year. The excitement is already palpable since it not only happens to be the 20th anniversary of the Human Genome Organization (HUGO), but it is for the first time that the Human Genome Meeting is being held in India.

Indian Gene Decoded
The largest ever study to understand the genetic diversity of India's one billion people by a team of top genetic experts has thrown up some interesting data and concludes that India has one of the most genetically diverse populations in the world.

The Development of RNAi as a Therapeutic Strategy
Over 30 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have declared an interest in or have an active drug development program already underway in RNAi-based therapeutics to silence disease associated genes.

FAO E-Conference on Biotechnologies and Water Scarcity
The summary document of the FAO e-mail conference entitled "Coping with water scarcity in developing countries: What role for agricultural biotechnologies?" has now been published.

Genetic Landscape
The billion-plus people of India today comprise 4,963 communities, which include several thousands endogamous groups, speak in 325 functioning languages and write in 25 different scripts.

HISTORIANS and anthropologists have over the years provided us with a fairly good understanding of the peopling of India, its evolution over centuries to its current diverse compositional fabric, its population groupings in terms of geography, language, culture and ethnicity as well as its characteristically unique societal stratification and hierarchies.

Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture

RH Nature Reviews Genetics 08- Opposition to Transgenic Technologies

Germany: Discussion Paper of German Ag-Industry about EU Biotech Policy Implications

A group of German food and feed industry associations released a discussion paper expressing the industries' concerns about the negative implications of the EU biotech policy. The industry is highly concerned that the EU policy on biotechnology will cause significant supply problems for Germany. The concern is heightened by the prospect of new biotech events, such as the second generation RR soybeans, being introduced in the U.S. and other major soybean producing countries.

Bt maize Performance in Spain

Currently, Bt maize is the only genetically modified crop authorized for commercial cultivation in the European Union. Spain, with over nine years of experience in Bt maize cultivation, is the European member state with the highest adoption rate for the biotech crop. A survey, published by the journal Nature Biotechnology, reports that farmers adopting Bt maize experienced higher average yields than conventional corn growers in certain regions in the country.

Arsenic speciation varies with type of rice
New studies suggest that U.S. rice contains more methylated arsenic, a less toxic form of the metal, than rice from Europe and Asia does.

Why I Am Bothered by Neo-Colonialist NGOs
Temba Nolutshungu, Arusha Times via AllAfrica.com
Soon after the real colonialists had left Africa, a new breed of Western colonialists emerged: the statist Non-Governmental Organisations that want to save us from everything from genetically-modified food to globalisation--and growth.

China experts identify gene for yield, height in rice
Tan Ee Lyn, Reuters via Forbes
China - KABUL - Scientists in China have identified a single gene that appears to control rice yield, as well as its height and flowering time, taking what may be a crucial step in global efforts to increase crop productivity.

The French government has called for a debate on the review of the EU
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has also repeatedly criticised the EU for "undue delays" in the authorisation of GMOs. See the latest WTO ruling:

The legal bans are in France, Austria, Poland, Hungary and Greece.

EU delays decision on approving more GM crops
Jeremy Smith
Wed May 7, 2008BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, delayed a decision on Wednesday on whether farmers may grow more genetically modified crops, saying further scientific analysis was needed before approval could be given.

UCR Geneticist Plays Scientific Advisor to Movie about “Love, Adventure and ... Genetically Modified Rice”
May 7, 2008Norman Ellstrand checked and improved the science behind Basmati Blues, a musical comedy set for a 2009 release

Gujrat worst-hit by illegal Bt cotton production
BS Reporter
April 22, 2008Gujarat is not only the top cotton-producing state but also the largest manufacturer of illegal Bt cotton seeds in the country. The cotton bowl of India manufactured 5 million packets of spurious or illegal Bt seeds in 2007. Besides, Gujarat also stands numero uno in sowing spurious cotton seeds in the country.

Farmers seek ban on GM crops
DH News Service,
New Delhi:Hundreds of farmers on Tuesday staged a protest in the national capital, pressing for a complete ban on genetically modified (GM) crops and food in India.

Call for policing
Ijaz Ahmed Rao discusses the virtues of a bio-safety framework for genetically modified crops, now that they have become farmers’ favourite

Plantings of genetically modified (GMO) crops are increasing globally in spite of warnings by environmentalists that they may be unsafe for both humans and the environment. The recent annual report issued by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) said that the global GMO were planted on an area of 282.4 million acres in 2007.

Stem cells: The 3-billion-dollar question

Can a state do what a country cannot, and transform the way stem-cell research is funded? Erika Check Hayden reports on the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Genes as the solution
In 2002, the Zambian government did something stupendously silly. It banned maize imports needed to feed its famine stricken population. Millions died as a result. The government shrugged and said the maize was “genetically modified” (GM) and therefore dangerous.

Food crisis spurs esearch spending

Agricultural research comes in from the cold.
Declan Butler
More than 20 United Nations development agencies joined the World Bank and the World Trade Organization this week in Bern, Switzerland, to discuss emergency humanitarian aid and other measures to combat the growing world food crisis. The World Food Programme says it needs an extra US$755 million just to meet existing needs for food aid.

Global Food Crisis / UN / Bilingual Transcript of Statements by Secretary-General, Heads of Concerned Agencies, and Response to Questions at Press Conference on Global Food CrisisGM Crops, A World View
In 2007, farmers grew more than 114 million hectares of GM crops - mainly soy, maize, cotton and canola. Here we show who grows them, who imports them and highlight the top eight countries that together produce more than 99% of the world's biotech plants.

Mass Protests against GM Crops in IndiaInterference at the EPA
Science and Politics at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Open letter to Robert B. Zoellick, President, World BankNew BT variety may push short staple cotton output.
By Kalpesh Damor
AHMEDABAD, India - If every thing falls in place, farmers will have the option of sowing a new variety of short staple BT cotton, which has seen a decline in production in recent years.

The future of agricultural biotechnology: Creative, destruction, adoption, or irrelevance? ICABR Conference 2008
Organized by International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR) in collaboration with: CEIS - University of Rome "Tor Vergata"; Rutgers University; Yale University; University of California, Berkeley; Leibniz University of Hannover; University of Missouri; University of Saskatchewan; Wageningen University. Jun 12 - Jun 14, 2008 | Location: Ravello, Italy.

Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing new pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops.
In Japan and South Korea, some manufacturers for the first time have begun buying genetically engineered corn for use in soft drinks, snacks and other foods. Until now, to avoid consumer backlash, the companies have paid extra to buy conventionally grown corn. But with prices having tripled in two years, it has become too expensive to be so finicky.
“We cannot afford it,” said a corn buyer at Kato Kagaku, a Japanese maker of corn starch and corn syrup.

Prof. Kameswara Rao and Dr. T.M. Manjunath's Participation in 2008 Biotech Activities

Scrutinizing Industry-Funded Science: The Crusade Against Conflicts of Interest
For approximately a century, industry has been a powerful motivating force in the creation of new technology and the underwriting of scientific research. Yet the last two decades have seen the development of a sweeping conflicts of interest movement aimed squarely at curtailing academic/industry biomedical research collaborations and restricting membership on government scientific advisory boards to researchers associated with industry.

LEADER: Nurturing nanotech

No one wants to strangle a fast-expanding young industry with regulations. The internet illustrates the benefits of allowing an exciting new technology to explode in a virtually unregulated environment. But some promising new fields are likely to grow better inside a well-constructed regulatory framework, either because they are exceptionally sensitive in moral and ethical terms or because they pose a potential hazard to health and the environment.

Center for Indigenous Knowledge for Agriculture and Rural Development

The Center for Indigenous Knowledge for Agriculture and Rural Development (CIKARD) at Iowa State University focuses its activities on preserving and using the local knowledge of farmers and other rural people around the globe.

Scientists find potential schistosomiasis treatment
Researchers have identified a compound that could potentially be used in treating schistosomiasis.

Islamic conference boosts S&T with new resolutions
The Organization of the Islamic Conference has approved several resolutions to strengthen innovation and research in the Islamic world.

Mexico publishes GM approval guidelines

Mexico has published guidelines for the approval of genetically modified organisms under its biosafety law.

Uganda 'close to stamping out Hib meningitis'

Uganda is close to eradicating Hib meningitis among young children as a result of consistent immunisation programmes.

New method 'prevents spread of GM plants'

Chinese researchers have developed a new method to prevent genetically modified crops spreading to conventional plant populations.

Social factors 'help women with post-tsunami stress'

Stress and depression in Sri Lankan mothers after the 2004 Asian tsunami can be lessened by good familial and social ties, say researchers.

Women scientists celebrated in new charter

The achievements of female scientists have been recognised with a new charter signed by past winners of the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO awards.

Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 13–25 March
A round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 13–25 March.

Brazil creates US$18 million fund for young scientists

Brazilian funding agency CNPq has announced a new fund to help young scientists develop their careers.
[Spanish full text only]

Health weeks 'powerful tools' for deworming children
A study shows that national health weeks are an efficient way of delivering deworming treatment to children in Mexico.

[Spanish full text only]

Rotavirus vaccine, not treatment, 'cheaper for Panama'

A vaccination programme for rotavirus would avoid a thousand hospitalisations per year and slash medical costs in Panama, says a study.

[Spanish full text only]

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