Embryo transfer for cattle reproduction program to start this month

DAVAO CITY—The government is slated to start the national reproduction of cattle this month to ensure the regular reproduction of the breeding stock and gradually wean the country away from imports, according to a private dairy industry leader.

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Climate change, agriculture, and food security

Recently 60 delegates from 22 Asian countries took part in a workshop organized by the United Nations in Manila to map out national adaptation plans or NAPs, which are the main vehicles of countries for climate change adaptation including accessing climate finance. This is quite significant in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of America from the Paris Agreement, which binds countries to fight climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.

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China grants more access to US GM food

Move to expand bilateral trade ties, meet domestic demand

China has granted more access for the US-developed genetically modified (GM) crops into the domestic market, a move to carry out the commitment to expand agricultural trade with the US and also to meet domestic demand, experts noted.

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Awards, new ties mark DOST-PCAARRD’s 6th anniversary

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) week-long celebration of its sixth founding anniversary last month puts the spotlight on several activities, including the national Symposium on Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (NSAARRD).

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GM crops bounce back with gains in production areas

[MANILA] Global acceptance of genetically modified (GM) crops sprang back in 2016 after suffering a decline in 2015, according to estimates by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).

According to ISAAA’s Global Status of Commercialised Biotech/GM Crops: 2016, released in May, 185.10 million hectares of GM crops were planted in 2016, showing an increase from 179.70 million hectares in 2015. In 2014, the global area under GM crops was 181.50 million hectares.

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Uganda: African biosafety agencies move to bridge GMO communication gap

Kampala, Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | African countries are currently having trouble releasing their biotech crops popularly known as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) to farmers, but scientists seem to be embracing a new strategy to ensure that there exist relevant regulatory systems.

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Silkworm micrococoons could be used in biotechnology, medicine

The process mimics on the microscale the way in which Bombyx mori silkworms spin the cocoons from which natural silk is harvested.

London, Jul 19 : Researchers in the UK have helped to make microscopic versions of the cocoons spun by silkworms to store sensitive proteins technology which could be used in pharmaceuticals to treat a range of debilitating illnesses.

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Science for the people

Science is truly an exciting field albeit a complex one to many. While we recognize the fruits and innovations that science has brought to us throughout millennia, many are still far from appreciating it. Some even fear it in the modern world. But science has no sense of resentment, and only seeks to alleviate man’s basic longing: necessity.

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Catalyst developed to make biofuel

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Jodhpur, have gone a step further in the quest for low-cost biofuel. The scientists have shown that oil extracted from algae can be converted into diesel by using sand from Rajasthan.

World over scientists are working on converting algae oil into biofuels (a fuel derived immediately from living matter) using different catalysts.

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Uganda: GMO Bill Back in Parliament After Three Years On Shelf

Parliament on Wednesday began scrutinizing the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012, which has been on the shelves for more than three years.

The bill was first tabled in parliament in 2013 by then minister of state in charge of Planning Matia Kasaija. Its introduction drew both praise and sharp criticism from people against the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the country.

While proponents of the bill believe that once passed, the already developed varieties of food crops that are drought-resistant will be given to farmers to plant and end hunger in Uganda, those against the bill have severally complained that introduction of GMOs will wipe out Uganda’s largely organic farming industry.

On Wednesday, the committee on Science and Technology presented two reports of their findings on the bill, pitting the pro and anti-GMO legislators against each other.

In the main report, committee chairman, Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko (Nakifuma), said the committee had endorsed the bill because several GMO crops are already being researched on in Uganda and are in advanced stages. Kafeero said the enactment of an enabling law will enhance the safe development of modern biotechnology.

“The biggest challenges are how to adapt the production of food in view of the climate changes, and how to develop further the role of agricultural biotechnology in combating the global challenge. Crop varieties that are more resilient to drought, flooding, saline or acid soils and temperature extremes resulting from climate change may be needed, and adaptation-related technologies, including biotechnology, may play their part,” the main report reads in part.

 The report states that the intention of the proposed law is to provide for a regulatory framework that facilitates the safe development and application of modern biotechnology in Uganda.

However, two MPs on the committee, Atkins Katusabe (Bukonzo West) and Lee Denis Oguzu (Maracha), authored a minority report, raising concerns about genetic pollution, which may arise due to cross pollination, hence wiping out the traditional breeds and development of crop varieties that risk affecting soil fertility.

The two MPs also outlined the risk of external influence, brought on by the varied interest in the introduction of GMOs in the country through foreign companies.

Katusabe said that between 2010 and 2011, financial resources for agricultural biotechnological research were largely received from philanthropic organizations and intergovernmental organizations, while government only contributed three per cent


He said amendments by the committee did not address the risk of external influence, which necessitates a comprehensive regulatory impact assessment to critically assess the adverse risks of external influence and financial sustainability of advancing biotechnology systems.

“The country’s progress in biotechnology relies on donors who advance their own agenda or interests, which may include extending risk of GMO development away from their home countries. The bill should be referred back to the sponsor,” the minority report states.

However, Kafeero said once the law is enacted, a national focal point and authority, as well as a national biosafety committee will be created to regulate the use of GMOs in the country.

President Yoweri Museveni, while touring a demonstration farm at Kawumu State Lodge in Luweero district on March 20, said the bill will help the country resolve some of the problems the agriculture sector faces, including drought.

Peter Wamboga-Mugirya, a pro-GMO activist, told The Observer that the legislation should have been introduced years ago, to help combat the growing challenges in the agricultural sector.

Citing the long spells of drought, coupled with the recent attack on crops by the fall armyworms, Mugirya said Ugandans are cold towards biotechnology because they have not been well informed about its benefits.

“When virulent viruses attack crops, what can scientists do after they have applied all conventional methods to fight these diseases? Their best shot is at genetic engineering to counter these problems. Biotechnology gives advanced solutions; so, let us help our farmers,” Mugirya said in a phone interview.

-Written by Olive Eyotaru in The Observer (Kampala) via AllAfrica.com.  See original article link here.

Biotechnology a key to food security

BIOTECHNOLOGY can be the key to the country’s food security and development issues.

Gil Saguiguit, director of Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) said that this scientific technology gives farmers a fighting chance to cope with the many challenges and obstacles they face in farming.

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