Strengthening support for biotechnology in PHL

In its September 15 issue, the BusinessMirror cited diocesan priest Fr. Emmanuel Alparce, a member of the Department of Agriculture Biotech Program Technical Committee on Information, Education and Communication, who said that lawmakers should be open-minded about the biotechnological developments being conducted in the country that seek to curb poverty and improve the lives of Filipinos.

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Food security needs more from GM crops

Only a better understanding of fundamental plant processes can exploit the potential of GM technology to create higher yielding, more resilient food crops

Genetic modification of plants will be essential to avert future food shortages, conclude a group of agricultural scientists who have reviewed how biotechnology developments over the past 35 years have shaped the efficiency of crop production.

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Meet the Transgenic Silkworms That Are Spinning out Spider Silk

Researchers explore genetic engineering to produce super-tough fibers.

IJon Rice’s office is a small incubator full of tiny insect eggs—one of many such incubators kept at Kraig Biocraft Laboratories (KBL), the Michigan-based polymer development company where Rice is chief operations officer. From these eggs will hatch tiny silkworms, caterpillars of the domesticated silk moth Bombyx mori, which will then set to chomping down on mulberry leaves and preparing themselves for the demanding task of spinning silk cocoons to pupate in just a few weeks later.

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Filipino farmers trained on biotech and science communication

Filipino farmers trained on biotech and science communication

Farmer-leaders and members of the Asian Farmers Regional Network Philippines (ASFARNET) from all over the country learned about the products, science, safety, and potential benefits of biotechnology as well as strategies and skills for biotech communication during the Trainer’s Training-Workshop Series 2017: Agri-biotechnology Capacity Building for ASFARNET-Philippines on September 21-22, 2017 at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

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Drought tolerant maize provides extra 9 months of food for farming families

Mexico City, Mexico (CIMMYT) — A new study from scientists with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) shows that drought tolerant (DT) maize varieties can provide farming families in Zimbabwe an extra 9 months of food at no additional cost. As climate change related weather events such as variable rainfall and drought continue to impact the southern African nation at an increasing rate, these varieties could provide a valuable safety net for farmers and consumers.

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PHL may soon export genetically modified corn–Monsanto exec

AFTER becoming corn-self-sufficient in 2012, the Philippines may soon become an exporter of corn.

This was emphasized by Gabriel O. Romero, Regulatory Affairs Lead of Monsanto Philippines Inc., during a forum organized by Monsanto Philippines and the Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc.

The Joint Media Forum, with the theme “Towards Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security”, aims to “enlighten” members of the media of the safety of genetically modified (GM), crops and its socioeconomic benefits.

Romero said the global adoption of GM crops is proof that farmers worldwide have benefited from improved crop varieties aided by gene-splicing technique. He said around 812,000 hectares of the estimated 1 million yellow-corn areas, or about 80 percent to 85 percent, are planted to GM corn.

“There is a rule that the corn farmers can only export if and the Philippines become 120-percent self-sufficient,” Romero said.

The spirit of the law prohibiting farmers from exporting corn is to ensure that the country will have sufficient buffer stock.

“Our level of sufficiency is playing from 96 percent to 100 percent,” Romero said. “We can export corn anytime, but there is a law that prohibits farmers.”

Romero added the erratic price of corn somehow prompted corn farmers to look at the possibility of exporting GM corn.

He cited China and Indonesia as potential markets for Filipino  corn farmers.

Legal planting

IN the Philippines, the cultivation of GM corn, such as the insect-resistant Bt-corn and roundup-ready corn varieties, is preferred over hybrid or native varieties because of its benefits, according to Romero.

Romero said that, before, it was only India and the Philippines planting GM crops in Asia. “Australia has its GM cotton; India has GM eggplant or  Bt eggplant. Now, Myanmar is planting GM cotton,” Rotmero said sans citing sources.

Romero added that China has been into GM cotton and GM papaya, while Pakistan is now also planting GM cotton.

“Not all of these are ‘legal planting’,” Romero said, adding that legal planting is only in the Philippines, Vietnam and Australia.

“In Bangladesh farmers found out that GM crops are good and decided to adopt [the cropping] even without the regulatory system in place,” he said.

Production levels

THERE are only around 10 countries growing GM crops.

But, as far as user-countries are  concerned, many all allow the importation of GM products or by-products like Japan, South Korea, Taipan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand.

“Right now, their production levels might be high enough so they are happy to import, and they don’t need to grow, but, sooner or later, they will grow GM crops,” Romero said.

He added that the next GM crops to see commercialization would include apples
and potatoes.

Nina G. Gloriani, leader of a group advocating the commercialization of GM crops in the Philippines, said the country has the most stringent regulatory policy on GM crops. According to Gloriani, the Joint Memorandum Circular on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) even enforced a more stringent regulatory policy.

She debunked the claim of environmental groups and anti-GMO advocates that GM crops are unsafe and pose great health and environment risks.

“Regulation of GM foods are assessed according to national and international standards before they are allowed for importation and commercialization,” said Gloriani, president of the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines. “There are also food standards to protect consumer health and ensure fair food practices.”

-Written by Jonathan Mayuga in BusinessMirror.  See original article link here.

NHX transporters from Jerusalem artichoke improves salinity tolerance in rice

The NHX-type cation transporters in plants have been shown to mediate cation exchange for salinity tolerance and potassium homoeostasis. Yang Zeng of Nanjing Agricultural University in China identified and characterized two NHX homologs, HtNHX1 and HtNHX2, from an infertile and salinity tolerant Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus).

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