Researchers Can Finally Modify Plant Mitochondrial DNA

Researchers in Japan have edited plant mitochondrial DNA for the first time, which could lead to a more secure food supply. Nuclear DNA was first edited in the early 1970s, chloroplast DNA was first edited in 1988, and animal mitochondrial DNA was edited in 2008. However, no tool previously successfully edited plant mitochondrial DNA.

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Singapore’s First Seed Bank Launched at Botanic Gardens to Promote Plant Conservation

Much has been said about endangered animal species, but Singapore is now also doing its part for threatened plant species in South-east Asia with the opening of the country’s first seed bank.

The bank – where seeds are stored and conserved – is located at the Botanic Gardens and was launched by the National Parks Board (NParks) on Saturday (July 13). The plan is to use the seeds for habitat restoration and species conservation projects in Singapore and the region.

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13 Filipino Living National Scientists Celebrated Through Virtual and Digital Tech

The launching of the Salinlahi Science Centre honours and pays tribute to esteemed scientists of the Philippines, who are considered the super heroes of science.

This is achieved through futuristic exhibits on the careers and life stories of the scientists.

According to a recent press release, the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Philippines unveiled the Science Centre.

Celebrating the National Scientists

Doing so had revealed a new world of virtual and digital celebration of the works and valuable contributions of the 13 living National Scientists. NAST is one of the advisory bodies of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The interactive exhibits, managed by DOST-NAST Philippines, is housed at the Philippine Science Heritage Centre or Salinlahi at the DOST Complex in Bicutan, Taguig City. The 13 National Scientists featured in the centre come alive in avatar where visitors will discover their minds and their careers, which reflect their unquenchable curiosity and thirst for learning. The displayed avatars of said science super heroes will hopefully serve as inspiration to the next generation of scientists.

Image credit: www.opengovasia.com
Image credit: www.opengovasia.com
The Salinlahi Science Centre

The upgrading of the Centre is a project that will be divided into three phases. It is envisioned to become the country’s hub of scientific pride, where the 13 National Scientists dedicated their work of science to make a better society and stronger country.

The Philippine Science Heritage Centre or Salinlahi, which means heirloom of a generation, was created under Republic Act 9107 or the Philippine Science Heritage Centre Act.

It was to be the repository of the achievements and outstanding accomplishments of the Filipino community in the areas of science and technology. More of the works of these 13 National Scientists and other experts will be featured in the upcoming celebration of the 2019 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) from 17-21 July 2019 at the World Trade Centre, Pasay City.

National Science and Technology Week

As reported, the NSTW is celebrated every third week of July to highlight the significant contributions of science and technology (S&T) to national development.

Additionally, the celebration has become a platform for heralding S&T advocacy in the country.

This year’s theme, “Science for the People: Enabling Technologies for Sustainable Development,” underpins the event’s showcase on the latest innovations in technologies, products, and research that can help achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This annual event of the DOST will feature the latest technologies and innovations in the fields of agriculture, enterprise development, industry, emerging technologies, health and nutrition, information and communication technology, and disaster preparedness.

It is the perfect venue for the science community and science enthusiasts, particularly the technology developers and investors, including the S&T service providers and clients, to interact, exchange ideas, and pursue potential opportunities in technology commercialization and linkages.

 

Written by Teresa Umali in Open Gov. Read original article here.

Are Engineered Foods Healthier?

Food is synonymous with Southeast Asia. From the mouth-watering delicacies on the streets of Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines – just to name a few – to the Michelin starred restaurants that serve fine dining quality cuisine with a dash of authentic local flavours.

Yet, there is pressure on our food system to produce 70 percent more food to feed a population of 10 billion people globally by 2050. By then, the population of ASEAN is slated to reach 700 million and its food demand is estimated to increase by 40 percent. It is then imperative to achieve food security, without expanding crop or pastureland all while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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Making PHL Agriculture Sexy

We have to make farming sexy,” asserts Emmanuel Ansah-Amprofi from Ghana, quoted in a New York Times article last week. A former immigration lawyer-turned-farmer, he is among a growing number of young, college-educated Africans out to show that agriculture can be exciting and profitable, and not the poor man’s profession it is commonly known to be.

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From Sky Farms to Lab-grown Shrimp, Singapore Eyes Food Future

Singapore, the tiny Southeast Asian city-state, is an unlikely place for a farming revolution.

With tiered fish farms, vegetable plots atop office buildings and lab-grown shrimp, the island aims to beef up its own food production and rely less on imports to feed its 5.6 million people.

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US to Help Pakistan Introduce Genetically-engineered Corn

The Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said that future collaborative projects between the US and Pakistan include using American soybean feed in poultry, fish farming and dairy industries, introducing genetically-engineered maize and working with various government departments to develop uniform food safety standards.

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Department of Agriculture Pushes Accurate Info on Biotech Crops

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is preparing its regional offices to disseminate accurate information on biotech crops, so that negative perceptions against their promotion could be addressed.

Agriculture workers from the regional field offices (RFO) of the DA in Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon participated in a two-day workshop on biotech crops in San Fernando, Pampanga and Ilagan City, Isabela, respectively. The participants were briefed about the DA Biotech Program, biotech principles and applications, regulatory system, and locally developed biotechnology products such as Bt Talong (Bacillus thuringiensis) and Golden Rice.

Bt Eggplant (Image Credit: SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center)
Bt Eggplant (Image Credit: SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center)

Crispulo Bautista Jr., officer in charge and regional executive director of DA-Central Luzon, said it was imperative for agriculture workers to have accurate and useful information on biotechnology to ensure that the public receives factual and truthful information about biotechnology.

“I requested this biotech briefing for Region 3 from [former] director Mamaril so that our staff can learn about these technologies. Rest assured that the DA-RFO 3 (Central Luzon) will cascade the right information about biotechnology,” he said.

Golden Rice (Image credit: Philippine Rice Research Institute)
Golden Rice (Image credit: Philippine Rice Research Institute)

Safety, efficiency, effectiveness, market price and regulations of genetically modified organism crops and other biotech-related products were discussed.

Biotech products have to undergo rigorous and evidence-based assessments provided by the current regulatory system to be considered safe and effective, the resource speakers, including Segfredo Serrano, emphasized.

Serrano, the retired DA undersecretary for policy, planning, project development and research, also urged participants to engage and empower farmers to make evidence-based decisions on the use of biotech products in improving their livelihood.

“[Our regulatory system ensures] that only biotechnology initiatives that can benefit our people, demonstrate environmental integrity and respect farming practices will be approved. Our farmers [need] to have appreciation of science, so that they won’t have a culture of fear,” he said.

The DA-Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO), the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the International Rice Research Institute led the initiative.

DA-BPO plans to continue coordinating with the other regional offices of the Agriculture department to conduct more biotech seminars and training to bridge the information gap among agriculture workers.

 

Written by Conrad M. Cariño in The Manila Times. Read original article here.