Gene Editing Technique Allows Silkworms to Produce Spider Silk

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in China has succeeded in using a gene editing technique to get silkworms to produce spider silk. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes the technique they used and the quality of the silk produced.

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Opportunities in Sustainable Farming

Bacteria, for the most part, is associated with illness, diseases or an unhygienic environment.

Interestingly, though, up to 70% of bacteria found in our natural environment are actually termed as “good bacteria”. These bacteria can be used for treatment of diseases, promote healthy growth and strengthen immunity systems in living organisms.

Malaysian agriculture biotechnology company, Virgin Greens X Sdn Bhd, aims to promote the use of this natural biological wonder to transform how food and agriculture products are produced.

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How a Banana Tissue Culture is Now Helping the Industry

Dr. Remedios Flamiano’s now multi-million banana tissue culture business, an application of plant biotechnology, was initially a failure, out of her frustration from being a low-paid instructor at a state university.

With no money on hand, and only the support of her husband, who agreed to turn their bedroom in General Santos City into a laboratory for her banana tissue culture, the award-winning scientist-turned-entrepreneur can now grow and culture her banana tissues in her P5-million laboratory after she received support from the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program (Setup) in 2014.

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Biotech Crops Winning the GMO Debate with Continuing Expansion

Even as the debate over the safety of genetic modification rages on, farmers worldwide are voting with their pockets as they continue to plant more biotech crops. For 2017, global hectarage of biotech (bt) crops increased 4.7 million hectares over the previous year i.e. from 185.1 million hectares to 189.8 million hectares, an increase of three percent.

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Agri varsity Developing Biofortified Maize to Check Vitamin A Deficiency

With growing awareness on the nutritional benefit of maize and more people wanting to consume complex carbohydrates, the government is trying to fortify it with more beta-carotene (vitamin A). Scientists at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University are trying to develop a fortified hybrid variety of the crop, which will make maize a healthy food alternate for children as well as adults.

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New Cotton Plants Engineered to Outcompete Weeds

Texas A&M University researchers have developed cotton plants that utilize a form of phosphorus that allows them to outcompete weeds, particularly Palmer amaranth/pigweed, thus offering “a novel alternative” to herbicides that are becoming increasingly ineffective as more weed species become resistant to glyphosate and other widely-used chemistries.

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Bulking Up: Increasing Muscle Mass in Fish with Gene Editing

There may be concerns with genetically modified organisms (GMO), but the effectiveness of gene editing in developing more productive plants and animals for the agriculture industry can not be argued. With the rise of cheap and simple gene editing technologies, more and more breeds of animals and plants are being bred and raised with edited genetic code.

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Smart Farming: How Thailand’s Advancing Technology is Transforming its Agriculture Industry

As the world’s food needs grow, the agriculture industry needs transformation to match the demand. Thailand, one of the world’s biggest agricultural exporters, is under the global spotlight. Experts, economists and businesses are watching to see how Thailand transforms its agricultural landscape to meet this need. 

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PhilRice Kicks Off Golden Rice Consultation

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has began the public consultation on the proposal for the field trial application of genetically modified Golden Rice (GR2E) variety in the Philippines.

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Bt Eggplant Improving Lives in Bangladesh

Ansar Ali earned just 11,000 taka – about $130 U.S. dollars – from eggplant he grew last year in Bangladesh. This year, after planting Bt eggplant, he brought home more than double that amount, 27,000 taka. It’s a life-changing improvement for a subsistence farmer like Ali.

Bt eggplant, or brinjal as it’s known in Bangladesh, is the first genetically engineered food crop to be successfully introduced in South Asia. Bt brinjal is helping some of the world’s poorest farmers to feed their families and communities, improve profits and dramatically reduce pesticide use. That’s according to Tony Shelton, Cornell professor of entomology and director of the Bt brinjal project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Shelton and Jahangir Hossain, the country coordinator for the project in Bangladesh, lead the Cornell initiative to get these seeds into the hands of the small-scale, resource-poor farmers who grow a crop consumed daily by millions of Bangladeshis.

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Dr. Randy Hautea: Global advocate for farmers and biotechnology

Dr. Randy A. Hautea dedicated his career to improving the lives of smallholder farmers, especially in developing nations.

As a plant breeder and global coordinator of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA), he was committed to using biotechnology to breed crops that can help smallholder farmers succeed and ensuring that farmers have access to innovation.

“Biotechnology is one of the tools necessary in helping farmers grow more food on less land,” Dr. Hautea told a Nigerian newspaper last year. “However, the promises of biotech crops can only be unlocked if farmers are able to buy and plant these crops, following a scientific approach to regulatory reviews and approvals.”

Dr. Hautea died July 18 in the Philippines, where he resided with his wife, Desiree, who is also a plant scientist.

“I was privileged to have Randy as my student while he was earning his doctorate in plant breeding at Cornell University,” said Dr. Ronnie Coffman, director of International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IP-CALS). “He was a fine researcher, with a passion for plants and a passion for helping the farmers who grow them. His dedication to advancing agriculture will be acutely missed.”

Dr. Hautea received his M.Sc. and B.Sc. degrees in agronomy and plant breeding from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños, and was a visiting scientist in agronomy and plant genetics at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Hautea was internationally respected for his significant contributions to the understanding and improvement of crops, especially field legumes and fibers. His research focused on breeding crops that were tolerant to various stresses and adapted to intensive cropping systems, as well as improving seed quality.

In recognition of his research achievements, the National Academy of Science and Technology of the Philippines awarded Dr. Hautea its “Outstanding Young Scientist” prize in plant breeding in 1995.

Professionally, Dr. Hautea was director of the Institute of Plant Breeding at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños and team leader of the Philippines’ national commodity research and development teams for legumes, vegetables and root crops before assuming leadership of ISAAA’s South East Asia Center in 1998. He also was involved in assessing the international agricultural research centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Dr. Hautea went on to become global coordinator of ISAAA, a non-profit organization engaged in facilitating the assessment, acquisition, transfer and management of biotechnology applications for the benefit of developing countries. ISAAA operates principally in Southeast Asia and East Africa and is instrumental in tracking the cultivation of biotech crops throughout the world, annually releasing a report that documents the adoption of biotechnology by farmers across the globe, especially in developing nations.

“Randy was an inspiration to all of us who worked in crop biotechnology in developing countries,” said Dr. Tony Shelton, a Cornell entomologist who collaborated with Dr. Hautea on several scientific papers. “He and his wife Des were a dynamic force, showing us all what can be accomplished with dedication, hard work and knowledge.”

As a staunch advocate for biotechnology, Dr. Hautea served on the advisory board of the Cornell Alliance for Science, a global communications and training initiative that seeks to promote access to scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security, improving environmental sustainability and raising the quality of life globally.

“Randy was deeply committed to our mission, which was reflected in his own life’s work,” said Dr. Sarah Evanega, director of the Alliance. “In honor of his memory, and his great contributions to crop biotechnology, we will name a Randy A. Hautea Global Leadership Fellow from the Philippines to attend our training course this fall.”

In addition to his wife, Dr. Hautea is survived by his daughter, Samantha, a communications specialist at Cornell University who is a member of the IP-CALS staff.

-Written by Joan Conrow in Cornell Alliance for Science.  See original article link here.