Nigeria on track to commercialize GMO cowpeas, rice, sorghum, corn and cotton

The Biosafety Bill was signed into law in 2015, putting Nigeria on the map of countries with requisite regulations for effective practice of modern agricultural biotechnology. The biosafety law allowed for the establishment of a biosafety regulatory agency, the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) which has announced the nation’s readiness for the commercialization of genetically modified (GM) products. This means that Nigeria will soon begin the commercialization of staple crops which have gone through the world standard procedure of studies and observations in the field called confined field trials (CFTs). Read more

High adoption of biotech crops recorded in 2016

In 2016, the global area of biotech crops reached 185.1 million hectares, according to a research paper authored by Drs. Rhodora Aldemita and Randy Hautea of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). The results of their study are published on February 2, 2018 in GM Crops and Food. Read more

How Manipulating the Plant Microbiome Could Improve Agriculture

few years ago, as a postdoc in the lab of Paul Schulze-Lefert at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany, I used next-generation sequencing to study the bacterial communities that populate roots of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Although scientists had known for many years that roots interact with a variety of microorganisms, the composition of these communities was still poorly understood. As our sequencing data began rolling in, I was stunned by the staggering taxonomic diversity of bacteria that a single, tiny root can host. Yet there was an order in this apparent chaos. Almost invariably, members of the phyla Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Proteobacteria were enriched, differentiating the root specimens from the surrounding environment.

Read more

Who’s afraid of genetically modified chickens?

DEALING with controversies can be stressful and migraine inducing. Still, I welcome heated discussions over certain topics if only because it will give light and popularize what was once obscure but nonetheless important issues. Take for instance the recent decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the incorporation papers of online media site Rappler. Overnight, my social-media feeds are filled by posts of corporate law experts talking about Philippine Depositary Receipts and media ownership. Each posts will generate responses—and not just from lawyers or law students—either criticizing, defending or clarifying the SEC’s decision. Read more

Vietnamese Researchers analyze function of Arabidopsis ERF8 in E.coli

Ethylene-responsive factor 8 (ERF8), a member of AP2/ERF superfamily, is one of the transcription factors involved in repression of leaf senescence in plants. Leaf senescence is the final stage of leaf development and involves the mobilization of nutrients from old leaves to newly growing tissue. Regulation of leaf senescence depends on the developmental age of plants, and it is also influenced by various external stimuli. Read more

Why CRISPR-Edited Food May Be in Supermarkets Sooner Than You Think

In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the green light to a version of the plant Camelina sativa, an important oilseed crop that had been genetically engineered using CRISPR to produce enhanced omega-3 oil. What was interesting about this approval was that the USDA did not ask that the inventors of the plant endure the usual regulatory hoops required to sell biotech crops. The next month, a drought-tolerant soybean variety developed with CRISPR also got a quick pass from the USDA. Read more

Philippine dairy industry

Last January 10, 2018, I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to visit the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) in the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija. I was personally assisted by PCC Executive Director Arnel N. del Barrio and other very cordial personnel of the center. Read more

GMO crops could help stem famine and future global conflicts

When most of us think about the threats posed by climate change, events like floods, droughts, intense storms and hotter temperatures come to mind.  These are all, according to the vast majority of scientists, exactly what we can expect to see more and more of.  However, what is often overlooked are the sociopolitical consequences of these climatic changes.  In other words, we tend to view these natural disasters in a vacuum without recognizing the myriad ways in which climate change is both directly and indirectly shaping economies, cultures and governments. Read more

Burkina Faso’s GMO cotton mistakes won’t be repeated in Africa, stakeholders say

Stakeholders in the agricultural biotechnology sector are offering assurances that the problems that prompted Burkina Faso to temporarily halt cultivation of genetically engineered cotton won’t be repeated with GMO crops in other African countries. Read more

Professor Calestous Juma: Advocate for innovation

Professor Calestous Juma: June 9, 1953 – Dec. 15, 2017

To outsiders, Calestous Juma’s rise from humble origins in a remote Kenyan village to an internationally recognized Harvard scholar, science writer and public intellectual, might have seemed improbable. But as Juma himself liked to tell the story, he learned innovation from his parents, whose poverty meant that they constantly had to change to survive.

Read more