Forty years of data quantifies benefits of Bt corn adoption across multiple crops for the first time

University of Maryland researchers have pulled together forty years of data to quantify the effects of Bt field corn, a highly marketed and successful genetically engineered technology, in a novel and large-scale collaborative study. Other studies have demonstrated the benefits of Bt corn or cotton adoption on pest management for pests like the European corn borer or cotton bollworm in corn or cotton itself, but this is the first study to look at the effects on other offsite crops in North America. By tracking European corn borer populations, this study shows significant decreases in adult moth activity, recommended spraying regimens, and overall crop damage in vegetable crops such as sweet corn, peppers, and green beans. These benefits have never before been documented and showcase Bt crops as a powerful tool to reduce pest populations regionally thereby benefitting other crops in the agricultural landscape. Read more

Burgos paintings showcased at Biotech Week

JOSE “Sonny” T. Burgos III, farmer-visual artist and eldest son of press freedom icon Joe Burgos, Jr. will be showcasing 12 of his acrylic paintings during the National Biotechnology Week on November 20-24 at the Expo Hall 1 of the Fisher Mall, Quezon City.

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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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Coexistence of agri technologies pushed

MANILA, Philippines – The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) reiterated the increasing importance of safe, and evidence- and science-based agricultural technologies in promoting agricultural productivity and food and nutrition security amid climate change and dwindling production resources.

Among these technologies is biotechnology, including both traditional (such as selective breeding and fermentation techniques) and modern (genetic engineering) techniques, which SEARCA looks at as an important tool in addressing the abovementioned challenges.

SEARCA is strongly pushing for “coexistence,” which, according to a report by the US Department of Agriculture Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture, “is the concurrent cultivation of conventional, organic, identity preserved and genetically engineered crops consistent with underlying consumer preferences and farmer choices.”

Gil Saguiguit, director of SEARCA, made this statement following the Philippine launch of the annual report of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) on the global status of commercialized biotech crops.

According to the ISAAA report, global planting of biotech crops reached 185.1 million hectares in 2016, up from 179.7 million hectares the previous year.

A total of 26 countries grew biotech crops, including the Philippines, which planted around 812,000 hectares of biotech yellow corn last year.

Biotech corn varieties, which are grown in the country since 2003, are pest resistant and herbicide tolerant, thus providing various documented benefits to Filipino farmers including significant increase in yield and reduction in production costs.

Saguiguit said that through SEARCA’s 10th five-year plan focused on Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD), the center believes that due attention must be given to resource poor farmers by providing them access to information, best practices, and new technologies that will increase their farm productivity.

Our goal is to give our farmers a fighting chance to cope with the many challenges and obstacles they face in farming. Through biotechnology and many other innovations, we hope to offer them better opportunities so that they can provide not only for their families but also contribute to the nation’s food security and overall development.

Along these lines, SEARCA qualifies that it only promotes agricultural technologies and practices that are known to be safe and do not compromise human and environmental health.

With the continuing opposition to biotechnology, Saguiguit said it is all the more important for the public, particularly decision and policymakers, to understand the said technology in the context of scientific and empirical evidence.

-Published in The Philippine STAR.  See original article link here.

Non-target arthropod risk assessment for Bt rice in China

Researchers have previously developed genetically engineered (GE) rice lines that produce insecticidal Cry proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to control lepidopteran pests and minimize yield loss. However, before a Bt rice line can be cultivated, the risks to the environment must be assessed. This includes potential adverse effects on valued non-target arthropods (NTAs) and the ecosystem.

A team from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Huazhong Agricultural University in China, as well as Agroscope in Switzerland had conducted a study to identify NTAs present in the rice-growing regions of Central and Southern China and their known food web interactions. The team also evaluated the level of exposure of the NTAs to the plant-produced Cry2A-protein during field experiments held in 2011 to 2012.

A total of 13 nontarget herbivores was collected and analyzed. Planthoppers, both nymphs and adults, contained trace amounts of Cry2A. In contrast, the level in smaller meadow katydids was almost 2.5 higher in samples collected. On the other hand, predators, especially spiderss did not contain measurable amounts of Cry2A and were much lower than those in plant tissues.

No Cry2A protein was detected in samples of predatory beetles collected before rice anthesis. However, the beetles and lacewings contained significant amounts during anthesis, but significantly lower than those in plant tissues. Parasitoids were also collected but Cry2A levels were below the limit of detection.

These data shows a reduction in Cry protein concentrations from lower to higher trophic levels. This is in accordance with field studies from other Bt-transgenic crops producing different Cry proteins.

For more on this study, read the article in Plant Biotechnology Journal.

-Published in ISAAA Crop Biotech Update. See original article link here.

New biosafety guidelines introduced to stakeholders in Cebu, Philippines

New biosafety guidelines introduced to stakeholders in Cebu, Philippines

More than a hundred members of consumer groups, regulators, farmer leaders, faculty and students, information officers, and members and officials of local government units in Cebu province in the Philippines learned about the science, safety, and potential benefits of modern biotech, particularly biotech crops. The latest biosafety regulatory guideline in the country was also introduced during the Biotechnology 101 & Joint Department Circular (JDC) Public Briefing on April 4, 2017 at Big Hotel, Mandaue City, Cebu.

Julieta Fe Estacio, Head Secretariat of the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – Biosafety Committee, and Ma. Lorelie Agbagala, Agricultural Center Chief II of the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bureau of Plant Industry, explained the standards, procedures, and principles of the JDC and the major roles of the DOST and DA. Both emphasized the importance of regulation to ensure the safety of biotech products in research and in the market. Other topics presented were biotech research trends, biotech crops in the pipeline, and food and environmental safety issues.

Following the presentations was an open forum with representatives from the five concerned government Departments (DOST, DA, Department of Health, Department. of the Environment & Natural Resources, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government).

Ms. Alejandra Solijon, Chair of the Cebu Provincial Farmers Action Council, said in her message “We look forward to maximizing and optimizing farmer output through biotech. By merging research and technology with actual experiences in the field, we hope for a positive outcome for the Philippine agriculture.”

Thailand launches New Investment Incentives on Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Advanced Materials Technology and Digital Technology

Mrs. Hirunya Suchinai, Secretary General of the Board of Investment (BOI), revealed after the board meeting chaired by Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha that in order to boost Thailand 4.0 and promote investment in 10 targeted industries, the board has approved the technology-based incentives to enhance the country’s technological competitiveness, details as follows:

1. Core technologies promotion measure: special package of incentives will be granted to projects focusing on developing the country’s targeted technology. Projects that obtain this package of incentive is required to have technology collaboration with educational or research institutes. The technology-based investment includes:

1.1) Investment on targeted core technologies which include Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Advanced Materials technology and Digital technology

1.2) Investment on enabling services which include those high-value added services that support targeted technology development, namely research and development (R&D), vocational training institute (science and technology sectors), electronic design, engineering design service, science laboratory service, and

These 2 groups will be eligible for a 10-year corporate income tax (CIT) exemption and additional incentives for 1-3 years, altogether with no more than 13 years.

2. An exemption on duty of materials, such as prototype, plant or animal, used for research and development. 3. An adjustment of merit-based incentives: projects investing on technology and workforce development will be eligible to include the investment value for CIT exemption from up to 100% to 200%, while projects investing on research and development are eligible to a maximum of 300%

Moreover, the board also agreed to help BOI’s promoted projects affected by flooding in Southern area with a duty exemption on machinery imported to replace the damaged ones. The application form must be submitted by 29 December 2017.

Source: Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI)

-Published in Smart International Consulting.  See original article link here.

DA sets up P150-M lab in Davao City

DAVAO CITY — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is setting up an agricultural laboratory worth P150 million next year in Manambulan, Tugbok District, this city.

The project called the Southern Mindanao Integrated Agricultural Laboratory (SoMInAL) aims to harmonize agricultural laboratories to help increase production and ensure quality and bio-safety of agricultural products through state of the art research and development facilities.

Of the P150 million, P100 million will be utilized for the building construction while P50 million is allocated for the laboratory paraphernalia.

Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Wednesday said the laboratory would directly address the needs for the provision of various diagnostic services, analyses and ensure product quality, consumer safety and environmental protection for both domestic and global markets.

“SoMInaL will serve the needs of our farmers, fisherfolks and livestock growers. It will also mark a radical development and at the same time strengthen the High Value Crops industry,” Piñol added.

He said the laboratory will handle plant disease, animal disease, water and soil analysis. “We are confronted with various diseases in plants like for example the Fusarium wilt and cocolisap. There is a need for research with such problems. This (lab) is the solution for our dream to address the problems confronting our farmers,” Piñol said.

He added, “I would like it to be completed in the next two years or even earlier.”

On the other hand, Piñol reiterated his thrust against corruption during his speech after the groundbreaking ceremony of the SoMInaL on Wednesday afternoon.

He challenged DA employees to give the projects needed by the farmers. “I hope we will be able to prove to the farmers that our government is not corrupt and I want all of you to make the same commitment,” he said.

Piñol also assured the farmers and stakeholders present during the groundbreaking ceremony that President Rodrigo Duterte supports the agriculture sector.

-Written by Philippine News Agency in Manila Bulletin.  See article link here.

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