Nigeria Environment Minister says Biotech has role to play in Economy

The Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed has said that Nigeria is ready to

 Environment Minister: Mohamed
Environment Minister: Mohamed

deploy biotechnology to boost the economy of the country.

 

In an interview with the press after a courtesy visit to her office by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa Programming Committee (PC) Members to her office, she explained that Nigeria is blessed with experts in biotechnology and the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) is there to ensure safety application of the technology.

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Scientists Developing Climate-Adapted GM Rice

Reducing rice water intake would be a game-changer

Reducing rice water intake would be a game-changer

Genetically engineering a new strain of hyper-efficient, drought-resistant rice, known as C4, is part of a multi-national research effort the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has called one of the “10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2015.”

A team of scientists from eight countries at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Philippines is genetically modifying certain strains of rice to reduce the amount of water required to grow the rice. Rice is a staple food crop in many countries around the world. Rice crop failures have led to malnutrition, disease, and death for millions of people over the past 10,000 years.

Rice plants grow through a chemical process known as C3 photosynthesis, which wastes a great deal of water and reduces plant’s food-making efficiency. It also makes C3 plants vulnerable to the extremely warm weather often experienced in many rice-growing regions of the world.

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Bright day for Biosciences in Kenya as NBA approves release of Bt maize

In a bold, historic move, the Kenya NBA (National Biosafety Authority) has granted approval (http://www.biosafetykenya.go.ke/images/Public_Notice.pdf ) for environmental release of Bt Maize.

History in the making: WEMA team submits application to NBA on April 2, 2015

History in the making: WEMA team submits application to NBA on April 2, 2015

This approval, which was purely based on evidence provided by the applicants, culminates a long journey that started in April 2, 2015 when the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) and African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) submitted an application for approval of environmental release of the insect protected (Bt) maize in Kenya to the Authority.

According to Dr Eliud Kireger, KALRO Director General, and Dr Denis Kyetere, AATF Executive Director, the approval will enable movement to the next step of NPTs (National Performance Trials). NPTs will lead to identification of suitable varieties that will be availed to farmers affected by stem borers.

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GM policy change will depend on local evidence, says Tanzania minister

Hon Mwigulu, Agriculture Minister

Hon Mwigulu, Agriculture Minister

The Government of Tanzania will review the biosafety regulations to allow for commercial release of GM crops based on locally produced scientific evidence to prove safety and benefits of homegrown transgenic crops.

The Minister for Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries, Hon. Mwigulu Nchemba, said this today Monday during the official opening of the 8th Annual Review and Planning Meeting of the Water Efficient Maize For Africa (WEMA) Project in Dar Es Salaam.

“On behalf of the Government of Tanzania I would like to reiterate that the revised Regulations are a first step towards a more fundamental reform of the regulatory framework, which will become more enabling over time.”

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Italian Senator exposes bad science used against GMOs globally

Italian Senator Elena Cattaneo Neuroscientist

Italian Senator Elena Cattaneo Neuroscientist

Once again the world is waking up to the good news that yet another fake research paper against GMOs has been retracted.

Such papers have been many, with the most prominent one that did a lot of damage being the so-called Seralini paper published in November 2012 but quickly retracted by the publisher after a barrage of criticism by all leading, credible scientific bodies and world renown academies of sciences. The big question is: Who is paying these scientists? Your guess is as good as mine.

The latest news doing rounds is that papers that describe harmful effects to animals fed GM crops are under scrutiny for  data manipulation. The interim findings of an ongoing investigation at the University of Naples in Italy suggest that images in the papers may have been intentionally altered. The finds will be released next month February.

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What Can We Do About the Science Communication Crisis?

We have almost no data on how specific print, television, or Internet stories influence public perception of scientific issues—and it’s crucial to find out. In the 2004 Academy Award-winning drama Sideways, Paul Giamatti’s character, a wine aficionado, makes it quite clear he doesn’t like Merlot. He prefers Pinot Noir. In a spat outside a restaurant during one of the film’s more memorable scenes, a visibly upset Giamatti screams: “If anybody orders Merlot, I’m leaving.

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Filipino Science Academy faults Supreme Court decision

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PHILIPPINES (NAST-PHL)  has expressed grave concern on the serious negative effect on food security and on the research community of the Supreme Court decision against GMOs

The deadly brinjal Stem and Fruit borer at work

The deadly brinjal Stem and Fruit borer at work

In a recent ruling that has been widely criticized, the court decided to permanently stop field tests for Bt talong (or brinjal or eggplant as it is widely known) ; declare null and void the “Rules and Regulations for the Importation and Release into the Environment of Plants and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology” otherwise known as the Department of Agriculture Order No. 08, series of 2002; and temporarily stop any application for contained use, field testing, propagation and commercialization and importation of genetically modified organisms until a new administrative order is promulgated in accordance with the law.

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Kenya court’s ruling on anti-GMO petition commendable

DP William Ruto called lifting of the GMO import ban in Kenya

DP William Ruto called lifting of the GMO import ban in Kenya

LAST AUGUST, anti-GMO groups filed a court petition in the High Court of Kenya on the grounds that they have imminent fear that the Ban placed on GMOs is about to be lifted.

Principally they sued the Cabinet Secretary (CS), Ministry of Education Science & Technology and The Attorney General.

They also named four interested parties including Health CS, Agriculture CS, the Council of Governors and the national Biosafety Authority of Kenya. Curiously, the petition was prompted by the newspaper reports quoting Deputy President William Ruto saying that the ban would be lifted by the government in two months.

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Dark day for Science in The Philippines

THE DECISION by the Philippines’ Supreme Court to uphold the ban on GMO Bt talong (eggplant) field trials is a huge disappointment to the scientific community and others pursuing the dream of sustainable and progressive agriculture in this country.

Healthy Bt Brinjal

Healthy Bt Brinjal

The Court upheld the Writ of Kalikasan originally demanded by Greenpeace and other anti-GMO groups in 2012 and backed by the Court of Appeals in 2013. It also struck down the Department of Agriculture’s Administrative Order No. 8-2002, potentially throwing the Philippines’ GMO assessment and approvals system into unnecessary chaos.

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GM crops can benefit organic farmers too

WEMA drought tolerant maize farmer in her demonstration farm, Eastern Kenya,

WEMA drought tolerant maize farmer in her demonstration farm, Eastern Kenya.

In this opinion piece, Ian Godwin, a professor in plant molecular genetics at the University of Queensland, Australia, writes that the adoption of genetically modified (GM)
technology has reduced pesticide use by 37 percent, increased crop yields by 22
percent, and increased farmer profits by 68 percent. The yield and profit gains
in developing countries, he adds, are considerably higher than in developed
countries. Organic farmers, he continues, care for their land and want to
balance their impact on the land. But organic farms use more land and labor to
produce the same yield as conventional agriculture. Perhaps, Godwin suggests,
the organic industry should take another look at GM crops, as they have the
potential to improve yield and resistance, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We have GM crop plants with enhanced nutritional qualities, pest and disease
resistance, larger grain sizes and the ability to produce more food with lower
fertiliser inputs. Many of these plants have been modified with only a few DNA
letters altered from the ‘wild’ genes,” he writes. “Adoption would massively
improve the productivity of organic agriculture, and the productivity boost
would help make organic food price competitive. So let’s talk about GM
organics.”

Have you eaten organic food today? If you have eaten anything, then technically you’ve eaten organic. By definition, all food is organic; it just may not have been grown under industry standards, such as Australian Certified Organic (ACO).

Most people who choose to eat certified organic do so because they believe it is cleaner and greener, or chemical free. But the most modern cultivated plants are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and so are precluded from being certified organic.

The Australian Organic organisation says that’s because there are no long-term studies on human health. Prince Charles has warned that the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops is the biggest environmental disaster of all time.

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