Sunday, January 01, 2006

GMO Pundit Golden Oldie December Part 1 2005 Stack

December 2005 Oldest posts last
Post from Archives 2005 11 27, 2005 12 04

Items with text details given below in the following order. Go to Archives for images and links
  1. EU cropping and commerce developments in GM crops. Monsanto sees 37 mio-acre europe biotech corn market
  2. Just say no -tillage. The hills are sagging, December 8, 2005 Agricultural Research Service, USDA
  3. Another gene giving tolerance of drought
  4. Assessments of risks with herbicide tolerant wheat varieties
  5. Progress with trans-fatty acid oils. Kellogg to use genetically modified oil. December 9, 2005
  6. Drought resistance partnership with ACPFG in Adelaide
  7. Seed breeder website comment on Aussie GM peas
  8. US Big picture at variance with Benbrook GM comments. Jennifer Marohasy: Costly harvest of ignorant GM campaign. The Australian
  9. To be or not to be GM, that is the question....answered by a "GM-free stance". Answering the riddle of a GM-free stance in Victoria that is not GM-free.
  10. GM corn stock-feed imports to Australia needed especially during drought. From GRDC Groundcover Magazine
  11. Natural GMOs Part 4. All you ever wanted to know about wandering genes of plants, mariner's friends.
  12. Natural GMOs Part 3. Cereal genes change naturally.
  13. GM wheat offers new salinity hope
  14. Western Australia.
  15. US has another bumper cotton crop
  16. The End of Poverty Part III. The Poverty Trap is a Rural Phenomenon. CHAPTER 3. WHY SOME COUNTRIES FAIL TO THRIVE.
  17. Farmer: Use GM to rotate your herbicide chemistry each season.
  18. Accolades for GM cotton. Australia
  19. GM GE cotton area grows in India
  20. Impact of GM GE crops in USA 2004: Thumbs Up
  21. Environmental and Production Benefits Drive Greater Demand for Biotech Crops Farmers experience year-on-year improvements from biotech crops. (NCFAP)
  22. GM-lite works its magic on peanuts. From Agnet: A&M unlocks key to 1 fatal peanut allergen.
  23. Journal of Public Affairs publishes an issue on GM foods
  24. The US floor on crop prices (countercyclical support) is given to both GM and non-GM equally.
  25. Natural GMOs Part 2. Genes move around, and I mean really around, like in the Ancient Mariner
  26. Ten years of steady increases in the crop area percentages of "GM trait" crops in the US.
  27. Agriculture is the Indian livelihood generator. Interview with Eminent Indian agriculture scientist Dr M S Swaminathan--winner of the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize.
  28. GE / GM Expert Charles Benbrook comments on US Agriculture are silly
  29. GM food can stop allergies
  30. Natural GMOs Part 1. Bees in practice versus Bees in theory
  31. Background reading on drought tolerance and HVA 1 gene. The barley gene HVA1 has been found to assist protection against stresses in rice, oats and wheat. This article provides the background for understanding this topic better.
  32. GM Oats can tolerate continuous salt stress
  33. European attitude to GM products suffocating African development?
  34. Relative area of herbicicide tolerant canola varieties in Canada
  35. Scientific evidence that GM Canola can perform better. Herbicide-tolerant canola: Weed control and yield comparisons in western Canada
  36. Good news For Canadian farmers using GM GE GMO canola
  37. GM GE GMO, whatever: drought proof cotton
  38. Is the European attitude to GM products suffocating African development? Greg Bodulovic
  39. The End of Poverty Part II. A reversal of fortune. Continuation of posting of Jeffrey Sachs THE END OF POVERTY, 2005 pages 53-54
  40. GE /GM canola and corn food safety trials funded by Western Australia
  41. More on CSIRO genetically engineered (GE) pea. Maarten Chrispeels
  42. Greenpeace and Network of Concerned Farmers. Farmer Lobby Confirms Greenpeace Link.

Saturday, December 10, 2005
EU cropping and commerce developments in GM crops.

Monsanto sees 37 mio-acre europe biotech corn market
- BLOOMBERG, By Jack Kaskey, 07 Dec 2005

Monsanto Co., the world's biggest developer of genetically modified crops, said farmers in five European Union nations this year planted engineered corn, boosting the potential EU market to 37 million acres.

Farmers in France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic this year planted seed engineered to resist the corn borer insect, Brett D. Begemann, Monsanto executive vice president, said today in a presentation on the St. Louis-based company's Web site. He didn't say how many acres were planted.

"I'm not here to tell you biotech is being accepted in Europe," Begemann said. "It definitely shows a sea change in the attitudes toward biotechnology in Europe."

The EU last year lifted a six-year moratorium on the use of biotech crops. The European Commission, the EU's executive body, is battling countries including Austria and Greece that have unilaterally banned some genetically modified plants, citing safety concerns. The U.S., Canada and Argentina have complained to the World Trade Organization that the EU is unfairly inhibiting trade.

European farmers this month are seeking greater access to biotech seeds to improve yields as they face reduced government subsidies at global trade talks in Hong Kong, Begemann said.

Demanding Access
"Farmers are demanding now that they get access to biotech," he said.
Less than 1 percent of world biotech crops are harvested in the EU's 25 countries, compared with the two-thirds share held by the U.S. Food-safety advisers from European governments today failed to approve the import for human consumption of a modified corn variety developed by DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co. amid squabbles over the merits of the technology.
The so-called 1507 corn, which resists the corn borer pest, didn't win sufficient support for use in the European Union, European Commission spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich told reporters in Brussels. Ministers from the EU's 25 governments now get to vote on the crop.
The U.S., Brazil, India and Australia will drive near-term demand for seeds altered to resist pests and weed killers, Begemann said.
The European market for corn modified to resist Monsanto's Roundup herbicide is 24 million acres, Begemann said. That's the same acreage of Roundup Ready corn planted this year by U.S. farmers and greater than the 20 million-acre Brazilian market potential, Monsanto said. The U.S. market potential is 60 million acres, the company said.
Stacked Traits
The EU market for seed engineered to resist the corn borer insect is 8 million acres, and the EU potential for corn modified to resist the rootworm is 5 million acres, Begemann said. That compares with U.S. market opportunities of as much as 60 million acres for corn borer resistance and 30 million acres for rootworm resistance, he said in the presentation.
The figures may double-count some acres, as farmers in the U.S. and other countries can buy seeds with so-called "stacked traits" that combine resistance to multiple insects and weed killer, spokesman Lee Quarles said.
Monsanto's genetics were planted on 197 million acres this year, including licenses to rival companies such as DuPont's Pioneer seed unit, the company said June 29.
EU government ministers on Dec. 2 failed to approve for animal feed a Monsanto corn variety containing stacked traits that resist the corn borer and rootworm. The technology still may be approved by European Commissioners, responsible for the day-to-day running of the EU.
Shares of Monsanto rose 18 cents to $77.57 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have gained 61 percent in the past year.

Just say no -tillage.

The hills are sagging, December 8, 2005
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
View this report online, plus any included photos or other images, at
The pallid color of the North American prairies' rolling landscape is a tell-tale sign of soil erosion. The hilltop knobs have lighter-colored soil and less lush, green wheat than do the hill bottoms. This was long thought to be the result of dry soil only. Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) studied one such wheat field and found that gravity and erosion from annual plowing also have a great deal to do with the pallid soil.

After more than 40 years of annual plowing, tillage erosion moved more than 27 tons of soil an acre a year in some spots, with water erosion moving another 9 tons an acre. The light spots are where topsoil moved down the hill, exposing shallow subsoil whitened by calcium. Wheat yields on the knob were at most half of those on the rest of the field, with the highest yields on hill bottoms.

Another gene giving tolerance of drought

Gene reported to give drought tolerance, December 9, 2005, Agnet/ ISAA CropBiotech Net

Abscisic acid is a plant hormone that regulates growth, and transcription factors associated with a plant s response to it play a key role in allowing plants to survive under drought stress.
One such transcription factor is AREB1, and Yasunari Fujita and colleagues from Tsukuba, Japan find, from their research, that AREB1 Is a Transcription Activator of Novel ABRE-Dependent ABA Signaling That Enhances Drought Stress Tolerance in Arabidopsis.
In their paper, which appears in the latest issue of Plant Cell, researchers report that under normal growth conditions, the intact AREB1 gene is insufficient to induce the expression of genes. They thus created an activated form of the gene, called AREB1 QT, and over expressed it in Arabidopsis in the laboratory. Researchers found that the plants were hypersensitive to abscisic acid, and showed enhanced tolerance to drought. Plants without the gene were insensitive to abscisic acid, and displayed reduced survival under dehydration.

GMOs Farming Biology

Access the abstract at:

Assessments of risks with herbicide tolerant wheat varieties

December 9, 2005, Via Agnet/ISAA CropBiotech Net

Wheat varieties grown all over the world may be classified as conventional, produced by genetic engineering, or generated by mutagenic techniques. With three such methods in place, Robert K.D. Peterson and Leslie M. Shama of Montana State University carry out A comparative risk assessment of genetically engineered, mutagenic, and conventional wheat production systems using the risk assessment paradigm. Their paper appears in the current issue of Transgenic Research.
Among others, researchers found that the herbicides glyphosate and imazamox, which are used to protect wheat, actually present lower human health and ecological risks than many other herbicides associated with conventional wheat production systems. The researchers acknowledge that their assessment is not comprehensive, but state that the approach they presented demonstrates the potential risk trade-offs (especially for herbicides) when implementing the newer biotechnologies.

A comparative risk assessment of genetically engineered, mutagenic, and conventional wheat production systems
Robert K.D. Peterson* & Leslie M. Shama
Agricultural and Biological Risk Assessment, Montana State University, 334 Leon Johnson Hall, Bozeman, MT,
59717-3120, USA
Received 25 March 2005; accepted 27 July 2005
Some comments made about herbicide risks:
Human dietary risk
Ten of the 16 herbicides had greater dietary risks than glyphosate. All of the herbicides had greater dietary risks than imazamox.

Progress with trans-fatty acid oils

Kellogg to use genetically modified oil
December 9, 2005
Associated Press/ New York Times
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Kellogg Co., the world's largest cereal maker, was cited as saying Friday that it will begin using oils derived from genetically modified soybeans in some of its products to lower fat contents beginning in 2006.
The stories say that the company will begin using Vistive, an oil low in the trans fatty acid linolenic acid that is made from Monsanto Co.'s genetically modified soybeans. Kellogg said that it is one of the first food manufacturers to use the oil to lower levels of trans fat and saturated fat in its products.
Because there is a shortage in low-linolenic acid soybean oil, however, Kellogg will also work with the Bunge/DuPont Biotech Alliance to increase production of Nutrium, another oil made from genetically modified soybeans, which the company will begin using in 2007.
The stories explain that the move comes as seed companies like Monsanto and the Hi-Bred International unit of DuPont, are planting hundreds of thousands of acres of new soybean varieties and that both are planning for new rules on Jan. 1 that will require nutritional labels to list whether foods contain trans fats. David MacKay, Kellogg's president and chief operating officer, was cited as saying in an interview on Thursday that his company had determined through extensive testing that a soybean oil known as low-linolenic was the best alternative to partially hydrogenated oils, which are high in trans fats, adding, "This is the only solution we have found where we take trans fats out and minimize the amount of saturated fats. We need to encourage growers and processors to make more of this oil."
The new soybean oils reduce the need for partial hydrogenation, so that fewer trans fats are produced during processing. The oil is stable enough to replace hydrogenated oils and did not show any statistical difference in taste and shelf life in Kellogg's testing, Mr. MacKay said. But the new soybean oil is not stable enough to withstand the high temperatures required in the cooking of fried foods like McDonald's French fries, said Dave Stark, vice president for consumer traits at Monsanto. "There are still too many polyunsaturated fats," he said. "We are still at least a few years off" from a soybean oil that could serve as a substitute. McDonald's has been widely criticized for the high trans fat content in its fries.

Friday, December 09, 2005
Drought resistance partnership with ACPFG in Adelaide

Drought tolerance a target of new international crop research agreement
ADELAIDE, Australia, 8 December, 2005
The Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics Pty Ltd (ACPFG) has signed a research collaboration agreement with Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., based in Iowa, USA.
Improving plants’ tolerance to abiotic (environmental) stresses such as drought and lack of nitrogen are targets for the new collaboration. The overall goal is to provide farmers with better crop varieties.

Seed breeder website comment on Aussie GM peas

December 2, 2005

There has been considerable media interest in an announcement by CSIRO that it has discontinued the development of a particular type of genetically modified (GM) pea after the publication of a paper reporting an immune response in mice that were fed the peas under laboratory conditions compared with those given non-GM peas.

Between 1997 and 2002, CSIRO conducted research and development field trials of genetically modified (GM) peas that were protected against pea weevils as a result of introducing an insecticidal protein (alpha-amylase inhibitor) derived from bean plants. These field trials enable data to be collected progressively under controlled conditions to enable researchers to decide whether results justify proceeding with further development. The trials were conducted under strict containment conditions – none of the GM material has been permitted to enter the human food chain.

FSANZ has not conducted any safety assessment of the peas since they are still in research and development, nor has any data been submitted to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for assessment. However, CSIRO approached FSANZ several years ago to obtain advice on the type of data they would need to support an application to FSANZ to approve the peas for human consumption. FSANZ gave advice to conduct studies to, amongst other things, fully characterise the novel protein and in particular to determine its potential for toxicity and allergenicity in line with internationally accepted guidelines.

CSIRO has subsequently reported that these protein characterisation studies revealed that a modified form of the alpha-amylase inhibitor protein had unexpectedly been produced in the GM peas. In further studies, seed meal from the GM crops was fed to mice to determine if the modified form of the alpha-amylase inhibitor protein would also have a modified immune response. The results show that, under the specified experimental conditions, the modified protein has an altered immune response. However, the results do not show that the mice became allergic to the modified protein in food, nor does the study make any conclusions in relation to its relevance in humans.

The current approach internationally to the assessment of potential allergenicity is to use ‘an integrated, stepwise, case-by-case approach’. As no single definitive test can be relied upon to predict allergenic response in humans to a novel protein, a variety of information is considered in the assessment. At present, the information considered most relevant to the assessment is:

* the source of the novel protein;
* the physicochemical characteristics of the protein;
* similarity of the novel protein to known allergenic proteins; and
* susceptibility of the novel protein to enzymatic degradation in conditions that mimic normal digestion.

By using this ‘weight of evidence’ approach, a conclusion can be made as to the likelihood of the novel protein being a food allergen.

This internationally accepted approach has been elaborated by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and is followed by FSANZ. It uses a variety of data and information, which when considered together can be used to reach a conclusion about potential allergenicity of a new protein. The various animal models that are available are not considered to be sufficiently well developed or validated to use at the present time for this assessment. It is recognized however that, once developed and validated, they will form an important component of the weight of evidence approach.

As the modified form of the alpha-amylase inhibitor protein has not been subjected to this standard assessment for potential allergenicity, it is not possible to make any conclusions about its potential to be a food allergen in humans. Furthermore, the animal model used by the study authors has not been validated to predict human immune or allergic responses and the authors make no such predictions. It is therefore not clear what relevance (if any) the findings have in relation to human food allergy. Amongst other factors, the genetic composition of the host influences the outcome of exposure to the foreign protein.

While the significance of the research results for human allergenicity is not clear, the CSIRO has decided to end the research program. This type of situation is not unique to the development of GMOs - the development of conventionally bred, non-GM plants have also been terminated when unexpected or adverse effects have been detected.

FSANZ continues to monitor new scientific information from all sources and internationally agreed methodologies as they becomes available and will take this into account and modify safety assessment requirements where appropriate.

US Big picture at variance with Benbrook GM comments

Jennifer Marohasy: Costly harvest of ignorant GM campaign
The Australian
December 09, 2005

During the past two weeks the Australian organics industry has sponsored a lecture tour by anti-GM advocate and US-based consultant Charles Benbrook.

As part of this tour, Benbrook has made several claims, such as GM crops have been a failure in the US and herbicide use, particularly for GM soybeans, is at record levels. This story was picked up and run by numerous media outlets, including ABC radio.

The only problem is that what Benbrook has said is not supported by the available evidence.

Information on herbicide use is available at the US Department of Agriculture website. This data shows that during the past 10 years the area planted with GM soy has increased and that overall herbicide use has remained steady.

GMOs Farming Biology

More detailed statistics at Jennifer's weblog, including comments.

Thursday, December 08, 2005
To be or not to be GM, that is the question....answered by a "GM-free stance"

Answering the riddle of a GM-free stance that is not GM-free.

The Marketing of dairy produce in the State of Victoria has very high power PR support. It must have, since it is able to enlist government help to create the perception that the State has banned GM, but also getting it to continue to allow GM stock-feed for calves. The key to this success is tolerance thresholds for GM and high level political support.

Lets go back to 2004. In announcing a ban on commercial farming of GM canola in Victoria in March 2004, State Premier Steve Bracks had this to say:

“The OGTR has determined GM canola is safe for human health and the environment but the State Government has a responsibility to consider market implications for our exporters. Victoria is the largest exporter of food and fibre products. In particular, the State is Australia’s largest dairy exporter with products worth about $2.5 billion each year - on average, Victoria exports more than $1 billion of grain a year.”

Steve Bracks said the decision would protect the state's "clean and green image".

The Victorian Government creates the perception of “Clean and Green” by having a "GM-free stance" or a "GM-free status".

This are very interesting choices of words. GM-free stance does not mean GM-free. It means it's OK to deliberately import GM feeds, and deliberately feed GM to cows. Its only accidental feeding of trace amounts of GM that tarnish the state's “Clean and Green” perceptions.

The hard reality, rather than PR perception, is that tolerance of deliberate feeding of GM stock-feed is economically crucial, as use of stock-feed to supplement pasture feeding is becoming more and moreimportant in Australia due to the severity of droughts. GM stock-feeds play an important role in this.

The main GM stock-feeds include GM soy-meal imports, GM cottonseed meal from NSW and Queensland, and GM maize from the USA. Around 80% of Australian cotton is now GM.

Usage of GM stock-feed in the Victorian dairy industry was kept very quiet during the period in early 2004 when Mr Bracks made his announcement, in the name of preserving the “clean and green” image of Victoria dairy products, of a ban on planting of GM canola .

Bracks' Government certainly knew that its dairy industry used GM feed. It's mentioned in reports they commissioned. I told them.

The 2004 ACIL Tasman Report to the Victorian Government explains

"Victoria is also Australia’s major dairy producing state. Australian dairy product exports to over 100 countries around the world average $2.5billion per year. Virtually all of the dairy cows in Victoria are grazed on pastures with protein and energy supplements contributing approximately 20 – 30 per cent of the total diet. The majority of this supplement is made up of cereals with 20-30 per cent made from protein meals such as soybean meal (imported), cotton seed meal from NSW and Queensland and canola meal from the Victorian and NSW canola crushing industry.

As explained by Peter Hunt, the key to being able to claim not to use GM feed, while at the same time continue using it, is judicious thresholds:

The Weekly Times, Victoria, Australia April 21 2004 By PETER HUNT

[UDV president Mr Owen said], "Certainly our dairy companies mostly believe these segregation systems are adequate, since we've already got GM soy and GM cottonseed (known as meal in Australia). Dairy companies like Murray Goulburn already have a threshold of 5 per cent on GM in feed."
The Victorian dairy industry is already using GM soy meal in calf feed. ... But Stockfeed Manufacturers Council of Australia executive director John Spragg said manufacturers were already handling GM cottonseed meal and GM soy, none of which went into milking herd feeds. "The pig and poultry industry don't have any problem with it (GM feed)," Mr Spragg said. "The real difficulty for us is that one dairy company allows up to 5 per cent GM in the milking herds' diet (Murray Goulburn), while others want 1 per cent and others still don't even have a level.

Victoria definitely imports GM soy for feeding poultry and dairy cows.

Melbourne Thursday, 29 April, 2004 :

The controversial cargo ship The Rhein, carrying 6300 tons of genetically engineered soy and surrounded by police vessels, was met by a flotilla of protest boats upon arrival in Melbourne last night. "Up to 300,000 tons of GE soy comes into our food chain" [as soy-meal imports].

Successful marketing of Victorian dairy produce as not GM has enlisted not only Premier Bracks, but also the anti-GM groups, who graciously do not mention the use of GM stock-feeds in dairying. The poultry industry are not so good at this “Clean and Green” marketing and have been heavily targeted by anti-GM activists.

Normally the ACCC are very picky about the semantic details of claims about product virtues. But they too are a party to this cone of silence about GM dairy feed. They have been as quiet as a mouse about the semantic difficulties entailed in Victoria being both GM and not GM at the same time.
All in all, a superb PR triumph for “Clean and Green” Victorian exports. That is, provided you’re a dairy farmer and not a canola grower.

See also: Political Science "Green Blackmail and the Victorian Government" Graeme O'Neill, originally published in Australian Biotechnology News, 14 May 2004

GM corn stock-feed imports to Australia needed especially during drought

From GRDC Groundcover Magazine

The severe drought throughout Australia has meant that many farmers are looking overseas to source necessary stockfeed. A shipment of 48,000 tonnes of corn (maize), destined for the poultry industry, arrived in Australia in January. The corn came from the USA where genetically modified (GM) and non-GM crops are co-mingled, and as a result the corn was thoroughly assessed and approved by two federal government agencies, the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service for quarantine issues and the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator because of its GM component. As part of the licence conditions imposed on the grain, it had to be processed before use so that the seed was no longer viable.

Studies conducted around the world to examine GM animal feed on the animals themselves and on their by-products have found no evidence to suggest GM animal feed poses any risk to human health and safety.

Labelling of by-products (meat, milk, eggs) from animals fed GM feed is not required by Australian law because they are no different to those from animals fed non-GM feed. GM animal feed, like all feed, is broken down during digestion.

Natural GMOs Part 4. All you ever wanted to know about wandering genes of plants, mariner's friends.

Nina Federoff has written a superb scholarly history of mobile genes in plants.

For the more general reader, she has written Mendel in the Kitchen, perhaps one of the three best books on plant beeding and GM foods, available electronically.

Thanks Nina.

But Matt Ridley and GMO Pundit have got in the act too, with useful introdutions to this topic.

(see also GMO Pundit on Mariner)

Natural GMOs Part 3. Cereal genes change naturally.

Proceeding of Natl. Academy of Sciences. USA Vol. 95, Issue 1, 370-375, January 6, 1998
Plant Biology

Rapid reorganization of resistance gene homologues in cereal genomes
Dario Leister, Joachim Kurth, and others.

Our data suggest a dramatic rearrangement of R gene loci between related species and implies a different mechanism for nucleotide binding site plus leucine-rich repeat gene evolution compared with the rest of the monocot genome.

Some Details:
Plant resistance to particular pathogens involves specific recognition events. These resistance reactions are race-specific and triggered by corresponding resistance (R) genes in the host and avirulence (Avr) genes in the pathogen. Resistance mechanisms operate in both major classes of flowering plants, dicots and monocots. Several dicot and one monocot R gene to diverse pathogens have been isolated, revealing structural similarities of the deduced proteins.

One class comprises genes containing both a 5' terminal nucleotide binding site (NBS) and 3' terminal leucine-rich repeats (LRRs) of various length.

Monocot and dicot plants are believed to have diverged from each other 120-200 million years ago (14). All resistance genes, except Xa-21 in rice (15), have been isolated so far from dicot plants. Isolation of genetically characterized resistance genes in the grasses has been hampered mainly by their large genome size. A fundamental feature of grass species is their tight conserved gene order (synteny) (16, 17), which may facilitate map-based gene isolation by using DNA marker information from syntenic intervals across monocot species.

Here we describe the isolation and characterization of NBS-LRR homologues via PCR from two monocot species, rice and barley, based on structurally conserved motifs in dicot NBS-LRR R genes. We have analyzed their sequence diversity and their linkage to genetically characterized R genes. The results from a comparative mapping in rice, barley, and foxtail millet indicates a rapid evolution of R genes in each species and suggests possible mechanisms to generate diversity in resistance loci.

Isolation, sequence, and mapping of R gene homologues from two grass species have provided surprising insights into both R gene evolution and genome organization. We interpret our data in the context of the close evolutionary relationship of grass species and the rigorous collinear gene order of their genomes (16, 17). We interpret them also on the basis that rice, barley, and foxtail millet represent three separate grass tribes (Pooideae, Bambusoideae, and Panicoideae). Four lines of evidence strongly suggest a rapid rearrangement of NBS-LRR genes in the genomes analyzed: (i) the occurrence of intraspecific copy number variation both in rice and barley, (ii) the existence of mixed R gene homologue clusters comprising highly dissimilar genes, (iii) the absence of interspecific cross-hybridization signals for several NBS-LRR probes, and (iv) the frequent nonsyntenic map locations for NBS-LRR loci detected by probes that displayed interspecific cross-hybridization signals. These observations raise the question as to whether a specific mechanism acts to generate diversity of NBS-LRR genes, involving frequent ectopic recombination events (37-39) to both inter- and intrachromosomal sites and consequently leading to lack of syntenic map positions.

Our data suggest a dramatic rearrangement of R gene loci between related species and implies a different mechanism for nucleotide binding site plus leucine-rich repeat gene evolution compared with the rest of the monocot genome.

Natural genetic variability and food safety, food and feed risks and hazards.

GM wheat offers new salinity hope
- THE WEST AUSTRALIAN (Perth), By Jennifer Eliot, December 7, 2005

WA's first genetically modified wheat crop - which scientists hope will lead to strains that are tolerant to waterlogging, frost and salt - will be harvested today.
The crop is the culmination of a three-year, $2 million program carried out amid strict quarantine by Grain Biotech Australia and the Grains Research Development Corporation.
The trial modified two standard wheat varieties in a bid to produce grain that could be sown on land lost to salinity.
GBA business development manager Alan Trough said a full analysis on yield, grain quality, starch and protein levels would be available in March but, on the face of it, the trial had been a success and offered hope for salt-affected farmland.
"Further testing will show if the grain is good or if increasing the hardiness of the grain has sacrificed quality," he said.
Mr Trough said the Corrigin trial was part of an ongoing program to bring GM wheat to a stage where it could be grown commercially.
It was one of only a handful of GM wheat trials in the world and it was unlikely GM wheat would be available for commercial planting in Australia before 2011.
There is a moratorium on commercial GM crops in WA until 2009 but GM cotton and canola crops have been tested.
Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said this week that a lot could be learnt from the wheat trial and the State Government would like to see similar trials to improve knowledge of the science behind GM technology.
orrigin farmer Lex Stone, who faces losing half the family farm to salinity, said that for every year he had to wait for a crop that was salt tolerant the less viable his farm became.
"Managing salinity is a seven-day-a-week job for me and in the last few years I have spent upwards of $250,000 on landcare works and rebuilding the farm and that is why I am interested in this technology," he said.
"GM wheat won't fix the salinity but it will allow us to grow crops. I say bring it on."
The prospect of more tolerant wheat comes amid fears that bad weather will see this season's WA harvest fall short of the projected 12.8 million tonnes.

Solutions to salinity in Australia see here.

US has another bumper cotton crop

Despite a marathon hurricane season that threatened to damage the US cotton crop just months ago, 2005 crop production and yields are trying to break last year's record.
... recent reports from USDA reveal that yields nationally are expected to average 813 pounds per acre, up 16 pounds from last month but down 42 pounds from 2004."
SOURCE: Australian Cotton Outlook.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005
The End of Poverty Part III. The Poverty Trap is a Rural Phenomenon.


Poor countries have a significant chance of falling into a poverty trap. Out of the fifty-eight non-oil countries with per capita incomes below $3,000, twenty-two (or 38 percent) experienced an outright decline [in the years 1980-2000]. Yet the thirty-six other countries [in that category] enjoyed economic growth.

How is it that some very poor countries escaped the ravages of a poverty trap while the rest did not? Comparing those countries that made it and those that did not, the success stories show certain characteristics. The most important determinant, it seems, is food productivity.

Countries that started with high cereal yields per hectare, and that used high levels of fertilizer input per hectare, are the poor countries that tended to experience economic growth. Countries that began with very low yields in 1980 are the countries that tended to experience economic decline between 1980 and 2000…

...The poverty trap is mainly a rural phenomenon of peasant farmers caught in a spiral of rising populations and stagnant or falling food production per person.


Lack of Innovation

Consider the plight of inventors in an impoverished country. Even if these inventors are able to develop new scientific approaches to meet local economic needs, the chances of recouping investments in research and development through later sales in the local market are very low. The local purchasing power to buy a new product is tiny, and will not provide for sufficient profits if an invention is successfully brought to market, even if the impoverished country has state-of-the-art patent legislation. The problem is not the property rights to the invention, but the size of the market.

There is, therefore, a huge difference between rich and poor countries in their tendency to innovate. Rich countries have a big market, which increases the incentive for innovation, brings new technologies to market, further raises productivity and expands the size of the market, and creates new incentives for innovation. This momentum creates, in effect, a chain reaction, which economists call endogenous growth. Innovation raises the size of the market; a larger market raises the incentives for innovation. Therefore, economic growth and innovation proceed in a mutually reinforcing process.

From Jeffrey Sachs. The End of Poverty, Penguin Books, 2005


GMOs Farming Biology

Is the European attitude to GM products suffocating African development?

Data on benefits provided by GM crops for developing country farmers, 2006 overview.

Farmer: Use GM to rotate your herbicide chemistry each season.

Herbicide tolerant weeds have been known for decades. An early report was G. F. Ryan 1970. Resistance of the common groundsel to simazine and atrazine. Weed Science volume 18, p614-6.

Kim Nill of the American Soybean Association has kindly reminded me of how new GM based crop traits provide new tools to manage the weed resistance problem, and the following notes are a paraphrase of his good advice.

The key message is - you need to rotate your chemistries, and GM technology opens up more flexible chemistries and crop rotations. By this "rotate chemistries" catch-phrase we mean use herbicides with different mode of action in each subsequent year.

When the first biotech herbicide-resistant soybean was commercialized in 1996, it helped PREVENT THE EMERGENCE OF HERBICIDE-RESISTANT WEEDS, because it gave U.S. farmers a new herbicide chemistry to apply to soybeans.

Thus, for example, a given field in the standard soybean/corn rotation would have been planted to soybeans in 1994 (e.g. sprayed with a sulfonylurea-type herbicide), would have been planted to corn in 1995 (e.g., sprayed with a triazine-type herbicide), could then would have been planted to biotech soybeans in 1996 (i.e. sprayed with a glyphosate-type herbicide, a completely different chemical category).

If GM glufosinate resistant soybeans were available, they would further improve this rotation strategy for minimising the emergence of weed herbicide-resistance.

Accolades for GM cotton. Australia
Tuesday, 6 December 2005

The Australian cotton industry is one of the success stories of biotechnology.

Once heavily reliant on insecticide for survival, the introduction of genetically modified cotton in 1996 was the start of a new beginning for the industry.

Currently more than 400 million hectares of biotechnology have been planted in 20 different countries.

For Bongeen cotton growers Stuart and Maxine Armitage it has been a godsend.

"It has given cotton a whole new image," Mr Armitage said

Herbicide use drops due to GM cotton

- Australian ABC News, By Simone Cobb, Dec 6, 2005

While there are a few cases of some weeds getting stronger, the Cotton CRC says the use of insecticides has decreased by more than 70 per cent due to the Bollgard varieties and herbicide use has approximately dropped by 40 per cent with Round-Up Ready cotton.
Cotton Seed Distributors agronomist David Kelly told Simone Cobb Round-Up Ready cotton is not a silver bullet for controlling weeds, but part of an integrated weed management strategy.

GM GE cotton area grows in India

INDIA: BT cotton growing area
-, December 6, 2005
MUMBAI: According to Ministrial sources reveals that BT cotton growing area has extended from 2,30,000 acres in 2003 to 12, 13,359 acres in 2004.
In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Sharad Pawar, Agriculture Minister said that according to information forwarded by Bt Cotton growing states, the seed has been found cultivable in these states.
Mr Pawar added that Agriculture Ministry is compiling the area under Bt cotton crop in all states during 2005 .
Contrast to the belief that Tamil Nadu failed to cultivate Bt cotton after the crop failure in Andhra Pradesh, the state has been coming a cropper, stated Pawar.
Some Bt cotton hybrids for commercial farming have been notified by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) in the Environment and Forests Ministry after evaluating the performance through several multilocation after large scale field experiments, added Pawar.
Other cotton breeds have been allotted larger areas in comparison with the Bt cotton, he also informed.

Impact of GM GE crops in USA 2004: Thumbs Up

Pesticide use impacts
The 11 applications of biotechnology-derived crops planted in 2004 reduced the use of pesticides in crop production by 62.0 million pounds. This represents a further 34% decrease in pesticide usage compared with 2003. Herbicide-resistant crops accounted for the largest reduction of pesticide use compared to other applications. Increased acreage of Liberty Link crops (canola, corn, and cotton) has contributed to further reductions in pesticide use in 2004. While herbicide-resistant soybean accounted for 36% of the reduction, herbicide-resistant corn and cotton contributed 30 and 23%, respectively. About 11% reduction in pesticide use was due to insect-resistant crops.
Crop impacts
The planting of biotechnology-derived varieties resulted in significant impacts in all the six crops evaluated in this study. While yield improvement and pesticide use reduction was greatest in biotechnology-derived field corn, planting of soybean led to largest reduction in production costs and greatest net economic impact. Both crops were leaders in the same categories in 2003. Biotechnology-derived varieties improved corn production by 5.9 billion pounds in 2004. Cotton ranked second in yield improvement, with an additional 587 million pounds produced due to biotechnology-derived varieties. Biotechnology-derived soybean
reduced production costs by $1.37 billion, and therefore increased growers’ net returns by the same amount. Overall reduction in pesticide use due to biotechnology-derived varieties was greatest in corn (23.3 million pounds), followed by soybean (22.4 million pounds), and cotton (15.9 million pounds).

From NCFAP Report Dec 2005

Environmental and Production Benefits Drive Greater Demand for Biotech Crops
Farmers experience year-on-year improvements from biotech crops

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 6, 2005) — As a result of increasing benefits from biotechnology-derived (biotech) crop varieties, farmers are adopting the technology with greater ease than ever before, according to a new study update released by the National Center of Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP).

In 2004, U.S. farmers planted biotech crops on 118 million acres, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. Compared to conventional crops, biotech varieties increased food production by 6.6 billion pounds, a 24 percent improvement from 2003, and provided $2.3 billion in additional net returns for U.S. growers, a 21 percent increase from the previous year. Biotech crops also reduced pesticide use by an additional 34 percent, or 15.6 million pounds. Pesticide use dropped by 15.6 million from 2003 to 2004.

“After nine years of commercialization, the benefits of biotech crops are self-evident, and growers are responding to better yields and greater financial return by further increasing the number of acres planted to these varieties,” said Jill Long Thompson, Ph.D., and Chief Executive Officer of the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy. “Obviously, these crops have demonstrated great benefits to growers, but what we’re seeing now is the significant extent to which these benefits increase each year.”
The study examined 11 case studies of six biotech crops planted in the United States in 2004 —
corn, soybean, cotton, papaya, canola and squash — and is based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and surveys of Crop Specialists from various universities.
According to the study, insect-resistant crops again produced the greatest yield increase among the crops studied, improving food and fiber production by 6.5 billion pounds. While insect-resistant traits increased production, herbicide-resistant varieties generated the greatest reduction in production costs by reducing the amount of pesticide needed and lowering costs associated with hand weeding and mechanical cultivation. Herbicide-resistant varieties cut costs by $1.8 billion and reduced pesticide use by 55.5 million pounds.

Regionally, Midwestern states of Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota experienced the greatest benefits from biotech crops. Iowa farmers experienced the largest increase in farm income ($266 million) and the greatest reduction in pesticides (9.1 million pounds annually).
Donna Winters, who grows biotech cotton, corn and soybean on her farm in Lake Providence, La., has personally experienced the benefits of growing biotech crops. Winters said adopting the technology not only helps her operation remain profitable, but also lessens agriculture’s environmental footprint.

“When biotech crops were first commercialized, many farmers were interested in trying out the new varieties, and now we’re realizing more benefits with each year of planting,” said Winters. “In my operation, biotech crops have improved my profitability by 5 to 10 percent because I can spend less money on inputs while boosting production by 10 to 15 percent. Many production
factors vary each year, but we are able to sustain improved profitability and yield by using biotechnology despite those variances. Most importantly, planting biotech varieties promotes conservation farming practices, which is important to me because I want my grandchildren to continue farming on our land.”
While the economic and production benefits have been significant, biotech crops also make growers confident that they can control weeds while reducing the need to plow the land. Farmers who practice “no-till” farming leave their soil undisturbed, thereby reducing soil erosion and pesticide runoff. No-till cotton acreage increased in the United States by 371 percent in 2004, while soybean and corn no-till acres increased by 64 and 20 percent, respectively.
“Farmers want to be good stewards of the land because it is the source of their livelihood,” said Sujatha Sankula, Ph.D., and lead author of the study. “Biotech crops have helped them make great strides and adopt conservation tillage practices, which not only reduces erosion but also
decreases greenhouse gas emissions that result from cultivating the soil.”

The study is an annual update of a 2002 report by NCFAP that analyzes, quantifies and documents the agronomic, economic and environmental impacts of biotech crops on U.S. agriculture. The complete study, “Biotechnology-Derived Crops Planted in 2004 — Impacts on U.S. Agriculture,” is available on the Internet at

See later related posts;

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

GM-lite works its magic on peanuts

From Agnet: A&M unlocks key to 1 fatal peanut allergen
December 5, 2005
Huntsville Times
Researchers at Alabama A&M University were cited as announcing last week they have successfully eliminated one major allergen in peanuts that sometimes causes fatal reactions in people.
There are at least six distinct peanut allergens that pose problems for some people, according to Dr. Hortense Dodo and research colleague Dr. Koffi Konan. Using a process called RNA Interference (RNAi), the scientists were able to transform peanut tissues and silence the Ara h2 allergen gene, thus eliminating one of the proteins which triggers allergic reactions.
Studies are under way at AAMU to determine if the new transgenic peanuts maintain their nutritional quality.

ISB News Report
December 2005
Covering Agricultural And Environmental Biotechnology Developments

C. Neal Stewart, Jr.

Computer software is amenable for duplication, modification, and improvement and therefore has greater utility and value ... DNA as well. Sharing software freely has enabled the open-source movement and has led to numerous innovations in operating systems and products. What about open-sourcing DNA–is that the key to agricultural innovation and feeding an ever-growing population?

Complete article:

Journal of Public Affairs publishes an issue on GM foods

From Agbioview: Date: Fri, 02 Dec 2005 18:13:40 -0500

From: "Gale West"
Some of your readers may be interested in the latest issue of the Journal of Public Affairs, which is a special issue about GM foods. Here is the web page for the journal with information about the articles and their authors.

The articles are not yet available in PDF format. Interested readers may, of course, either purchase the issue or the individual articles, or they may contact the various authors in order to obtain copies of the papers.
Gale West, Ph.D.
Centre de recherche en economie agroalimentaire (CREA)
Universite Laval
Quebec, Canada

Monday, December 05, 2005
The US floor on crop prices (countercyclical support) is given to both GM and non-GM equally.

GMO Pundit:

Visiting Agricultural Economist Charles Benbrook has raised the idea that US farm price supports favour the introduction of GM crops in the US. Is there any basis to that claim?

An overview of US Farm support systems is given at the USDA ERS website and it is interesting to see that these price supports are structured so as to ignore whether crops are GM or not GM.

In the US all crops, GM or not, are just plain crops.

US price supports have a "counter-cyclical" farm support provision in which, as the price drops, farmers get more of a subsidy per unit (bushel, pound, ton, etc.) of wheat, feed grains, rice, cotton, and oilseeds. If the price rises, the federal government (through the USDA) makes smaller or no subsidy payments.

Since the US farm support does not distinguish between GM and non-GM crops, it requires complicated arguments to explain how these "neutral" price supports could possibly favour the introduction of GM crops.

One way is to argue that GM technology is so effective in improving yields that the boost it gives to global supply has driven down world prices. In this (imaginary?) scenario, all farmers are affected by lower prices, whether they adopt GM or not.

If this is the case, its the farmers that lag in adoption of the GM technology that lose the most, because they don't capture the real cost reductions provided by crop yield increases. It is also worth noting that transgenic crops have no different impact by this mechanism than crops created through any other breeding program that gives yield improvement.

But the real world of commodity markets is full of surprises: with the latest cpmplete harvest(2004), US soy growers had record yields of 42.2 bushels/acre even though there has been a drought. In 2005 yields are pegged at 42.7 bu/acre.

They likely will get minimal countercyclical price support payments though. Soybean prices were well above the target price of $5.80 in 2004, and close to it in 2005.

Soy Crop Statistics:

Sunday, December 04, 2005
Natural GMOs Part 2. Genes move around, and I mean really around, like in the Ancient Mariner

The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom's door.

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.

Mariner mobile genes are large family of mobile DNA entities that are usually called transposons in reference to their ability to move to new chromosome locations.

Representatives of Mariner have been found in diverse insects, nematodes, flatworms, hydras, and mammals (including humans).

Analysis of Mariners demonstrates that, in the course of evolutionary history, they have undergone numerous transfers between different host species, some times across animal phyla. The so called species boundary does not exist for Mariner.

Mariner expert Hugh Robertson has this to say about them:

Robertson and Lampe (1995) describe the remarkably similar irritans subfamily mariners (Figure 16.4) found in the green lacewing, Chrysoperla plorabunda (order Neuroptera), the horn fly, Haematobia irritans and a drosophilid fly D. ananassae (order Diptera, suborder Brachycera), and the African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae (order Diptera, suborder Nematocera). For example, the consensus DNA sequences of the 1044 bp transposase [movement enzyme] genes of the lacewing and horn fly mariners differ by just 2 [DNA residues], leading to the 345 amino acid sequences of their encoded transposases differing by just one.

Given the age of these insect lineages (200 Myr in the case of fly suborders, and 265 Myr for the orders) it is inconceivable that these mariners have evolved vertically within these lineages, been conserved to such an extent, including third codon positions and non-coding sequence, and have been lost from most other neuropteran and fly lineages examined.

Indeed, when the evolution of the individual copies from their consensus sequences within each host lineage was examined, most copies appeared to be evolving neutrally, and therefore rapidly...

... The implications of these observations for mariner transposons, and likely also the closely related Tcl family of transposons, are twofold. First, they must be capable of functioning in diverse host cellular environments. This inference has been confirmed for two mariners, the hornfly irritans subfamily element Himarl (Lampe et al., 1996) and the canonical Mosl element (Tosiand Beverley, 2000), and the Tcl element from C. elegans (Vos et al., 1996). In each case purified transposase [enzyme coded by the mobile gene] was able to catalyze transposition [movement] of a marked cognate transposon from one plasmid to another...

Secondly, there must be some mechanism by which these transposons are able to move from one host to another. This movement has to be into the germline of the new host and across orders of insects and phyla of animals. It seems unlikely that there will be a single mechanism for such transfers (Kidwell, 1992), however the best current candidates are perhaps various DNA viruses, some of which are known to be suitable targets for transposons from their hosts(Fraser et al., 1985), including two members ofthe Tcl family Gehle et al., 1995, 1998).

From H. Robertson and others, The mariner Transposons of Animals: Horizontally Jumping Genes, Chapter 16, in Horizontal Gene Transfer, M. Syvanen and C Kado, 2nd Edition, Academic Press 2002

See Also:
GMO Pundit overview on gene movement between species.
Jumping genes
Helitron nanobots
Helitrons up close and sweaty
Mule nanobots

Ten years of steady increases in the crop area percentages of "GM trait" crops in the US.

ERS, USDA comment:

U.S. farmers have adopted genetically engineered (GE) crops widely since their introduction in 1996, notwithstanding uncertainty about consumer acceptance and economic and environmental impacts. Soybeans and cotton genetically engineered with herbicide-tolerant traits have been the most widely and rapidly adopted GE crops in the U.S., followed by insect-resistant cotton and corn. This product summarizes the extent of adoption of herbicide-tolerant and insect–resistant crops since their introduction in 1996.

Saturday, December 03, 2005
Agriculture is the Indian livelihood generator.

Interview with Eminent Indian agriculture scientist Dr M S Swaminathan--winner of the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize.

"In India, agriculture is not just a food-producing industry. It is largely a livelihood-generating industry. This, however, is not the case in industrialised nations where hardly 2-3 per cent -- maybe a maximum of 4 per cent -- of the population is involved in agriculture. "

GE / GM Expert Charles Benbrook comments on US Agriculture are silly

Today in AgBioView from : December 2, 2005
Debunking Benbrook
- Kim Nill,

'U.S. Soybean Yield Per Acre was a Record High For 2005, Even Though Some States Had A Drought in 2005'

Dear Agbioview: Today's edition of your newsletter contained several repetitions of Mr. Benbook's silly assertion that biotechnology-derived soybeans have supposedly caused a "flattening" of the yield curve for the U.S. soybean crop.

On November 11, 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the nationwide yield/acre for America's 2005 crop (i.e., when more than 90% of U.S. soybean acres were planted to biotech soybeans) was a record highest-ever.


2004-5 Soybean Yields, 2004 Production, Largest in History

Soybean production in 2004 totaled 3.14 billion bushels, the largest U.S. soybean crop in history and 28 percent above the 2003 level. The average yield per acre is estimated at a record-high 42.5 bushels, 8.6 bushels above the 2003 final yield and 1.1 bushels above the previous record set in 1994. Planted and harvested area in the U.S., at 75.2 million acres and 74.0 million acres respectively, are both up 2 percent from last year and are record breakers.

See also:

USDA Review Soybean Supply and Demand Review November 10 2005

2004 Yields 42.2 bu/acre, 2005 yields 42.7 bu/acre

PG Economics debunking comments on Benbrook speculations (in this case made to a UK select committee):
PDF version

GM food can stop allergies

Rice developed to treat allergies
December 2, 2005
CropBiotech Net
Allergy is a significant health problem, and affects over 15% of all children and adults worldwide. It may involve the skin, respiratory tract, and gut, and may arise due to a great variety of environmental triggers, such as exposure to pollen, fiber, or certain kinds of molecules present in certain types of food.
Synthetic medicines are currently the most common treatment for most allergies, but Hidenori Takagi of Tsukuba, Japan, and colleagues seek another route by exploring how A rice-based edible vaccine expressing multiple T cell epitopes induces oral tolerance for inhibition of Th2-mediated IgE responses. Their work appears in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online.
Researchers utilized dominant epitopes found in allergens carried by Japanese cedar pollen. Epitopes are short amino acid sequences which, on their own, can trigger a mild immune response. By fusing the gene sequence of the epitope with the seed storage protein glycinin, and by introducing this into rice, researchers were able to produce crops with about 0.5% of total seed protein composed of the glycinin-epitope fusion protein.
When mice were fed with this transgenic rice, researchers found, among others, that the mice were expressing lower levels of histamine, and did not develop the symptoms of pollen-induced allergies. The protein was also shown to be stable for 6 months in the transgenic seed, even when stored at room temperature.
For more information, read the complete article or its accompanying commentary
allergy GMO GE Genetic engineering

Natural GMOs Part 1. Bees in practice versus Bees in theory

Dear Dr. Tatiana,
I'm a queen bee, and I'm worried. All my lovers leave their genitals inside me and then drop dead. Is this normal?
Perplexed in Cloverhill

Dr. T.:
For your lovers, this is the way the world ends-with a bang, not a whimper. When a male honeybee reaches his climax, he explodes, his genitals ripped from his body with a loud snap. I can see why you find it unnerving.

Why does it happen? Alas, Your Majesty, your lovers explode on purpose. By leaving their genitals inside you, they block you up. In doing so, each male hopes you will not be able to mate with another. In other words, his mutilated member is intended as the honeybee version of a chastity belt.

You may think this is no way to treat a queen. But even queens are not exempt from the battle of the sexes. Indeed, I'm afraid your situation appears to exemplify the full, complex, and dynamic conflicts of interest that can arise as a consequence of female promiscuity.

From Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation, Olivia Judson, Metropolitan Books, 2002

Background reading on drought tolerance and HVA 1 gene

The barley gene HVA1 has been found to assist protection against stresses in rice, oats and wheat. This article provides the background for understanding this topic better.

Drought- and desiccation-induced modulation of gene expression in plants
S. Ramanjulu & D. Bartels

Desiccation is the extreme form of dehydration. Tolerance of desiccation is acquired by seeds and in resurrection plants, a small group of angiosperms. Desiccation tolerance is the result of a complex cascade of molecular events, which can be divided into signal perception, signal transduction, gene activation and biochemical alterations leading to acquisition of tolerance. Many of these molecular processes are also observed during the dehydration of non-tolerant plants. Here we try to give an overview of the gene expression programmes that are triggered by dehydration, with particular reference to protective molecules and the regulation of their expression. Potential transgenic approaches to manipulating stress tolerance are discussed.

Plant, Cell & Environment
Volume 25 Issue 2 Page 141 - February 2002 Volume 25 Issue 2

GM Oats can tolerate continuous salt stress

Barley gene confers salt tolerance in transgenic oats
December 1, 2005
Meridian Food Security and Ag-Biotech News
Researchers at Michigan State University in the U.S. have successfully introduced the HVA1 stress tolerance gene from barley into oat plants.
The resulting genetically modified (GM) oat plants show better performance than non-GM controls under continuous salt stress, although they still experience a decrease in performance at the highest tested salinity stress level (200 mM).
The [HVA1 ] gene has been found in the past to confer salt tolerance when introduced into rice, oat, and wheat plants.
The researchers say that their new study provides further evidence of the role of the HVA1 protein in water deficit damage prevention and in the protection of oats against salinity.
According to their report, osmotic stress due to drought and/or salinity is a major cause of global oat crop yield loss. The researchers say that traditional breeding has limitations and cannot solve this problem alone, perhaps because of the inefficiency of selection methods, the lack of the genetic variability in the oat background, and the complexity of the salt tolerance trait.
ABSTRACT: Barley HVA1 Gene Confers Salt Tolerance in R3 Transgenic Oat
Via Agnet on GM GE GMO Genetic engineering Issues

See also post on background reading
Solutions to salinity in Australia

Friday, December 02, 2005
European attitude to GM products suffocating African development?

From : Is the European attitude to GM products suffocating African development?

Zambia has followed in Europe’s footsteps in embracing the precautionary principle in its draft national biosafety legislation (Republic of Zambia 2004), which provides that GM crops should not be allowed, since their safety cannot be conclusively proven. There are a variety of reasons for Zambia’s reluctance to accept any GM crops. Officially, the decision to not allow GM crops was made after consultations with foreign experts by a delegation of Zambian scientists in 2002, which determined that health and environmental concerns posed by GM crops outweighed the immediate need for food by the Zambian people (Lewanika 2003).

The delegation charged with obtaining advice about GM food aid from experts in the field visited various organisations throughout Europe and the United States, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and several other groups that are fundamentally opposed to agricultural biotechnology (Wilson 2002). Amongst the organisations consulted was Farming and Livestock UK, which is reported to have told the delegation that the virus used in the creation of most GM crop varieties could form a retrovirus which in turn could cause symptoms similar to HIV (Wilson 2002). Given unsubstantiated and clearly misleading information such as this about health effects, it is unsurprising that the delegation’s report took a negative view of agricultural biotechnology.

The environmental impact particularly feared by the Zambian government was that seeds from GM corn food aid could be planted and could cross-pollinate with locally grown corn. If this happened, Zambia’s corn could not be certified as being free of genetic modification. This was a concern because future Zambian agricultural exports to the European Union may have been adversely affected, due to the profoundly negative attitude to GM crops prevalent in Europe (Lewanika 2003). The leader of the Zambian government delegation on GM crops has stated that this was one of the factors that were considered when deciding whether to allow GM food aid (Lewanika 2003), although its importance in the decision was downplayed.

However, export figures suggest that preserving the European Union market for southern African countries’ agricultural products may have been the primary factor affecting the decision not to accept GM food aid. Exports of agricultural commodities to the European Union account for significant revenue for southern African nations (Laidlaw 2002). In many African nations, agriculture is the second most important source of revenue, after mining (Action for Southern Africa 2002). With a continually decreasing amount of natural resources left to mine, agriculture is poised to become a more important source of revenue than ever for most African nations. Currently, horticultural exports are a vital export-earning sector for Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa (Action for Southern Africa 2002). European markets are critical for Southern African farmers, as approximately half of the region’s agricultural exports are purchased by the European Union (Action for Southern Africa 2002). Zambia’s horticultural exports alone exceeded 5000 tonnes in 1997–1998 and 8400 tonnes the following year and contributed over $110 million to the country’s economy over the two seasons (Action for Southern Africa 2002).

Greg Bodulovic
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Integrative Legume Research, Genomic Interactions Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, PO Box 475, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

Functional Plant Biology 32(12) 1069–1075

GMO Pundit on Africa

Seeds improve farmer income

Relative area of herbicicide tolerant canola varieties in Canada

(Image of a graph)

From A decade of herbicide-resistant crops in Canada, H. J. Beckie et al 2005

Steady growth of transgenic (GM / GE) variety area over 10 years attests to the economic benefit of these varieties to the farmers. Glyphosate-HR and Glufosinate-HR are both GM / GE herbicide tolerant varieties that together constitute most of Canadian canola.

See Good news for Canadian Farmers

Scientific evidence that GM Canola can perform better

Herbicide-tolerant canola: Weed control and yield comparisons in western Canada

Abstract Field experiments were conducted at five western Canadian locations in 1996 and 1997 to compare weed control and canola (Brassica napus L.) seed yields in the three major herbicide-tolerant canola (HTC) systems. The main objective of this study was to determine if significant weed control and yield advantages could be expected by using herbicides "designated" for HTC compared to a more "standard" application of sethoxydim plus ethametsulfuron.

In 3 of 10 site-years, glyphosate in Quest canola and imazethapyr/imazamox in 45A71 canola provided a yield advantage over the standard treatment. The yield advantages were restricted to the Lacombe and Lethbridge sites and ranged from 13 to 39% increases over the sethoxydim plus ethametsulfuron treatments.

Among the HTC, weed control was usually greatest with glyphosate, followed by imazethapyr/imazamox, and then glufosinate. Glufosinate efficacy was often restricted due to advanced growth stages on some weeds. The standard treatment of sethoxydim plus ethametsulfuron did not provide better weed control than glyphosate, but in some cases did improve Weed control compared to imazethapyr/imazamox or glufosinate.

The HTC provide growers with new opportunities for the control of difficult weeds along with the option to employ in-crop herbicides with new modes of action in canola.

Harker, K. N. Blackshaw, R. E. Kirkland, K. J. Derksen, D. A.Wall, D.
Lacombe Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 6000 C and E Trail, Lacombe, AB, T4L 1W1, Canada.
Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 80(3). July, 2000. 647-654.
GE GMO GM Genetic engineering

Good news For Canadian farmers using GM GE GMO canola

A decade of herbicide-resistant crops in Canada. In the latest Canadian Journal of Plant Science, Beckie, H. J. et al. 2005.

This review examines some agronomic, economic, and environmental impacts of herbicide-resistant (HR) canola, soybean, corn, and wheat in Canada after 10 years of growing HR cultivars. The rapid adoption of HR canola and soybean suggests a net economic benefit to farmers. HR crops often have improved weed management, greater yields or economic returns, and similar or reduced environmental impact compared with their non-HR crop counterparts. There are no marked changes in volunteer weed problems associated with these crops, except in zero-tillage systems when glyphosate is used alone to control canola volunteers. Although gene flow from glyphosate-HR canola to indigenous populations of bird’s rape in eastern Canada has been measured, enrichment of hybrid plants in such populations should only occur when and where herbicide selection pressure is applied. Weed shifts as a consequence of HR canola have been documented, but a reduction in weed species diversity has not been demonstrated. Reliance on HR crops in rotations using the same mode-of-action-herbicide and/or multiple in-crop herbicide applications over time can result in intense selection pressure for weed resistance and consequently, greater herbicide use in the future to control HR weed biotypes.

History has repeatedly shown that cropping system diversity is the pillar of sustainable agriculture; stewardship of HR crops must adhere to this fundamental principle.

Some details:
Transgenic-HR canola was introduced commercially in Canada in 1995. Of the approximately
5.5 million ha of canola grown in 2005 (Statistics Canada 2005), about 95% (5.2 million ha) is estimated to be resistant to GLY, GLU, or IMI (Fig. 1). Eighty-two percent of HR canola is transgenic. Cultivation of the crop in eastern Canada accounts for only 0.6% of the nation’s canola area. In 1997, the number of non-HR canola cultivars commercially available peaked at 46, compared with only seven HR cultivars (Anonymous 1995-2005). By 2005, there were only
two non-HR cultivars and 43 private-sector HR cultivars (28 GLY-HR, 11 IMI-HR, 4 GLU[fosinate]-HR).

Public institutions have an important role in ensuring non-HR cultivars, which have similar
agronomic performance as HR cultivars, continue to be available to farmers.

Similar to canola, adoption of HR soybean has been rapid. All registered HR cultivars are resistant to GLY (Table 2). Nearly 80% of the Canadian soybean crop is grown in Ontario
(Statistics Canada 2005). GLY-HR soybean was first grown in 1997, and now constitutes about 55% (518,000 ha) of the total crop area in that province (Fig. 2).

HR canola cultivars that were initially released were slightly inferior in yield or quality to non-HR cultivars (Stringam et al. 2003). Private breeding efforts were increased by the development of marketable HR traits and the introduction of hybrid cultivars, which provided some measure of trait protection as well as yield and agronomic improvement. As a result, HR cultivars now yield the same or greater than non-HR cultivars and have equal quality (Stringam et al. 2003).

A survey in 2000 commissioned by the Canola Council of Canada (Serecon Management2 Consulting Inc. and Koch Paul Associates 2001) of HR (GLY or GLU) and non-HR canola 3 producers indicated that yields of HR cultivars averaged about 10% more than non-HR cultivars (1.7 vs. 1.5 t ha-1). The greater yields of HR cultivars were attributed to higher yield potential and reduced weed competition. Similar results were reported by Harker et al. (2000); yields of HR canola were greater when treated with GLY, GLU, or IMI than herbicides typically used in non-HR canola, particularly when difficult-to-control weed populations were present. Yields are often similar among GLY, GLU, and IMI-HR canola systems (Clayton et al. 2004a, b; Harker et al. 2004). Breeding efforts focused almost exclusively on HR germplasm will likely further widen the yield gap with non-HR canola.

In a survey of seedlot samples from registration plot trials and commercial fields, GLY- and
12 GLU-HR canola had improved seed quality with slightly greater oil content, and significantly
less glucosinolates and chlorophyll content than non-transgenic canola (Daun 2004). In transgenic canola seedlots, lower glucosinolate levels were attributed to decreased contamination by cruciferous weeds, such as wild mustard, whereas more even and earlier maturation due to improved field management linked to the HR trait was a possible reason for the reduced chlorophyll content.

HR canola has allowed farmers to plant earlier compared with a non-HR canola system using
soil-incorporated herbicides. Greater yields of canola planted in early spring compared with mid-May are a result of better utilization of moisture from snow melt and reduced environmental stress during the flowering period (Kirkland and Johnson 2000). Planting earlier than usual also incorporates operational diversity into cropping systems, thus diversifying weed management systems (Harker and Clayton 2003).

Hybrid-HR cultivars are becoming increasingly popular with farmers because of their yield performance. In 2004, hybrids constituted half of the canola market, of which two-thirds were GLU[fosinate]-HR cultivars (M. Gerhardt, pers. comm.). Hybrid cultivars are often taller, more vigorous, establish a denser canopy, and are more weed-competitive than open-pollinated cultivars (Zand and Beckie 2002; Harker et al. 2003). In a study conducted in Manitoba, GLU-HR hybrid canola had greater biomass, faster canopy closure, greater seed yield (under both weedy and weed-free conditions), and was more competitive with volunteer barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) than GLU3 HR open-pollinated canola (Linde et al. 2001).

The 15% average yield advantage (up to 30% for GLU-HR hybrids; Anonymous 2005 in Anonymous 1995-2005) combined with reduced seeding rates of hybrids vs. open-pollinated cultivars (mean reduction of 0.7 kg ha-1; J. Y. Leeson and A.G. Thomas, unpubl. data), as a means to reduce seed costs, are contributing to the popularity of hybrid-HR canola.

see also Harker, K. N., Blackshaw, R. E., Kirkland, K. J., Derksen, D. A. and Wall, D. 2000.
Herbicide-tolerant canola: weed control and yield comparisons in western Canada. Can. J. Plant Sci. 80: 647-654.

GM GE GMO, whatever: drought proof cotton

Biotechnology to drought proof cotton By GENEVIEVE McAULAY - Australia
Thursday, 1 December 2005

Could biotechnology solve the age old problem of drought for Australian farmers?

According to Monsanto managing director John Raines this is achievable

Addressing delegates at a forum to celebrate 10 years of biotechnology Mr Raines assured Australian cotton growers that this was a very real prospect.

"We have been testing this in California for the last two years, we have had it in field trials and we have seen in the neighbourhood of about 20pc increases in yield," he said.

"It has significant opportunities not only in cotton but also in the grains industry."

In fact Monsanto is already working today with the appropriate regulatory bodies in Australia to be able to bring in the first progeny seed for drought tolerance in cotton.

But Mr Raines warned it would be a long process.

"We will be looking at a 2012 to 2015 timeline before we can commercialise it, but I think the thing that is really important is that we wouldn't even have the opportunity to have this discussion if hadn't been for the efforts of the Australian cotton industry," he said.

"It has been very strong in having one voice and having so much success with Bollgard cotton.

"This aids in giving us an opportunity to work with regulators and bring this type of technology in."

Source:Australian Cotton Outlook

Is the European attitude to GM products suffocating African development?

Greg Bodulovic

Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Integrative Legume
Research, Genomic Interactions Group, Research School of Biological Sciences,
Australian National University, PO Box 475, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

Currently, parts of Southern Africa are experiencing the third major drought in five years. The previous two droughts greatly affected food production, resulting in food shortages, which necessitated the provision of food aid to the region by developed nations. However, some of the food aid included genetically modified (GM) crops, the supply of which triggered hostile reactions by southern African governments, and in one case resulted in food aid being withheld from people on the verge of starvation. This article will examine the background and reasons behind the condemnation of GM crops by southern African nations, and will consider whether the lack of support of agricultural biotechnology by European nations has contributed to this situation. Furthermore, the necessity of agricultural biotechnology in future African development will be considered.

Functional Plant Biology 32(12) 1069–1075
Submitted: 7 March 2005 Accepted: 4 August 2005 Published: 1 December 2005
Selected quotes from paper
See also
How many children have to die?

The End of Poverty Part II. A reversal of fortune. Continuation of posting of Jeffrey Sachs THE END OF POVERTY, 2005 pages 53-54

In Part I Pundit excerpts a section of Sachs’ book, where Sachs has described the ways in which an African family could prosper. In this post, Sachs looks at a reversal of fortunes.

Pundit has noted that the idea that there is plenty of food in the world is commonly cited as the reason why new agricultural technologies are not needed. In reading through these sections of Sachs, GMO Pundit was struck by the fact that this excess of food was of no help to this African family as they were isolated from those supplies, and in any case, are dependent almost exclusively on their own farm productivity for income. Pundit is also struck by the positive role of technology in so many of the factors promoting greater prosperity in this family, and its potential to mitigate the threats to its prosperity. Pundit thinks that the arguments that better nutrition (such as Golden Rice) can improve farmer prosperity that have been made by Australian economist Kym Anderson are also very persuasive. In the Transkei, Republic of South Africa, for instance malnutrition in poor farmers is one of many contributers to poor farm productivity and poverty.

See also


Consider a household consisting of a husband, wife, and four children (two daughters and two sons) living on a two-hectare fann. The household grows maize and provides for its own shelter in an adobe hut. Being extremely poor, the family consumes its own maize harvest and earns no other cash income during most years. The children collect fuelwood in the vicinity of the farm for cooking, and fetch drinking water from a nearby spring.

This year the household produces two tons of maize per hectare, or four tons in total. Even though the household eats its own maize, the statisticians in the government will assign this household an income based on the market value of the maize. Suppose that each ton of maize sells in the local market for $150 per ton. The household's imputed annual income will be $600 ($150 per ton times four tons), or $100 per capita ($600 divided by six people). The government will add this figure to other household incomes to calculate the country's gross national product. The family's income per capita can increase in at least four ways thefollowing year...
...What, instead, could lead to a reduction of household income per capita? In general, an economy can rewind the clock, moving backward rather than forward. Here are a number of ways that this might happen.

Lack of Saving

Suppose that the household is chronically hungry and, therefore, consumes all of the four tons of maize, leaving nothing to sell to the market and no income to use to purchase a new plow. In fact, during the year, the existing plow breaks down. Next year's crop falls below four tons, and household income per person declines. The broken plow counts as capital depreciation, or a fall in the amount of capital available per worker.

Absence of Trade

In another case, suppose the household hears about the vanilla opportunity, but is unable to make use of it. There may be no road linking the farm and the regional market, so it is not possible for the household to market the vanilla or to use the proceeds to buy food. As a result, the household passes up the opportunity to specialize in a cash crop and stays with the food crop on which it depends to stay alive. Trade can similarly be hampered, or blocked altogether, by violence (which impedes the reliable shipment of goods), monetary chaos (so that money is not a reliable medium of exchange), price controls, and other forms of government intervention that may impede specialization and trade.

Technological Reversal

What if, as often happens in rural Africa, the children lose their mother and father to HIV / AIDS? The oldest child takes charge, but has not yet had time to master proper farming techniques. The next crop fails, and the children must depend on other households in the village. The family income has declined to zero because the level of technological knowledge has actually declined. Technological know-how is not automatically inherited. Each new generation must learn technological expertise.

Natural Resource Decline

To illustrate another possibility, not only is there no additional land, but part of the existing farmland gives way to environmental decline. Specifically, the household has not been able to afford fertilizer and does not know about nitrogen-fixing trees, so the nitrogen in the farmland is seriously depleted. The result is that only one hectare remains in production, and household annual income falls to a devastating $50 per capita (two tons times $150 per ton divided by six}.

Adverse Productivity Shock

A natural disaster, perhaps a flood, drought, heat wave, frost, pests, or disease in the household (for example, a bout of malaria), or some combination, wipes out household income for the year.

Population Growth

A generation passes. The parents die, and the two hectares are divided between the two sons. Each son now has a wife and four children. Assuming that crop yields of two tons per hectare remain unchanged, household income per capita has declined by half because the size of the population living on the same farm has doubled. This experience has been prevalent in rural Africa's in the most recent generations.

These simple illustrations show the many ways that even a simple one household "economy" may grow, as well as the many ways that the household economy can decline.


GE /GM canola and corn food safety trials funded by Western Australia

More news on genetic engineered food safety:

GM-canola in lab tests, By Linda Sharman Countryman December 1 2005 pg 5

Genetically modified canola varieties Roundup Ready and Invigor are likely to be assessed under an animal feeding trial to be funded by the [West Australian] State Government. And Topas 19/2, the Bayer variety found in non-GM canola recently, may also be added to the trial.

Agriculture Minister Kim Chance anounced the trial earlier this week, which aims to gain independent data on the safety, or otherwise, of GM food crops. The Government has approved a proposal from the Institute of Health and Environmetal Research in Adelaide, a not-for-profit research institute which describes itself as having a scientific interest in the safety of GM organisms. The announcement follows news that a study on a variety of GM pea caused inflammation of the lungs of mice.

IHER director Judy Carman told Countryman that in the initial proposal put to the Government a few months ago, she had recommended two canola varieties - Monsanto's Roundup Ready and Bayer Cropscience's InVigor - and three corn varieties, probably Bt varieties, be investigated.

But Dr Carman said she would recommend that now be expanded to three varieties to include Topas 19/2, also produced by Bayer Cropscience. "We're wanting to pick a few key GM plants where there are some significant concerns about the safety of them, do the independent, thorough, long-term safety testing and see if there are any concerns or not," she said.

Dr Carman said while IHER believed there was a need for independent safety testing, with Food Standards Australia and New Zealand not requiring any animal testing before determining if a GM product was safe to eat, she stressed the research was not setting to get a pre-determined result.
"We're trying to work out if there are problems or not," she said.

And Mr Chance is of a similar view, saying the trial would be an independent study of GM food crops so that the WA government could gets its own data on GM foods, with much of the research usually done or funded by the companies promoting the product.

Rats will be used in the feeding studies, which will be conducted over several months to allow for any ill health to become apparent.

The study will examine the rats for any cancerous or precancerous growths, and assess the potential for GM DNA to enter their bodies, although Dr Carman expects the finer details of exactly how the trial will be conducted and assessed to be run by a sterering committee.

This is expected to be formed by the end of the year, and will be made up of 8-10 people from animal and human health and agriculture backgrounds to oversee the work and ensure the experiment is conducted properly.

More on CSIRO genetically engineered (GE) pea

Although disappointing, the CSIRO genetically engineered transgenic pea project close down is important for the science of GM food safety and will be big news for a while.
We have already posted a useful comment on the CSIRO pea by respected plant scientist Maarten Chrispeels from California.

GMO Pundit totally agrees with his interpretation. The CSIRO science is sophisticated, sensitive, and uses very powerful techniques. In the Pundit's humble opinion, the proper conclusion - that the bean protein immune charactoristics are changed when expressed in peas - is rock solid.

Its also interesting to note that no public comment was made about these findings until after they were published. That's the way science should ethically proceed on controversial issues and where the findings affect public policy decisions of substance.

Given this current interest in the potential allergenicity of the GM Peas bred by CSIRO, it is worthwhile reviewing the relevant FSANZ requirements for GM foods:

"In assessing the safety of a GM food, FSANZ checks to ensure that the levels of naturally occurring allergens in GM foods have not significantly increased above the natural range in the conventional food. FSANZ also checks to ensure that the new proteins in GM foods are not likely to be allergenic. It does this by asking the following questions:

• Do the new proteins come from living organisms that contain significant
• Is the sequence of amino acids (the building blocks that make up proteins)
in the new proteins similar to that of any known allergens?
• Do the new proteins have any other physical or biochemical characteristics
typical of allergens?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is ‘yes’, then further information is required for FSANZ to work out whether or not the new protein is allergenic.

If FSANZ had scientific evidence that a new protein in a GM food was allergenic, it is unlikely that the food containing that protein would be given approval for sale in Australia or New Zealand, even with appropriate labelling. This is because it would not be appropriate to increase the community’s exposure to allergenic proteins in the food supply."

Given the protein involved in the pea research has allergenic cousins, FSANZ would have required studies on allergenicity to approve the pea for food use.

See FSANZ booklet
What about allergens in GM foods? (pages 16-17)
Potential allergenicity of new proteins (pages 29-30)


CSIRO GMO wheat found to have potential to improve bowel health.

Thursday, December 01, 2005
Greenpeace and Network of Concerned Farmers.

Farmer Lobby Confirms Greenpeace Link.
Peter Hunt
The Weekly Times, Melbourne, 7 April 2004

The Network of Concerned Farmers lobby group has confirmed it recieves support from the international conservation group Greenpeace.
Greenpeace paid for the construction of the Network of Concerned Farmers website and chaired several teleconferences with the network members.
Network spokesman in South Australia{n}, Nic Kentish, said he sat in on several teleconferences chaired by Greenpeace, which also offered the network executive support.
"Greenpeace chairs our conferences. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't," Mr Kentish said.
"There's an executive officer provided by Greenpeace, there's a couple of them - Jeremy Tager and John Hepburn."
Mr Tager, a Greenpeace GM campaigner, said the teleconference involved other groups, not just the network.
"There our own teleconference, not the network's," Mr Tager said.
"We have discussions about strategy issues. We provide them with advice and they may provide (us with) advice."
Victorian Farmer Federation President Paul Weller saidthat if the network was genuinely concerned about farmers they would not side with Greenpeace.
"Its Greenpeace that opposes the diesel rebate for farmers, its Greenpeace that would like more than 1500 gigalitres for the Murray and it's Greenpeace who'd like to see an end to piggeries and a lot of other intensive livestock industries," Mr Weller said.
"And Greenpeace doesn't form their party democratically."

Last week, the network's national spokesman Julie Newman told The Weekly Times that Greenpeace had nothing to do with her network.

But on Monday, Ms Newman said she had found out that Greenpeace had built the network's website.
"But the money to build the website was donated to Greenpeace by a farmer who supported us," Ms Newman said.
Mr Tager said Greenpeace had simply provided an administrative service in terms of funding the website.

The End of Poverty Part I. The Positives.

Quotation from THE END OF POVERTY, Jeffrey Sachs, Penguin 2005


Consider a household consisting of a husband, wife, and four children (two daughters and two sons) living on a two-hectare fann. The house hold grows maize and provides for its own shelter in an adobe hut. Being extremely poor, the family consumes its own maize harvest and earns no other cash income during most years. The children collect fuelwood in the vicinity of the farm for cooking, and fetch drinking water from a nearby spring.

This year the household produces two tons of maize per hectare, or four tons in total. Even though the household eats its own maize, the statisticians in the government will assign this household an income based on the market value of the maize. Suppose that each ton of maize sells in the local market for $150 per ton. The household's imputed annual income will be $600 ($150 per ton times four tons), or $100 per capita ($600 divided by six people). The government will add this figure to other household incomes to calculate the country's gross national product.
The family's income per capita can increase in at least four ways thefollowing year.


The household might decide to consume only three out of the four tons of maize, and take one ton to market. With the $150, the household in vests in livestock (perhaps chickens or sheep or a bull or dairy cow). The livestock generate a new stream of income, whether from improved food yields by using the bull for manure and animal traction, or the cow for sales of milk, or the animals for meat, eggs, or hides. In economic jargon, the saving has led to capital accumulation (in the form of live-stock), which in turn has raised household productivity.


In a different scenario, the household learns from a neighboring farmer that it has the right kind of farmland, climate, and soil to produce vanilla beans, with a much higher income. Mter some deliberation, the household decides to shift to vanilla as a cash crop. The next year the household earns $800 in vanilla, and uses $600 to buy four tons of grain for food. As more vanilla farmers arise in the region, a new group of trading firms also forms, specializing in shipping and storage of vanilla food, and farm inputs.

This pattern exemplifies Adam Smith's insight into the two-way link from
specialization to expanded markets back to increased specialization. The farm household specializes in high-value vanilla farming because it lives in favorable ecological conditions for vanilla trees. It relies on the market to trade with other ouseholds, which instead specialize in producing food. As incomes rise, and the "extent of the market" increases, to use Smith's phrase, there is room for further specialization, in this case in transport services. Later on, economic activities
will be further divided among firms specializing in housing construction, clothing manufacturing, road maintenance, plumbing, electricity, water and sanitation systems, and so forth.


Alternatively, an agricultural extension officer teaches the farm house hold how to manage the soil nutrients in a new and improved manner by planting special nitrogen-fixing trees that replenish the vital nitrogen nutrients of the soil, and to multiply the benefits by using improved grains. The new cereal varieties are faster maturing and pest resistant, and they flourish with the replenished soil nutrients. As a result, the crop yield rises in a single year to three tons of maize per hectare, or six tons in total. The income per capita therefore rises to $150 (three tons per hectare times two hectares at $150 per ton divided by six people).

Resource Boom

The farm household is able to move to a much larger and more fertile farm after the government's success in controlling the breeding of black flies, which spread Mrican river blindness. Suddenly there are thousands of hectares of new farmland and a significant expansion of production capacity as a result. Incomes rise and hunger falls as each household in the newly opened region is able to triple its previous food output.

These four pathways to higher income are the main ways that economies grow, albeit in much more complicated settings than I have just described. In actual economies, a rise in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is typically the result of most or all of these four processes simultaneously at work: saving and capital accumulation, increasing specialization and trade, technological advance (and a resulting rise in output for a given amount of inputs), and greater natural resources per person (and a resulting increase in the level of output per person). Although I have illustrated these pathways to rising income at the level of an individual household, in fact each of these processes operates through the interactions of thousands or millions of households linked together by markets and collective actions through public policies and public investments.

For GMO Pundit, a very interesting and morally relevant question is to ask: What are the ways and possibilities by which better agricultural technology can contribute to improving these family incomes?

The IFPRI website is a good place to start researching this question, as is anything written by Gordon Conway, Amartya Sen, Carl Pray, Robert Evenson, or indeed Jeffrey Sachs and his partner Bono of U2 fame. GMO Pundit also has other hunger related pages.

If we live in times of END OF OIL, shouldn’t we wheel out GE and GM-LITE to save the planet?


Australian scientists have developed a major alternative to conventional GM (gene modification), by harnessing the natural defense mechanisms of plants to create safer, cheaper and more productive food crops – without adding foreign proteins.

“The potential of RNA interference technology is huge,” says CSIRO’s Dr Peter Waterhouse. “Hopefully, it will make a big difference in agriculture and in certain pharmaceutical productions.”

Dr. Waterhouse is among the leading international scientists taking part in the Sir Mark Oliphant Conference on Epigenetic Regulation in Canberra.

RNA interference technology depends on a natural ‘seek and destroy’ mechanism which plants use to protect themselves against viral infection.

RNA interference is a major topic at the Sir Mark Oliphant Conference on Epigenetic Regulation of Development & Disease, at the CSIRO Discovery Centre in Canberra, Australia from November 29-December 2, 2005.

Energy analysis

Brazilian ethanol exports to Japan

Propping up corn prices

Biodiesel boom.

Genetically engineered thirst continued
(Image of Kenth Beer)

Ready for a GM Beer?

If you travel through Sweden this summer, don't forget to try the first genetically modified (GM) beer in the world. According to in this short article, the Kenth beer contains "corn that has been genetically modified to protect it against pests." Sometimes, corn is named maize in Europe, and the brewer chose to use this unusual Bt maize to 'spice up' his beer. Of course, his goal is to produce a great new beer, but he also wants to introduce new technologies that will be good for the environment without compromising the consumers' health -- I guess he based his assumptions on a 'reasonable' number of bottles on a very warm day... Anyway, GM food products have been approved by the European Union since April 2004 -- if they're properly labeled. So you might find this beer outside Sweden anytime soon. Read more...First, here is a picture of this delightful new beer (Credit: Oesterlenbryggarna brewery in Osterlen,Sweden).

See also

Don't forget, genetically engineered beer and wine taken together create a hangover for brewers and drinkers, and genetically engineered alcohol (GE GM or whatever) is still just as unhealthy as real alcohol.

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