GMO

Glyphosate under fire: Scientists struggle to find effective alternatives, experts warn of unintended consequences

Amid concerns about glyphosate, the most used herbicide globally, scientists struggle to find safe, effective alternatives, according to a Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) article by Andrew Porterfield and Jon Entine. Their analysis reveals exaggerated health concerns and underscores glyphosate’s proven safety. However, existing substitutes lack efficacy, increasing costs and environmental risks. The authors argue for a balanced, research-driven approach to replacing glyphosate.

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As the EU stalls, leading plant breeder warns that England must not let precision breeding opportunity slip

Nigel Moore highlights Britain’s opportunity to lead in plant breeding due to delays in the EU’s gene editing advancements. He expresses concerns over potential restrictive measures in the Precision Breeding Act’s secondary legislation, which may hinder the UK’s progress in agricultural innovation. Moore discusses the act’s attractiveness to investors and significant potential applications, such as enhanced crop yields. One potential application baby potatoes with ‘bunched’ root architecture which allow almost three times as many tubers to be produced from the same area of farmland.

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‘From hand-pulling to high tech’: The balancing act of sustainable weed management in modern farming

Jon Entine’s article published by the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) discusses the evolution of weed management in agriculture, from primitive methods to modern biotechnological advances. While chemical herbicides and GM crops have increased yields and efficiency, concerns about environmental and health impacts persist. Organic advocates promote more sustainable practices like crop rotation and biological controls. Entine stresses the need for an evidence-based, integrated approach combining traditional and innovative methods to ensure agriculture’s sustainability and safety.

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GM potatoes to be released to Nigerian farmers in 2025

Beginning in the 2025 planting season, Nigerian farmers will have access to new late blight-resistant potato varieties, according to Dr. Charles Amadi of NRCRI. This development is part of the USAID-funded GBPP, led by Michigan State University, in collaboration with multiple partners. The varieties promise to address the blight that devastates over 90% of crops in Nigeria.

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Kenya’s breakthrough with biotech: Embracing GMO potatoes for a better future

Kenya’s recent agricultural initiatives include the adoption of genetically modified organisms to address climate change and food security issues. The article by James Kamuye Kataru discusses Kenya’s significant step towards innovation with the introduction of a late blight resistant biotech potato, developed through a collaboration involving KALRO, the International Potato Center, and Michigan State University. This advancement aims to increase farmer incomes, reduce fungicide use, improve crop yields, and set a pioneering example for other agricultural nations.

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‘Perceptions and emotions’: How consumers in the U.S. and Switzerland view New Genomic Techniques in agriculture

Scientists from ETH Zurich, Arizona State University and the University of Oregon studied U.S. and Swiss attitudes toward agricultural New Genomic Techniques (NGTs). Approximately 50% of survey participants viewed NGTs like blight-resistant potatoes and gluten-free wheat positively; emotional response influenced acceptance, with Swiss showing more skepticism due to stricter regulations. Preferences for organic food did not correlate with NGT acceptance, suggesting the need for the organic sector to reassess consumer expectations in the face of new technologies.

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Gamma rays meet their match: Researcher develops new potato that sniffs out nuclear radiations

Rob Sears, a PhD student at the University of Tennessee, developed a potato plant that glows green in response to gamma radiation, serving as a natural radiation detector. This phytosensor is ideal for widespread use due to potatoes’ resilience and adaptability. The innovation offers a simple, cost-effective method for radiation monitoring, potentially enhancing safety in nuclear energy contexts. As nuclear energy continues to be used across the world, there is an increased demand for effective and easily accessible radiation detection methods.

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Argentinian scientists develop first Latin American genetically edited potato to prevent enzymatic browning

Argentinian scientists from INTA are set to release Latin America’s first genetically edited potato, developed using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. This innovation, part of Dr. Matías González’s doctoral thesis, aims to inhibit the gene causing enzymatic browning, a process that affects potatoes’ flavor, texture, and nutritional value. The edited potato could significantly reduce food waste and financial losses for farmers and retailers.

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Kenyan scientists developed new GM potato variety free from late blight disease

Kenyan researchers have engineered a blight-resistant GM potato, potentially transforming agriculture by increasing yields and minimizing pesticide use. The “Global Biotech Potato Partnership” project has shown promising results in confined field trials across Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria. The collaborative project, after promising trials, anticipates boosting harvests from 10 to 40 tonnes per hectare. Awaiting regulatory approval, this innovation could significantly enhance food security and sustainability, marking a major advance in biotech crops.

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A new era for potatoes: Canadian-led study develops genetic roadmap for climate resilience

A Canadian-led team has developed a comprehensive genetic roadmap of the potato to enhance its resilience to climate change. The study, led by McGill University’s Martina Strömvik, created a super-pangenome of the potato, identifying genetic variations that could be used to breed hybrid, climate-resilient varieties. The research could help develop potato varieties resistant to extreme weather and diseases, using CRISPR gene-editing technology.

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Global food production soars by 390% since 1960: The role of innovation and GM crops

Global food production has surged by 390% since 1960. This achievement is largely credited to the integration of modern seed genetics, including genetically modified (GM) crops, and the strategic use of chemicals and fertilizers, according to a report published by the Genetic Literacy Project. These innovations have improved soil health, reduced environmental impacts, and boosted crop yields. The report warns that restrictions on these technologies could undermine climate mitigation.

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Increased nutritional value in genetically modified potato plant sparks USDA review

The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducted a review of genetically modified soybean, tomato, and potato plants to assess potential risks. A modified plant, developed by Ohalo Genetics, produces higher levels of beta-carotene for enhanced nutritional value. APHIS determines whether these plants pose a greater plant pest risk compared to non-modified plants and issues a response accordingly.

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New Act enables scientists to improve crops in England

With the recent Precision Breeding Act passed, England now has the opportunity to capitalise on its world-leading research base in plant sciences and make agriculture more sustainable. Prof. Jonathan Jones FRS, Group Leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory who developed a GM fully late blight resistant PiperPlus potato, says “After many decades researching the science that can make our crops resistant to disease and less reliant on fungicides, I am delighted to finally see changes in legislation that will allow some of these innovations to be applied in the field.

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Changing consumer attitudes with late-blight-resistant GM potatoes in Sweden

Ongoing field trials in southern Sweden presented an opportunity for researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences to let a group of consumers see one of those crops for themselves. The trials were of a late-blight-resistant transgenic potato developed from the King Edward variety. Following a field visit, there was a positive change in risk perceptions and attitudes.

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APHIS gives green light to new Simplot GMO potato variety

A new modified corn and potato variety have been given the green light by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The potato plant from J.R. Simplot Company was modified to make it resistant to potato late blight and potato virus Y. It was also modified to alter the potato tuber sugar profile and quality.

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Ethiopia approves field trials with GMO potatoes

Ethiopia has given the green light to carry out field trials with genetically modified potatoes that are said to be resistant to blight, a move seen as a further sign of the country’s growing embrace of genetic modification technology, according to a report by Ethiopia Observer. The potato has become the third consumable GMO product to be authorized in Ethiopia for commercial production.

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USDA approves Toolgen’s reduced-browning GMO potato

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently posted two Regulatory Status Review (RSR) responses under the revised biotechnology regulations at 7 CFR part 340. According to a news release, APHIS reviewed a modified potato from Toolgen, Inc. This potato was modified using genetic engineering to alter tuber quality by reducing browning after cutting or peeling.

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Univ of Idaho researchers developing nematode resistant potatoes

University of Idaho researchers are introducing genes from a plant in the nightshade family into potatoes, seeking to develop spuds that resist harmful nematodes.  The plant, called ‘litchi tomato’, has natural resistance to several species of cyst and root-knot nematodes.  “That’s an unusual trait to have such broad resistance,” said Allan Caplan, associate professor in U of I’s Department of Plant Sciences who is involved in the project. 

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Biotech Opinion: ‘Trust, Critical Thinking, and Potatoes’

This op-ed article is by Dave Douches (PhD), professor and Director of the Potato Breeding and Genetics Program and Director of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Graduate Program at Michigan State University, and Project Director of the Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership. “As a scientist working in potato breeding for over 40 years, one may wonder why I am talking about trust and critical thinking.”

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Partnership on track to give Bangladeshi and Indonesian farmers blight-resistant GMO potatoes

Researchers will be testing genetically modified potatoes in Bangladesh and Indonesia this year in hopes of providing farmers with an alternative to spraying fungicides. Multiple confined field trials of GM late blight-resistant (LBR) potatoes will be conducted in both countries under a Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership. Late blight disease is a serious problem in both countries, destroying 25 to 57 percent of the crop.

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Technical advisory board named to support Global Biotech Potato Partnership

The Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership is a five-year project managed by Michigan State University that focuses on the commercialization of late blight disease resistant potatoes in farmer-preferred varieties in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, and Nigeria. The Partnership is pleased to announce members of the project’s technical advisory board (TAB).

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Late blight disease resistant potatoes: MSU receives $13 million USAID award for research

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Feed the Future Initiative has awarded a five-year, $13 million award for a collaborative partnership led by Michigan State University (MSU).  The Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership will bring late blight disease resistant (LBR) potatoes in farmer-preferred varieties to the Asian countries of Bangladesh and Indonesia, and the African countries of Kenya and Nigeria.

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A blight-resistant gmo potato variety help farmers in Uganda to defeat late blight and change their fortunes

Successful innovation for agriculture will depend on thorough and careful understanding of the aspirations of beneficiaries and the challenges farmers face. It entails putting them at the center of these innovations, according to this blog post by the International Potato Center (CIP). As part of its work to research solutions addressing hunger and poverty, CIP and partners worked in Uganda to develop and test a new type of blight-resistant potato, which may not need any fungicides.

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Viewpoint: ‘How COVID has altered the future of US agriculture and the role of biotechnology’

The past year has been a doozy. Being locked up for a year and watching half a million Americans die was traumatizing. In the most productive agricultural country in the world, millions of people lined up for food and many Americans died because Covid preferentially attacks people with pre-existing conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. So says Jim Budzynski in an article published by Genetic Literacy Project.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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