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New report on genetically engineered crops - experiences & prospects

An extensive study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has found that new technologies in genetic engineering and conventional breeding are blurring the once clear distinctions between these two crop-improvement approaches. In addition, while recognizing the inherent difficulty of detecting subtle or long-term effects on health or the environment, the study...
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Rothamsted Research granted consent for field trial of GM camelina

Rothamsted Research has received consent from Defra to go ahead with a field trial of genetically modified camelina plants on the Rothamsted Farm in 2016 and 2017. The trial is part of a research project by Rothamsted scientists that is supported by strategic funding from BBSRC. The trial will test whether GM  Camelina sativa  plants are able to make significant quantities of...
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Over 1,000 scientists sign petition saying GM technology is a safe tool to help meet future food supply demands

More than 1,000 scientists from nonprofit, corporate, academic, and private institutions say public doubts about genetically modified food crops are hindering the next Green Revolution. In a letter published in the journal Science, six researchers from three institutions explain their recent petition in support of science-based criteria in guiding the safe and effective employment of genetic...
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Fatty acids from GM oilseed crops could replace fish oil

Oil from genetically modified (GM) oilseed crops could replace fish oil as a primary source of the beneficial Omega 3 fatty acid EPA – according to new research from the University of East Anglia in collaboration with Rothamsted Research and the University of Stirling. BBSRC-funded researchers at the University of East Anglia studied the effect in mice of consuming feed enriched with oil...
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Science and Technology Committee calls on Government to launch a field trial of GM insects

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has published its report on ' Genetically Modified Insects ' and is calling on the UK Government to launch a field trial of GM insects. Commenting on the report, the  Earl of Selborne , Chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, said: "GM insect technologies have the potential not only to save...
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Half of Europe opts out of new GM crop scheme

Half of the European Union’s 28 countries and three of its regions have opted out of a new GM crop scheme, which could make two-thirds of Europe’s population and arable land GM-free. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are opting out on a regional basis, leaving England the only country in the British Isles to allow GM crop cultivation.  Industry sources warn that Europe...
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Improving resistance to potato blight with a stack of genes

Scientific field trials of GM potatoes have shown that it is necessary to have a stack of several resistance genes in order to provide a comprehensive level of resistance to Phytophthora blight. The work by  researchers from  Wageningen University & Research Centre,  Ghent University, VIB and ILVO showed that each of the genes provided a different contribution to...
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GM described as 'the most critical technology' for feeding the world

A former adviser to the US Secretary of State says that genetic modification (GM) is the most critical technology in agriculture for meeting the challenges of feeding a growing global population, writing in the open access journal Agriculture & Food Security. Nina Fedoroff, molecular biologist and former Science and Technology Adviser to Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice,...
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Scotland to ban growing of GM crops

The Scottish Government has taken the controversial decision to ban the growing of genetically modified (GM) crops in Scotland, and will be asking the EU to exclude Scotland from European consents for the cultivation of GM crops. Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, referred to “ the continued application of the precautionary principle in relation to GM crops ” in...
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Genetically modified insects are subject of new House of Lords inquiry

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee is currently accepting written eviden for its  Inquiry into Genetically Modified Insects . The deadline for submissions is 18th September 2015. Their call for enquiry states: Could genetically modified (GM) insects be used to control the spread of human disease? Would farmers benefit if insects were modified in order to...
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Oxitec mosquito works to control Aedes aegypti in dengue hotspot

The journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases has published the results of a trial of Oxitec’s genetically engineered mosquitoes. The results showed that in Juazeiro city, northeast Brazil, the Oxitec mosquito successfully controlled the  Aedes aegypti  mosquito that spreads dengue fever, chikungunya and zika virus, by reducing the target population by more than 90%. Popularly known...
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First GM oilseed crop to produce omega-3 fish oils in the field

In a landmark paper published today in the journal Metabolic Engineering Communications, scientists at Rothamsted Research have announced the first year results of the field-scale trial of Camelina oilseed plants genetically engineered to make omega-3 fish oils in their seeds. Omega-3 fish oils specifically long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 LC-PUFA) eicosapentaenoic acid...
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GM wheat did not repel aphid pests in the field

The results of the GM wheat field trial held by Rothamsted Research in 2012-2013 have recently been published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports. The data show that the GM wheat did not repel aphid pests in the field as was hypothesised and was initially seen in laboratory experiments conducted by scientists at the institute. Although the GM wheat did not repel aphids...
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Reducing GM crop contamination risks by turning cross-pollinators into self-pollinators

Genetically modified crops have long drawn fire from opponents worried about potential contamination of conventional crops and other plants. Now a plant gene discovered by University of Guelph scientists might help farmers reduce the risk of GM contamination and quell arguments against the use of transgenic food crops, says Sherif Sherif, lead author of a new research paper describing the...
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BBSRC publishes position statement on new crop breeding tools

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has published a position statement on new and emerging techniques for crop improvement. These novel techniques, which can introduce precise genetic changes into plants, are currently being used in research labs as a tool to help understand the function of genes. Commercial applications are likely to follow: new and improved...
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Review finds no sign of health or nutrition problems from GMO livestock feed

A newly published review of the prevalence and impacts of genetically engineered (GE) feedstuffs on livestock populations has concluded that there are no signs of health or nutrition problems as a result of these feeds. The scientists collated information from the scientific literature on the performance and health of animals fed with feedstuffs containing GE ingredients, and on the...
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Corn dwarfed by temperature dip suitable for growing in underground controlled facilities

Lowering temperatures for two hours each day reduces the height of corn without affecting its seed yield, a Purdue study shows. This is a technique that could be used to grow crops in controlled-environment facilities in caves and former mines. Raising the crops in isolated and enclosed environments would help prevent genetically modified pollen and seed from escaping into the ecosystem...
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Mastitis-free GM cows under test in China

An article The Dairy Site reports on the progress being made by Chinese scientists seeking to bring mastitis-free genetically modified cows to market. Sun Qixin, President of the Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University tells The Dairy Site that tests on the milk from their herd of 100 GM cows have so far shown it to be safe for human consumption. However, a further 3 years of...
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Scientists discover how to increase the longevity of seeds with genetic engineering

A study developed by researchers of the Institute for Plant Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMCP), a joint center of the Universitat Politècnica de València and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), in collaboration with the Unit for Plant Genomics Research of Evry, France (URGV, in French) has discovered a new way of improving the longevity of plant seeds using genetic engineering....
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Significant advance reported with genetically modified poplar trees

Forest geneticists at Oregon State University have created genetically modified poplar trees that grow faster, have resistance to insect pests and are able to retain expression of the inserted genes for at least 14 years, according to a report in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research. The trees are one of the best successes to date in the genetic modification of forest trees, a field...
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Recommendations for delaying resistance to Bt Corn in western corn rootworm

Bt corn, containing proteins that protect it from insect damage, has been grown in the U.S. since the mid-1990s. It is known as Bt corn because the proteins are derived from a bacterium called  Bacillus thuringiensis . While Bt corn has been highly effective against the European corn borer, it has been less so against the western corn rootworm, which has been documented to show...
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GM sweet corn can reduce insecticide use

Since 1996, corn containing a gene that allows it to create a protein that is toxic to certain insects, yet safe for human consumption, has been grown in the United States. However, most of this "Bt corn" has been used for animal feed or processed into corn meal, starch, or other products. Although varieties of sweet corn (corn on the cob) have existed since the late 1990s, relatively few...
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African caterpillars show resistance to GM maize

Like many other transgenic crops, Bt maize synthesises its own pesticide: a toxic protein produced in its leaves and stems, which kills pests in a matter of days. Perfect… Except when insect populations develop resistance to the toxin! To date, management strategies implemented to delay the evolution of resistance have been successful. Notwithstanding the success of these strategies,...
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Biotech crops vs. pests: Successes and failures from the first billion acres

A new global assessment helps scientists explain why genetically modified crops have suppressed some pests for more than a decade, while others adapted in a few years More than a billion acres of GM corn and cotton Since 1996, farmers worldwide have planted more than a billion acres (400 million hectares) of genetically modified corn and cotton that produce insecticidal proteins...
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GM purple tomatoes taste better and last longer

Researchers at the John Innes Centre are working with purple GM tomatoes with the aim of making the fruit better tasting and longer lasting. “Working with GM tomatoes that are different to normal fruit only by the addition of a specific compound, allows us to pinpoint exactly how to breed in valuable traits,” said Professor Cathie Martin from the John Innes Centre. The...
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