James cited a number of indicators to support his forecast for increasing GM use: * Bolivia, the ninth biotech country in Latin America and the eighth-largest global producer of soybeans, planted 600,000 ha of herbicide-tolerant soy in 2008; * there was a sharp growth in trait hectares or "virtual hectares" with 10 countries reporting 22 million additional ha of biotech crops with more than one biotech trait. The ISAAA report predicted that the use of socalled "stacked traits" would drive this number even higher in the future; * a new biotech crop, herbicide- tolerant sugar beet, was planted in the United States and Canada for the first time in 2008.
160 inform March 2009, Vol. 20 (3) Briefs B ayer CropScience ( Monheim, Biotechnology News Germany) and the German Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK; Gatersleben) have entered into a research agreement to develop genetically modified (GM), high-yielding canola hybrids. Bayer CropScience’s aim is to incorporate the innovations that are developed in Gatersleben, close to Magdeburg, into its InVigor ® Canola seed business in North America, and to develop global oilseed rape products for markets in which there is high demand for health- Courtesy Fernando Weberich ful, high-quality oils. nnn Reed Business Information reported on February 21 that GM corn had been detected in wild varieties of the plant in Mexico. Reports Reed: “In 2001, when biologists David Quist and Ignacio Chapela reported finding transgenes from GM corn in tradi- Report forecasts countries to learn by example. Additionally, political leaders globally are increasingly tional varieties in Oaxaca, Mexico, they faced a barrage of criticism over continued GM viewing biotech-enhanced crops as a key part of the solution to critical social issues their techniques. Nature, which had published the research, eventually dis- growth of food security and sustainability.” James pointed out that G-8 leaders in owned their paper, while a second An additional 1.3 million farmers planted 2008 for the first time recognized the sig- study by different researchers failed to 10.7 million new hectares (ha) of biotech nificance of genetically engineered (GE) crops in three new countries in 2008, crops and called to “accelerate research and back up their findings.” A more recent according to the International Service for development and increase access to new study, though, seems to vindicate their the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applica- agricultural technologies to boost agricul- claims. Elena Alvarez-Buylla and col- tions (ISAAA) brief, entitled Global Status ture production.” leagues at the National Autonomous of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops The UK’s Independent Online (www. University (Mexico City) reported 2008, that was released mid-February. The independent.co.uk), though, cited “biotech that they found transgenes “in about ISAAA also forecast that genetically modi- opponents” who doubted the report’s 1% of nearly 2000 samples they took fied (GM) crops were “poised for a second claims. from the region.” See Molecular Ecology wave of strong adoption that will drive sus- “GM crops are all about feeding (18:750–761, 2009) for more on the tained global growth through the end of the biotech giants, not the world’s poor,” said findings. second decade of commercialization, 2006 Nnimmo Bassey, head of Friends of the nnn to 2015.” ISAAA has been tracking global Earth International. “GM seeds and the Scientists from the US Department of biotech crop adoption trends since 1996. pesticides used with them are much too Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute The annual report found that 13.3 expensive for Africa’s small farmers. Those (JGI; Lawrence Berkeley National Lab- million farmers in a record 25 countries who promote this technology in develop- oratory, California) and the University planted 125 million ha of GM crops last ing countries are completely out of touch of California, San Diego (USA) have year, the sixth-largest growth spurt in 13 with reality.” developed a set of molecular tools years of reporting. The 2 billionth cumula- James cited a number of indicators that provide important insight into tive acre of biotech crops also was planted to support his forecast for increasing GM the complex genomes of multicel- in 2008, just three years after the first bil- use:
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