Plant Pedia: GMO | Plant Biotechnology | Plant Science | Plant Tissue Culture
Showing posts with label GMO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GMO. Show all posts

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Develop longer and stronger cotton fiber

The overwhelming majority of cotton harvested in the U.S. and worldwide is upland cotton, or Gossypium hirsutum, with more than 6.5 million acres planted in 2012 in Texas alone, according to the USDA. A higher-end cotton called Gossypium barbadense is more desirable because of greater fiber length and strength but is late-maturing, low-yielding and more difficult to grow because it requires dry climates with significant irrigation and is less resistant to pathogens and pests.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Benefits of Virus-Resistant Crops

Viral-resistance in crop plants is engineered based on the premise that the host plants express genes that interfere with the essential functions of the virus thereby upsetting the balance of related components. Coat-protein mediated pathogen-derived resistance is the commonly used method to introduce resistance in crop plants to viruses. In this approach, plants are transformed with a specific virus coat protein gene which interfere with critical processes such as replication, post-transcriptional gene expression, virion coating and uncoating and intercellular transport (Beachy et al., 1990; Kaniewski and Lawson, 1998). Constitutive expression of the coat protein gene confers protection against infection with the virus from which the gene is derived and possibly against infection from other related viruses (Di et al., 1996).

Commercially available virus-resistant crops include papaya, summer squash and potato. Virus-resistant papaya and squash have been available since 1998. Virus-resistant trait was stacked with Bt to broaden the range of protection against pest populations in potato and was discussed in insect-resistant plants section.

Adoption of virus-resistant papaya has been rapid since its introduction (53% in 2000). It is expected that virus-resistant papaya will be planted on almost 90% of the acreage in the next few years. On the other hand, biotechnology-derived summer squash was planted on less than 10% of the total acreage in the United States in 2000. Lack of resistance to important pathogenic viruses coupled with the availability of virus-resistance trait in only few varieties is cited to be the reasons for low adoption.

Biotechnology-derived virus-resistant crops are particularly valuable as management options that limit viral infestations to prevent serious yield losses are limited. Since viral infestations cannot be controlled by chemical means, conventional way to manage viruses is to manage their transmission by controlling insects. Preventing the spread of virus by controlling insect vectors is not effective for two reasons: virus transmission through insects is almost instantaneous which render insecticide applications futile and secondary hosts that harbour the viruses do not exhibit symptoms. Another widely used management technique to control viruses is use of resistant varieties in crops such as squash. Natural resistance may not be available to combat viruses in crops such as papaya. However, both these methods are not completely effective in preventing viral infestations.

Papaya industry in the United States concentrated mainly in Hawaii was on the brink of extinction in 1990s due to the epidemic infestations of papaya ringspot virus (PRSV). PRSV is the most important disease of papayas. The PRSV is transmitted by aphids and cannot be eradicated as secondary hosts harbour the virus without exhibiting any symptoms. Hawaiian farmers had no choice other than destroying the infested plants to contain the disease.

Viruses that limit summer squash production in the United States are zucchini mosaic virus (ZMV), watermelon mosaic virus 2 (WMV), cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) and papaya ringspot virus (PRSV). All these viruses are transmitted by aphids and affect a range of plants making it difficult and impossible to prevent virus infestations. Foliar applications of highly refined petroleum oil are widely used to serve as a barrier between aphid and the plant to prevent virus transmission. However, frequent applications are needed to ensure season-long protection.
Virus-resistant plants enable growers to reduce the use of pesticide by eliminating the need to spray insecticides to control the insects that transmit viral diseases, or herbicides to kill the weeds that harbour those insects. As a result, overall pesticide use and crop production costs have been reduced. An indirect benefit of virus-resistant crops is they do not serve as reservoirs for viruses unlike their conventional counterparts. As a result, further spread of virus to susceptible plants by vectors is prevented.

Papaya

Virus-resistant papaya is an exemplary example that demonstrated the promise biotechnology holds. It literally saved an industry that could disappear. A recent survey by USDA suggested that papaya yields increased by 33% in 2000 compared to 1998, which is a direct consequence of using PSRV-resistant plants (USDA-NASS, 2001b).

Squash

Biotechnology-derived virus protection in squash translated to increased number of harvests and increased yield per harvest. Evidence suggests that virus-resistant squash produces greater marketable yields of high quality fruit, particularly in production areas where high virus incidence limits the growing season both in terms of number of plantings and number of harvests per planting (Fuchs et al., 1998; Schultheis and Walters, 1998). However, virus-resistant squash has not reduced insecticide use as chemical applications that control aphids also control white flies and will be made to biotechnology-derived squash also.

Benefits of Insect-Resistant Bt Crops

Insect-resistant Bt crops offered positive benefits to growers in two ways: by reducing insecticide costs and increasing yields. Since Bt crops eliminate the need for insecticide applications, major impact of insect-resistant crops has been the reduction in insecticide use targeted for key pest control. Insect-resistant crops express toxic proteins during much of the crop season as a result of which supplemental insecticide applications are not needed for pest control. Unlike herbicide-tolerant crops, insect-resistant crops increased crop yields due to enhanced levels of insect control. Overall, direct grower benefits from insect-resistant Bt corn, cotton, potato and sweet corn were reported to be $112 million in 1999 in the United States (EPA, 2000). By 2001, net income of US growers was reported to increase by $228 million from Bt corn and cotton plantings alone (Gianessi et al., 2002).

Corn

A primary benefit of insect-resistant corn has been the opportunity to control a pest that previously escaped control and reduced yields. Though modest, adoption of Bt corn led to reductions in insecticide use. Since the introduction of Bt corn, acreage sprayed with insecticides for ECB control has been reduced resulting in over one million fewer acres treated for ECB (Carpenter and Gianessi, 2001). Only a minor acreage, about 5%, is treated for ECB control in the United States, which is the reason for the modest reduction in insecticide use due to Bt corn (Phipps and Park, 2002). Additionally, the insecticides used against the ECB are also used to control other insect pests to which Bt trait does not provide resistance and would still be applied regardless of ECB.

Yield gain and economic benefit from Bt-corn fluctuates based on variability in ECB infestation levels. While yield increased and resulting economic benefits were lower in low infestation years, Bt-corn delivered a significant economic benefit when ECB outbreaks occurred (Alstad et al., 1997). As a result, net returns have been higher for Bt corn in spite of seed premium and technology fees (Fernandez-Cornejo and McBride, 2000). On an average, yield advantage from Bt-corn ranged from 4% to 8%, depending on the levels of ECB infestation (Marra et al., 1998).

A significant benefit of Bt-corn is decreased secondary pathogen infestations (e.g. ear rot) due to reduction in entryways left by ECB (Alstad, 1997). Fusarium ear rot is the most common ear rot disease in the corn belt; it has been found in nearly every corn field at harvest. The severity of this disease is usually low, but it can reduce yield and quality. Symptoms of Fusarium ear rot are often highly correlated with ear damage by ECB. The primary importance of this disease is its association with mycotoxins, particularly the fumonisins. Fumonisins are a group of mycotoxins that can be fatal to livestock and are probable human carcinogens (Munkvold and Desjardin, 1997). The importance of fumonisins in human health is still a subject of debate, but there is evidence that they have some impact on cancer incidence (Marasas, 1995). Multi-year studies showed that kernel feeding by insects, extent of ear rot infestation and fumonisin levels in Bt corn were significantly lower than conventional corn (Munkvold et al., 1999). Volunteer corn in the following season has been reduced, as ears dropped due to ECB infestation are less with Bt corn (Alstad, 1997).

Depending on the prevalence of ECB populations, Bt-corn influences the local ECB population (Alstad, 1997; Andow and Hutchison, 1998). It is possible that planting non-Bt-corn near Bt-corn could suppress ECB populations in non-Bt corn and this localised benefit is called the halo effect. Similar effects may be noted with other insect-resistant crops.

Cotton

Insect-resistant Bt cotton has provided a tool to cotton growers to control the most damaging pests. Insect-resistant cotton resulted in highest per acre grower benefits and largest reduction in insecticide use among all the insect-resistant crops. In states such as Alabama, growers used the least amount of insecticides on cotton since the 1940s (Smith, 1997). A 1999 estimate by the EPA (2000) suggested a reduction of 1.6 million pounds of insecticide active ingredient use and 7.5 million acre treatments due to Bt cotton. Based on the USDA pesticide use data, growers in six major cotton-growing states reduced insecticide use by 16% and insecticide applications by 25% in 2000 compared to 1995 (Carpenter and Gianessi, 2002). A similar estimate by Fernandez-Cornejo and McBride (2000) also showed that Bt cotton growers applied 2.5 fewer insecticide applications per acre. Though not as dramatic as reductions in insecticide use, insect-resistant cotton led to reduced yield losses as a result of which yield advantage has been realised in many cotton-growing states (Fernandez-Cornejo and McBride, 2000). The overall effect of reduction in insecticide use and gains in yields has been higher net return to cotton growers, despite the technology fee. Grower benefits have increased from 16 million in 1996 to 44 million in 1999 due to Bt cotton (EPA, 2000).

By targeting specific insects through the naturally occurring protein in the plant, Bt cotton reduces the need for and use of chemical insecticides. By eliminating chemical sprays, the beneficial insects that naturally inhabit agricultural fields are maintained and can even provide a secondary level of pest control. This is the reason why Bt cotton adoption is high in areas where boll weevil eradication programmes are in effect as insurance against unchecked bollworm and budworm populations due to elimination of natural predators with the use of malathion.

Evidence states that insect-resistant crops impact local ecosystems favourably. Beneficial insect-feeding bird populations have been reported to be higher in numbers in Bt cotton fields compared to conventional fields (Edge et al., 2001).

A major worry concerning the success of Bt crops, especially cotton, is the potential vulnerability to eventual adaptation by insect pests to Bt toxin. Large-scale deployment of Bt crops will impose selection pressure for pre-existing Bt-resistant insects to increase their numbers resulting in the loss of viability of this environmentally sound pest control practice. Several resistance management strategies have been proposed to slow the evolution of insect adaptation to Bt genes such as refuges, intense field monitoring of insect-resistant plants for potential escapes and alternate control strategies.

To slow the adaptation of insects to Bt toxin, the EPA has mandated that cotton growers should plant at least 4% of their biotechnology-derived crop with conventional cotton varieties and this refuge cannot be treated with any insecticides. The advantage of planting refuges is that they will harbour susceptible insects and thus retard the evolution of insect resistance against the Bt gene. Gould et al., (1997) predicted that Bt cotton could remain efficacious for 10 years with 4% refuge.

Potato

Due to low adoption rates, insecticide use reductions in potato are not as dramatic as in cotton. Based on 4% market share of Bt potato, insecticide use reduction from Bt potato has been reported to be 89 000 less acre treatments with corresponding grower benefit of $9.30 (EPA, 2000) to $11.50 (Gianessi et al., 2002) per acre. Insect-resistant Bt potato has not yet made a significant impact on overall yield.

An indirect benefit of insect-resistant crops, potato and cotton in particular, is the worker safety the technology affords. Insecticides routinely used for pest control in cotton and potato such as organophosphates, carbamates and synthetic pyrethroids are known to cause adverse health effects in workers. Insect-resistant Bt cotton eliminates the need for the use of the above chemicals as a result of which occupational risk is minimised.

Sweet Corn

A notable impact of Bt sweet corn is the reduction in number of insecticide applications. Based on sweet corn acreage planted with Bt varieties in 1999, EPA (2000) reported that reduction in insecticide applications have been 4.3 per acre or a total of 127 000 acre applications in the United States. Reduction in insecticide applications on a per acre basis has been the highest in Bt sweet corn compared to any biotechnology-derived crop. Benefits from improved pest control and reduced application costs have been $5.40 per acre (EPA, 2000). An added benefit to insect-resistant sweet corn is the reduction in yield loss caused by feeding damage of fall armyworm and corn earworm. Season long protection offered by Bt sweet corn resulted in significantly higher marketable yield than conventional varieties (Stegelin, 2000). Overall, once the market penetration of Bt sweet corn increases, growers are expected to note significant reductions in overall insecticide use and enhanced returns.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gene Mapping, DNA Marker-Aided Breeding and Genetic Transformation in Africa

It appears very likely that DNA marker-assisted breeding for a range of traits—particularly to control diseases and pests, and overcome abiotic stresses—is the second most important application of agrobiotechnology in the mid-term in Africa. Once biosafety laws and appropriate regulatory frameworks and systems are enacted in order to ensure food safety and minimise human health risks and environmental hazards, transgenic crops can be added to the tool-kit of plant breeders working in that region.

The International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) began operations in Aleppo, Syria, in 1977. The ICARDA mandate covered dry areas in West Asia and North Africa (WANA). The WANA region includes the primary centres of diversity of the ICARDA-mandated crop species: barley, lentils and broad beans (global mandate), and wheat, chickpea and a number of forage species [regional mandate, in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) for wheat and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) for chickpea].

In the ICARDA Medium-Term Plan for 1990–94, it was stated that, although food self-sufficiency would prove impossible during the 20th century in the WANA region, self-reliance for food should be enhanced through a combination of new technology, better farm practices, more favourable government policies and a more rational land-use pattern. While acknowledging that major increase in food production would come from lowlands with over 350 mm of rainfall annually, ICARDA focused its work on the highlands and driest areas.

A strategy has been developed for integrating biotechnologies into the ICARDA crop-enhancement activities, with a view of providing the National Agricultural Research Systems with well-targeted biotic and abiotic stress-tolerant cultivars and genetic stocks, through the evaluation, adaptation and application of novel genome analysis techniques (DNA marker technology). This approach is applied to crops as well as to the corresponding pathogens, viruses and pests, and should ultimately lead to a more efficient and effective use of existing genetic variability in the ICARDA-mandated crops. Genome analysis also allows for a better estimation of the diversity in these crops, and helps to improve management of the germplasm collections. In cases where insufficient genetic variability exists in the cultivated gene pool, wide crossing with the help of tissue-culture techniques is being explored to bridge species barriers. Double haploid techniques are used to achieve, in a short time, the homozygous state of segregants for fast trait evaluation and selection. Double haploid lines are also considered a useful material for DNA-marker linkage analysis. This strategy was incorporated within ICARDA's Medium-Term Plan for 1994–98 (Sasson, 2000).

While genetic transformation of broad bean (Vicia faba) is difficult to achieve, producing herbicide-resistant broad bean would allow the farmers to better control the invasion of their fields by the Orobanchae weeds (Baum et al., 2002).

With respect to chickpea (Cicer arietinum), genetic transformation aims at producing lines resistant to the blight caused by Ascochyta. Chickpea is cultivated on 11 247 723 ha (FAO Statistics, 1998) worldwide and its production reaches 8 829 095 tons, the average yield being 785 kg/ha. The yield range is 500 kg/ha (Algeria) to 1 800 kg/ha (Egypt). The Ascochyta blight is the most devastating disease of chickpea; the fungal pathogen is highly variable, at least three to six races have been identified; there are limited genetic resources for resistance in the chickpea gene-pool. Fertile transgenic Kabuli-/desi-type chickpea lines have been obtained by the ICARDA scientists, using Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of decapitated zygotic embryos and npt-II/pat as selectable markers. Other genetic constructs will be introduced, followed by the assessment of the resistance to the blight by the GM lines (Baum et al., 2002).

Fertile transgenic lentil (Lens culinaris) lines have also been obtained at ICARDA, using a transformation system developed at the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA, based in Western Australia) and transferred to the WANA region (Baum et al., 2002).

Wide crossing in wheat and barley has been carried out in collaboration with the University of Cordoba, Spain. The transfer of desirable genes from wild species of Aegilops was carried out at ICARDA as well as in collaboration with the University of Tuscia, Viterbo. Interspecific and intergeneric hybridisation in winter cereals aims to transfer genes of abiotic stress tolerance such as drought, cold, heat and salinity from wild types to cultivated forms by expanding the genetic base against diseases, improving the quality and total biomass of Triticum and Hordeum in moisture-stressed areas and providing specific genetic stocks to national programmes for use in their breeding programmes (Sasson, 2000).

In the case of barley and wheat, following anther culture, inter-specific crosses and embryo rescue, the first double haploid lines were tested under field conditions by the early 1990s. The bulbosum technique was used for this purpose. Hordeum bulbosum is a wild barley species found throughout WANA; it can be crossed with wheat and barley (for barley only in the diploid form); however, after crossing, the bulbosum chromosomes are eliminated and the young embryo is cultured to produce haploids. After selection against biotic and abiotic stresses, double haploids are produced. These techniques could skip a number of intermediary breeding generations (Sasson, 2000).

An ovule-embryo rescue technique has been developed in order to cross the cultivated lentil species, Lens culinaris, with Lens nigricans, a wild species adapted to dry environments (Sasson, 2000).

With cooperation of the institutions involved in the North American Barley Genome Mapping Network Project, ICARDA is developing RFLP markers for barley breeding in low-rainfall environments. This would allow a more efficient and accurate selection of drought-tolerant barley germplasm. Drought tolerance is not a single trait, but the collective result of many traits of a plant which interact with each other positively or negatively. RFLP markers could be used for the identification and selection of single-gene traits associated with drought tolerance (such as osmotic adjustment, photoperiodic response in wheat, water-use efficiency). These were the main findings of a technical study carried out at the request of the Dutch Government's Directorate General for International Cooperation. Another project supported by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) aims to develop molecular markers (RFLP and RAPD/PCR) for barley breeding, in order to effectively select disease-resistant barley germplasm (Sasson, 2000).

The Centre d'étude regional pour l'amélioration de l'adaptation à la sécheresse (CERAAS, Regional Centre for Studies on the Improvement of Plant Adaptation to Drought) was set up in 1982 as a partnership between the Institut sénégalais de recherches agricoles (ISRA, Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research, Dakar, Senegal), the French CIRAD and Universities of Paris VII and XII, with a view of improving and/or stabilising groundnut production in Senegal. In 1987, the Conference of African Agricultural Research Executives for West and Central Africa (CORAF/WECARD) made CERAAS a regional centre under its umbrella. Nowadays, CERAAS receives funds from the European Commission, other development investors and staff secondment from CIRAD.

CERAAS' general objective is to develop crop cultivars adapted to drought and provide methods of analysis and decision-making tools which will improve agricultural production in arid and semi-arid zones. CERAAS researchers are investigating the mechanisms which allow cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) to adapt to drought and they are trying to map the genes associated with this trait. They are also in the process of mapping cowpea population segregating for drought tolerance with the aim of identifying genetic markers associated with this trait. Micro-satellite markers are being used for this research (Ortiz, 2002).

Among CERAAS' development products, it is worth citing the following:

*
Creation, in collaboration with the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA), of a new groundnut variety with a very short life cycle, GC 8-35; this variety will eventually replace the oil-producing variety 55-437, and cultivated in Senegal on about 130 000 ha; the increase in yield estimated for one growing season will reimburse the investments made in research work conducted over 15 years for creating the new variety.
*
Selection, in collaboration with ISRA, of about 30 groundnut varieties potentially more interesting than varieties GC 8-35 and 55-437 in terms of their production and their drought-resistance capacity; from this improved germplasm, several countries (Burkina Faso, Botswana and Brazil) have selected lines whose agronomic and physiological response to drought are superior to those of local varieties.
*
Creation and registration of eight sorghum varieties of agricultural importance in Mali, which often cover up to 95% of the area cultivated with sorghum; one of them, Migsor 86-30-03, is particularly resistant to drought and beating down by the wind; it is also used as a genitor in Africa and the USA.
*
Development of a plant model (AraBHy), coupled with a geographic information system (GIS), that allows the estimation of groundnut production 1 month before harvest; initially developed for groundnut, this model can be adapted to pearl millet, cowpea and soybean, and to other environments, as has been done in Argentina. At the country level, this tool can considerably reduce the costs of identifying agricultural calamity zones and, therefore, contribute to a more effective management of food security.

The IITA (Ibadan, Nigeria), a CGIAR Future Harvest Center, through its Strategic Plan (2001–10), aims at targeting donors' investments to stimulate innovations (e.g., agrobiotechnology) needed to alleviate rural poverty, protect the environment and other natural resources, empower rural peoples and promote economic growth. More specifically, IITA conducts biotechnological research to address the food and income needs of sub-Saharan African countries. Priority is given to genetic transformation of cowpea and plantains/bananas; cassava and maize are a second priority. Molecular mapping of important genes associated with conventional breeding aims at enhancing tolerance or resistance to stresses, e.g. cassava mosaic disease, plant parasitic nematodes or the witchweed Striga. Priority is also given to DNA marker-assisted selection of plantain/banana, cassava and cowpea, whereas cocoa, maize and yams, in which DNA maps are also available, are second tier crops. IITA may also benefit from research advances in the genomics of soybeans, a major legume, also a model crop system. Gene discovery and cloning of functional DNA elements such as promoters will provide non-proprietary tools needed for genetic transformation.

IITA transfers, where appropriate and in collaboration with overseas partners and within the continent, biotechnological products from the laboratory to the market. One well-known example is micropropagation and clonal multiplication of vegetatively propagated crops. Another example is the assistance provided to the emerging private sector to use DNA fingerprinting of cultivars to protect proprietary rights, or to use molecular mapping for identifying new genes relevant to end-user needs.

IITA serves as a platform for technology transfer between overseas advanced research institutes and sub-Saharan African countries. By the end of 2002, 10 internationally-recruited staff were working on biotechnology at IITA laboratories in Cotonou (Benin), Ibadan (Nigeria), Namulonge (Uganda) and Yaounde (Cameroon), as well as at the high throughput genomics laboratory of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi.

Finally, IITA enhances the capacity of national selected partners in order to apply and monitor biotechnology, e.g. IITA, together with research-for-development partners and development investors, is working towards the approval of biosafety guidelines concerning GMOs, as has been achieved in Nigeria (Ortiz, 2001).

Partnerships with African researchers are reinforced through group and individual training. For instance, with funding from the USDA and USAID, IITA initiated a project for developing and updating skills of biotechnologists from Nigeria and Ghana to address farmers' needs. This project deals with biotechnological capacity building and research, adapts available approaches for developing or strengthening bioinformatics databases; and conducts research on potential risks associated with the introduction of transgenic crops into Africa (Ortiz, 2002b).

In 2002, a visiting scientist assessed the status of, and needs for agrobiotechnology in West and Central Africa (thanks to a USAID grant given to IITA). This assessment will lead to the design of a regional agrobiotechnology programme for West and Central Africa. In the last quarter of 2002, IITA initiated, as implementing agency, the Nigerian Biotechnology Programme with an agenda driven by the Nigerian stakeholders and funding from the USAID and the Nigerian Government. This programme includes capacity building on genetic transformation—including testing biosafety guidelines, crop genomics and livestock biotechnology, as well as creating unbiased public awareness of biotechnology in Nigeria (Ortiz, 2002b).

Monday, April 4, 2011

IRRI Create Golden Rice to Overcome Vitamin A Deficiency

To help address the devastating impacts of vitamin A deficiency, particularly on the poor in Asia, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and its national and international partners are now developing Golden Rice – a new type of rice that contains a source of vitamin A.
Vitamin A and human health

Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient that helps the body to fight diseases and maintain healthy eyesight. Vitamin A deficiency lowers immune system function, causing people to get sick more often and have a higher risk of dying from infections. Vitamin A deficiency can also cause night blindness and is a leading cause of preventable blindness in children.

Vitamin A deficiency particularly affects infants, young children, and women who are pregnant or nursing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight. With adequate vitamin A, young children are up to 30 percent less likely to die from infections and the death rate for women during or shortly after pregnancy can be reduced by approximately 40 percent.

Vitamin A deficiency can be reduced by eating more foods that are naturally high in vitamin A or beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), by eating foods that have had these micronutrients added to them, or by taking supplements.
Vitamin A deficiency in rice-consuming populations

Vitamin A deficiency can be particularly severe in countries where the staple food contains no forms of vitamin A and other nutritious food is scarce, unavailable, or too expensive.

Rice is the staple food crop for more than half of the world’s population, and is especially important in Asia, where more than 60% of the world’s 1 billion poorest live. Rice is an affordable and filling food, yet it contains no source of vitamin A. More than 90 million children in Southeast Asia suffer from vitamin A deficiency, more than in any other region.
Golden Rice

Golden Rice is a type of rice that contains beneficial amounts of beta-carotene, which is used by the human body to make vitamin A. Beta-carotene gives Golden Rice its yellow color. Many fruits and vegetables, such as papaya and carrots, also get their color from beta-carotene. Golden Rice was bred using a combination of genetic modification and other breeding methods. It contains genes from maize and other sources that together produce beta-carotene. Golden Rice is expected to taste the same as other rice, be cooked in the same way, and have the same eating quality of other popular rice varieties.

According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, one cup of Golden Rice could supply half of the vitamin A needed every day. Golden Rice could be used in combination with existing ways of overcoming vitamin A deficiency through diet, fortification, and supplements.

Researchers have already found that the body turns more than 25% of the beta-carotene in Golden Rice into vitamin A, a better conversion rate than for many green, leafy vegetables.
Developing Golden Rice

Work to develop Golden Rice currently includes laboratory, greenhouse, and field studies at IRRI, national agricultural research institutions, and other institutions around the world to

* breed Golden Rice varieties that are well suited for different rice-growing environments and consumer preferences in Asia,
* confirm the nutritional benefits of Golden Rice in combating Vitamin A deficiency, and
* evaluate the safety of Golden Rice.

This research on Golden Rice will ensure that any approved Golden Rice varieties will grow just like other rice crops, with comparable yields and pest resistance, and with the same environmental impacts. It is expected that Golden Rice will be planted, harvested, threshed, and milled like current rice varieties.
All Golden Rice research is conducted according to national biosafety regulations and additional biosafety conditions established by the institutes carrying out the research.
IRRI’s role

IRRI coordinates the Golden Rice Network and works with national agricultural research institutes and other partners with expertise in agriculture and nutrition to research and develop Golden Rice. IRRI’s support for partners includes initial breeding of the Golden Rice trait into selected varieties, which involves laboratory work, greenhouse tests, and some preliminary field evaluation. These advanced breeding lines are being transferred to national partners for further development and assessment.

IRRI also works with national partners to

* provide technical support and training to help with breeding and development and build scientific capacity at the national level,
* help develop locally adapted plans to deliver Golden Rice to farmers and consumers, and
* research and collate biosafety data.

National partners

National agricultural research institutes in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam are leading their in-country development of Golden Rice. They manage varietal development and selection, do field evaluations, and undertake biosafety research for science-based regulatory review of Golden Rice in the country. National partners will also interact with other public- and private-sector institutions and government to advance the release and adoption of Golden Rice by farmers and consumers.
Availability of Golden Rice

Golden Rice will be available to farmers and consumers only after it has been authorized by the agricultural, environmental, health, and food safety agencies of their countries. Public health officials, nongovernment organizations, grain traders, and private industry will be consulted in each country before Golden Rice is introduced.

Golden Rice may be approved in the Philippines and Bangladesh as early as 2013 and 2015, respectively, and introduced to the public in those countries soon after. Other countries developing Golden Rice in local varieties are India, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Golden Rice will be made available to people with vitamin A deficiency in different ways depending on community needs and preferences.

Golden Rice will cost no more than other rice for farmers and consumers.
Funding for Golden Rice

Because of its enormous potential to benefit public health, the technology behind Golden Rice has been donated by its inventors, Professor Ingo Potrykus and Dr. Peter Beyer, for use by public institutions. Different governments and private charities are supporting the development and testing costs.

A one-time investment to develop a biofortified crop such as Golden Rice can generate new varieties for farmers to grow for years to come, in many different countries. There will be some recurrent expenditure for monitoring and maintaining the high beta-carotene trait in Golden Rice, but these costs will be relatively low compared with the ongoing costs of traditional supplementation and fortification programs.

Soource: http://irri.org

Adoption of GM Crops in The Future

The experience of the past is often the best guide for the future. The experience of the first seven years, 1996–2002, during which a cumulative total of over 235 million hectares (over 580 million acres) of transgenic crops were planted globally in 19 countries, has confirmed that the early promise of biotechnology has been fulfilled. GM crops can deliver substantial agronomic, environmental, economic and social benefits to farmers and, increasingly, to society at large. GM crops have met the expectations of large and small farmers planting transgenic crops in both industrial and developing countries.

The most compelling case for biotechnology, and more specifically GM crops is their capability to contribute to increasing crop productivity, particularly in the developing countries (James, 2002a, 2002b; www.isaaa.org; Pinstrup-Andersen and Schioler, 2001) where they can make a crucial contribution to food, feed and fibre security; conserving biodiversity, as a land-saving technology capable of higher productivity; more efficient use of external inputs and thus a more sustainable agriculture and environment; increasing stability of production to lessen the suffering during famines due to abiotic and biotic stresses; and improve economic and social benefits and the alleviation of abject poverty in developing countries (James, 2002b; UNDP, 2001). It is critical that a combination of conventional and biotechnology applications be adopted as the technology component of a global food, feed and fibre security strategy that also addresses other critical issues including population control and improved food, feed and fibre distribution. Adoption of such a strategy will allow society to continue to benefit from the vital contribution that plant breeding offers the global population.

With significant progress in the first seven years of the first decade, 1996–2005, when GM crops are being commercialised, what can we expect during the remaining three years, 2003–2005, at the dawn of a new era in crop biotechnology? The latest GM crop indicators for 2003 and beyond augur well for the future of crop biotechnology. In 2002, coincidental with increased political, policy and institutional support for GM crops, due to their acknowledged essential contribution to global food security, the global area of transgenic crops in 2002 benefited from continued growth of 12%. The number of farmers who benefited from GM crops in 2002 was approximately six million of which five million were resource-poor farmers planting Bt cotton, mainly in eight provinces in China and also in the Makathini Flats in the KwaZulu Natal province in South Africa (Ismael et al., 2002). The well-documented experience of China with Bt cotton (Huang et al., 2002, Pray et al., 2001, 2002) presents a remarkable case study where five million small resource-poor farmers in 2002 already benefited from significant agronomic, environmental, health and economic advantages—this is a unique example of how biotechnology can impact on poverty alleviation as advocated in the 2001 UNDP Human Development Report (UNDP, 2001). The China experience with Bt cotton lends itself for introduction and replication to carefully selected developing countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa where resource-poor farmers can learn, share and benefit from the rich experience of China—the majority of the hectarage of global cotton is in the developing countries of the world. Following a successful launch of Bt cotton by Indonesia in 2001, India, the largest cotton-growing country in the world, grew Bt cotton for the first time in 2002.

The opportunities and constraints associated with public acceptance of transgenic crops continue to be important challenges facing the global community. Because of our thrice-daily dependency on food, agriculture touches the life of every individual in the global community of over six billion. Unlike industrial countries, such as the United States and countries of the European Union, with few exceptions, all developing countries are net importers rather than exporters of food, and where a high percentage of the population employed in agriculture are either small resource-poor farmers practising subsistence farming or the rural landless who are dependent on agriculture for survival; 70% of the world's 1.3 billion poorest people are rural people, the majority of them are resource-poor farmers and their families. Agricultural employment, as a percentage of total employment, was 80% in the developing countries in 1950, and is still projected to be 50% in 2010 when the population of the developing countries will be approximately six billion, equivalent to the global population of today. Improved food, feed and fibre crops derived from appropriate conventional and biotechnology applications for small resource-poor farmers are vital for increasing productivity and income to provide access to food in the rural areas where the majority of the poverty, hunger and malnutrition exists. Crops are not only the principal source of food but are also the livelihood of farmers and agricultural workers. Increased crop productivity provides more employment and acts as the engine of economic growth in the rural communities. Producing more food, feed and fibre on small resource-poor subsistence farms, where most of it is consumed, has the significant advantage that the inevitable infrastructure constraints associated with transport can, to a large extent, be circumvented in that the produce is largely consumed at the same locations where it is produced.

Global society must seek equitable solutions that meet the different needs of people and nations and respect differing opinions regarding GM crops. Implementing an equitable policy is a challenge in a world where globalisation, a web of international protocols and international trade are all impacting on the ability of sovereign nations in the developing world to access and utilise biotechnology and GM crops in their national food, feed and fibre security strategies, to meet domestic and export needs. This does not imply that biotechnology and GM crops are panaceas. Biotechnology, like any other technology, has strengths and weaknesses and needs to be managed responsibly and effectively. Biotechnology represents one essential link in a long and complex chain that must be in place to develop and deliver more productive crops, which are urgently required by small resource-poor farmers in developing countries. This will require the political will, goodwill and unfailing support of both the public and private sectors in the industrial and developing countries to work together in harmony, as pledged during the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

The Challenge of Global, Food, Feed and Fibre Security


The global population reached six billion on 12 October 1999, and is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, when approximately 90% of the world's population will live, or survive, in the three continents of the South: Asia, Africa and Latin America where today malnutrition results in 24 000 deaths per day. Thus, in the next 50 years, the population will increase by 50%, or three billion, and food production will need to be doubled on the same area of arable land (1.5 billion hectares), by 2050. The magnitude of the challenge of feeding tomorrow's world is difficult to conceive and the enormity of the task is probably best captured by the statement that: ‘In the next fifty years mankind will consume twice as much food as mankind has consumed since the beginning of agriculture, 10 000 years ago’ (James, 2002a, 2002b).

Crops are the major source of food globally. There is a widely held view in the international scientific and development community that conventional crop improvement alone will not allow us to meet the global food demands of 2050. What is being advocated is a global strategy that integrates both conventional crop improvement and biotechnology, including transgenic crops, which are often referred to as genetically modified (GM) crops; adoption of such a strategy would allow society to harness and optimise the contribution of biotechnology and GM crops to global food security. There is cautious optimism that such a strategy would contribute significantly to the alleviation of poverty and malnutrition which afflict 1.3 billion people and 815 million people, respectively, today, and that the global food demands of 2050 and beyond can be met.

China was the first country to commercialise transgenic crops in the early 1990s. The first approval for commercial sale of a genetically modified product for food use in an industrialised country was in the United States in 1994, but significant commercialisation did not actually begin until 1996. The unprecedented rapid adoption of transgenic crops during the initial seven-year period, 1996–2002 (Figure 63.1), when GM crops were first adopted, reflects the significant multiple benefits realised by large and small farmers in the industrial and developing countries that have grown transgenic crops commercially. Between 1996 and 2002, a total of 19 countries, 10 industrial and 9 developing, contributed to a more than 35-fold increase in the global area of transgenic crops from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 58.7 million hectares in 2002 (James, 2002a). The accumulated area of transgenic crops planted globally in the seven-year period, 1996–2002, totals more than 235 million hectares, equivalent to more than 575 million acres, an area equivalent to 25% of the land area of China or the United States, and 10 times greater than the land area of the UK.

In 2002, the global area of transgenic crops continued to grow for the sixth consecutive year at a sustained rate of growth of more than 10% between 2001 and 2002. The estimated global area of transgenic or GM crops for 2002 was 58.7 million hectares or 145 million acres, grown by approximately 6.0 million farmers in 16 countries, up from 13 countries in 2001. The increase in area between 2001 and 2002 was 12%, equivalent to 6.1 million hectares or 15 million acres, and 2002 was the first year when more developing countries (9) grew GM crops than industrial countries (7), Table 63.1. More than one quarter (27%) of the global transgenic crop area of 58.7 million hectares in 2002, equivalent to 16.0 million hectares, was grown in developing countries where growth continued to be strong. Whereas the absolute growth in GM crop area between 2001 and 2002 was higher in industrial countries (3.6 million hectares) compared with developing countries (2.5 million hectares), the percentage growth was more than twice as high in the developing countries of the south (19%) than in the industrial countries of the north (9%).

In 2002, four principal countries grew 99% of the global transgenic crop area (Table 63.1). The United States grew 39.0 million hectares (66% of the global total), followed by Argentina with 13.5 million hectares (23%), Canada 3.5 million hectares (6%) and China 2.1 million hectares (4%). Of the four leading GM crop countries, China had the highest year-on-year growth with a 40% increase in its Bt cotton area from 1.5 million hectares in 2001 to 2.1 million hectares in 2002, equivalent to 51% of the total cotton area of 4.1 million hectares; this is the first time for the Bt cotton area in China to exceed more than half of the national cotton area. Despite the economic crisis in Argentina, its GM crop area grew at 14% from 11.8 million hectares in 2001 to 13.5 million hectares in 2002. A growth rate of 9% was achieved in both the United States (equivalent to 3.3 million hectares) and Canada (0.3 million hectares). GM crop hectarage increased in South Africa by over 20% to 0.3 million hectares. Three developing countries, India, Colombia and Honduras grew transgenic crops for the first time in 2002. Notably, India, the largest cotton growing country in the world, with 8.7 million hectares equivalent to 25% of the world cotton hectarage, planted 45 000 hectares of commercial Bt cotton for the first time in 2002. Colombia also planted an introductory pre-commercial area of up to 2000 hectares of Bt cotton for the first time in 2002. Honduras became the first country in Central America to grow an introductory pre-commercial area of approximately 350 hectares of Bt corn in 2002. Thus, the number of countries that grew GM crops increased from 13 in 2001 to 16 in 2002—these include nine developing countries, five industrial countries and two Eastern European countries.

Globally, in 2002, the principal GM crops were: GM soybean occupying 36.5 million hectares (62% of global area), up from 33.3 million hectares in 2001; GM corn at 12.4 million hectares (21%), up from 9.8 million hectares in 2001; transgenic cotton at the same level of 6.8 million hectares (12%); and GM canola at 3.0 million hectares (5%), up from 2.7 million hectares in 2001, (James, 2002a). During the seven-year period 1996–2002, herbicide tolerance has consistently been the dominant trait with insect resistance being second. In 2002, herbicide tolerance, deployed in soybean, corn and cotton, occupied 75% or 44.2 million hectares of the global GM 58.7 million hectares, with 10.1 million hectares (17%) planted to Bt crops. Stacked genes for both herbicide tolerance and insect resistance deployed in both cotton and corn occupied 8% or 4.4 million hectares of the global transgenic area in 2002. The two dominant GM crop trait combinations in 2002 were: herbicide-tolerant soybean occupying 36.5 million hectares or 62% of the global total and grown in seven countries, and Bt maize, occupying 7.7 million hectares, equivalent to 13% of global transgenic area and also planted in seven countries. Notably, South Africa grew 58 000 hectares of Bt white maize for food, up 10-fold from 2001; herbicide-tolerant canola was planted in Canada and the United States occuping 3.0 million hectares equivalent to 5% of global transgenic area; the other five GM crops, herbicide-tolerant maize and cotton, Bt cotton and Bt/herbicide-tolerant cotton and maize, each occupied 4% of global transgenic crop area.

Another useful way to portray the adoption of GM crops is to express the global adoption rates for the four principal GM crops in 2001, soybean, cotton, canola and corn (James, 2002b). The data indicate that for the first time the GM soybean area exceeded 50% of the global hectarage of soybean. In 2002, 51% of the 72 million hectares of soybean planted globally were transgenic—up from 46% in 2001. Twenty per cent of the 34 million hectares of cotton were GM, the same as last year; decreases in total plantings of cotton in the United States (down by approximately 10%) and Australia (down by approximately. 50% due to a severe drought) were offset by a significant increase in GM cotton in China and the first planting of Bt cotton in India. The areas planted to transgenic canola and maize, both increased in 2002. Of the global 25 million hectares of canola, the percentage of GM increased from 11% in 2001 to 12% in 2002. Similarly, of the 140 million hectares of maize grown globally, 9% were GM in 2002—up significantly from 7% in 2001. If the global areas (conventional and transgenic) of these four principal GM crops are aggregated, the total area is 271 million hectares of which 21%, up from 19% in 2001, was transgenic in 2002. The biggest increase in 2002 is a 3.2 million hectares increase in GM soybean equivalent to a 10% year-on-year increase, followed by a 2.6 million hectares increase in GM maize equivalent to a significant 27% year-on-year growth.

The global population reached six billion on 12 October 1999, and is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, when approximately 90% of the world's population will live, or survive, in the three continents of the South: Asia, Africa and Latin America where today malnutrition results in 24 000 deaths per day. Thus, in the next 50 years, the population will increase by 50%, or three billion, and food production will need to be doubled on the same area of arable land (1.5 billion hectares), by 2050. The magnitude of the challenge of feeding tomorrow's world is difficult to conceive and the enormity of the task is probably best captured by the statement that: ‘In the next fifty years mankind will consume twice as much food as mankind has consumed since the beginning of agriculture, 10 000 years ago’ (James, 2002a, 2002b).

Crops are the major source of food globally. There is a widely held view in the international scientific and development community that conventional crop improvement alone will not allow us to meet the global food demands of 2050. What is being advocated is a global strategy that integrates both conventional crop improvement and biotechnology, including transgenic crops, which are often referred to as genetically modified (GM) crops; adoption of such a strategy would allow society to harness and optimise the contribution of biotechnology and GM crops to global food security. There is cautious optimism that such a strategy would contribute significantly to the alleviation of poverty and malnutrition which afflict 1.3 billion people and 815 million people, respectively, today, and that the global food demands of 2050 and beyond can be met.

China was the first country to commercialise transgenic crops in the early 1990s. The first approval for commercial sale of a genetically modified product for food use in an industrialised country was in the United States in 1994, but significant commercialisation did not actually begin until 1996. The unprecedented rapid adoption of transgenic crops during the initial seven-year period, 1996–2002 (Figure 63.1), when GM crops were first adopted, reflects the significant multiple benefits realised by large and small farmers in the industrial and developing countries that have grown transgenic crops commercially. Between 1996 and 2002, a total of 19 countries, 10 industrial and 9 developing, contributed to a more than 35-fold increase in the global area of transgenic crops from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 58.7 million hectares in 2002 (James, 2002a). The accumulated area of transgenic crops planted globally in the seven-year period, 1996–2002, totals more than 235 million hectares, equivalent to more than 575 million acres, an area equivalent to 25% of the land area of China or the United States, and 10 times greater than the land area of the UK.

In 2002, the global area of transgenic crops continued to grow for the sixth consecutive year at a sustained rate of growth of more than 10% between 2001 and 2002. The estimated global area of transgenic or GM crops for 2002 was 58.7 million hectares or 145 million acres, grown by approximately 6.0 million farmers in 16 countries, up from 13 countries in 2001. The increase in area between 2001 and 2002 was 12%, equivalent to 6.1 million hectares or 15 million acres, and 2002 was the first year when more developing countries (9) grew GM crops than industrial countries (7), Table 63.1. More than one quarter (27%) of the global transgenic crop area of 58.7 million hectares in 2002, equivalent to 16.0 million hectares, was grown in developing countries where growth continued to be strong. Whereas the absolute growth in GM crop area between 2001 and 2002 was higher in industrial countries (3.6 million hectares) compared with developing countries (2.5 million hectares), the percentage growth was more than twice as high in the developing countries of the south (19%) than in the industrial countries of the north (9%).

In 2002, four principal countries grew 99% of the global transgenic crop area (Table 63.1). The United States grew 39.0 million hectares (66% of the global total), followed by Argentina with 13.5 million hectares (23%), Canada 3.5 million hectares (6%) and China 2.1 million hectares (4%). Of the four leading GM crop countries, China had the highest year-on-year growth with a 40% increase in its Bt cotton area from 1.5 million hectares in 2001 to 2.1 million hectares in 2002, equivalent to 51% of the total cotton area of 4.1 million hectares; this is the first time for the Bt cotton area in China to exceed more than half of the national cotton area. Despite the economic crisis in Argentina, its GM crop area grew at 14% from 11.8 million hectares in 2001 to 13.5 million hectares in 2002. A growth rate of 9% was achieved in both the United States (equivalent to 3.3 million hectares) and Canada (0.3 million hectares). GM crop hectarage increased in South Africa by over 20% to 0.3 million hectares. Three developing countries, India, Colombia and Honduras grew transgenic crops for the first time in 2002. Notably, India, the largest cotton growing country in the world, with 8.7 million hectares equivalent to 25% of the world cotton hectarage, planted 45 000 hectares of commercial Bt cotton for the first time in 2002. Colombia also planted an introductory pre-commercial area of up to 2000 hectares of Bt cotton for the first time in 2002. Honduras became the first country in Central America to grow an introductory pre-commercial area of approximately 350 hectares of Bt corn in 2002. Thus, the number of countries that grew GM crops increased from 13 in 2001 to 16 in 2002—these include nine developing countries, five industrial countries and two Eastern European countries.

Globally, in 2002, the principal GM crops were: GM soybean occupying 36.5 million hectares (62% of global area), up from 33.3 million hectares in 2001; GM corn at 12.4 million hectares (21%), up from 9.8 million hectares in 2001; transgenic cotton at the same level of 6.8 million hectares (12%); and GM canola at 3.0 million hectares (5%), up from 2.7 million hectares in 2001, (James, 2002a). During the seven-year period 1996–2002, herbicide tolerance has consistently been the dominant trait with insect resistance being second. In 2002, herbicide tolerance, deployed in soybean, corn and cotton, occupied 75% or 44.2 million hectares of the global GM 58.7 million hectares, with 10.1 million hectares (17%) planted to Bt crops. Stacked genes for both herbicide tolerance and insect resistance deployed in both cotton and corn occupied 8% or 4.4 million hectares of the global transgenic area in 2002. The two dominant GM crop trait combinations in 2002 were: herbicide-tolerant soybean occupying 36.5 million hectares or 62% of the global total and grown in seven countries, and Bt maize, occupying 7.7 million hectares, equivalent to 13% of global transgenic area and also planted in seven countries. Notably, South Africa grew 58 000 hectares of Bt white maize for food, up 10-fold from 2001; herbicide-tolerant canola was planted in Canada and the United States occuping 3.0 million hectares equivalent to 5% of global transgenic area; the other five GM crops, herbicide-tolerant maize and cotton, Bt cotton and Bt/herbicide-tolerant cotton and maize, each occupied 4% of global transgenic crop area.

Another useful way to portray the adoption of GM crops is to express the global adoption rates for the four principal GM crops in 2001, soybean, cotton, canola and corn (James, 2002b). The data indicate that for the first time the GM soybean area exceeded 50% of the global hectarage of soybean. In 2002, 51% of the 72 million hectares of soybean planted globally were transgenic—up from 46% in 2001. Twenty per cent of the 34 million hectares of cotton were GM, the same as last year; decreases in total plantings of cotton in the United States (down by approximately 10%) and Australia (down by approximately. 50% due to a severe drought) were offset by a significant increase in GM cotton in China and the first planting of Bt cotton in India. The areas planted to transgenic canola and maize, both increased in 2002. Of the global 25 million hectares of canola, the percentage of GM increased from 11% in 2001 to 12% in 2002. Similarly, of the 140 million hectares of maize grown globally, 9% were GM in 2002—up significantly from 7% in 2001. If the global areas (conventional and transgenic) of these four principal GM crops are aggregated, the total area is 271 million hectares of which 21%, up from 19% in 2001, was transgenic in 2002. The biggest increase in 2002 is a 3.2 million hectares increase in GM soybean equivalent to a 10% year-on-year increase, followed by a 2.6 million hectares increase in GM maize equivalent to a significant 27% year-on-year growth.