Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Drought-tolerant corn

USDA looks to approve Monsanto’s drought-tolerant corn
By PAUL VOOSEN of Greenwire
New York Times
May 11, 2011

The Obama administration will seek to allow the unlimited sale of a corn variety genetically engineered by Monsanto Co. to resist drought, the Department of Agriculture announced today. The corn, if approved, would be the first commercial biotech crop designed to resist stressful environmental conditions like drought, rather than pests or herbicides.

Drought tolerance has been a longtime goal of the agricultural biotech companies, who hold up the trait as one way they could aid both their bottom line and farmers in drought-prone regions. But the trait, influenced by a wide variety of genes, has proved difficult to develop.

The market could be vast. In North America, up to 40 percent of crop-loss insurance claims are due to heavy or moderate drought, according to some estimates. Worldwide, corn-growing regions lose about 15 percent of their annual crop to drought, and losses run much higher in severe conditions.

However, Monsanto’s corn is unlikely to perform well enough to tap this potential, USDA found.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Monitoring more difficult

Biotech seeds may make pest monitoring more difficult
By Jennifer Shike
Western Farm Press
May 5, 2011

As the use of biotechnology increases and more companies move forward with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval to begin full-scale commercialization of seed mixtures in transgenic insecticidal corn, many researchers believe pest monitoring will become even more difficult.

“Seed mixtures may make insect resistance management (IRM) risky because of larval behavior and greater adoption of insecticidal corn,” said David Onstad, professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois and lead author in a recent article published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

[Read More…]

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Contamination in Uruguay

GM maize contaminates non-GM crops in Uruguay
By Daniela Hirschfeld
Science and Development Network
May 4, 2011

[MONTEVIDEO] Contamination of traditional maize crops planted near genetically modified (GM) maize fields may be common in Uruguay, where the cultivation of GM maize has been permitted since 2003, scientists have said.

A study published in Environmental Biosafety Research (25 March) has found GM seedlings in three traditional maize fields. It is said to be the first report of cross-fertilisation between GM and non-GM maize in South America.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Technology comes with risks

New seed corn technology comes with risks, entomologist says
By Steve Leer
Purdue University News Service
April 13, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Bags of corn seed that mix genetically modified hybrids with and without Bt toxins that kill insects provide farmers easier compliance with federal regulations but could, over time, hasten insect resistance to Bt, a Purdue University entomologist said.

Although “refuge-in-a-bag” seed technology has been approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, questions still remain over its long-term effect on corn rootworms, the main pest targeted by the technology, said Christian Krupke.

“Is a guarantee of 100 percent grower compliance with refuge regulations for corn rootworms worth a bit of a risk in terms of resistance development?” he said. “For many the answer is yes, because compliance has been declining in recent years.”

[Read More…]

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cross-fertilization study

Cross-fertilization between genetically modified and non-genetically
modified maize crops in Uruguay

By Galeano, Pablo a1a2 c1, Martínez Debat, Claudio a3, Ruibal, Fabiana a3,
Franco Fraguas, Laura a2 and Galván, Guillermo A. a1
Environmental Biosafety Research
DOI: 10.1051/ebr/2011100
Published online: March 25, 2011

a1 Departamento de Producción Vegetal, Centro Regional Sur (CRS),
Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de la República, Camino Folle km 36,
Progreso, Canelones, Uruguay
a2 Cátedra de Bioquímica, Departamento de Biociencias, Facultad de
Química, Universidad de la República, General Flores 2124, Montevideo, Uruguay
a3 Sección Bioquímica, Instituto de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias,
Universidad de la República, Iguá 4225, Montevideo, Uruguay


The cultivation of genetically modified (GM) Bt maize (Zea mays L.) events MON810 and Bt11 is permitted in Uruguay. Local regulations specify that 10% of the crop should be a non-GM cultivar as refuge area for biodiversity, and the distance from other non-GM maize crops should be more than 250 m in order to avoid cross-pollination. However, the degree of cross-fertilization between maize crops in Uruguay is unknown. The level of adventitious presence of GM material in non-GM crops is a relevant issue for organic farming, in situ conservation of genetic resources and seed production. In the research reported here, the occurrence and frequency of cross-fertilization between commercial GM and non-GM maize crops in Uruguay was assessed. The methodology comprised field sampling and detection using DAS-ELISA and PCR. Five field-pair cases where GM maize crops were grown near non-GM maize crops were identified. These cases had the potential to cross-fertilize considering the distance between crops and the similarity of the sowing dates. Adventitious presence of GM material in the offspring of non-GM crops was found in three of the five cases. Adventitious presence of event MON810 or Bt11 in non-GM maize, which were distinguished using specific primers, matched the events in the putative sources of transgenic pollen. Percentages of transgenic seedlings in the offspring of the non-GM crops were estimated as 0.56%, 0.83% and 0.13% for three sampling sites with distances of respectively 40, 100 and 330 m from the GM crops. This is a first indication that adventitious presence of transgenes in non-GM maize crops will occur in Uruguay if isolation by distance and/or time is not provided. These findings contribute to the evaluation of the applicability of the “regulated coexistence policy” in Uruguay.

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