Archived Posts

News Flash: April 16, 2015


Developing an alternative to GMO technology

Aspe Inc., a St. Louis biotech startup, is working on an agricultural platform to offer some of the benefits of genetic modification, excluding the permanence. The firm is working to develop ways to use ribonucleic acid (RNA) in order to modify plants to aid in their defense against disease and pests. A process called RNA interference is being used by Apse to develop what Apse hopes to be a cost-effective way to suppress or alter particular plant traits. The differing trait between genetically modified plants and RNA is that genetically modified plants are able to create offspring with the same modified traits, while RNAi plants cannot. Aspe hopes for its final product to be “traits on demand” which would allow plants to be sprayed with the RNA required to generate the desired trait. St. Louis Post Dispatch


Commission prepares minimal reform of GMO imports

A new legal framework for GMO imports is in the works to be presented by the European executive by the end of the month. EurActive France reports that member states may be given the final say over imports, which would pose a disappointment to environmentalists. The European Commission then plans to adopt the same approach for GM product imports, after handing the GMO cultivation issue in the EU to the member states. It is time for the Commission to present a new procedure for GMO import authorization since the issue has divided the member states for years. EurActiv



Food for fuel: Biofuels policies cut emissions by cutting food consumption

A study in the journal Science says that Biofuel policies rely on cutting food consumption in order to reduce emissions. European Union law states that by 2020, member states must ensure at least 10-percent of transport sector fuel is from renewable resources. MEPs voted last week towards putting a 7-percent cap on the amount of crop-based biofuel used for transport. Bodies of research now suggest that crop-based biofuels may do more environmental harm than good. “Without reduced food consumption, each of the models would estimate that biofuels generate more emissions than gasoline,” said Timothy Searchinger, first author on the paper and a research scholar at Princeton University. Food Navigator


Tobacco plants may boost biofuel and bio-refining industries

Low cost production of industrial enzymes using tobacco plants as a “green factory” is the goal of a Norwegian based research project. These industrial enzymes may be used in the production of second generation biofuels and biochemicals that can replace various oil-based products. This project will decrease the carbon footprint by using genetically engineered tobacco as a green enzyme factory. The research aims to replace energy demanding fermenter-based systems. “Plants can use CO2 and energy from the sun for free. The whole production process of making the enzymes in plants is cheap, and environmentally friendly,” explains Dr. Jihong Liu Clarke from Bioforsk — The Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research. Science Daily



Key committee approves canola extension

On April 14, a proposal to extend canola production in Oregon’s Willamette Valley was approved by the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. The bill will now move on to the House floor for its vote with a “do pass” recommendation from the key legislative committee, despite concerns of some seed producers. This House Bill, 3382, would allow farmers to grow five-hundred acres of canola in the region for an additional three years. Capital Press



Carotenoid-rich transgenic corn could boost chicken immunity

Carotenoid-rich corn has been found to maintain broiler health and increase the nutritional value of poultry products, according to Spanish and German researchers. According to the authors writing in the Plant Biotechnology Journal, trial work has shown chickens fed an enriched diet, including engineered corn variety, and high levels of key carotenoids, are healthy. These diets have also been shown to accumulate more bioavailable carotenoids in peripheral tissues, muscle, skin, and fat, along with more retinol in the liver, in comparison to standard corn diets. Feed Navigator



General Mills nears goal of 100% sustainably sourced palm oil

General Mills reports to making progress towards its goal of sustainability through partnerships with small farmers, non-governmental organizations, and other industry stakeholders. General Mill’s end goal is to source 100-percent of its top ingredients by 2020. The report states that the firm is closest to achieving its goal for fiber packaging and palm oil. General Mills also reports to sourcing 89-percent sustainability in 2014. “Through our focus on sustainable sourcing, we are tackling the areas of greatest environmental impact on our supply chain,” and ensuring suppliers respect human rights and animal welfare, the firm says in its annual Global Responsibility Report published April 7. Food Navigator



Soybean supplies up on increased imports

Soybean supplies for 2014-2014 are expected to reach 4,091 million bushels, with a 5 million dollar increase on imports. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), soybean exports and crush projections are unchanged at 1,790 million and 1,795 million bushels. Seed use is in line with the plantings indicated in the Prospective Plantings report on March 31. Residual use is based on the report from the Grain Stocks on March 31. Soybean oil supplies are also seeing increases this month with higher exports which offset the lower oil extraction rate productions. Quincy Journal


High oleic soybean debut delayed again

The introduction of high oleic soybeans, originally planned for last year, has been pushed back to next year at the earliest. This delay is due to the lack of global approval for the trait. The commercial launch of the crop is intended to reclaim the U.S. edible oil market from Canada’s high oleic canola. Vacek, a soybean quality traits product launch manager with Monsanto, expressed its frustrations waiting for approval. This company still awaits approval of its Vistive Gold soybeans in both the European Union and China. The Western Producer