بائیوٹیکنالوجی کیوں ضروری ہے

جنیاتی طور پر پیدا کردہ فصلوں کے ساتھ جو تحفظ کا احساس ہوتا ہے وہ تمام دوسرے فصلوں میں نہیں ہے کیونکہ تحفظ کو مانپنے کیلئے جو طریقہ کار اپنایا نہیں جاتا ۔سیفٹی کا عمل اس بات کو یقینی بناتا ہے کہ فصلوں میں وہ تمام فوائد موجود ہیں جو دوسری روائتی فصلوں کا غذاؤں میں ہوتے ہیں اور اس میں زیادہ خدشات بھی نہیں ہیں۔ ہمارے مشاہدے میں بات نہیں آئی کہ بائیوانجنیئرغذائیں اب مارکیٹ میں ہیں اور کوئی بھی انسانی صحت سے متعلق خدشات نہیں ہیں اور نہیں ان میں کسی تحفظ کی کمی ہے ان فصلوں کے مقابلے میں جو رائتی طریقوں سے پیدا کی جاتی ہیں ۔سائنسدان اس ٹیکنالوجی کے طریقہ سے مطمئن ہیں۔جو جی ایم غذاؤں کو جانچنے کے لئے اختیار کیا گیا ہے ۔

Agricultural Biotechnology Glossary

Note: These terms and definitions are intended for general educational purposes only. They are not intended to replace any definitions currently in use in any U.S. Government laws or regulations, nor are they legally binding on the actions of any Government agency. For specific definitions that apply to any law or regulation of any Government agency, please consult directly with that agency.

Agricultural Biotechnology:

A range of tools, including traditional breeding techniques, that alter living organisms, or parts of organisms, to make or modify products; improve plants or animals; or develop microorganisms for specific agricultural uses. Modern biotechnology today includes the tools of genetic engineering.

Allergen:

A substance, usually a protein, that can cause an allergy or allergic reaction in the body.

Allergy:

A reaction by the body’s immune system after exposure to a particular substance, often a protein.

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt):

A soil bacterium that produces toxins that are deadly to some pests. The ability to produce Bt toxins has been engineered into some crops. See Bt crops.

Biopharming:

The production of pharmaceuticals such as edible vaccines and antibodies in plants or domestic animals.

Bt crops:

Crops that are genetically engineered to carry a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The bacterium produces proteins that are toxic to some pests but non-toxic to humans and other mammals. Crops containing the Bt gene are able to produce this toxin, thereby providing protection for the plant. Bt corn and Bt cotton are examples of commercially available Bt crops.

Chromosome:

The self-replicating genetic structure of cells, containing genes, which determines inheritance of traits. Chemically, each chromosome is composed of proteins and a long molecule of DNA.

Clone:

A genetic replica of an organism created without sexual reproduction.

Cross-pollination:

Fertilization of a plant with pollen from another plant. Pollen may be transferred by wind, insects, other organisms, or humans.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid):

The chemical substance from which genes are made. DNA is a long, double-stranded helical molecule made up of nucleotides which are themselves composed of sugars, phosphates, and derivatives of the four bases adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). The sequence order of the four bases in the DNA strands determines the genetic information contained.

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA):

A technique using antibodies for detecting specific proteins. Used to test for the presence of a particular genetically engineered organism.

Field trial:

A test of a new technique or variety, including biotech-derived varieties, done outside the laboratory but with specific requirements on location, plot size, methodology, etc.

Gene:

The fundamental physical and functional unit of heredity. A gene is typically a specific segment of a chromosome and encodes a specific functional product (such as a protein or RNA molecule).

Gene expression:

The result of the activity of a gene or genes which influence the biochemistry and physiology of an organism and may change its outward appearance.

Gene flow:

The movement of genes from one individual or population to another genetically compatible individual or population.

Gene mapping:

Determining the relative physical locations of genes on a chromosome. Useful for plant and animal breeding.

Gene (DNA) sequencing:

Determining the exact sequence of nucleotide bases in a strand of DNA to better understand the behavior of a gene.

Genetic engineering:

Manipulation of an organism’s genes by introducing, eliminating or rearranging specific genes using the methods of modern molecular biology, particularly those techniques referred to as recombinant DNA techniques.

Genetically engineered organism (GEO):

An organism produced through genetic engineering.

Genetic modification:

The production of heritable improvements in plants or animals for specific uses, via either genetic engineering or other more traditional methods. Some countries other than the United States use this term to refer specifically to genetic engineering.

Genetically modified organism (GMO):

An organism produced through genetic modification.

Genetics:

The study of the patterns of inheritance of specific traits.

Genome:

All the genetic material in all the chromosomes of a particular organism.

Genomics:

The mapping and sequencing of genetic material in the DNA of a particular organism as well as the use of that information to better understand what genes do, how they are controlled, how they work together, and what their physical locations are on the chromosome.

Genomic library:

A collection of biomolecules made from DNA fragments of a genome that represent the genetic information of an organism that can be propagated and then systematically screened for particular properties. The DNA may be derived from the genomic DNA of an organism or from DNA copies made from messenger RNA molecules. A computer-based collection of genetic information from these biomolecules can be a “virtual genomic library.”

Genotype:

The genetic identity of an individual. Genotype often is evident by outward characteristics, but may also be reflected in more subtle biochemical ways not visually evident.

Herbicide-tolerant crops:

Crops that have been developed to survive application(s) of particular herbicides by the incorporation of certain gene(s) either through genetic engineering or traditional breeding methods. The genes allow the herbicides to be applied to the crop to provide effective weed control without damaging the crop itself.

Hybrid:

The offspring of any cross between two organisms of different genotypes.

Identity preservation:

The segregation of one crop type from another at every stage from production and processing to distribution. This process is usually performed through audits and site visits and provides independent third-party verification of the segregation.

Insecticide resistance:

The development or selection of heritable traits (genes) in an insect population that allow individuals expressing the trait to survive in the presence of levels of an insecticide (biological or chemical control agent) that would otherwise debilitate or kill this species of insect. The presence of such resistant insects makes the insecticide less useful for managing pest populations.

Insect-resistance management:

A strategy for delaying the development of pesticide resistance by maintaining a portion of the pest population in a refuge that is free from contact with the insecticide. For Bt crops this allows the insects feeding on the Bt toxin to mate with insects not exposed to the toxin produced in the plants.

Insect-resistant crops:

Plants with the ability to withstand, deter or repel insects and thereby prevent them from feeding on the plant. The traits (genes) determining resistance may be selected by plant breeders through cross-pollination with other varieties of this crop or through the introduction of novel genes such as Bt genes through genetic engineering.

Intellectual property rights:

The legal protection for inventions, including new technologies or new organisms (such as new plant varieties). The owner of these rights can control their use and earn the rewards for their use. This encourages further innovation and creativity for the benefit of us all. Intellectual property rights protection includes various types of patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

Molecular biology:

The study of the structure and function of proteins and nucleic acids in biological systems.

Mutation:

Any heritable change in DNA structure or sequence. The identification and incorporation of useful mutations has been essential for traditional crop breeding.

Nucleotide:

A subunit of DNA or RNA consisting of a nitrogenous base (adenine, guanine, thymine, or cytosine in DNA; adenine, guanine, uracil, or cytosine in RNA), a phosphate molecule, and a sugar molecule (deoxyribose in DNA and ribose in RNA). Many of nucleotides are linked to form a DNA or RNA molecule.

Organic agriculture:

A concept and practice of agricultural production that focuses on production without the use of synthetic inputs and does not allow the use of transgenic organisms. USDA’s National Organic Program has established a set of national standards for certified organic production which are available online.

Outcrossing:

Mating between different populations or individuals of the same species that are not closely related. The term “outcrossing” can be used to describe unintended pollination by an outside source of the same crop during hybrid seed production.

Pest-resistant crops:

Plants with the ability to withstand, deter or repel pests and thereby prevent them from damaging the plants. Plant pests may include insects, nematodes, fungi, viruses, bacteria, weeds, and other.

Pesticide resistance:

The development or selection of heritable traits (genes) in a pest population that allow individuals expressing the trait to survive in the presence of levels of a pesticide (biological or chemical control agent) that would otherwise debilitate or kill this pest. The presence of such resistant pests makes the pesticide less useful for managing pest populations.

Phenotype:

The visible and/or measurable characteristics of an organism (how it appears outwardly).

Plant breeding:

The use of cross-pollination, selection, and certain other techniques involving crossing plants to produce varieties with particular desired characteristics (traits) that can be passed on to future plant generations.

Plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs):

Pesticidal substances introduced into plants by genetic engineering that are produced and used by the plant to protect it from pests. The protein toxins of Bt are often used as PIPs in the formation of Bt crops.

Plant pests:

Organisms that may directly or indirectly cause disease, spoilage, or damage to plants, plant parts or processed plant materials. Common examples include certain insects, mites, nematodes, fungi, molds, viruses, and bacteria.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR):

A technique used to create a large number of copies of a target DNA sequence of interest. One use of PCR is in the detection of DNA sequences that indicate the presence of a particular genetically engineered organism.

Promoter:

A region of DNA that regulates the level of function of other genes.

Protein:

A molecule composed of one or more chains of amino acids in a specific order. Proteins are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs, and each protein has a unique function.

Recombinant DNA (rDNA):

A molecule of DNA formed by joining different DNA segments using recombinant DNA technology.

Recombinant DNA technology:

Procedures used to join together DNA segments in a cell-free system (e.g. in a test tube outside living cells or organisms). Under appropriate conditions, a recombinant DNA molecule can be introduced into a cell and copy itself (replicate), either as an independent entity (autonomously) or as an integral part of a cellular chromosome.

Ribonucleic Acid (RNA):

A chemical substance made up of nucleotides compound of sugars, phosphates, and derivatives of the four bases adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and uracil (U). RNAs function in cells as messengers of information from DNA that are translated into protein or as molecules that have certain structural or catalytic functions in the synthesis of proteins. RNA is also the carrier of genetic information for certain viruses. RNAs may be single or double stranded.

Selectable marker:

A gene, often encoding resistance to an antibiotic or an herbicide, introduced into a group of cells to allow identification of those cells that contain the gene of interest from the cells that do not. Selectable markers are used in genetic engineering to facilitate identification of cells that have incorporated another desirable trait that is not easy to identify in individual cells.

Selective breeding:

Making deliberate crosses or matings of organisms so the offspring will have particular desired characteristics derived from one or both of the parents.

Traditional breeding:

Modification of plants and animals through selective breeding. Practices used in traditional plant breeding may include aspects of biotechnology such as tissue culture and mutational breeding.

Transgene:

A gene from one organism inserted into another organism by recombinant DNA techniques.

Transgenic organism:

An organism resulting from the insertion of genetic material from another organism using recombinant DNA techniques.

Variety:

A subdivision of a species for taxonomic classification also referred to as a ‘cultivar.’ A variety is a group of individual plants that is uniform, stable, and distinct genetically from other groups of individuals in the same species.

Vector: 1.

A type of DNA element, such as a plasmid, or the genome of a bacteriophage, or virus, that is self-replicating and that can be used to transfer DNA segments into target cells. 2. An insect or other organism that provides a means of dispersal for a disease or parasite.

Source: USDA Website

Biotechnology Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Agricultural Biotechnology?

Agricultural biotechnology is a spread of equipment, including conventional breeding ways, that alter dwelling organisms, or parts of organisms, to make or modify products; support plants or animals; or increase microorganisms for specific agricultural makes use of. Modern biotechnology lately contains the gear of genetic engineering.

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How is Agricultural Biotechnology getting used?

Biotechnology provides farmers with tools that may make manufacturing cheaper and extra manageable. For example, some biotechnology crops will also be engineered to tolerate explicit herbicides, which make weed keep watch over more practical and extra environment friendly. Other vegetation were engineered to be resistant to precise plant diseases and bug pests, which may make pest control more reliable and effective, and/or can lower the use of synthetic pesticides. These crop production choices can help nations keep tempo with demands for food whilst decreasing manufacturing prices. numerous biotechnology-derived plants which were deregulated by means of the USDA and reviewed for food safety through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were followed by growers.

Many different varieties of crops are now in the research and construction stages. While it isn’t imaginable to know precisely which will come to fruition, surely biotechnology can have highly numerous makes use of for agriculture someday. Advances in biotechnology would possibly supply customers with meals that are nutritionally-enriched or longer-lasting, or that comprise decrease ranges of certain naturally occurring toxicants present in some food plants. Developers are the usage of biotechnology to take a look at to scale back saturated fat in cooking oils, cut back allergens in meals, and build up disease-fighting nutrients in meals. They are also researching tactics to make use of genetically engineered plants in the production of latest medicines, which might result in a brand new plant-made pharmaceutical trade that might cut back the prices of manufacturing the use of a sustainable useful resource.

Genetically engineered vegetation also are being advanced for a purpose known as phytoremediation during which the crops detoxify pollutants in the soil or take in and accumulate polluting elements out of the soil so that the plants may be harvested and disposed of safely. In both case the result’s stepped forward soil high quality at a polluted site. Biotechnology can be used to preserve herbal resources, allow animals to extra effectively use nutrients present in feed, lower nutrient runoff into rivers and bays, and assist meet the increasing world meals and land calls for. Researchers are at work to produce hardier crops that may flourish in even the most harsh environments and that can require much less gas, exertions, fertilizer, and water, serving to to decrease the pressures on land and natural world habitats.

In addition to genetically engineered plants, biotechnology has helped make different enhancements in agriculture no longer involving crops. Examples of such advances come with making antibiotic manufacturing extra efficient through microbial fermentation and generating new animal vaccines through genetic engineering for illnesses similar to foot and mouth illness and rabies.

What are the benefits of Agricultural Biotechnology?

The utility of biotechnology in agriculture has led to benefits to farmers, manufacturers, and shoppers. Biotechnology has helped to make both insect pest keep an eye on and weed management more secure and easier while safeguarding vegetation against disease.

For instance, genetically engineered insect-resistant cotton has allowed for a significant reduction in using persistent, synthetic insecticides that may contaminate groundwater and the environment.

In phrases of advanced weed keep watch over, herbicide-tolerant soybeans, cotton, and corn enable the usage of reduced-risk herbicides that damage down more quickly in soil and are non-toxic to wildlife and humans. Herbicide-tolerant plants are specifically appropriate with no-till or decreased tillage agriculture systems that assist preserve topsoil from erosion.

Agricultural biotechnology has been used to offer protection to crops from devastating diseases. The papaya ringspot virus threatened to derail the Hawaiian papaya business until papayas resistant to the illness have been advanced via genetic engineering. This stored the U.S. papaya business. Research on potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and other crops continues in a similar manner to supply resistance to viral diseases that another way are very tricky to keep watch over.

Biotech crops could make farming extra winning through expanding crop quality and would possibly in some instances building up yields. The use of a few of these vegetation can simplify paintings and strengthen safety for farmers. This allows farmers to spend much less in their time managing their crops and extra time on different winning actions.

Biotech plants might supply enhanced high quality traits comparable to larger ranges of beta-carotene in rice to help in decreasing diet A deficiencies and stepped forward oil compositions in canola, soybean, and corn. Crops having the ability to develop in salty soils or higher face up to drought conditions are also in the works and the primary such merchandise are simply entering the marketplace. Such inventions is also increasingly essential in adapting to or in some cases serving to to mitigate the results of local weather trade.

The gear of agricultural biotechnology were helpful for researchers in helping to know the fundamental biology of living organisms. For example, scientists have known the whole genetic construction of a number of traces of Listeria and Campylobacter, the bacteria often accountable for main outbreaks of food-borne illness in folks. This genetic knowledge is providing a wealth of alternatives that help researchers toughen the protection of our meals supply. The equipment of biotechnology have “unlocked doorways” and are also helping in the building of progressed animal and plant types, both those produced by way of typical approach in addition to those produced via genetic engineering.

four. What are the protection concerns with Agricultural Biotechnology?

Breeders had been comparing new products evolved through agricultural biotechnology for centuries. In addition to these efforts, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) paintings to ensure that vegetation produced through genetic engineering for business use are properly examined and studied to verify they pose no vital menace to shoppers or the environment.

Crops produced thru genetic engineering are the one ones formally reviewed to assess the potential for transfer of novel traits to wild family members. When new characteristics are genetically engineered into a crop, the new vegetation are evaluated to make sure that they don’t have traits of weeds. Where biotech crops are grown in proximity to related plants, the possibility of the 2 plants to replace characteristics by the use of pollen will have to be evaluated prior to unlock. Crop plants of a wide variety can alternate traits with their close wild kinfolk (that may be weeds or wildflowers) when they are in proximity. In the case of biotech-derived plants, the EPA and USDA carry out threat assessments to guage this risk and reduce attainable destructive consequences, if any.

Other possible dangers thought to be in the overview of genetically engineered organisms include any environmental results on birds, mammals, insects, worms, and other organisms, especially on the subject of insect or disease resistance characteristics. This is why the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the EPA overview any environmental affects of such pest-resistant biotechnology derived vegetation prior to approval of field-testing and commercial free up. Testing on many varieties of organisms corresponding to honeybees, different really helpful insects, earthworms, and fish is performed to be sure that there are not any accidental penalties associated with those crops.
With respect to food protection, when new traits presented to biotech-derived vegetation are examined by way of the EPA and the FDA, the proteins produced by these characteristics are studied for their possible toxicity and attainable to motive an allergic response. Tests designed to examine the warmth and digestive stability of those proteins, as well as their similarity to known allergenic proteins, are finished prior to entry into the food or feed provide. To put those issues in point of view, it turns out to be useful to notice that whilst the specific biotech characteristics being used are frequently new to vegetation in that they continuously do not come from plants (many are from bacteria and viruses), the same fundamental types of traits often can also be found naturally in most vegetation. These fundamental traits, like insect and illness resistance, have allowed crops to live to tell the tale and evolve through the years.

five. How widely used are biotechnology plants?

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), biotechnology plantings as a share of general crop plantings in the United States in 2012 had been about 88 % for corn, 94 p.c for cotton, and 93 p.c for soybeans. NASS conducts an agricultural survey in all states in June of each and every 12 months. The file issued from the survey comprises a section specific to the main biotechnology derived box plants and gives further element on biotechnology plantings. The most up-to-date file could also be viewed at the following web site: https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us.aspx

For a abstract of those data, see the USDA Economic Research Service data characteristic at: https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us.aspx

The USDA does no longer take care of information on global utilization of genetically engineered crops. The independent International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a not-for-profit group, estimates that the worldwide area of biotech vegetation for 2012 was once 170.3 million hectares, grown by 17.3 million farmers in 28 international locations, with a mean annual enlargement in space cultivated of around 6 %. More than 90 percent of farmers rising biotech vegetation are resource-poor farmers in creating countries. ISAAA stories various statistics on the world adoption and plantings of biotechnology derived vegetation. The ISAAA site is https://www.isaaa.org

  1. What are the roles of government in agricultural biotechnology?

Please note: These descriptions are not a whole or thorough overview of the entire actions of those businesses with respect to agricultural biotechnology and are supposed as common introductory materials simplest. For more information please see the related agency internet sites.

Regulatory

The Federal Government advanced a Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology in 1986 to provide for the regulatory oversight of organisms derived through genetic engineering. The three important agencies that have supplied number one steerage to the experimental trying out, approval, and eventual commercial liberate of those organisms up to now are the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The manner taken within the Coordinated Framework is grounded in the judgment of the National Academy of Sciences that the possible risks related to these organisms fall into the similar basic classes as the ones created by way of traditionally bred organisms.

Products are regulated consistent with their intended use, with some products being regulated beneath more than one company. All executive regulatory agencies have a duty to make sure that the implementation of regulatory selections, including approval of box tests and eventual deregulation of authorized biotech plants, does not adversely have an effect on human health or the surroundings.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is accountable for protecting U.S. agriculture from pests and diseases. APHIS rules provide procedures for acquiring a permit or for offering notification previous to “introducing” (the act of introducing includes any movement into or during the U.S., or release into the environment outdoor an area of bodily confinement) a regulated article in the U.S. Regulated articles are organisms and products altered or produced thru genetic engineering which are plant pests or for which there’s reason why to imagine are plant pests.

The rules also provide for a petition procedure for the resolution of non-regulated standing. Once a choice of non-regulated standing has been made, the organism (and its offspring) now not calls for APHIS evaluate for motion or unlock within the U.S.

For additional information on the regulatory tasks of the FDA, the EPA and APHIS please see:

https://www.fda.gov
https://www.epa.gov

APHIS Biotechnology Regulations

Market Facilitation

The USDA also is helping trade reply to shopper demands within the United States and in a foreign country by way of supporting the marketing of a wide range of agricultural merchandise produced via standard, organic, and genetically engineered means.

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) have developed quite a few services and products to facilitate the strategic advertising of conventional and genetically engineered meals, fibers, grains, and oilseeds in both home and world markets. GIPSA provides these products and services for the majority grain and oilseed markets whilst AMS provides the services for food commodities corresponding to fruit and veggies, in addition to for fiber commodities.

These services and products include:

  1. Evaluation of Test Kits: AMS and GIPSA assessment commercially to be had check kits designed to come across the presence of specific proteins in genetically engineered agricultural commodities
    GIPSA evaluates the performance of laboratories undertaking DNA-based exams to locate genetically engineered grains and oilseeds, supplies contributors with their person results, and posts a summary report at the GIPSA web page. AMS is developing a equivalent program that can assessment and examine the features of independent laboratories to display screen other merchandise for the presence of genetically engineered material.
  2. Identity Preservation/Process Verification Services: AMS and GIPSA offer auditing products and services to certify using written high quality practices and/or manufacturing processes by manufacturers who differentiate their commodities using id preservation, checking out, and product branding.
    Additional AMS Services: AMS supplies fee-based DNA and protein testing services for meals and fiber merchandise, and its Plant Variety Protection Office provides highbrow belongings rights protection for brand spanking new genetically engineered seed sorts through the issuance of Certificates of Protection.
    Additional GIPSA Services: GIPSA supplies advertising paperwork pertaining as to whether there are genetically engineered forms of sure bulk commodities in commercial production within the United States. USDA also works to reinforce and enlarge market get right of entry to for U.S. agricultural products, together with the ones produced via genetic engineering.

The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) helps or administers a large number of training, outreach, and trade systems designed to strengthen the understanding and acceptance of genetically engineered agricultural products international

  1. Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program: Supports U.S. farm producer teams (referred to as “Cooperators”) to market agricultural products overseas, together with the ones produced using genetic engineering.
  2. Emerging Markets Program: Supports technical assistance activities to promote exports of U.S. agricultural commodities and products to emerging markets, together with the ones produced the usage of genetic engineering. Activities to reinforce science-based decision-making are also undertaken. Such activities have integrated food protection training in Mexico, a biotechnology route for emerging marketplace individuals at Michigan State University, farmer-to-farmer workshops within the Philippines and Honduras, high-level coverage discussions throughout the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation crew, as well as a large number of study excursions and workshops involving newshounds, regulators, and policy-makers.

three. Cochran Fellowship Program: Supports momentary coaching in biotechnology and genetic engineering. Since this system was once created in 1984, the Cochran Fellowship Program has supplied education and training to 325 international contributors, basically regulators, coverage makers, and scientists.

  1. Borlaug Fellowship Program: Supports collaborative analysis in new applied sciences, including biotechnology and genetic engineering. Since this system was once established in 2004, the Borlaug Fellowship Program has funded 193 fellowships in this research space.

five. Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC): Supports technical help activities that cope with sanitary, phytosanitary, and technical limitations that restrict or threaten the export of U.S. specialty plants. This program has supported activities on biotech papaya.

Research

USDA researchers search to solve major agricultural problems and to better perceive the elemental biology of agriculture. Researchers may use biotechnology to conduct analysis more efficiently and to find things that may not be possible by means of extra conventional way. This includes introducing new or progressed characteristics in vegetation, animals, and microorganisms and growing new biotechnology-based merchandise equivalent to simpler diagnostic exams, advanced vaccines, and better antibiotics. Any USDA research involving the development of new biotechnology products includes biosafety analysis.

USDA scientists also are improving biotechnology equipment for ever more secure, simpler use of biotechnology via all researchers. For example, higher fashions are being advanced to guage genetically engineered organisms and to scale back allergens in meals.

USDA researchers monitor for attainable environmental problems reminiscent of insect pests changing into immune to Bt, a substance that sure plants, reminiscent of corn and cotton, have been genetically engineered to supply to give protection to against insect injury. In addition, in partnership with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Forest Service, the Cooperative States Research, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) administers the Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program (BRAG) which develops science-based information regarding the protection of introducing genetically engineered plants, animals, and microorganisms. Lists of biotechnology research initiatives may also be found at https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/projects.htm for ARS and at https://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding-opportunity/biotechnology-risk-assessment-research-grants-program-brag for NIFA.

USDA also develops and supports centralized web sites that provide get admission to to genetic resources and genomic details about agricultural species. Making these databases simply obtainable is crucial for researchers around the globe.
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supplies investment and program management for extramural research, upper education, and extension actions in meals and agricultural biotechnology. NIFA administers and manages budget for biotechnology thru a variety of aggressive and cooperative grants techniques. The National Research Initiative (NRI) Competitive Grants Program, the biggest NIFA competitive program, supports fundamental and implemented research tasks and built-in research, education, and/or extension initiatives, a lot of which use or develop biotechnology tools, approaches, and merchandise. The Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) funds competitive grants to give a boost to research by certified small businesses on complicated ideas associated with medical problems and alternatives in agriculture, together with development of biotechnology-derived products. NIFA additionally helps analysis involving biotechnology and biotechnology-derived products thru cooperative funding methods at the side of state agricultural experiment stations at land-grant universities. NIFA partners with different federal companies through interagency competitive grant programs to fund agricultural and meals research that uses or develops biotechnology and biotechnology tools equivalent to metabolic engineering, microbial genome sequencing, and maize genome sequencing.

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) conducts research at the economic aspects of using genetically engineered organisms, including the rate of and causes for adoption of biotechnology by means of farmers. ERS additionally addresses economic issues associated with the selling, labeling, and buying and selling of biotechnology-derived merchandise.

Agriculture, Nuclear Techniques and Pakistan

The field of nuclear agriculture is introduced right here very briefly with Pakistan for example. New forms of different plants were evolved in Pakistan the use of nuclear tactics. Varieties are decided on when fascinating characteristics are produced in crop experiments. Agriculture has been the backbone of the improvement during the human history. It is helping us within the manufacturing of foods, clothes and the uncooked materials for the previous and trendy trade. Nuclear agriculture refers to the application of nuclear techniques and strategies in the field of agriculture.

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It is an example of non violent uses of nuclear era. No residual radiation is left in the vegetation developed via radiation brought on mutations. Nuclear agriculture is amongst priorities of Pakistan’s neighbors India and China. Pakistan is not in the back of its neighbors in nuclear agriculture and has developed close to 100 new varieties of various vegetation together with wheat, cotton, rice, lentil, chickpea, brassica and sugarcane, and so on. Developed sorts have higher yield attainable and resistance against sicknesses and bug pests than their mother or father varieties. Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has paid really extensive consideration to promote the nuclear ways for the development of agriculture sector in the country.

PAEC agriculture analysis device contains Nuclear Institute of Agriculture (NIA), Tandojam, Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB), Faisalabad, Nuclear Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Peshawar and National Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Faisalabad. They have played an important position within the construction of latest crop varieties via the use of the nuclear techniques in agriculture. Development of crop varieties is a slow procedure as it takes 12-15 years to increase new varieties and to achieve balance in efficiency.

A Lot Of crop sorts have been evolved by means of PAEC institutes (Table 1). Wheat, cotton, rice and sugarcane are major crops on which breeding work through radiation induced mutations is being conducted at PAEC institutes. Varieties are selected when fascinating traits are produced in radiation precipitated mutations of crop seeds. Varieties of 8 other crops are launched which displays the broad scope of breeding work persisted at PAEC agriculture facilities. PAEC agriculture centres have advanced new applied sciences, crop sorts and instruments/methods associated with agriculture. They have transferred the developed technologies to the top users or farmers. The launched crop types have resulted in exceptional growth in productivity and tolerance of the crops.

Table 1. Crop varieties developed by the PAEC institutes*

Crop/Institute NIA NIAB NIFA NIBGE Total
Brassica 1 4 5
Cotton 4 12 7 23
Chickpea 5 4 9
Lentil 1 2 3
Mungbean 1 11 1 13
Sugarcane 3 3
Rice 6 3 9
Wheat 13 7 20
Total 29 33 16 7 85


*Consultation for data in this table: Dr. K.D. Jamali, NIA, Tandojam, Sindh, Pakistan

Various kinds of above mentioned vegetation have been launched by the PAEC’s agriculture institutes. These types quilt important fraction of crop areas within the country. NIAB-78, released by NIAB, Faisalabad, is a cotton variety which covered greater than 70% of the realm under cotton in Pakistan. Sarsabz (1985) and Kiran, (1992), each launched by means of NIA, Tandojam, are very a hit wheat types and covers greater than 30% space under wheat in Sindh. Kiran nonetheless dominates in Sindh province protecting more than 25% of land under wheat. Shandar is a rice variety, released through NIA dominates and covers more than 50% of house beneath rice in Sindh.

NIA has launched rice selection Shua for saline lands. Saduri is the most productive cotton selection released by way of NIA and it covers greater than 25% of land underneath cotton in Sindh. NIA-2004 is a sugarcane selection, released via NIA, which may be very in style in Sindh. Pakistan is an agricultural state where crop growth will have a significant impact on the nationwide financial system. So, agriculture R&D in Pakistan is essential.

Rising global inhabitants calls for the rise of food production and decrease of crop losses. Nuclear techniques in agriculture can lend a hand in achieving the goal of matching meals manufacturing with its call for via growing high yield and tension resistant crop varieties. Pakistan is making use of scientific knowledge/revel in in fixing the issues of agriculture.

Role of Biotechnology in Agriculture

Biotechnology has become indispensable for crop improvement now a day. The terminology was first used by a scientist named Karoly Ereky in 1919. To manipulate the gene was a dream until There are certain situations where there is no option except to use some protocols of biotechnology to get our solution. The aim of biotechnology is to face the needs of the growing population.

By Mujahid Ali, Dr. Shoaib-ur-Rehman (Horticulture, UAF)

To feed 210 million people in Pakistan has become a challenge. Agriculture and dairy farming is the only option to achieve the task. Its main products are antibiotics and hormones etc. To find genes which control the character is the basic objective of biotechnology. Then to manipulate these, for example, to delete it from its place, to insert it into an organism or to make an alteration in it to modify plant accordingly is the target. The organism whose genetic makeup is changed or modified is called GMOs. It is giving more yield than conventional breeding. In conventional breeding, it takes more time usually years to insert one gene in an organism and even we fail. But Biotechnology can do so in a very short time. Biotechnology even enables us to create a gene of interest. The person involves in this field are called genetic engineers. Recently, about twenty-nine biotechnology-based laboratories are active in Pakistan.

During the years 1996 and 2011, the total surface area of land cultivated with GM crops had increased by a factor of 94, from 17,000 square kilometers (4,200,000 acres) to 1,600,000 square kilometers (395 million acres). 10% of the world’s crop lands were planted with GM crops in 2010. As of 2011, 11 different transgenic crops were grown commercially on 395 million acres (160 million hectares) in 29 countries such as the USA, Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada, China, Paraguay, Pakistan, South Africa, Uruguay, Bolivia, Australia, Philippines, Myanmar, Burkina Faso, Mexico and Spain.

Biotechnology is very complex to understand. It is a recent advancement in human welfare. To understand DNA is the first step in getting knowledge of biotechnology. Gene is a part of DNA which control a specific character or influence on it. There is a sequence of nucleotide in it. DNA is mostly present in the nucleus of the cell. To understand markers and primer is also very important. We use molecular markers to find the gene of interest having a specific sequence. Polymer chain reactions (PCR), DNA extraction and Recombinant DNA technology etc. are important to know before starting this technology.

Role of biotechnology in plant protection is vital. We can find genes responsible for disease production. We can delete these genes or genes that produce tolerance in crops can also be inserted. So crops are becoming resistant to insect pest and different pathogens. To date, most genetic modification of foods has primarily focused on cash crops in high demand by farmers such as soybean, corn, canola, and cottonseed oil. Almost every agronomic crop has been genetically engineered.

Yields and nutritional value has been enhanced through farming biotechnology monetarily on a wide scale for more than 12 years. These yields have been increasing worldwide at rates surpassing some other advances ever of. Agrarian biotechnology has been appeared to increase trim creation by seven to ten times in some developing nations, a long way past the generation abilities of customary horticulture, and the worldwide network is paying heed. In 2007, 12 million agriculturists in twenty-three countries, twelve developing and eleven developed countries planted 252 million sections of land of biotech crops, fundamentally soybeans, corn, cotton, and canola. Eleven a great many these were little or asset poor ranchers in creating nations.

It is not an easy job to deal with genes. It requires a lot of capital to initiate and run biotechnological laboratories. A lot of expertise is needed. It needs much skill personals. Highly technical staff is having a prime requirement. It is much difficult to do experiments and sometimes it can not replaces breeding. Moreover, GM foods are controversial. Developed nations are banning its use for food crops. It causes allergy and other diseases for example cancer. Some social issues are also related to this field. It also causes environmental problems. So, we have to keep balance to move further toward biotechnology programs. 

Significant of Bt Maize to enhance yield

Pakistan is largely based on agriculture; it contributes about 25% to the national economy, provides employment for over 50% of the labour force and is main source of income generation in rural areas. During last four years 2002-06, average annual growth in agriculture sector has been frustrating due to low production of the main crops.

In most of developing countries farmers have always sought ways to increase crop productivity, quality, and sustain reliability through out the year; nearly all farming in the developing world remains small scale and labor intensive and employs a much greater proportion of the population as a result of it there is less reliable productivity and growth; on the other hand agriculture has become more mechanized and less labor intensive with few people engaged in food production in many advance countries due to adoption of up-to-the-minute technology; they have successfully maintain sustainable development and are more certain about their food and energy security.

Green revolution in the 20th century did not harness Pakistan and the average yields of crops are still low as compared to other countries- the yield of major crops is still 30-50 per cent below the demonstrated potential – the gap between actual and potential yield of rice is 50 per cent, wheat 40 per cent, sugarcane 35 per cent and maize 30 per cent. Moreover the burgeoning population having already crossed the 160 millions mark, so elevation of food insecurity and poverty continue to be the main concern of the country. On current trends in population and food production there is likely to be a large gap between production and demand by 2025.

The main factor which contribute the low yield of crops includes, less water for irrigation, high cost of inputs, poor quality seed, conventional sowing method, low level of farm mechanization; high pest infestation and hopeless weed management in practice.

The goals of farmers, government institutes everywhere remain the same how to increase agriculture out put, reduce hunger and poverty with environmental friendly technologies; there is no single solution which is likely to solve our growing problem in agriculture, food, energy, health and environment however tools of agricultural biotechnology are being adopted in many countries to address these issues. It is worth mentioning today around 45 million people in Pakistan has not enough income to purchase the food they need for healthy life and about one third of the population is malnourished; improvement in agriculture will not only help country’s economic growth but also benefit a large segment of the population.

In Pakistan maize is third important cereal after wheat and rice; while it ranks third most grown crop in the world with an area of more than 365 million acres with an annual production of about 750 million metric tones; Asia grows 30% of the global area with China itself growing 74 million acres, plus significant production in India 24 million acres, Indonesia 12.5 million acres, Philippines 9.5 million acres, Thailand 6.5 million acres and Vietnam 2.8 million acres. In Pakistan the area under maize is over 2.4 million acres and production 3.25 million metric tons. Punjab and NWFP contribute 40 per cent, 58 per cent of the total area under maize respectively while around 2 percent of the total area under maize is contributed by Sindh and Balochistan; 30% of total production is contributed by Punjab while 60% by NWFP. Maize is an important crop of AJK with about 0.25 million acres of maize being planted.

Maize crop has a variety of uses it is grown basically for grains and is at the same time a popular fodder for livestock, its grain is a rich source of starch, protein, edible oil is extracted from maize seeds, biofuel like ethanol, biodiesel are being obtained from maize in many parts of the world and it has many applications in food and Pharmaceutical industry.

Maize stem borer is major insect problem in Pakistan, which on the average reduces the yield by about 20-40%; similarly weeds in maize crops reduce yield by 30-45 per cent or even more. Many farmers perceive that insecticides have limited effectiveness on stem borer larvae on the surface of maize plants at the time of spraying but are less effective against larvae that have bored into stalks. Furthermore egg laying can occur over a three week period and most insecticides are only effective for 7 to 10 days; as result the cost per treatment is turned very high relative to perceived usefulness. It is worth mentioning that since the adoption of hybrid maize varieties the production capacity per acre has increased significantly which is more than 5 tones grains per acre as compare with 1.5 tones per acres with conventional maize varieties.

Plant biotechnologists claim that this problem can be solved by the adoption of Bt Maize or genetically modified (GM) maize; which is genetically enhanced by inserting Cry1Ab gene from naturally occurring soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) into the genetic makeup of the corn plant, this genetically improved maize produces the a toxic protein which has the ability to control certain maize borers and a few maize rootworms. GM maize plant does not need to be sprayed as compare to conventional maize varieties so the risk to the environment is minimal as well as it reduces number of pesticides application however opponent argue that the way the crop is grown in some countries may lead to insects becoming resistant to the GM plant. Similarly GM maize with herbicide tolerant gene has the inbuilt mechanism against the application of non selective herbicide; Glyphosate, is consider the most important herbicide around the world. Since transgenic, glyphosate-resistant crops were introduced in 1996; adoption of this technology especially in the U.S. and South America has been increased dramatically.

Today out of 365.7 millions acres of total global maize grown area; Bt maize have been cultivated on 62.2 millions of acres representing 17% of global transgenic; Bt maize has been approved to grow commercially across nine countries the United States, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, Spain, the Philippines, Uruguay, Honduras and Germany. The Philippines was the first country in Asia to commercially introduce the cultivation of Bt maize in 2003. France resumed the planting of Bt maize in 2005 after a four-year gap having planted Bt maize in 1998; because members of French Maize Growers Association expressed their open support for biotechnology, this year 54,362 acres of area; which is 1.5 percent of France’s cultivated maize land – have been sown with GM maize however farmers have urged greater use of GMO crops to boost yields. The underlying concern expressed by the maize growers fear that France would lagging behind in biotech crops when countries like China and India were embracing the technology to their advantage.

More recently French President Nicolas Sarkozy said no GM crops would be planted in France until the government had received the results of an evaluation by a new authority on GMOs set to be launched this year on the other hand European Agriculture Commissioner said a full ban on GMO crops would clearly go against the rules and that France would lose in court if it implemented such a ban. Today seven countries in EU are plantings of Bt maize; according to reports the crops have been delivering income gains to the farmers planting the crops, health benefits for the human and livestock consumers from improved grain quality and environmental gains associated with lower insecticide use.

However many claim that ecological effects of Bt maize on non-target need to be monitor and evaluate; as a precautionary in many countries Bt maize must be cultivated alongside so called “refuges” of conventional varieties – a strategy aimed at preventing the insects from becoming resistant to Bt.

According to a PG Economics study “The benefits of adopting genetically modified, insect resistant (Bt) maize in the EU: first results from 1998-2006 plantings”. The result shows that:

1. In maize growing regions affected by European Corn Borer (ECB) and Maize Stem Borer (MSB), the main impact of growing Bt maize has been higher yields compared to conventional non-GM maize. Average yield benefits have often been over 10% and sometimes higher;
2. In 2006, users of Bt maize have, on average, earned additional income levels of between Rs. 2,183 and Rs. 4,736 per acre. This is equal to an improvement in profitability of 12 to 20%;
3. In certain regions, Bt maize has delivered important improvements in grain quality through significant reductions in the levels of mycotoxins found in the grain. This delivers a health benefit to the livestock sector that mostly consumes the maize;
4. Where farmers have previously used insecticides to control ECB and MSB, adoption of Bt technology has delivered environmental gains from less insecticide use and reduced use of fuel. Reduced fuel use is contributing to lowering carbon emissions.

At present herbicide and insect-resistant maize are permitted for food use and traded on the international food and feed markets; under certain biosafety regulatory framework. However oil extracted from Bt maize grains can be marketed in any country as there is no Bt protein in refined edible oils. Bt protein is separated out in the oil extraction and refining process as oil consists of fatty acids.

Since 1996, when the first commercial GM crops were grown, the global GM crop area has unprecedented increase- reflecting grower satisfaction due to the significant and multiple benefits of GM crops; which include – more sustainable and resource efficient crop management practices that require less fuel, conserve vital soil moisture and control erosion; less dependency on pesticides. It is worth mentioning that there is not a single scientific evidence of its negative impact on environment and human health.

Subject of Mycotoxins in food / feed have received considerable attention especially over the last three decades around the globe – according to some reports Bt maize contains on average 90 percent less cancer causing mycotoxins than the non-GM maize varieties grown by organic and traditional farmers. Because the fungi that produce the mycotoxins, Fusarium molds, enter maize plants primarily through holes produced by corn borers; as every cell in Bt maize is equipped to fight corn borers directly, corn borers that attack such plants are quickly killed and do not replicate, which results in a fewer Fusarium infections and reduced mycotoxin production.

Despite the fact that Pakistan is overwhelmingly an agrarian economy, it is unable to produce sufficient edible oil for its domestic requirements therefore substantial amount of foreign exchange is spent on the import of soybeans, canola and palm oil. Our total requirement of edible oil is estimated at 1.65 million tons against the domestic production of various types of edible oil; which is around 600 thousand tons annually and, therefore, the shortfall of about 900 thousand tons is met through imports. By venturing into biotech crops like Bt maize, Bt soybean Bt Canola; Pakistan will be able to deal with this issue as well.

Pakistan is experiencing skyrocketing prices of edible oils, ghee and sugar since countries growing large area under soybean, maize and sugarcane started programs to convert these crops into biofuels due to increase in crude oil price per barrel (US$ 80 plus) in the international market; as a result of high demand the price of these crops have jumped many times. More recently a senior United Nations expert has condemned the growing use of crops to produce just “biofuels” as a replacement for petrol as a crime against humanity because it push the price of some food crops to record levels.

In order to save an average outflow of foreign exchange of about $900 million on account of import of edible oil and food & energy security, there is a strong need to accelerate efforts in the agriculture sector to steadily increase the local production of oil seeds by the use of GM crops.

Fortunately Pakistan has state of the art research institutes like National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Nuclear Institute of Agriculture and Biology (NIAB) and National Center of Excellence in Molecular Biology (NCEMB); which have capacity to provide GM seeds to the farmers in order to conquer the future growing challenges in agriculture however government’s well and priority would determine the direction.

Collectively, biotech benefits offer growers and society more efficient and higher crop productivity that help contribute to a more sustainable agriculture and to the formidable challenge of ensuring global food, feed, fiber and energy security in the future.

Meanwhile Pakistan need to strengthen its IPRs; Plant breeders Rights; and amend Seed Act as soon as possible to attract investment in this sector. Adopting crop biotechnology can bridge up the gap between the realized and potential maize yields; however it is vital to know so far this emerging technology as it has more advantages than disadvantages.

Ijaz Ahmad Rao – Bahawalpur

Scientific truth about agri biotechnology

NASIR BUTT

Introduction of new technologies has always been resisted in any field by the people who are the beneficiaries of the status-quo and those afraid of any new technology. Same thing is happening to agriculture in Pakistan and there is heated debate in the country on the introduction of genetically-modified or biotech crops, although data shows it is the most rapidly adopted crop technology in the history of modern agriculture.
Introduced first in 1996, today genetically-modified or biotech crops are being grown by millions of farmers across the globe – from the United States to Philippines. According to the latest report of International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), which has been tracking global biotech crop adoption trends since the inception of biotechnology in 1996, the global adoption of biotech crops continued to rise in 2012 with new countries realising the benefits. Hectarage of biotech crops increased every single year between 1996-2012 with double-digit growth rates, reflecting the confidence and trust of millions of risk-averse farmers around the world in both developing and industrial countries.Scientific truth about agri biotechnologyAt a time when the world is turning to science and technology, particularly biotechnology, to meet much-needed challenges in agriculture, Pakistan seems to be lacking a national strategy and plan of action to fully use this revolutionary science.
While there is a disinformation and misinformation campaign because of lack of understanding of agri-sciences, the voices of the experts, who know what agricultural biotechnology exactly is, are being ignored. Biotech crops are not new to Pakistan. Pakistan has already embraced crop biotechnology by commercialising Bt cotton (although through informal channel). According to the ISAAA, Pakistan is among the 10 countries which grew biotech crops on more than one million hectares in 2012. Now, Pakistan is in the process of approving GM corn, whose field trials have been completed as per government rules and regulations for commercial cultivation.
Before clarifying myths that are propagated by anti-science and low-quality seed companies, we must know that what exactly biotechnology is and how it works. Have you ever wondered where our crops come from and what were they like thousands of years ago, or hundreds of years ago? The truth is that our food crops today are in fact very different from the original wild plants from which they were derived. The fact is that crop biotechnology is just an evolution of traditional agricultural methods and merely an extension of traditional breeding.
Almost all GM crops are based on two well-established and rigorously tested technologies. First, Bt crops produce a bacterial protein known as Bacillus thuringiensis. It’s naturally occurring—and it’s widely used by organic farmers to selectively kill pest insects. Genetically engineered Bt crops simply produce their own Bt. The effects are identical to what happens on organic farms—which is what makes protests against genetically-engineered Bt crops seem so bizarre to scientists. The net result is that Bt crops increase yields because farmers lose fewer crops to insect pests.
The other major GM crops are those designed to be herbicide-tolerant, most commonly glyphosate, and better known as Roundup. Glyphosate is biodegradable and breaks down rapidly in the environment. Because the weed killer is more powerful and less toxic than the chemicals that it competed with, farmers quickly adopted glyphosate.
In case of GM corn, plants have been genetically modified to have agronomic desirable traits. Traits that have been engineered into corn include resistance to insect pests and herbicide tolerance. It means that GM corn makes a protein that kills specific insect pests without the use of insecticides. Besides, it can also reduce the losses caused by weeds. In a nutshell, GM corn is just an improved version of traditional corn and can be the solution to the major problems (insect pests and weeds) our corn farmers are facing today. The GM corn has the capability of significantly reducing the losses caused by certain chewing insect pests and weeds which in turn results in higher production. This transgenic maize provides in-plant protection with dual modes of action to protect against certain above-ground pests that plague Pakistani farmers including the corn Stem borer, (Chilo partellus), American Bollworm (Helicoverpa Armigera), army worm (Spodoptera Litura) and beet armyworm (Spodoptera Exigua). It also provides the corn plant with tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup(r) brand agricultural herbicides, opening up new possibilities for weed control for Pakistani farmers. This technology is also environment friendly because use of pesticides will decrease considerably.
Therefore, the scientific truth is that biotechnology is just a refinement of breeding techniques that have been used to improve plants for thousands of years. This technology is simply a more precise science, so scientists are able to isolate a specific gene to make exact changes to a crop. Scientists around the world agree that the risks associated with crop plants developed using biotechnology are the same as those for similar varieties developed using traditional breeding methods.

Source: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk

Biotechnology: Cotton Production Set to Increase

BY ORTON KIISHWEKO, 28 APRIL 2013

RECENTLY, the Ministry of State in the Vice-President’s Office (Environment) convened a meeting for stakeholders in the science community to deliberate on how crop genetic engineering can be used in the interest of agriculture and the local people in general.

At the meeting some stakeholders had concerns on whether there is conclusive research findings that show genetically engineered crops have no harm on human beings.

Biotechnology Cotton Production Set to Increase

The same week, a renowned Harvard University scholar, Prof Calestous Juma visited East Africa and said biotechnology and genetic engineering have the potential to do for agriculture, what mobile technology has done for the communications sector in Africa.

Prof Juma advocated for the adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), saying they would boost food and income security. He, however, cautioned that it would be detrimental to adopt GMOs without clear, flexible and supportive biotechnology regulations. Prof Juma has authored several books on Africa’s development, including The New Harvest, which is arguably today’s most authoritative scholarly work on agriculture in Africa.

In his book, he argued that African agriculture is currently at a crossroads, at which persistent food shortages are compounded by threats from climate change. But, as the book argues, Africa faces three major opportunities that can transform its agriculture into a force for economic growth: advances in science and technology; the creation of regional markets and the emergence of a new crop of entrepreneurial leaders dedicated to the continent’s economic improvement.

Filled with case studies from within Africa and success stories from developing nations around the world, The New Harvest outlines the policies and institutional changes necessary to promote agricultural innovation across the African continent. Incorporating research from academia, government, civil society and private sector, the book suggests multiple ways that individual African countries can work with others at the regional level to develop local knowledge and resources, harness technological innovation, encourage entrepreneurship, increase agricultural output, create markets and improve infrastructure.

He emphasised the role of technology in transforming livelihoods, insisting that if Africa didn’t embrace GMOs in agriculture, the problems like climate change, pests and diseases that have dogged the sector over the years would devour production to shocking levels. He decried the phenomenon of resisting new technologies, saying it won’t help Africa to develop. On the safety of GMOs, he compared the current debate to the rumours that were circulated during the early days of mobile technology that the phones would cause brain cancer.

He said instead of focusing on rumours that discredit GMOs, it is prudent for governments to empower institutions to effectively check the safety standards of each product introduced on the market. He said biotechnology had caused a 24 per cent increase in cotton yield per acre and a 50 per cent growth in cotton profit among US smallholder farmers between 2006 and 2008. It raised consumption expenditure by 18% during the period.

He cited another report which said GMO crops that are pest-resistant had suppressed pests even beyond gardens where they were planted to assist farmers who don’t grow GMOs. “Biotechnology and in particular GMOs are not per se more risky than conventional plant breeding,” he asserted, and explained that genetic engineering would make agriculture more attractive and reduce the number of youth running away from rural areas.

The scholar’s position brought into focus the importance of genetic engineering perhaps starting with non-food crops in Tanzania, including cotton. Locally, stakeholders have urged that the government should institute a policy that allows agricultural scientists to conduct research and trials on GMOs in different research centres. The Environmental Management Act does not allow the application of such research and that it should therefore be amended. For example, one of the crops whose future has elicited so much debate is cotton.

Questions have been asked as to whether Bt Cotton can address the challenges in the cotton sector. The Tanzanian cotton sector has undergone dramatic changes since liberalisation in 1994. Stimulated by high producer prices, it has held either its position as either the most or second most important export crop in Tanzania in recent years. An estimated 40 per cent of the entire Tanzanian population is believed to derive their livelihood either directly or indirectly from cotton, grown by as many as half a million of mostly smallholder farmers.

A recent World Bank publication remarks that the sector is unique in that it is marked with too much competition amongst buyers – resulting in higher producer prices yet lower qualities – compared to the other sub Saharan cotton economies. This increased competition- as a trade-off-also resulted in comparatively lower yields, as credit based input provisioning is challenging in an environment where an overcapacity in ginning fuels side-selling.

The earlier South African case is illustrative in that the Tanzanian supply chain put into place via contract farming could serve a similar fate of struggling with recovering the debt and providing subsidized inputs, although measures are developed by the TCB to combat these issues. In addition to low yields obtained in a rain-fed environment, farmers in the sector struggle with lack of access to credit and extension service.

Research in the cotton sector also has been limited with poor seed quality, although the new UK M08 variety – developed at the Ukiriguru Cotton Institute – is planned for release as early as 2013/14. Furthermore, the intense competition has resulted in a comparatively lower cotton quality, as buyers are more focused on securing their quantities for their orders. While the quality is improved by half the ginneries operating roller gins and the entire harvest being hand-picked, the sector continues to suffer from the collapse of the textile industry after liberalization.

On average, only around 20 percent of the ginned cotton is consumed by domestic textile industries. The other 80 per cent are exported, thus revealing a potential source of domestic value addition as an estimated 90 per cent of the profits are obtained abroad (TCB 2010). These challenges were recognised by the Tanzanian Cotton Board as outlined in its Cotton Board Strategy of 2011-2013.

Outside of its domestic domain, the cotton sector is plagued by a range of global structural issues. These include competition from synthetic fibres and a long term decline in terms-of-trade for agricultural commodities (that was reversed in the short-term during the commodity booms in the last few years).

Courtesy: All Africa