15 September 2003

An Electronic Newsletter of Applied Plant Breeding

Sponsored by FAO and Cornell University

Clair H. Hershey, Editor




*Curator - The Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center, The Ohio State University
*Senior Policy and Legal Specialist - IPGRI *Senior Scientist, in Genetic Diverstiy - IPGRI

*Vacancy positions at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF)
*FS/UNU/IAS 'Agriculture for Peace' fellowships
*Travel grants for Plant Biology 2003 conference
*Individual/group study residencies in Bellagio, Italy, on relevant topics related to improvement of African crops
*"Frosty" Hill Agricultural Research Fellowship at Cornell University
*The Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate Fellowships Grants
*UNESCO Short-Term Biotechnology Action Council (BAC) Fellowship Programme
in Biotechnology

*DANGEROUS LIAISONS? When Cultivated Plants Mate with Their Wild Relatives
*Cultivating Biodiversity: Understanding, Analyzing and Using Agricultural Diversity
*Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime: Food Security and Globalization
*Agricultural Biotechnology: An Electronic Journal of the U.S. Department of State

*Bean Program at EMBRAPA Rice and Beans (Brazil)
*UC Riverside Awarded $2.4 Million Grant from NSF Plant Genome Research Program
*University of Nebraska Geneticist Unlocking Key to Male Sterility in plants
*University of Nebraska-Lincoln Team Designing Broadleaf Crops Resistant to
Common Herbicide
*CSIRO Crop Geneticist Wins Science Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of the Year
*Kansas State University to Establish Sorghum Improvement Center
*Brazil Not Expected To Legalize GMOs For Coming Harvest
*Green Light for Global Study on Food Security
*Newly Found Gene for Resistance to Economically Crippling Wheat Disease
*Pew Initiative Releases Updated Fact Sheet - "GM CROPS IN THE U.S."
*A New Research Centre in Uganda will Study the Banana
*Building a Better Bean
*Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety Takes Effect
*Biodiversity Treaty is 'Disastrous' for Scientists
*Resistance to Bt Toxin Surprisingly Absent from Pests
*North Carolina State University Geneticist Gets US$2.57 Million to Study Evolution of Rice
*Proposed New Barley Breeding Joint Venture to Benefit Australian Industry

*A New Plant Breeding Web Site
*IRRI's Rice Magazine Upgrades its Web Presence
*Access to Journals at CIAT Web Site



Plant Breeding News is an electronic forum for the exchange of information
and ideas about applied plant breeding and related fields. It is published
every four to six weeks throughout the year.

The newsletter is managed by the editor and an advisory group consisting of
Elcio Guimaraes (, Margaret Smith
(, and Anne Marie Thro ( The editor
will advise subscribers one to two weeks ahead of each edition, in order to
set deadlines for contributions.

Subscribers are encouraged to take an active part in making the newsletter
a useful communications tool. Contributions may be in such areas
as: technical communications on key plant breeding issues; announcements
of meetings, courses and electronic conferences; book announcements and
reviews; web sites of special relevance to plant breeding; announcements of
funding opportunities; requests to other readers for information and
collaboration; and feature articles or discussion issues brought by
subscribers. Suggestions on format and content are always welcome by the
editor, at We would especially like to see a broad
participation from developing country programs and from those working on
species outside the major food crops.

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* 21-26 September 2003: Global Aspects of Technology Transfer:
Biotechnology. Big Sky, MT, USA. Contact: Gordon Research Conferences, 3071
Route 138, Kingston, RI 02881, USA; Tel: +1 (401) 783 4011; Fax: +1 (401)
783 7644; Email:;

* 22-24 September 2003: XXX CIOSTA CIGR V, Management and Technology
Applications to Empower Agriculture and Agro-Food Systems. Turin, Italy.
Contact: DEIAFA Sez. Meccanica Agraria Facolt$i Agraria, Universit$i
Torino via L. da Vinci, 44 10095,Grugliasco (TO), Italy; Fax: +39 (011) 670
8591; Email:;

* 26 Sept.-1 Oct. 2004:The 4th International Crop Science Congress (4ICSC),
New Directions for a Diverse Planet, Queensland, Australia. To join the
Congress e-newsletter for updates and announcements, visit:

* 7-10 October 2003: ITAFE'03 - International Congress on Information
Technology in Agriculture, Food and Environment. Izmir, TURKEY. First
announcement and call for papers. Email : or

* 12-17 October 2003: 6th African Crop Science Conference, Nairobi, Kenya.
Submit abstracts to Organizing Committee Chairperson Prof. Agnes

* 13-17 October 2003: Bioinformatics Tools for Plant Genomics. USDA
Western Regional Research Center, 800 Buchanan Street in Albany, CA.

What does Genomics mean to you? How could you use Genome data? Learn how to
utilize genome information in a week-long bioinformatics course. This 5 day
course introduces bioinformatics tools for sequence alignment, sequence
database search, gene finding, comparative genomics, protein informatics,
and SNP analysis. The course provides a specific
introduction to use of genomic tools and data in a plant genome laboratory,
and emphasizes hands-on practice to increase competence in the use of the

For more details see:

* 15-19 October 2003: Congreso Internacional de Cultivos Andinos.
Patrimonio Andino para la alimentaci$el Mundo, Cochabamba, Fundacion
PROINPA. Contact persons: Gino Aguirre, Ana Maria Cortez, e mail: tel. no: (00591) 44 360800 fax 00591 44 360802.

* 19-21 October 2003: Fourth INGENIC International Workshop. Cocoa
Breeding for Improved Production Systems, Accra, Ghana. Contacts:
Chairman of the National Organising Committee: Dr.Yaw Adu-Ampomah -; Secretariat of INGENIC: Dr. Michelle End - E-mail:

* 22-25 October 2003: First International Conference on Saffron Biology and
Biotechnology. Albacete, Spain. Contact: Dr. Lourdes Gomez-Gomez,
IDR-Biotechnology, Campus Universitario s/n, E-02071 Albacete, Spain; Tel:
+1 (34) 9675 99200 ext. 2612; Fax: +1 (34) 9675 99309; Email:;

* 22-26 October 2003: Plant Genetics 2003: Mechanisms of Genetic Variation.
Utah, USA. Contact: American Society of Plant Biologists, 15501 Monona
Drive, Rockville, MD 20855-2768 USA; Tel: +1 (301) 251 0560; Fax: +1 (301)
279 2996; Email:;>

* 2-6 November 2003: Annual Meetings, American Society of Agronomy, Crop
Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America. Denver, USA.
Contact: ASA-CSSA-SSSA, 677 S. Segoe Rd., Madison WI 53711, USA; Tel: +1
(608) 273 8080; Fax: +1 (608) 273 2021;

* 13-14 November 2003: 1st European Conference on the Co-existence of
Genetically Modified Crops with Conventional and Organic Crops. Helsingr,
Denmark. Contact: Sonja Graugaard, Tel: +45 (58) 113 356; Fax: +45 (58) 113
301; Email:;

* 17-28 November 2003, New Delhi, India. "Genomics and crop improvement".
Training course organised by the International Centre for Genetic
Engineering and Biotechnology. See or contact for more information.

* 9-13 December 2003: Statistical Genetics Workshop, Institute in
Statistical Genetics. Dublin, Ireland. Contact: Ms Debra Hibbard, Institute
in Statistical Genetics Box 7566, North Carolina State University, Raleigh,
NC 27695-7566, USA; Tel: +1 (919) 515 1932; Fax: +1 (919) 515 7315; Email:;

* 10-12 December 2003: ASTA's 33rd Soybean Seed & 58th Corn & Sorghum Seed
Conference. Illinois, USA. Contact: American Seed Trade Association, 225
Reinekers Lane, Suite 650, Alexandria, VA 22314-2875, USA; Tel: +1 (703)
837 8140; Fax: +1 (837) 9365;

* 10-14 January 2003: Plant, Animal and Microbial Genome XII. San Diego,
CA, USA. Contact: URL:

* 9-12 February 2004: ISHS International Root and Tuber Crops Symposium:
"Food Down Under". Palmerston North (New Zealand). Info: Dr. M. Nichols,
INR, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Phone: (64)63505799 ext. 2614, Fax: (64)63505679, email: web:

* 19-24 February 2004. Plant Responses to Abiotic Stress, Keystone
Symposium. Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Contact: Keystone Symposia, 221
Summit Place #272, Drawer 1630, Silverthorne, CO 80498, USA; Tel: +1 (970)
262 1230; Fax: +1 (970) 262 1525;
Email:; URL:

* 4-9 March 2004: Comparative Genomics of Plants (C6), Keystone Symposium.
New Mexico, USA. Contact: Keystone Symposia, 221 Summit Place #272, Drawer
1630, Silverthorne, CO 80498, USA; Tel: +1 (970) 262 1230; Fax: +1 (970)
262 1525;
Email:; URL:

* (UPDATE) 8-14 March 2004: Sixth International Scientific Meeting of the
Cassava Biotechnology Network (CBN VI). Theme - Adding Value to Cassava:
Applying Biotechnology to a Small-Farmer Crop. Venue: Centro Internacional
de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia. Presentations at the
Meeting will discuss how biotechnology can assist cassava farmers by
developing, for example, more suitable varieties, disease-free planting
materials, and better ways to conserve and process cassava after
harvesting. The Second Announcement (Call for Papers) has been released. Contact: Alfredo
Alves at

* 21-24 March 2004: The 16th Biennial International Plant Resistance to
Insects Workshop/Conference. Baton Rouge, USA. Contact: Mike Stout. Email:

* 11-16 May 2004. 15th International Plant Protection Congress (IPPC),
Beijing, China. Contact: Wen Liping, 15th IPPC Secretariat Associate
Professor, Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural
Sciences, #2 West Yuanmingyuan Road, Beijing 100094, China; Tel: +86 (10)
6281 5913 or +86 (10) 6289 5451; Fax: +86 (10) 6289 5451; Email:; URL:

* 17-19 May 2004: 12th Meeting on Genetics and Breeding of Capsicum and
Eggplant. Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands. Contact: Roeland Voorrips,
Plant Research International, P.O. Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, The
Netherlands; Tel: +31 (317) 477289; Fax: +31 (317) 418094; Email:; URL:

* 24-25 May 2003: Workshop on Molecular Aspects of Germination and
Dormancy. Wageningen, The Netherlands. Contact: J Derek Bewley, Email:; URL:

* (NEW) 7-11 June 2004, Dijon France : Fifth European Conference on Grain
Legumes and Second International Conference on Legume Genomics and Genetics
, "Legumes for the benefit of agriculture, nutrition and the environment:
their genomics, their products, and their improvement".

* 20-26 June 2004: The 9th International Barley Genetics Symposium. Brno,
Czech Republic. Contact: Lenka Nedomova, Agricultural Research Institute
Kromeriz Ltd., Havlickova 2787, CZ - 767 01 Kromeriz, Czech Republic; Tel:
+420 (5) 7331 7166; Fax: +420 (5) 7333 9725;
Email:; URL:

* 5-8 July, 2004: Campinas-S!ulo (Brazil): III International Symposium on
Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Breeding Research and II Latin American
Symposium on the Production of Medicinal, Aromatic and Condiments Plants.
Info: Prof. Dr. Lin Chau Ming, Dept. Plant Production, Sector Horticulture,
Agronomical Sciences College, S!ulo State University, Botucatu-SP
18.603-970, Brazil. email:

* 12-17 July 2004: Cucurbitaceae 2004, 8th Meeting on Cucurbit Genetics
and Breeding. Olomouc, Czech Republic. Contact: A. Lebeda, Palacky
University, Faculty of Sciences, Department of Botany, Slechtitelu 11,
CZ-783 71 Olomouc-Holice, Czech Republic; Tel: +420 (5) 8563 4800; Fax:
+420 (5) 8524 1027; Email:; URL:

* 18-22 July 2004: 7th International Oat Conference . Helsinki, Finland.
Contact: Mrs. Pirjo Peltonen-Sainio, MTT, Agrifood Research Finland, Plant
Production Research, FIN-31600 Jokioinen, Finland; Tel: +358 (3) 4188 2451;
Fax: +358 (3) 4188 2437;
Email:; URL:

* 18-23 July 2004: Plant Molecular Biology. Plymouth NH, USA .Contact:
Gordon Research Conferences, 3071 Route 138, Kingston, RI 02881, USA; Tel:
+1 (401) 783 4011; Fax: +1 (401) 783 7644; Email:; URL:

* 6-9 September 2004): VIII International Symposium on Plum and Prune
Genetics, Breeding and Technology. Lofthus, Norway. Info: Dr. Lars Sekse,
Plante Forsk - Norwegian Crops Research Institute, Ullensvang Research
Centre, 5781 Lofthus, Norway. Phone: (47)53671200, Fax: (47)53671201,
email: web:

* 8-11 September 2004. Eucarpia XVII General Triennial Congress, Vienna,
Austria. Contact: P. Ruckenbauer, IFA Tulln, Dept. Biotechnology in Plant
Production, Konrad-Lorenz Str. 20, A-3430 Tulln, Austria; Tel: +43 (2272)
66280 201; Fax: +43 (2272) 66280 203;
Email:; URL:

* 12-17 September 2004: V International Symposium on In Vitro Culture and
Horticultural Breeding. Debrecen (Hungary): Info: Dr. Mikl, Szent - Gyorgyi
A u. 4, PO Box 411, 2101 Godollo, Hungary. Phone: (36)28330600, Fax:
(36)28330482, email: or, web:

* 27 September - 1 October 2004: 4th International Crop Science Congress.
Brisbane, Australia. Contact: PO Box 1280, Milton, QLD 4064, Australia;
Tel: +61 (7) 3858 5554; Fax: +61 (7) 3858 5583; Email:;

* 24-28 October, 2004: IV ISHS Symposium on Brassica and XIV Crucifer
Genetics Workshop. Daejon (Korea) Info: Prof. Dr. Yong Pyo Lim, Dept. of
Horticulture, Chungnam National University, Kung-Dong 220, Yusong-Gu,
Taejon 305-764, South Korea. Phone: (82)428215739, Fax: (82)428231382,

* October 31 - November 4, 2004: Annual Meetings, American Society of
Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America,
Seattle, WA, USA. Contact: ASA-CSSA-SSSA, 677 S. Segoe Rd., Madison WI
53711, USA; Tel: +1 (608) 273 8080; Fax: +1 (608) 273 2021; URL:



Curator - The Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center


LOCATION: Columbus Campus, The Ohio State University
DATE AVAILABLE: As soon as possible
Curate OPGC vegetatively propagated species in coordination with the seed
propagated species curator; manage living and in vitro germplasm
collections, quality of stored germplasm, manage, monitor and maintain
greenhouse environment utilizing the Argus computerized greenhouse control
system. Function as OSU Building Coordinator for OPGC facilities incl. seed
storage cooler, seed and tissue culture laboratory, building systems and
vehicle; on call 24 hours daily for emergency regulation and control of
critical facility systems such as the seed storage cooler, tissue culture
room and the computerized greenhouse. Utilize the USDA Germplasm Resources
Information Network (GRIN) web-based database system to manage and update
accession inventory information; supervise student workers; coordinate and
supervise usage of facilities and equipment by faculty, staff, and students.

A Masters degree in horticulture or other biological science, or equivalent
education and practical experience in plant tissue culture

Target salary range is $27,500-$35,000 commensurate with experience and
training. The Ohio State University benefits include group life insurance,
major medical and hospitalization insurance, retirement plan and annual
vacation, sick leave and maternity leave.

Interested candidates should submit an application package to include: 1) a
letter of application outlining interest and qualification, 2) a complete
curriculum vita and 3) three letters of reference. The applications
deadline is until a qualified candidate is selected.

Send application to:
Dr. David Tay
Ohio Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center
202 Kottman Hall
2021 Coffey Road
Columbus, OH 43210
Telephone: 614-292-3708 EMAIL:


Senior Policy and Legal Specialist.

For further information on IPGRI, consult the Web page at

The International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) is one of 16
Future Harvest research centres supported by the Consultative Group on
International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). IPGRIs mission is to
encourage, support and engage in activities to strengthen the conservation
and use of plant genetic resources worldwide, with special emphasis on the
needs of developing countries. IPGRIs Headquarters are located in
Maccarese, Italy, near Rome. The Institute has a total staff of about 250
located in more than 20 countries. IPGRI is seeking a well-qualified
candidate, to be located in its Headquarters for the international position
of Senior Policy and Legal Specialist.

IPGRI coordinates and supports research and capacity-strengthening
activities regarding genetic resources policies at national, regional and
international levels, and provides advice to the genetic resources
community at large. To this end, IPGRI forges strategic alliances with
other CGIAR centers, FAO, CBD and research institutes, and seeks
cooperation with the private sector and civil society organizations. Its
policy and legal research is conducted in a multidisciplinary context and
is mainly focusing on key issues such as access legislation, intellectual
property rights regimes, options for multilateral germplasm exchange and
benefit-sharing systems, and access to and ownership of indigenous knowledge.

Senior Policy and Legal Specialist
Reporting to the Director, Genetic Resources Science and Technology Group,
the Senior Policy and Legal Specialist will provide leadership to IPGRI and
the Genetic Resources Community at large on matters related to policy and
legal aspects of genetic resources conservation and use. In particular,
he/she will:

Advance IPGRIs genetic resources policy and legal research
agenda, as part of a multidisciplinary team, and participate in research
Coordinate the genetic resources-related policy and legal
programme across the Institute.
Advise the Director General on policy and legal matters of global
and CGIAR-wide importance.
Provide technical inputs and assistance to IPGRI Senior
Management, research staff and the CGIAR Genetic Resources Policy Committee
on pertinent legal and policy issues, as requested.
Represent IPGRI and the CGIAR in international fora, when requested.
Take an active role in identifying and pursuing financial support
for IPGRIs policy and legal programme.
Supervise, evaluate and guide staff members reporting to the
Senior Policy and Legal Specialist.
Undertake administrative duties, including financial management,
associated with the policy and legal programme.
Carry out other related duties as required.

Qualifications and experience: Potential appointees will have a PhD (or
equivalent) in law with a specialization in either
environmental/international and/or property rights law. Several
yearsworking experience in/with developing countries is expected. The
appointee will possess personal skills and qualities that allow him/her to
function effectively as a team leader and to sustain positive relations
with a wide range of colleagues, partners and donors. The appointee will
have experience in project management, including the management of
multidisciplinary and multi-institutional project teams. He/she will be
familiar with and have a demonstrated knowledge of the Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD), the International Treaty (IT), the World Trade
Organization (WTO) and other relevant international fora. The appointee
must have a good track record of fund-raising and donor relations.
Excellent English, both written and spoken, is required, with fluency in
French and/or Spanish being highly desirable. The appointee must be willing
to travel extensively.

Further information: Dr Jan Engels, Group Director, Genetic Resources
Science and Technology Group, Rome, Italy, Tel. (39) 066118222, Fax (39)
0661979661, Email:, or Dr Coosje Hoogendoorn, Deputy
Director General, Programmes, Rome, Italy, Tel. (39) 066118200, Fax (39)
0661979661, Email:

Terms and conditions: IPGRI offers an attractive internationally
competitive salary and benefits package at the Senior Scientist level.
Initial contract will be for a period of three years, renewable.

Applications: A letter of application and curriculum vitae in English, with
names and full contact details of at least three referees, including
telephone, fax, and email address, should be sent to Ms Lotta Rasmusson,
Human Resources Manager, IPGRI, Via dei Tre Denari 472/a, 00057 Maccarese,
Rome, Italy, Tel. (39) 0661181, Fax (39) 066118341, Email

Please quote source of advertisement.

Application deadline: 30 September 2003 or until the position is filled.
All received applications will be acknowledged, but only shortlisted
applicants will be further contacted.
IPGRI is an equal opportunity employer and strives for staff diversity in
gender and nationality.


Senior Scientist, in Genetic Diversity

For further information on IPGRI, consult the Web page at

The International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) is one of 16
Future Harvest research centres supported by the Consultative Group on
International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). IPGRIs mission is to
encourage, support and engage in activities to strengthen the conservation
and use of plant genetic resources worldwide, with special emphasis on the
needs of developing countries. IPGRIs Headquarters are located in
Maccarese, Italy, near Rome. The Institute has a total staff of about 250
located in more than 20 countries. IPGRI is seeking a well-qualified
candidate, to be located at its office in Cali, Colombia for the
international position of

Senior Scientist, in Genetic Diversity
IPGRI Regional Office for the Americas (IPGRI-AMS), based in Cali,
Colombia, covers 36 countries and territories, primarily in Latin America
and the Caribbean. The office seeks to promote the conservation and use of
plant genetic resources in the region in partnership with national programmes.

The Senior Scientist, in Genetic Diversity is a member of the IPGRI
Americas (AMS) Group. Under the direct supervision of the Regional Director
for the Americas, and under the general guidance of the Deputy Director
General (Programmes), the appointee will:

provide scientific leadership on crop genetic diversity and
germplasm conservation and use strategies in the Americas;
contribute to the development and implementation of IPGRIs
strategy in the Americas region, in conjunction with national genetic
resources programmes, sub-regional networks, and other partners in the
coordinate IPGRIs project portfolio forin the Americas, including
donor reporting and internal project management and review activities;
formulate ideas for projects in priority areas and actively
contribute to the mobilization of regional technical and financial resources;
contribute to the identification of research and training needs
to support the improvement of strategies and methods for conserving
germplasm in the region;
contribute to the development and adoption of conservation
methods and strategies, particularly in situ and on-farm, appropriate to
the needs of developing countries in the Americas;
undertake any other activities as assigned by the Regional Director.

Qualifications and experience:
Potential appointees will have a higher degree (preferably at doctoral
level)PhD (or equivalent) in agricultural or biological sciences, and
extensive research experience and achievement particularly in rural
development and genetic resources conservation and management. Several
years' working experience in developing countries in the Americas is
expected. The appointee will possess personal skills and qualities that
allow him/her to function effectively as a team leader and to sustain
positive relations with a wide range of international colleagues, partners
and donors. He/She is also required to have the necessary technical skills
to be able to provide technical support and backstopping to national
programmes in the area of genetic resources conservation and use
strategies. Experience in human resources management and training is
desirable. The appointee will have experience in project development,
implementation and reporting, including the management of multidisciplinary
and multi-institutional project teams. The appointee must be able to
demonstrate a good track record of fund-raising and donor relations.
Excellent fluency in English and Spanish, both written and spoken, is
required; and knowledge of Portuguese would be an additional advantage. The
appointee must be willing to travel extensively.

Further information: Dr Ramon Lastra, Regional Director, AMS , Cali,
Colombia, Tel. (57-2) 445-0029; Fax (57-2) 445-0096, Email:, or Dr Coosje Hoogendoorn, Deputy Director General,
Programmes, Rome, Italy, Tel (39) 066118200; Fax (39) 0661979661, Email:

Terms and conditions: IPGRI offers an attractive internationally
competitive salary and benefits package at the Senior Scientist level.
Initial contract will be for a period of three years, renewable.

Applications: Letter of application and curriculum vitae in English, with
names and full contact details of at least three referees, including
telephone, fax, and email address, should be sent to Ms Lotta Rasmusson,
Human Resources Manager, IPGRI, Via dei Tre Denari 472/a, 00057 Maccarese,
Rome, Italy, Tel. (39) 0661181, Fax (39) 066118341, Email

Please quote source of advertisement.

Application deadline: 26 September 2003 or until the position is filled.

All received applications will be acknowledged, but only shortlisted
applicants will be further contacted.

IPGRI is an equal opportunity employer and strives for staff diversity in
gender and nationality.



Vacancy positions at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF)>

FS/UNU/IAS 'Agriculture for Peace' fellowships

Travel grants for Plant Biology 2003 conference

Individual/group study residencies in Bellagio, Italy, on relevant topics
related to improvement of African crops>

"Frosty" Hill Agricultural Research Fellowship at Cornell University>

The Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate Fellowships Grants>

UNESCO Short-Term Biotechnology Action Council (BAC) Fellowship Programme
in Biotechnology>

The above announcements from:



The book, DANGEROUS LIAISONS? When Cultivated Plants Mate with Their Wild
Relatives by Norman Ellstrand will be published in early November by Johns
Hopkins University Press. A link to the publisher and the book is

The following is the publisher's description of the book:

With the advent of genetic engineering, "designer" crops might interbreed
with natural populations. Could such romances lead to the evolution of
"superweeds", as some have suggested? But haven't crops had sex with wild
plants in the past? Has such gene swapping occurred without consequences?
And if consequences have indeed occurred, what lessons can be gleaned for
engineered crops?

In Dangerous Liaisons? Norman Ellstrand examines these and other questions.
He begins with basic information about the natural hybridization process.
He then describes what we now know about hybridization between the world's
most important crops -- such as wheat, rice, maize, and soybeans -- and
their wild relatives. Such hybridization, Ellstrand explains, is not rare,
and has occasionally had a substantial impact. In some cases, the result
was problematic weeds. In others, crop genes have diluted natural diversity
to the point that wild populations of certain rare species were absorbed
into the gene pool of the more common crop, essentially bringing the wild
species to the brink of extinction.

Ellstrand concludes with a look to the future. Will engineered crops pose a
greater threat than traditional crops? If so, can gene flow and
hybridization be managed to control the escape of engineered genes? This
book will appeal to academics, policy makers, students, and all with an
interest in environmental issues.

Submitted by
Norman C. Ellstrand
Professor of Genetics
and Director, Biotechnology Impact Center
Department of Botany & Plant Sciences
University of California phon 909-787-4194
Riverside, CA 92521-0124 phax 909-787-4437


Cultivating Biodiversity: Understanding, Analyzing and Using Agricultural

Author: Harold Brookfield, Christine Padoch, Helen Parsons, Michael Stocking
Publisher: Intermediate Technology Development Group
Publication Date: April 2003
Reviewer: Aakanksha Kumar

"The book & tries to assess the effect of our agricultural practices over
the past 50 years, and concludes that all is not lost. Thanks to the
efforts of smallholding farmers, who have had the sense not to be swayed by
the generally 'dismissive view of traditional agriculture', and have
safeguarded and propagated local species through their continued
learning-by-doing attitude."


Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime: Food Security and Globalization

C. Ford Runge, Benjamin Senauer, Philip G. Pardey and Mark W. Rosegrant;
Johns Hopkins University Press; 304 pages; $55 and 40.50 (hardback), $19.95
and 15 (paperback)"

For all the complaints about modern farming, agriculture is one of the
great success stories of the post-war period: the world produces twice as
much grain as it did in 1960, on only a third more land--enough to provide
2,700 calories a day for every person on the planet.

Yet, more than 800m people are still chronically malnourished, most of them
in the developing world. As "Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime" argues, to say
that hunger is strictly a distribution problem is like saying that if the
rain fell evenly over the earth there would be no droughts; the origins of,
and solutions to, this mismatch between food and hungry mouths are rather
more complex.

Many of the hungry in poor places are farmers themselves. Their failure to
grow--and earn--enough stems from a variety of reasons, from a lack of
access to modern farming tools to environmental constraints to poor roads
which prevent them from reaching markets. The book offers a clear
explanation of the agricultural problems confronting the world's hungry.

But its value lies in putting these physical challenges in a wider social
context, looking at other factors, such as women's education, which affect
household food security.

It also challenges popular misconceptions--for example, that patents on
genes held by multinational companies are hampering farmers in developing
countries; as the book argues, there are few patents on the current
generation of high-tech crops in most desperately poor places. Lack of
market incentives and funding, rather than intellectual property rights,
are the real brakes on research into crops of greatest interest to the
poor. "Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime" also provides a lucid discussion of
the problems, and tremendous promise, of trade liberalisation and offers a
robust critique of why those governments, in rich and poor countries alike,
which aspire to self-sufficiency in food production, or turn to
protectionism, end up hurting everyone, including their own.

The authors offer a number of sensible remedies to such ills, including
different ways of boosting investment in public agricultural research and
possible reforms at multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and
the Food and Agriculture Organisation. One of the book's bolder proposals
(one also advocated by The Economist) is the creation of a Global
Environmental Organisation, to deal with a range of "green" issues, some of
which relate closely to farming, and which are proving particularly tricky
for the World Trade Organisation.

As the authors acknowledge, there is little chance of business-as-usual
halving the number of hungry by 2015, a goal enthusiastically endorsed by
world leaders in 1996. But with the right "pro-poor" policies, the book
predicts that the number of malnourished children in the world could fall
almost threefold, to 57m by 2025; if such steps are neglected, however,
that number could rise to 178m, with Africa bearing the brunt.

Reviewed in The Economist, August 21, 2003

via AgBioView 28 Aug 2003


Agricultural Biotechnology: An Electronic Journal of the U.S. Department
of State
Vol. 8, No. 3, September 2003

Full text of articles at

Science and technology helped revolutionize agriculture in the 20th century
in many parts of the world. This issue of Economic Perspectives highlights
how advances in biotechnology can be adapted to benefit the world in the
21st century, particularly developing countries.

Increasing yield potential and desirable traits in plant and animal food
products has long been a goal of agricultural science. That is still the
goal of agricultural biotechnology, which can be an important tool in
reducing hunger and feeding the planet's expanding and longer-living
population, while reducing the adverse environmental effects of farming

In a supportive policy and regulatory environment, biotechnology has
enormous potential to create crops that resist extreme weather, diseases
and pests; require fewer chemicals; and are more nutritious for the humans
and livestock that consume them. But there is also controversy surrounding
this new technology. The journal addresses the controversies head on and
provides sound scientific reasoning for the use of this technology.

In June 2003, agriculture, health and environment ministers from over 110
countries gathered in California and learned first hand how technology,
including biotechnology, can increase productivity and reduce global
hunger. By sharing information on how technology can increase agricultural
productivity, we can help alleviate world hunger.

Contributors to this journal include Under Secretary of State Alan Larson,
Under Secretary of Agriculture J.B. Penn, Deputy Food and Drug
Administration Commissioner Lester Crawford, and Ambassador Tony Hall, U.S.
Representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture, who
address a broad range of topics from the basic science of biotechnology to
food safety and labeling issues. Their articles are complemented by essays
from an internationally respected group of researchers and academics, a
State Department fact sheet on the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol and
additional resource information.

Ann M. Veneman, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

- Alan Larson, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and
Agricultural Affairs

- J. B. Penn, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign
Agricultural Services

- Lester M. Crawford, Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

- Ambassador Tony P. Hall, U.S. Mission to the U.N. Agencies for Food and


- Bruce Chassy, Professor of Food Microbiology and Nutritional Sciences and
Executive Associate Director of the Biotechnology Center at the University
of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

- A. M. Shelton, Professor of Entomology, Cornell University/New York State
Agricultural Experiment Station

- Terry D. Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Animal Nutrition, The
Pennsylvania State University

- Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development
and Director of the Science, Technology and Globalization Project at the
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

AgBioView 4 Sept 2003



Bean Program at EMBRAPA Rice and Beans (Brazil)

Aloisio Sartorato, Maria José Del Peloso and Luís Fernando Stone. Embrapa
Rice and Beans, Zip Code 75375-000, Santo Antonio de Goiás, GO, Brazil.
E-mail:, and

Common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) are cultivated all over Brazil. As the
basic protein source it is one of the most important economic and social
crops for the great majority of the Brazilian people. Common bean yield
potential is said to be between 4.000 and 4.500 kg/ha. In 2001, it was
cultivated in approximately 3.500.000 ha, producing about 3.000.000 tons,
and an average grain yield of 857 kg/ha. The per capita consumption of
common beans in Brazil, during 2001, was around 17 kg/year which represents
an increase of 31,47% over the last four years. These data show that Brazil
is the biggest common bean producer and consumer in the world. Consumer
demands are very specific in terms of regional preferences for grain traits
such as color and size as well as cooking behavior. Common beans, in
Brazil, are cultivated year round, in several agro-ecological environments.
There are three distinct bean growing season: the rainy season (from August
to December), the dry season (from January do April) and the "winter"season
(from April to July). The first two seasons are responsible for 90% of the
whole bean production in the country and are essentially carried out by
small farmers using mostly family labor and characterized by low level of
technology input; the average grain yield is 775 kg/ha. The third season is
responsible for 10% of the Brazilian production and is essentially carried
out under center pivot sprinkler irrigation by entrepreneurs dedicated to
bean production, who use modern technology; as a result, the average grain
yield is over 3000 kg/ha. However, this leguminous crop presents numerous
biotic and abiotic constraints as limiting factors to its production.

Among these factors the bean program at Embrapa Rice and Beans aims to
develop new bean cultivars, mainly of carioca and black grain types, with
(i) resistance to several diseases including, anthracnose, angular leaf
spot, rust, common bacterial blight, bacteria wilt, bean common mosaic
virus, bean common mosaic necrotic virus, bean golden mosaic virus,
Fusarium wilt (ii) upright plant architecture adapted for mechanical
harvesting, (iii) potential yield, (iv) earliness, (v) grain quality, (vi)
nitrogen fixation and (vii) resistance to tropical weevil. Besides these
constraints, Embrapa´s bean program also aims to develop (i) a bean
production system for the cerrado area, (ii) a bean production system under
tropical lowland irrigated areas, (iii) an organic system for bean
production during the rainy season, (iv) a climatic zone map to determine a
more suitable date and area to grow beans during the dry season, and (v)
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Integrated Disease Management (IDM).

Since 1977, Embrapa Rice and Beans has already developed and released to
farmers 4 bean cultivars of carioca, 10 of black and 10 of other grain
types (purple, pink, yellow, beige, mottled).

Submitted by
Embrapa Arroz e Feijão
Rod. Goiânia a Nova Veneza, km 12
Caixa Postal 179
Santo Antônio de Goiás, GO


UC Riverside Awarded $2.4 Million Grant from NSF Plant Genome Research Program

A $2.4 million grant has been awarded by the National Science Foundation
Plant Genome Research Program to the University of California, Riverside
(UCR) for a project that will facilitate researchers' access to the barley
genome to build a fuller understanding of cereal plant traits relevant to
agriculture and biology. Principal Investigator for the project,
titled "Coupling Expressed Sequences and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome
Resources to Access the Barley Genome,"is Dr. Tim Close, Professor of
Genetics in the UCR Department of Botany & Plant Sciences. Drs. Tao Jiang
and Stefano Lonardi of the UCR Department of Computer Science are the
co-PIs, while Dr. MingCheng Luo of UC Davis is serving as senior personnel.
"Barley researchers have made tremendous advances in the past several
years,"said Close, "with the production of fundamental genomic resources
such as a bacterial artificial chromosome library now being used worldwide,
several mapping populations, and a microarray representing nearly 22,000
genes. But still, much remains to be done to couple these resources to
make it simple for anyone to access the barley genome. In a nutshell, that
is the aim of our project -- to simplify for everyone. Indeed, by easing
the distribution of information, our project will help extend the knowledge
of plant genetics to university and high school teaching environments."

Submitted by
Kathy Barton
Director of Marketing and Research
UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences


University of Nebraska Geneticist Unlocking Key to Male Sterility in plants

by Gillian Klucas
Research Nebraska September 2003

In the agricultural plant world, male sterility often is a good thing.

Male sterile plants don't produce pollen. That makes it easier to breed
improved hybrids that yield and perform better, and to produce hybrid seed
more economically. Sterility also helps ease concerns that genetically
modified crops will spread their enhanced genetic characteristics, such as
herbicide resistance, to wild plants.

Scientists long have tried to develop male sterile plants through a variety
of techniques, from tapping natural mutations to inducing sterility through
radiation and chemical methods. But sources of male sterility are
nonexistent in some crops, such as soybeans, or limited in others, such as
corn. And this characteristic can be unstable some types of sterile plants
can revert to fertility, which causes problems for growers.

Sally Mackenzie, a plant geneticist in the University of Nebraska's
Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, thinks shes found a genetic
key to sterility. It promises to work for a wide range of crops and
horticultural products.

Scientists long have known that in nature, changes in the cell's
mitochondrial DNA cause the sterility mutation. Mackenzie and her team
followed that genetic trail to re-create the mutation in the lab.

They found a gene in the cells nucleus that controls genetic changes in the
mitochondria, which are the cells energy producers and also contain DNA. By
inserting foreign DNA into this gene, they turned it off, observed changes
in the mitochondria and pinpointed which change actually triggers male

Mackenzie's team tracked down the gene in Arabidopsis, a plant whose
genetic code is known, but their findings have broad potential. Because all
plants carry this gene that affects the mitochondria, IANR researchers can
use their technique to trigger male sterility in others.

Mackenzie now is growing transgenic soybeans and tomatoes to search for
additional male steriles. The really cool thing about this is that once I
induce a male sterile, its stable,Mackenzie said. After removing the
foreign DNA that caused the original genetic change, the plant remains
sterile. But by eliminating the foreign DNA, the plant is no longer
considered transgenic.

That's the beauty of it,she says. Nobody has to have any qualms about using
GMO technology.

Agriculture would benefit if this method of inducing male sterility proves
successful. Mackenzie wants consumers to benefit, too.

Shes applying her findings to develop a sterile, seedless green bean that
vegetable buyers should appreciate. Without seeds, the pod is tenderer and
more easily digestible. Sterility also tricks the plant into producing
three times the number of pods, increasing yields.

While genetically modified crops have helped reduce the need for
agricultural pesticides, consumers have yet to benefit directly, she said.

If we hit the market with our male steriles and, at the same time, come up
with our new seedless bean,said Mackenzie, I think the consumer is going to
say, This is nice engineering.

Researchers hope to work with an agribusiness to make sterile males
commercially available in a variety of crops.

NU has filed for a provisional patent on their technique.

Mackenzie also is looking toward human diseases. The recombination that
were looking at in plant mitochondria may actually occur in us as well,she
said. Diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's and heart conditions may stem
from mitochondrial defects that affect one in 8,000 people. As she did in
Arabidopsis, Mackenzie is looking for a similar gene in humans that causes
mitochondrial changes. If she finds it, researchers could use the same
transgenic technique to re-create the genetic defects in mice, a discovery
that could launch new explorations in medicine.

The National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy helped fund
this research.


University of Nebraska-Lincoln Team Designing Broadleaf Crops Resistant to
Common Herbicide

Lincoln, Nebraska
September 12, 2003

By Gillian Klucas, IANR News Service

For nearly 40 years, farmers have turned to an effective, environmentally
friendly herbicide to kill broadleaf weeds in grassy crops, such as wheat
and corn. But it has been off-limits for broadleaf crops.

Dicamba-based herbicides, sold under trade names such as Banvil and
Clarity, are relatively inexpensive and easy on the environment because the
chemical disappears quickly in plants and soil. But like all broadleaf
herbicides, dicamba can't distinguish broadleaf crops from their weedy
cousins so it can't be used to kill weeds in soybeans, cotton, tobacco and

Instead of trying to develop a smarter herbicide, University of
Nebraska-Lincoln scientists decided to help broadleaf crops resist dicamba.
They went to the source that makes the herbicide environmentally friendly
-- a soil microorganism that easily breaks down this synthetic chemical.

"With this new technology we feel relatively confident that we will be able
to produce soybeans, cotton, canola, certain vegetable crops and even
certain trees that could be sprayed with dicamba with little or no effect
on their productivity," said Don Weeks, the Institute of Agriculture and
Natural Resources biochemist heading the research.

Researchers chose one of several thousand bacterial species they found
thriving in soils at a dicamba manufacturing plant. These bacteria grow on
dicamba by breaking it down and using its carbons as a sole energy source.

The team's goal: identify and isolate the gene responsible for dicamba
inactivation, then insert that gene into a broadleaf plant, thereby
transferring dicamba resistance.

To find the gene, the team worked backward, tracking down the enzyme doing
the gene's work. Researchers discovered a complex system consisting of
three enzymes. By decoding the sequence of amino acid building blocks that
make up the three components, they deduced the genetic codes for the genes
that make the enzymes.

The next challenge was to genetically engineer these genes and get them
into a plant.

Plant Scientist Tom Clemente, head of the university's Plant Transformation
Core Facility, helped the team insert these genes into a plant's chromosomes.

That's when the team discovered that the plant's own ferredoxin can easily
substitute for the bacteria's ferredoxin. That meant they needed only one
of the genes to create dicamba-resistant transgenic plants.

They also discovered they could modify the gene to target the DNA of
chloroplast, where photosynthesis takes place.

Using the chloroplast has two benefits, Weeks said. Ferredoxin is most
abundant in the chloroplast of cells so it creates greater dicamba
resistance. Also, chloroplast genes are inherited through the maternal
side, not through male pollen. This has practical implications in the
field. When the foreign gene is inserted into the chloroplast DNA, the
genetically modified crop can't spread resistance to other plants through
pollen carried by wind or insects.

"In the long term, this approach may help to calm people's fear that there
could be gene drift through the pollen," Weeks said.

Scientists know how to insert DNA into the chloroplasts of only a few plant
species, so the IANR researchers created all but a few plants by altering
the nuclear DNA. But, Weeks said, it's just a matter of time before
chloroplast DNA insertions are possible for major crops.
So far, the team has grown dicamba-resistant tomatoes and tobacco in the
greenhouse. Tobacco plants sprayed with the equivalent of 25 pounds of
dicamba per acre -- 50 times the typical field application -- show little
or no damage.

Now, they're concentrating on producing dicamba-resistant soybeans, and
plan to create resistant canola and cotton. They hope to field test their
dicamba-resistant soybeans in the next two years.

The university is patenting this new technology. Weeks estimates
dicamba-resistant crop seed might be commercially available within seven years.

United AgriProducts, ConAgra and the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology
Research funded this IANR Agricultural Research Division research.


CSIRO Crop Geneticist Wins Science Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of
the Year

September 10, 2003

World-leading research to identify genes that control plant development has
won CSIRO Plant Industry's Dr Chris Helliwell the prestigious Science
Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of the Year.

Presented last night at Parliament House by Federal Science Minister, the
Hon Peter McGauran MP, the prize recognises a scientist under 35 whose
research in the life sciences advances, or has the potential to advance,
human welfare or society.

"It's fantastic to see plant science recognised and rewarded," says Dr

"Plants are vitally important to life on earth and plant research is up
there with other areas such as medical research in its contribution to
health and well being."

Dr Helliwell has made breakthrough discoveries of plant genes that are
responsible for hormone production in plants. Plant hormones determine
plant height and lifespan, flowering and fruiting time, leaf and flower
development and structural arrangement.

"Using our understanding of plant genes and the hormones they regulate we
hope to breed crops that produce even better quality food," says Dr Helliwell.

"For example currently some of our table grapes are sprayed with a natural
plant hormone, called gibberellin, to help produce large, juicy grapes."

"Our research could lead to the development of grapes that produce enough
gibberellin at the right time without the need for spraying, reducing costs
and management."

"It could also lead to more strategic application of plant hormones where
they are needed to maximise their effectiveness."

Other potential applications of Dr Helliwell's research could include
improving germination and early growth of dwarf cereal crops and improving
flowering and fruit production in citrus.


Kansas State University to Establish Sorghum Improvement Center

Manhattan, Kansas
September 10, 2003

Plenty of people think of grain sorghum as sort of a miracle crop because
of its ability to thrive in hot, dry conditions. But researchers at Kansas
State University are looking to make a good thing even better.

The K-State Department of Agronomy is establishing the Center of Excellence
for Sorghum Improvement at the university's Manhattan campus. Research
aimed at developing new, improved varieties will also be conducted at the
school's various research fields around the state, including the north
central field near Belleville and its agricultural research center at Hays.

"Grain sorghum is one of the most important dryland crops in the Central
Great Plains of the United States," said Dave Mengel, agronomy department
head. "With water increasingly coming into focus in agricultural policy,
and given that farmers in the central Great Plains are concerned about
waning supplies in aquifers, sorghum is in a unique position to be a leader
in this new agriculture evolution."

Despite the crop's national importance, however, many public and private
sorghum research positions and programs are being lost to attrition and
corporate consolidation, Mengel said.

"Support for sorghum research programs is clearly much lower than it was
even five years ago," he said.

That growing gap is what K-State hopes to fill.

Headed by sorghum researcher and associate professor Mitch Tuinstra, the
center is being formed in cooperation with the Kansas Grain Sorghum
Association and the National Grain Sorghum Producers Association.

"The development of this research center will provide the critical mass of
scientific expertise in plant breeding, biotechnology, pathology,
entomology and physiology to address important production issues in
sorghum," said Tuinstra. "Furthermore, expertise in crop utilization,
including cereal chemistry and animal nutrition, will help to ensure that
technologies developed in this research effort will have immediate

Meetings with the producer groups and commercial sorghum breeders helped
determine the research programs on which the center will focus. They include:

Improving yield potential through increased grain fill duration and seed

Improving lodging resistance of sorghum and potential for increased
harvestable yield through enhanced stalk strength and stalk rot resistance;

Developing and identifying the most efficient and cost-effective sorghum
management and crop production strategies; and

Improving drought and heat stress tolerance.

"This is recognition that Kansas is clearly the No.1grain sorghum state,"
said George Ham, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and director of
K-State Research and Extension. "The establishment of this center will
focus even more resources on grain sorghum improvement."

Bringing experts in several disciplines together to focus on sorghum
research should attract more extramural funding, Ham said.

Kansas is the biggest grower of grain sorghum, having produced 135 million
bushels of the total U.S. production of almost 370 million bushels last year.

K-State has allocated over $1 million for salaries and other costs for the
center, and the Kansas Sorghum Checkoff fund contributes over $250,000 from
farmer grain sales to sorghum research annually.


Brazil Not Expected To Legalize GMOs For Coming Harvest
Aug. 20, 2003

Brazil's government will not authorize the planting of genetically modified
soybeans for the coming crop season, which starts in October, said Chief of
Staff Jose Dirceu. He told a meeting of members from the governing Workers
Party that the current law, which allows the sale of GMOs up to February
2004, but not the planting, must be respected.

Brazil is the last major agricultural exporter where GMOs are not fully
legalized. But undeterred, according to private estimates, around 20
percent of the crop is GMOs, derived from seeds smuggled in from Argentina.

Last week, Federal Judge Selene Maria de Almeida upheld a request by
Monsanto Co. to suspend a court ruling blocking the planting and sale of
its RoundUp Ready soybeans. However, federal attorneys say the provisional
measure to which Dirceu referred overrides this decision.

The Brazilian government is currently crafting a draft bill on biosecurity,
which includes rules on GMO crops and foods. It is expected the draft bill
will be presented to Congress next week, and Agriculture Minister Roberto
Rodrigues and rural representatives hope the law will be pushed through
before planting.

However, Dirceu, the right-hand man of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva,
said while the government is keen to send the bill through Congress, the
final word on the text will come from the president.

"The minister made it clear that there is no objective conditions to plant
GMO soybeans this year, because there is no authorized GMO seed available,"
said Orlando Desconsi, a Workers' Party deputy from Rio Grande do Sul, the
southern state where GMO planting is concentrated.

Rural representatives will meet with Dirceu to discuss the situation this week.

AGBioView 21 August 2003


Green Light for Global Study on Food Security

Ian Geoghegan, Reuters, Aug 2, 2003

Budapest, Aug 2 - Experts from business, politics, food, farming and
development agreed the basis on Saturday for an ambitious review of how
science can help some 800 million chronically undernourished people in the
developing world.

After months of regional meetings across the globe, a World Bank-sponsored
group of experts has recommended a searching look at how to harness
agricultural technologies, including genetic modification, to meet global
food needs over the next 50 years. "Over $35 billion is spent annually
onagricultural research. We need to know if this money is well spent and
where best to target our efforts," said the recommendation paper after
governments, agribusiness, development agencies, pressure groups and
non-governmental organisations met in Budapest.

"Having Greenpeace, the World Bank and a company like Syngenta sitting
together and agreeing this is important for the developing world is pretty
amazing," said Michael Stopford, an executive at Syngenta, the world's
leading agribusiness.

The review, which will cost $15 million and could be finished by the end of
2006, will canvass broad opinion, from local farmers to the public and
private sectors, to look at how biotechnology can help fight hunger and
poverty as the global population expands and land and water become

Oxfam America President Raymond Offenheiser said the review would help make
future agricultural research more relevant to farmers' needs in the
developing world. "We agreed an assessment...would be timely, sensible and
beneficial to advance new ways of thinking about agricultural science and
technology around the world," he said.

"The hope is we can tease out some of the important barriers that large
numbers of farmers face -- specific issues like pests, animal diseases and
blights that research has overlooked -- take that analysis to the
scientific community and come up with a research agenda that is close to
the ground," he said.

INTEGRATED APPROACH. Bob Watson, the World Bank chief scientist who chaired
the review and who helped prepare the groundwork for the Kyoto climate
protocol, said the assessment would be unique in bringing together farmers'
local knowledge and the work of university, government and private sector

"We'll have a much better idea of what is the role of science and
technology moving into the future, bringing together local and
institutional knowledge which can be used by governments, NGOs,
international and funding agencies," he said.

The review will explicitly not be bogged down by broader disputes over the
merits of GM technology, the organisers said. "We've been very disciplined
in not arguing the pros and cons of GMOs and gene technology," said Watson.

"GM is not the number one issue and we've tried to take out the strident
debate on GM technology," said Syngenta's Stopford. "The sort of things
--like drought resistance, plant breeding, rice that doesn't need so much
irrigation -- that could be extremely interesting for the developing world,
are totally reachable without coming near the subject of GM."

The recommendation now goes to World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who
is likely to pass it on to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to
drum up the funding.

AgBioView 14 August 2003


Newly Found Gene for Resistance to Economically Crippling Wheat Disease

Purdue News
August 20, 2003

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Bread wheat plants carrying a newly discovered gene
that confers resistance to economically devastating leaf blotch can reduce
the amount of grain lost to the pathogen, according to Purdue University

The scientists used bread wheat species to find the gene and the markers,
or bits of DNA, that indicate presence of the naturally occurring gene. The
fungus causes wheat crop damage worldwide with yield losses of 50 percent
or more in some places. In the United States the disease is widespread in
the Pacific Northwest, the northern Great Plains and the eastern Midwest
soft wheat region, and experts estimate annual losses at $275 million.

Results of the Purdue study on resistance to the fungus that causes
Septoria tritici leaf blotch are published in the September issue of
Phytopathology and appear on the journal's Web site.

"The goal of our work is to find additional resistance genes to the fungus
Mycosphaerella graminicola so we can use the lines carrying these genes in
our wheat to avoid the breakdown of resistance in the plants," said Stephen
Goodwin, associate professor of botany and plant pathology and U.S.
Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS)
scientist. "Having the markers greatly speeds up the breeding process for
resistant plants."

The markers facilitate finding plants with the pathogen resistance gene. As
soon as a seedling sprouts, a small piece of the young leaf can be ground
and then a DNA test can be run. This shows whether the markers are present.

"Using the markers, in a few days you can tell which plants have the
resistance gene and which don't," Goodwin said.

The researchers discovered the gene Stb8, so named because it is the eighth
gene known to provide resistance to Septoria tritici leaf blotch (STB).
However, this gene has some differences compared with the ones found
previously, Goodwin said.

Several of the previously found genes conferred resistance on bread wheat
plants for only a few years - up to about 15 years. Stb8 has genetic
characteristics that may allow it to be effective for a much longer period
of time, Goodwin said.

The genome containing Stb8 originated from a pasta wheat parent, which is
resistant to most strains of the fungus. This may extend the usefulness of
the resistance gene for bread wheat.

The specific location of Stb8 on the genome is different than all the
previously known resistance genes for wheat blotch. This site should allow
Stb8 to be combined with other genes that also offer some protection
against the disease, thereby increasing plants' resistance.

Stb8 and its markers are naturally occurring in wheat lines already in use,
so they can be used immediately for farmers' breeding programs to gain
protection against leaf blotch, Goodwin said.

The long-term goal of the research of leaf blotch resistance genes is to
learn about the molecular pathways that allow the plants to respond to
pathogens, he said.

"If we can understand these biochemical processes that lead to resistance,
then in the future we may learn how to modify them to make these genes more
durable," Goodwin said.

Though different resistance genes seem to work more effectively in
different parts of the world, the pathogen is easily spread, especially in
today's world of fast transportation. The fungus is spread and grows by
spores and it can survive in dried leaves for a very long time, Goodwin

"We even store them that way, sometimes for years," he said. "If you keep
the leaf dry, it won't decay and the pathogen just sits there. Or you can
freeze it at -80 C, thaw it, and then spray it with water - it will start

Leaf blotch doesn't kill plants, but it weakens them sufficiently to cause
significant crop loss. Purdue scientists determined resistance to the
fungus by observing whether the disease appeared on the leaves of adult
plants and by measuring the number of spores present. This particular
disease seems to affect young plants and adult plants to the same degree.

The other researchers involved in this study are Tika Adhikari, USDA-ARS
and Department of Botany and Plant Pathology postdoctoral fellow, and
Joseph Anderson, USDA-ARS scientist and Purdue Department of Agronomy
assistant professor.

The USDA-ARS provided funding for this study.

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

AgBioView 22 August 2003


Pew Initiative Releases Updated Fact Sheet - "GM CROPS IN THE U.S."

Pew AgBiotech, August 26, 2003

Genetically modified (GM) crops have generated considerable interest in the
United States and around the world since their commercial introduction in
1996. To help clarify the extent to which GM crops have been adopted in the
United States, the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology has updated its
fact sheet on domestic use of GM crops to include the most recent
statistics available on 2003 activity.

The fact sheet, titled "GM Crops in the United States" was originally
published in October 2001. The version released today includes facts and
figures on GM crop use in the U.S., shows which GM crops U.S. farmers grow
and the states where the most GM crops are planted.

Highlights include:
- GM crops are planted on more than 145 million acres worldwide. - U.S.
Farmers are the largest producers of GM food crops, accounting for over
two-thirds of all biotechnology crops planted globally (96.3 million
acres). - In 2003, 81% of U.S. soybeans were genetically engineered,
covering 59.7 million acres. GM corn accounted for 40% of all corn grown in
the U.S, covering 31.6 million acres. GM cotton accounted 73% of all cotton
planted in the U.S., covering 10.2 million acres.

- According to USDA data, farmers in every state in the continental U.S.
planted some GM corn in 2001. - South Dakota was the top adopter of GM corn
and soybeans in 2003, with 75% of the corn and 91% of the soybeans planted
being GM varieties. - Arkansas is the top adopter of GM cotton in 2003,
with 95% of the acres planted being GM varieties.

- Outside the U.S., other major producers of GM crops include: Argentina
(33.3 million acres), Canada (8.6 million acres) and China (5.2 million
acres). Between 5.5 and 6 million farmers worldwide planted GM crops in
2002, an increase by over 2 million from 2000.

The full issue brief is available at

AgBioView 26 Aug 2003


A New Research Centre in Uganda will Study the Banana

To Ugandans, "matooke" means both food and banana. This is hardly
surprising, as the average person in Uganda consumes over 350kg (772lb) of
bananas a year, more than anywhere else in the world. So it is fitting that
a new banana research centre--managed by Uganda's National
Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and largely funded by the
government--opened this week in Kawanda, outside Kampala.

Bananas (including plantains) are staple food crops for millions of people
in poor countries, and the fourth-largest crop in the world by value. So a
better understanding of the humble banana is vitally important. But as 90%
of production takes place on small farms, poor-world growers are not best
positioned to commission the basic research that is urgently needed. Uganda
is, as it is the second-largest producer in the world, growing 11m tonnes
of bananas each year.

The trouble with bananas is that they are clones. In the wild, the banana
is an inedible fruit stuffed with stony seeds. Edible varieties of the
banana probably first arose as random, sterile, mutants containing no
seeds. These varieties would have then been propagated by growing cuttings
from suckers that sprout out from the parent plant.

The problem with growing clones, though, is that they are susceptible to
disease. If a parent plant is infested with a pest of some kind, the
offspring is likely to be too. And because there are so few varieties of
edible banana, there is little genetic diversity from which pest-resistant
versions can be developed. Chemical spraying is not an option either, as it
is prohibitively expensive and not always effective. The result is that
diseases can spread very rapidly in Uganda's bananas, infecting the entire
crop. Outbreaks of pests such as nematodes or weevils can cut crop yields
by 50% or more.

The NARO lab plans to fight such pests in several ways. One is by equipping
a laboratory to produce tissue cultures from samples of the over 100
varieties of edible banana cultivated in Uganda. Since bananas have no
seeds, the only way to obtain a plant free from disease is to grow a
culture of banana tissue in the laboratory. It is tricky to do
successfully. But NARO says that, by providing new, clean varieties of
bananas to farmers, the weight of a bunch could potentially be doubled.

A longer-term aim will be to use the tools of molecular biology to improve
the banana. This research will be aided by the International Network for
the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (yes, really), a group based in
Montpellier, France, that co-ordinates international banana research. If
all goes as planned, this will give Uganda access to rich-country expertise
in genetics. Ultimately, it should allow the country to become
self-sufficient in the science of manipulating bananas using selective
breeding and genetic engineering to create varieties that are
disease-resistant and have higher yields. Selective breeding is possible
only on the rare occasions that two bananas pollinate.

Moving research closer to its point of application will not only speed the
turnaround of useful discoveries but should also increase farmers'
acceptance of innovations. Ugandans will be hoping that the researchers do
not slip up.

- The Economist, August 21, 2003

via AgBioView 28 Aug 2003


Building a Better Bean

Biotechnology helps create long-lasting soybean oil that's better for your
heart. Cakes, cookies, crackers and other processed foods could become a
whole lot healthier once a new biotech soybean now in development reaches
the market.

A University of NebraskaLincoln (UNL) researcher has successfully developed
a soybean with healthier oil that he believes could help improve consumer
health. "This is something consumers could sink their teeth into," said
Tom Clemente, an associate professor at the UNL Plant Science

The enhanced soybeans have been improved so they contain more of the
"good" monounsaturated fats and less polyunsaturated fats and "bad"
saturated fats. While polyunsaturated fats aren't by themselves bad for
your health, food processors often hydrogenate these oils to make them more
stable so food stays fresh and crisper longer. And that produces
harmful trans fats, which is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has
required that trans fats in foods be labeled by Jan. 1, 2006. Canada also
is requiring trans fats to be labeled.

Reducing the levels of harmful trans fats in hydrogenated soybean oil with
biotechnology could have a significant effect on human health because
soybean oil represents more than 80 percent of all the edible oil consumed
in the United States, according to the American Soybean Association.

Several studies have shown that eating trans fat and saturated fat raises
levels of "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the body,
which increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Nearly 13 million
Americans suffer from coronary heart disease, causing more than 500,000
deaths each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human

"If this soybean product could get on the market, it would be the first
biotech product the consumer could see as a benefit," Clemente told the
Omaha World-Herald. By silencing two soybean genes, Clemente and his team
have increased the levels of oleic acids, which produce monounsaturated
fats -- one of the "good fats" -- and they've decreased the palmitic acids,
which produce saturated fats -- one of the "bad fats."

Clemente said his job was simplified by decades of work that came before
his. "For probably 25 years conventional breeders have attempted to get a
high oleic soybean," Clemente says. But since the genes responsible for
producing oleic acid in a soybean are all recessive, or hidden, they
couldn't do it consistently, he says. "We went in and actually silenced
specific genes," he said. "I knew beforehand which genes needed to be

Health benefits
American Dietetic Association spokesperson Wahida Karmally says the
improved soybean could help improve human health.

"If you prepare a food with the regular soybean oil, like a cracker or
cookie, and you keep it on the shelf, it's not going to last that long --it
will get that fishy odor, which means it's rancid," says Karmally, who is
also director of nutrition at the Center for Clinical Research at Columbia
University's Irving Center. She explained that regular soybean oil
contains high levels of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fat, which is

To use regular soybean oil in processed foods, Karmelly says, commercial
processors will make those unstable molecules more stable by adding
partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. This step not only improves the
foods' shelf life, it improves the consistency of many products.

"Partially hydrogenated oil is what makes the cracker crispier," Karmally
says. Hydrogenation is also used to transform liquid vegetable oil into
stick margarine.

Unfortunately, it's the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil that
introduces trans fat into foods. So a new soybean whose oil doesn't require
hydrogenation is a healthier bean. Clemente says his improved bean
contains between 75 percent and 80 percent of healthful monounsaturated
oleic acids, making the oil stable enough so it does not require
hydrogenation. In contrast, regular soybeans contain between 15 and 20
percent oleic acid.

Clemente's work, which was funded by the Nebraska Soybean Board's "Better
Bean Initiative," is just one example among many research projects that are
designed to improve human health with plant biotechnology. There are many
biotech products in the pipeline-- including a cancer-fighting tomato and
corn and canola oils with up to 10 times the levels of healthful Vitamin E
-- that show promise.

While plant biotechnology may be the best way to reduce trans fats produced
from soybean oil, conventional breeding has been used to increase the
levels of healthful oleic acid in canola. And some food companies have
recently begun using these oils in their food processing to avoid trans
fats, which contribute just 2 to 3 percent of the typical American diet's
total calories. (By contrast, saturated fats make up about 12 percent of
total calories.

Industrial benefits
Clemente says it's also interesting to note that a high oleic soybean has
some non-nutritive benefits. Its stability and "lubricity" make it a very
good raw material for making biodiesel fuel, says Clemente. Now that
thebean's been grown, he says, the patenting, licensing and testing
processes shouldn't take more than a few years. Clemente expects his better
bean will be available commercially by the end of the decade.

And Clemente, for one, hopes that his bean will help dispel doubts about
the usefulness of agricultural biotechnology. "This is something consumers
can easily see the benefits of," he says.

AgBioView 28 Aug 2003


Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety Takes Effect

UNEP Press Release
Montreal, September 9, 2003

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the first legally binding
international agreement governing the transboundary movement of living
modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology enters into force on
Thursday, 11 September 2003.

The treaty, which aims at ensuring an adequate level of protection in the
field of the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms
(LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology, was adopted in January 2000 by
member countries to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

On 13 June this year, the Republic of Palau became the 50th State to ratify
the Protocol, which triggered the countdown to the entry into force. To
date, 57 States and the European Community have ratified it, the Republic
of South Africa being the most recent.

Underscoring the significance of the Protocols entry into force, CBD
Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan said, The Protocol has now become a
binding instrument for States (Parties) that have given their consent to be
bound by it.

This means that the transboundary movement of LMOs from one country to
another will have to be in conformity with the provisions of the Protocol ,
in cases where both countries are Parties to the Protocol. However, in
cases where movement of LMOs involves a Party and a non Party, such
movement shall be consistent with the objective of the Protocol., said Mr.

Because of the sensitivity and contention around some of the issues that
almost made it impossible to have agreement on the text of the Protocol
until the very last minute, some skeptics were wondering if the Protocol,
even though adopted, would ever enter into force. Well, they have been
proven wrong, said Ambassador Philemon Yang of Cameroon.

The Protocol establishes a harmonized set of international rules and
procedures designed to ensure that countries are provided with the relevant
information to enable them to make informed decisions before agreeing to
the import of LMOs. It also ensures that LMO shipments area accompanied by
appropriate identification documentation. The adoption of the Protocol in
2000 and now its entry into force have been significant steps. However, the
major challenge now is the practical implementation of the provisions to
enable the Protocols objectives to be met. All Parties need to take
appropriate legal, administrative and other measures at the domestic level
to translate the Protocols provisions and objective into a practical
reality, said Mr.Zedan.

Since the adoption of the Protocol, the Intergovernmental Committee on the
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP) has made considerable progress in
proposing possible implementation measures. ICCP is the interim body,
established to undertake preparatory work for the first meeting of the
Protocols decision-making body. The work done by ICCP has contributed
significantly to clarifying a number of issues thereby giving many
countries the confidence they needed to ratify the Protocol and get ready
for its implementation, said Ambassador Yang, the ICCP Chair.

The decision-making body of all the member countries of the Protocol - the
Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the
Protocol- will convene from 23 to 27 February 2004 in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia to address strategic and operational measures for the
implementation of the Protocol.

While the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the Protocol is
implemented lies with Parties, Mr. Zedan observed that all relevant
stakeholders: business and industry, NGOs, scientists, researchers and the
media have a big role to play. Their cooperation is essential for the
successful implementation of the Protocol. I encourage all the players to
take on their respective responsibilities in support of the Protocol.

I strongly urge all countries that have not yet done so to ratify the
Protocol as soon as possible in order that they may participate as full
partners in the decision-making at the first meeting of Parties, which will
shape the future of the Protocol.

(4) Additional information about the Protocol is available at the
following Web sites: CBD Web site: and
Biosafety Clearing-House: Frequently
asked questions are also available at:

For further information, please contact:

Diana Nicholson: Tel: +1 -514-287-7031,
Erie Tamale: Tel: +1 514-287-7050,

AgBioView 10 Sept 2003


Biodiversity Treaty is 'Disastrous' for Scientists

Ted Agres

11 September 2003
The Scientist

When it was introduced in 1992, many scientists welcomed the Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD). But critics are now expressing concerns that
the treaty is making developing countries paranoid of researchers wanting
to steal their genetic resources.

Such a reaction is "an absolute disaster for scientists", according to a
senior UN official, as it draws no distinction between those who are
bioprospecting for drugs and pharmaceuticals, and those conducting genuine
academic research.

In light of these problems, the United Nations and the governments of some
developing countries are starting to recognise the need to change the
treaty's implementation. But researchers warn that progress must be made
quickly if countries are to avoid holding a completely distorted view of



Resistance to Bt Toxin Surprisingly Absent from Pests
Nature Biotechnology, Sept 2003 Vol. 21 No. 9 pp 958 - 959

By Jeffrey L Fox

Defying the expectations of scientists monitoring transgenic crops such as
corn and cotton that produce insecticidal proteins derived from Bacillus
thuringiensis (Bt), target insect pests have developed little or no
resistance to Bt crops thus far, according to US Department of Agriculture
funded scientists, reports Nature Biotechnology.

These findings suggest that transgenic Bt crops could enjoy more extended,
more profitable commercial life cycles and that the measures established to
mitigate resistance before the crops were introduced are paying off. The
diamondback moth is the only pest to have evolved resistance to Bt sprays
used by organic growers, but no pest has evolved resistance to transgenic
Bt crops in the field.

"If I'd gotten up seven years ago and said that there would be no evidence
of increased Bt resistance after Bt crops were planted on 62 million
hectares [cumulative and worldwide], I would have been hooted off the
stage," says entomologist Bruce Tabashnik of the University of Arizona
(Tucson, AZ, USA), whose research group recently completed a survey of this
phenomenon in collaboration with scientists from Cornell University
(Geneva, NY, USA).

"No one predicted that there wouldn't even be a minor increase, which is
extraordinary," Tabashnik told Nature Biotechnology. Nor has Monsanto (St.
Louis, MO, USA) seen any signs of resistance to transgenic Bt crops,
despite widespread use in a number of countries.

Graham Head, who is responsible for global coordination of insect
resistance management at Monsanto, agrees with Tabashnik's explanation of
these findings: "the use of refuges to manage resistance that tends to be
recessive and have fitness costs is a highly effective means of delaying
resistance," says Head to Nature Biotechnology.

Bt transgenic corn entered the commercial arena in 1996 amid extensive,
sometimes contentious deliberations over steps needed to avoid or at least
retard what some scientists considered the inevitable development by target
insects of resistance to these insecticidal proteins, which are encoded in
genes carried by soil-dwelling bacteria.

Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; Washington, DC,
USA), working closely with researchers from universities and industry,
specified measures for this purpose. The primary resistance-preventive
measure that farmers who plant transgenic Bt crops are required to take is
to set aside some acreage (see p. 1003) as refuges on which they grow
varieties of the same crop devoid of Bt. Carefully developed population
genetics models indicated that such Bt-free refuges would permit
susceptible insects to survive and swamp out resistant variants that might
emerge from the pest population feeding on Bt plants in nearby fields,
reports Nature Biotechnology.

Although Bt plantings were modest at first, farmers in several countries
enthusiastically adopted this technology and now plant about 1015 million
hectares of Bt corn and cotton annually, mainly in the United States,
Argentina, Australia and China. Bt potatoes were once grown commercially on
a smaller scale, while Bt canola and broccoli are being grown in labs and
greenhouses to evaluate Bt-resistant insect pests.

Bt resistance is not merely a theoretical concept, according to Tabashnik
and other researchers. For example, Bt-resistant mutants of the European
corn borer are readily identified in the lab, says Tabashnik. Similarly,
Kongming Wu at the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences (Beijing, China)
and his collaborators find that isolates of Helicoverpa armigera, a
bollworm that feeds on several crops, including cotton, corn, and peanuts,
in the Yellow River Valley in China developed measurable resistance to Bt
following multiple generations of exposure to Bt toxin in the laboratory.
Nonetheless, based on field monitoring during the past five growing seasons
(through 2002), Wu found no discernible increase in the resistance of this
bollworm to Bt-cotton being grown commercially, and the frequency of
resistance alleles in field populations is still low, reports Nature

The absence of Bt resistance "does not seem surprising to me," says Gary
Fitt, who is Strategy Director of CSIRO Entomology (Narrabri, Australia).
Australians began growing Bt cotton in 1996, beginning with about 10% of
the total cotton crop of about 500,000 hectares and now plant at an
agreed-on cap of 30%, or about 180,000 hectares.

"The cap was an additional level of conservatism above our resistance
management strategy," he says. "The strategy includes refuges, [a] planting
window, mandatory crop residue destruction, management of volunteer plants
and thresholds for pest management."

This same pattern of little or no Bt resistance holds true for Bt corn and
Bt cotton grown elsewhere, including the United States, despite occasional
unverified reports to the contrary, Tabashnik says. "More than 500 species
of insect have evolved resistance to one or more conventional insecticides.
So far, the track record for Bt is better. In the field, only one pest, the
diamondback moth, has evolved resistance to Bt sprays, and none has evolved
resistance to Bt crops. Despite this success, the incredible adaptive
ability of insects means that resistance remains a threat."

"The main question is whether we don't see resistance because the EPA has
instituted the high-dose, refuge approach or whether we never needed a
resistance management approach in the first place," says Fred Gould of
North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC, USA), who also is studying Bt
resistance in the US and with Wu in China. "This is a tough question to
answer," Gould told Nature Biotechnology.

SeedQuest. com


North Carolina State University Geneticist Gets US$2.57 Million to Study
Evolution of Rice

September 3, 2003

Dr. Michael Purugganan, associate professor of genetics at North Carolina
State University, is the principal investigator for a new $2.57 million
grant from the National Science Foundation to study genetic variation in rice.

Rice is among the most important crop plants. About 600 million tons of
rice are produced each year. It is the staple food for more than half the
worlds population.

The three-year study in collaboration with researchers from Cornell
University will be a first attempt at understanding the molecular evolution
of the rice genome, Purugganan says.

Thats important, he says, because gaining insight into the way the plant
has evolved will help provide a clearer map of the rice genome and provide
clues on how to improve specific desired characteristics of rice for
crop-breeding purposes.

Specifically, Purugganan and his collaborators will examine the evolution
of rice using linkage disequilibrium mapping, a technique that is used to
pinpoint genes rapidly, Purugganan says.

If a mutation, or change in genetic information, appears that is
beneficial, it is usually associated with other mutations in the genome, he
said. That is, mutations around it are correlated to that mutation. If we
can track the other mutations, we can find the gene were interested in
trying to understand.

Purugganan and two post-doctoral researchers in his lab, Ken Olsen and Ana
Caicedo, will study single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) common DNA
sequence variations among individual genes to gain further knowledge about
how the crop has evolved over time.

Very little is known about the basic molecular evolution of rice,Purugganan
said. Farmers have selected for certain beneficial traits over the years.
SNPs are signatures for what has happened in the evolution of rice. If we
understand how to read those signatures, well understand how this genome
has evolved.

In addition, an outreach component comprised of new experiments and
Web-based materials will be developed for middle- and high-school students.
NC State undergraduates will assist in the development of the curriculum
and the materials, Purugganan says.


Proposed New Barley Breeding Joint Venture to Benefit Australian Industry

September 5, 2003

The State's barley producers are set to benefit from a proposal to
integrate Western Australian and South Australian barley breeding programs.

Under the options being examined, the Western Australia Department of
Agriculture would integrate its barley breeding research and development
with those of the South Australian Research and Development Institute
(SARDI), University of Adelaide and the Grains Research and Development
Corporation (GRDC).

Department Director General Graeme Robertson said the objective was
improved future provision of better malting, feed and specific purpose
barley varieties.

"Successful barley breeding programs operate in both WA and SA,
however, future technological, market and business challenges for the
barley industry and technology providers mean the merits of merging the
programs needs to be considered," Dr Robertson said.

"The potential benefits of closer collaboration include technical
enhancement of current breeding programs through better knowledge sharing
and access to a wider range of germplasm and variety of scientific
expertise. It could also provide access to a broader base of
biotechnologies," he said.

"There is also potential to share paths to market, achieve a broader
penetration of new varieties, generate greater efficiencies and enable
improved funding outlook."

Dr Robertson said the success of the Western Australian program in recently
releasing the excellent varieties Baudin and Hamelin, plus the substantial
recent gains in barley breeding technology was a strong pointer to the
future. The South Australian program had complementary strengths to those
of the Department of Agriculture program.

The core activities of the collaborative breeding program would continue to
be innovative breeding, selection and evaluation relating to superior
malting barley, feed barley and barley varieties for other applications.

The venture would also play a key supporting role in training of plant
breeders, through the University of Adelaide at the undergraduate,
postgraduate and postdoctoral levels.

Dr Robertson said a major strength of the current breeding programs was the
high level of industry involvement via the Western Malting Barley Council
and the interstate Malting Barley Quality Improvement Program. Consultation
with industry indicated there was strong support for the proposal and the
consultation would be ongoing.

He said similar collaborative programs were already in place in other
grains industries. In all cases, the Department was firmly focused on
positioning the breeding programs to enable delivery of better industry
outcomes, in both the short and long term.

"The Department of Agriculture is part of the national wheat breeding
program Enterprise Grains Australia (EGA) and recently released three new
varieties developed through the program. GRDC, NSW Agriculture and
Queensland Department of Primary Industries are also EGA partners," Dr
Robertson said.

"The Department of Agriculture also partners SARDI and GRDC in oat
breeding," he said.

The Department is also currently working with interstate counterpart
agencies to respond to a GRDC call for expressions of interest in improved
management arrangements for pulse breeding.



A New Plant Breeding Web Site is a non-profit website dedicated to news, events, and
discussions regarding plant breeding. It is supported by readers who -
when finding something interesting online - submit a brief synopsis and a
hyperlink to the original story on the web. Ideally, submissions also
include hyperlinks to other web sites with additional relevant content. By
simply clicking on the "Comments" link below each posted submission, each
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where other readers may subsequently submit comments, rebuttals, follow-up
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Joshua A. Udall


IRRI's Rice Magazine Upgrades its Web Presence

Los Banos, Philippines

September 5, 2003

Rice Today, the award-winning biannual magazine of the International Rice
Research Institute (IRRI), has just become easier for readers to sample on
the World Wide Web. This and other developments in coming months promise to
raise the profile of the only international magazine dedicated to the
world's most important food crop.

Since its launch in April 2002, replacing IRRI's annual report, Rice Today
has been accessible through the IRRI home page ( in the form
of one pdf file per issue. Now Web surfers have direct access through IRRI
home to archives of the magazine's three regular columns:

Grain of Truth, in which rice scientists' guest contributions tell it like
it is; Rice Facts, in which agricultural economist David Dawe takes a fresh
look at the numbers; and Donors Corner, containing brief profiles of IRRI's
valued funding partners.

The site also has a Feature Presentation link to a selected article, which
will be replaced every week. The first Feature Presentation is a 6-page
spread entitled Lost Horizon Restored, about the innovative research
techniques that rice scientists are employing to help farmers in
mountainous tribal areas of northern Vietnam improve the sustainability of
their agricultural practices. The article won the 2003 Gold Award in the
category writing for magazines from the Association for Communication
Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences
IRRI home continues to provide links, as in the past, to a PDF of each
issue in its entirety, with direct links to individual stories from the
Table of Contents.

Meanwhile, the United Nations' declaration of the International Year of
Rice 2004 is providing impetus for further developing the potential of Rice
Today. In 2004, IRRI will produce four special International Year of Rice
issues of the magazine, which will appear in mid-January and the beginning
of April, July and October. With more frequent publication, IRRI will
actively seek advertisers and other partners to help defray production
costs and broaden the publication's market and impact. To this end, the
institute is surveying the magazine's existing readership to find out who
they are and what they want.

Readers are urged to participate by completing and returning survey
postcards inserted into the upcoming October 2003 issue (Vol. 2, No. 2) or
by logging on to after 1 October 2003.

Those who do not yet receive Rice Today in the mail, but would like to,
should notify the editor, Peter Fredenburg, by email, phone (+63-2) 845-0563 ext 2411.


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