Agricultural Biotechnologies
Agricultural Biotechnologies in crops, forestry, livestock, fisheries and agro-industry  Biotech-banner
 

The News items relate to applications of biotechnologies in food and agriculture in developing countries and their major focus is on the activities of FAO, other UN agencies/bodies and the 15 CGIAR research centres. The News items cover all food and agricultural sectors (crops, forestry, fisheries/aquaculture, livestock, agro-industry) and a wide range of biotechnologies (e.g. use of molecular markers, artificial insemination, triploidisation, biofertilisers, micropropagation, genomics, genetic modification etc.). New documents are included as News if they are freely available on the web and, for people who can't download them or who wish further information, an e-mail contact is also provided. The News service was launched in January 2002 and all News items posted since then (there were 800 in the first 9 years) are available here. The news and event items on this website are also disseminated through an e-mail newsletter called FAO-BiotechNews that is published in six different versions, one per language i.e. Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. To subscribe, send a message to [email protected] indicating which e-mail addresses are to be subscribed and in which language they wish to receive the newsletter.

News

19/11/2020

The FAO Biotechnology website contains an annotated list of on-line biotechnology policy documents of FAO members. The majority are national policy documents, but regional (within country) documents are also included. The list of biotechnology policy documents has recently been updated. See http://www.fao.org/biotech/country-policy-documents/ (available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) or contact [email protected] for more information.

18/11/2020

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) is an intergovernmental organisation mandated to manage tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean and adjacent seas. In 2015, the European Union provided funding to the IOTC for a project to describe the population structure and connectivity of four tuna species (albacore, bigeye, skipjack and yellowfin), three tuna-like species (kawakawa, longtail tuna and narrow-barred Spanish mackerel), three billfish species (striped marlin, swordfish, Indo-Pacific sailfish) and one shark species (blue shark) within the Indian Ocean. The project used DNA sequencing of the fish populations and made a substantial contribution to the knowledge of the population structure of these 11 important species related to tuna fishing in the Indian Ocean. The project has now ended and a brief overview of the background, activities and achievements of the project has been published. See the project webpage at https://iotc.org/projects/iotc-population-structure-iotc-species-indian-ocean-estimation-next-generation-sequencing for all relevant documents or contact [email protected] for more information. The IOTC’s objective is to promote the conservation and optimal utilization of tuna and tuna-like stocks covered by the IOTC Agreement, and to encourage sustainable development of fisheries. Its establishment was approved by the FAO Council in 1993 and the IOTC came into force in 1996.

17/11/2020

FAO recently produced a short video about agricultural biotechnologies, covering their potential role in meeting today's major global challenges and how FAO assists its member countries in this area. The video is now available on the FAO Biotechnology thematic webpage, in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. See the webpage at http://www.fao.org/biotechnology/, the video at https://youtu.be/CZr0zi6SnxQ or contact [email protected] for further information.

16/11/2020

On 10-13 September 2019, FAO organised a global community meeting of the FAO GM Foods Platform in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting’s theme was “towards effective risk-based GM food safety assessment and regulatory management”. The report of the meeting is now available, describing key issues that were discussed, including the need for collaborative approaches in planning capacity development activities and the effectiveness of a mentoring system to obtain experience-based insights in strengthening the risk assessment process. Approximately 100 concrete steps from 28 country groups were identified and several good practices shared by countries are highlighted in the report. The FAO GM Foods Platform is an online community of practice set up to share information on the safety assessment of foods derived from recombinant-DNA plants (authorized in accordance with Codex Guideline CAC/GL 45-2003). See the report at https://doi.org/10.4060/ca8945en or contact [email protected] for more information.

15/11/2020

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in partnership with FAO, has been developing and transferring diagnostic tests for transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases for many years. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have supported over 120 members (countries) so far in their efforts to diagnose and control COVID-19, providing them with equipment, diagnostic kits, primers and personal protective equipment to establish and use molecular techniques to rapidly detect SARS-CoV-2. This story is reported in the July 2020 newsletter from the Animal Production and Health Section of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture. The 36-page newsletter, issued twice a year, gives an overview of past and upcoming training courses, meetings, projects, news stories and publications. See http://www-naweb.iaea.org/nafa/aph/public/newsletters-aph.html or contact [email protected] for more information.

14/11/2020

The Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture has helped Malaysia’s nuclear agency, Nuclear Malaysia, to develop many improved crop varieties that are more tolerant to climate change. Recently, the Joint FAO/IAEA Division supported scientists from Nuclear Malaysia to strengthen human capacities to develop improved rice varieties and to promote and disseminate a high-yielding rice variety to farmers. The new rice mutant variety, NMR152, was developed by Nuclear Malaysia through mutation breeding techniques. This and many other stories are included in the July 2020 newsletter from the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division. The 40-page newsletter gives an overview of their past and upcoming events, ongoing projects and publications and is issued twice a year. See http://www-naweb.iaea.org/nafa/pbg/public/newsletters-pbg.html or contact [email protected] for more information.

13/11/2020

The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. The objective of the Supplementary Protocol is to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health, by providing international rules and procedures in the field of liability and redress relating to living modified organisms. It applies to damage resulting from living modified organisms which find their origin in a transboundary movement. This supplementary agreement to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was adopted on 15 October 2010 at the 5th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, held in Nagoya, Japan. It entered into force on 5 March 2018 and 48 Parties have ratified it so far (November 2020). See the press release to celebrate the 10th anniversary at http://bch.cbd.int/protocol/e-doc/?news=125487 or contact [email protected] for more information.

12/11/2020

The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) is an open-ended intergovernmental scientific advisory body of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Its 24th fourth meeting, which was due to take place on 17-22 August 2020 in Montreal, Canada, was postponed and it will now be held in the first quarter of 2021, conditions allowing. Items on the provisional agenda for this meeting include synthetic biology (item 4) and risk assessment and risk management of living modified organisms (item 5). Official documents (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) and information documents (in English) for the meeting are available at https://www.cbd.int/meetings/SBSTTA-24. Contact [email protected] for more information.

11/11/2020

The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in collaboration with the ABS Capacity Development Initiative, is organising a series of three webinars on digital sequence information on genetic resources. The series aims to foster a common understanding of digital sequence information on genetic resources, its importance and linkage to the CBD, the Nagoya Protocol and the Sustainable Development Goals, and how digital sequence information on genetic resources is being addressed under the CBD, in preparation for the third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The first two webinars take place on 1 and 9 December 2020 and the third one will take place in the first quarter of 2021. For background information and links to register, see https://www.cbd.int/article/dsi-webinar-series-2020. Contact [email protected] for more information.

10/11/2020

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the University of Queensland organised Interdrought 2020, an international congress aiming to facilitate the development of concepts, methods and technologies associated with plant production in water-limited environments. Its themes included plant production under drought, and breeding for water-limited environments. The meeting was due to take place on 9-13 March 2020 in Mexico City but was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organisers, however, have made all the presentations, abstracts and posters available. See https://interdrought2020.cimmyt.org/ or contact [email protected] for more information. This is the 6th Interdrought congress – the first one took place in Montpellier in 1995.

09/11/2020

On 10-11 October 2019 in Hyderabad, India, the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), through its Asia Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology and Bioresources (APCoAB) programme, organised the “Regional expert consultation on gene editing in agriculture and its regulation” in partnership with the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII). Proceedings and recommendations from the meeting are now available, edited by R.K. Tyagi, R.K. Varshney, P. Bhatnagar-Mathur, S. Bajaj, R. Kumria and R.K. Khetarpal. See http://www.apaari.org/web/consultation-on-gene-editing-2019/ or contact [email protected] to request a copy.

08/11/2020

On 10-12 April 2019, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) hosted a conference on "Regulation of externally applied dsRNA-based products for the management of pests" at OECD Headquarters in Paris, France. Its main objectives were to provide participants with a summary of the state of the art of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-based product use in agriculture; exchange information on the current status and future possibilities for the regulation of externally applied dsRNA-based products that are proposed for use as pesticides; facilitate discussions on the impact of the use of dsRNA pesticides on the environment and health and implications for current regulations; and inform regulatory policy and facilitate harmonised approaches across governments. A short overview of the conference, linking to related information and documents, is provided in the latest issue (June 2020) of the OECD Biotechnology Update, prepared by the OECD Internal Co-ordination Group for Biotechnology. The 31-page newsletter provides updated information on activities, publications and events at the OECD. See http://www.oecd.org/env/ehs/biotrack/oecdbiotechnologynewsletterupdates.htm or contact [email protected] for more information.

31/03/2020

At the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the Parties decided, inter alia, to consider at the 10th meeting (due to take place in October 2020 in China) whether additional guidance materials on risk assessment are needed for (a) living modified organisms containing engineered gene drives and (b) living modified fish, and to establish an ad hoc technical expert group (AHTEG) on risk assessment. The AHTEG has now been established and it will meet online from 31 March to 3 April 2020. Documents for the meeting are available at https://www.cbd.int/meetings/CP-RARM-AHTEG-2020-01. For more information about risk assessment, see https://bch.cbd.int/onlineconferences/forum_ra.shtml or contact [email protected].

30/03/2020

The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) provides access to a wide range of video recordings of presentations by scientific experts from its meetings, courses and seminars. These include numerous presentations from the workshop on “Genome editing applications and beyond”, organised by ICGEB and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) on 19-22 November 2019 in Trieste, Italy. See https://www.icgeb.org/outreach/podcasts/ or contact [email protected] for more information.

29/03/2020
FAO recently published a collection of abstracts from the 4th International Symposium on Biological Control of Bacterial Plant Diseases. The symposium took place in Viterbo, Italy on 9-11 July 2019 and was organised by the Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Forestali, Università della Tuscia in collaboration with FAO. It provided a forum to discuss the latest research results and developments in the biocontrol of bacterial plant diseases and was organised into nine core sections, including interactions between plants and microbiomes and use of genetics and genomics for innovative control strategies. See the 62-page publication at http://www.fao.org/publications/card/en/c/CA5311EN or contact Thaer.Yasee[email protected] for more information.
28/03/2020
On 26 September 2019, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) organised a stakeholder steering committee meeting in Paris, France on “Bolstering biotechnology research and education: Building human and institutional capacities for the bioeconomy”. Its objective was to advise UNESCO on the organisation of a conference on this subject as well as consider issues that are pertinent to building institutional and human capacities for the bioeconomy, such as how to promote biotechnology/bioeconomy education and training in secondary and tertiary education and in research institutions, both in the public and private sectors. See https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/bolstering_biotechnology_education_pcb_26-09-2019.pdf or contact [email protected] for more information.
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