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 FAO-Biotech-News@fao.org indicating which e-mail addresses are to be subscribed and in which language they wish to receive the newsletter.

News

10/09/2019

FAO has just released a major publication on “The state of the world's aquatic genetic resources for food and agriculture”, a 251-page report which assesses the current understanding and use of aquatic genetic resources (AqGR) for the benefit and sustainability of aquaculture. It investigates the trends and looks at the roles of current AqGR stakeholders, research, education and legislation. The main body of information synthesized in the report came from country reports submitted by 92 governments, in response to a questionnaire prepared by FAO. The questionnaire contained a number of specific questions about use of a range of biotechnologies that can be applied to characterise and develop AqGR and the FAO report presents data on the levels of application of these technologies with selective breeding being the most widely applied. The report also drew on five specially commissioned thematic background studies, one of which was dedicated to “Genome-based biotechnologies in aquaculture”, written by Zhanjiang Liu. See the related press release at http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1205417/icode/ (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Italian, Russian and Spanish), the report at http://www.fao.org/3/ca5256en/CA5256EN.pdf (5.8 MB) and the thematic background study at http://www.fao.org/aquatic-genetic-resources/background/sow/background-studies/en/.

09/09/2019

The FAO Regional Meeting on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition in Asia-Pacific took place on 11-13 September 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For this meeting, FAO commissioned Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), a New Delhi-based policy research institute, to prepare a regional background study to assess the status of application, capacities and the enabling environment for agricultural biotechnologies in the crop, livestock, forestry and fisheries/aquaculture sectors in the Asia-Pacific region. This 173-page working document, entitled “The status of application, capacities and the enabling environment for agricultural biotechnologies in the Asia-Pacific Region” has recently been published, as well as a related 4-page policy brief entitled “Realizing the potential of agricultural biotechnology in the Asia-Pacific region”. See the meeting website at http://www.fao.org/asiapacific/events/detail-events/en/c/1440/, the background study at http://www.fao.org/3/ca4438en/ca4438en.pdf (2.3 MB) and the policy brief at http://www.fao.org/3/ca5106en/ca5106en.pdf (6 MB) or contact RAP-Biotech@fao.org for further information.

08/09/2019

A number of major FAO publications on agricultural biotechnologies are currently available on request. These include the proceedings (organized in eight chapters covering the main highlights) of the FAO international symposium on “The role of agricultural biotechnologies in sustainable food systems and nutrition” which took place on 15-17 February 2016 at FAO headquarters, Rome (on the web at http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/66e9a36c-19b2-407a-83c9-5b767e233417/); the 2013 book entitled “Biotechnologies at work for smallholders: Case studies from developing countries in crops, livestock and fish” which documents a series of 19 case studies (on the web at http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3403e/i3403e00.htm); the "Biosafety resource book", consisting of five modules, based on materials from training courses organized by FAO from 2002 to 2010 (on the web at http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i1905e/i1905e00.htm); and the proceedings (containing ten chapters with an extensive series of FAO background documents and five chapters dedicated to the outcomes) of the FAO international technical conference on "Agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries: Options and opportunities in crops, forestry, livestock, fisheries and agro-industry to face the challenges of food insecurity and climate change" (ABDC-10), which took place in Guadalajara, Mexico on 1-4 March 2010 (on the web at http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i2300e/i2300e00.htm). To request a copy of one or more of these publications, please send your full postal address to AGDR-Chief@fao.org.  

07/09/2019

The 17th Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) took place on 18-22 February 2019 in Rome, Italy. Agenda item 4 was dedicated to “’Digital sequence information’ on genetic resources for food and agriculture”. The CGRFA considered a working document (number CGRFA-17/19/4) on “’Digital sequence information’ on genetic resources for food and agriculture and its relevance for food security”. It also took note of an 86-page background study paper entitled “Exploratory fact-finding scoping study on “digital sequence information” on genetic resources for food and agriculture”, by J.A. Heinemann, D.S. Coray and D.S. Thaler. The Commission’s Session report and working documents of the Session (all in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) as well as the background study paper, are available at http://www.fao.org/cgrfa/meetings/detail/en/c/1153541/. More information about “digital sequence information” is available at http://www.fao.org/cgrfa/topics/digital-sequence-information/en/. Contact cgrfa@fao.org for more information. The CGRFA is an intergovernmental body established by the FAO Conference in 1983, whose Members include 178 countries and the European Union. It provides the only permanent forum for governments to specifically discuss and negotiate matters relevant to biological diversity for food and agriculture, including all plant, animal, forest, aquatic, micro-organism and invertebrate genetic resources for food and agriculture.

06/09/2019

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and FAO recently published the 3rd edition of the “Manual on mutation breeding”, edited by M. Spencer-Lopes, B.P. Forster and L. Jankuloski. Following the 2nd edition which was published in 1977, this 299-page book describes advances in plant mutation breeding, including basic irradiation techniques as well as chemical mutagenesis, in both seed-propagated and vegetatively propagated crops. The manual provides comprehensive overviews and guidelines for new high-throughput screening methods - both phenotypic and genotypic - that are currently available to enable the detection of rare and valuable mutant traits and reviews techniques for increasing the efficiency of crop mutation breeding. It provides practical hands-on methods in plant mutation breeding techniques, with clear illustrated step-by-step protocols. See http://www.fao.org/3/I9285EN/i9285en.pdf (12.6 MB) or contact L.Jankuloski@iaea.org for more information.

05/09/2019

An FAO project to strengthen national capacity on genetically modified (GM) food safety assessment is ongoing in Bhutan. Officials from the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) have been trained through a workshop on "Training on genetically modified (GM) food safety assessment, risk communication and advocacies programme" which took place on 23-27 July 2018 in Thimphu, Bhutan. A training workshop on “GM food safety assessment: Using a real case study” also took place on 4-15 February 2019 in Paro, Bhutan, using a real-case dossier. Summary reports of these workshops are available at http://www.fao.org/3/CA1436EN/ca1436en.pdf (1 MB) and http://www.fao.org/3/ca4442en/ca4442en.pdf (1 MB) respectively. Contact Masami.Takeuchi@fao.org for further information.

04/09/2019

On 28-29 June 2018, the “OECD conference on genome editing: Applications in agriculture – Implications for health, environment and regulation” took place at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris, France. The conference provided the opportunity to learn and discuss genome editing techniques, their current development and applications in agriculture, the science-based safety considerations associated with their use, and the status of related regulatory frameworks in different countries. Proceedings of the conference are now available. See https://www.oecd.org/environment/genome-editing-agriculture/ or contact ehs.contact@oecd.org for more information.

22/09/2017

The FAO Regional Meeting on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition in Asia-Pacific took place on 11-13 September 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting was hosted and co-organised by the Government of Malaysia.

It was the first of four regional meetings that FAO is planning to organise in 2017-2018 as a follow-up to the FAO International Symposium on The Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition, which took place on 15-17 February 2016 at FAO Headquarters, Rome.

The regional meeting brought together about 200 representatives of governments; intergovernmental organizations; private sector entities; academia and research institutions; and civil society organizations and producer organizations. The meeting encompassed a wide spectrum of available biotechnologies used in forestry, crops, livestock and aquaculture/fisheries, from low- to high-tech.

The 2.5-day meeting consisted of presentations by 42 speakers and moderated discussions during 9 plenary and 6 parallel sessions dedicated to a wide range of issues concerning agricultural biotechnologies in the region, including investments; dissemination, adoption and use of biotechnologies (and their social and economic impacts); regional innovation opportunities; regulation, policies and intellectual property rights; genetic resources for food and agriculture; nutrition; climate change and south-south cooperation.

Ahead of the meeting, the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific produced four short videos with real examples of biotechnologies being applied to meet the needs of smallholders in Asia-Pacific. They covered the use of: artificial insemination and semen sexing in dairy cows for milk production in Nepal; DNA-based diagnostics and probiotics for disease management in shrimp populations in Thailand; DNA marker-assisted selection to develop Swarna-Sub1, a rice variety tolerant to floods in India; and tissue culture for propagating tree planting stock for agroforestry in Thailand. On the first day of the meeting, FAO also released a news story entitled “Improved access to agricultural biotechnologies needed to help defeat hunger, malnutrition and poverty in the Asia-Pacific region”.

The meeting website provides links to a wide range of material related to the event, including links to the press release, the new videos, frequently asked questions (FAQs) as well as the final agenda and abstracts of presentations made. All further materials from the meeting, such as the speakers’ presentations, will also be available on the website in the near future. See http://www.fao.org/asiapacific/events/detail-events/en/c/1440/ or contact RAP-Biotech@fao.org for further information.

21/09/2017

On 22-24 November 2017, the FAO Regional Meeting on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa will take place at the African Union Conference Center, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting will be hosted and co-organized by the Government of Ethiopia. It is the second regional meeting to be organised as a follow-up to the FAO International Symposium on The Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition, which took place on 15-17 February 2016 at FAO Headquarters, Rome.

The target audience for the regional meeting includes representatives of governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-state actors in Sub-Saharan Africa. The term ‘non-state actors’ refers to civil society organizations; private sector entities (including philanthropic foundations); academia and research institutions; and cooperatives and producer organizations.

Representatives of non-state actors in Sub-Saharan Africa wishing to participate in the regional meeting are encouraged to visit the meeting website at http://www.fao.org/africa/events/detail-events/en/c/1035227/. Information is available there on the requirements for non-state actor participation as well as a link to the call of interest application form. The deadline for expression of interest is 30 September 2017. For more information, please contact RAF-Biotech@fao.org  

15/06/2017

On 11-13 September 2017, FAO will organize the Regional Meeting on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition in Asia-Pacific. The meeting takes place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and is hosted and co-organised by the Government of Malaysia. 

It is the first of four regional meetings that FAO is planning to organise in 2017-2018. The second one will be in the Sub-Saharan Africa region in 2017, while there are two planned for 2018 - in Latin America and the Caribbean and in North Africa and the Near East. The regional meetings are planned as a follow-up to the FAO International Symposium on The Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition, which took place on 15-17 February 2016 at FAO Headquarters, Rome. 

During the Symposium, the importance of bringing the dialogue from the global to the regional level was highlighted by participants. In closing the Symposium, the FAO Director-General concluded: “Now FAO has to move forward. We intend to bring the debate to a regional perspective. We want to hear from governments, farmers and researchers of all regions about their needs and concerns regarding biotechnology”. 

The aim of the 2016 Symposium was to explore the application of biotechnologies for the benefit of smallholders in developing sustainable food systems and improving nutrition in the context of climate change. The FAO Regional Meeting on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Asia-Pacific will bring the dialogue and exchange of knowledge and experiences regarding biotechnologies to the regional level, using a multisector approach covering the crop, livestock, forestry and fishery sectors. It will also aim to cover the wide spectrum of available biotechnologies, from low- to high-tech, including microbial food fermentation, tissue culture in crops or trees, reproductive technologies in livestock, DNA-based kits to diagnose diseases in farmed fish, use of molecular markers, genetic modification and other biotechnologies. 

The target audience for the regional meeting in Malaysia includes representatives of governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-state actors in the Asia-Pacific region. The term ‘non-state actors’ refers to civil society organizations; private sector entities (including philanthropic foundations); academia and research institutions; and cooperatives and producer organizations. Representatives of non-state actors are now invited to express their interest in attending the regional meeting. To do so, please fill out the short form that is available at http://www.fao.org/asiapacific/events/detail-events/en/c/1440/. The deadline for expression of interest is 30 June 2017. For more information about this call for representatives of non-state actors to express an interest in attending this regional meeting, please contact RAP-Biotech@fao.org.

29/01/2017

The 25th session of the FAO Committee on Agriculture (COAG) took place at FAO Headquarters, Rome on 26-30 September 2016. One of the documents discussed was “Achieving sustainable rural development through agricultural innovation” (COAG/2016/6), which encompassed the issue of agricultural biotechnologies. The “Summary report of the FAO International Symposium on the Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition (Rome, 15-17 February 2016)” was also provided to COAG as an information document (COAG/2016/INF/5). All documents, including the meeting report, are available at http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/coag/coag-25/list-of-documents/en/ (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). COAG normally meets every two years and is one of FAO’s Governing Bodies providing overall policy and regulatory guidance on issues relating to agriculture, livestock, food safety, nutrition, rural development and natural resource management. For more information, contact FAO-COAG@fao.org.

28/01/2017

On 23-25 May 2016, FAO held a technical meeting at FAO Headquarters, Rome on the impact of whole genome sequencing (WGS) on food safety management, together with the 9th meeting of the Global Microbial Identifier. The meeting was attended by 175 participants from 50 countries and dealt with a range of topics including benefits and potential drawbacks of WGS, considerations for developing countries, key needs for global actions and potential roles of international organizations, existing initiatives on WGS of pathogens, global capacity for identification and characterization of pathogens, issues relevant to epidemiology and surveillance, issues around global data-sharing, and technical discussions on metagenomics. The 53-page meeting report is now available at http://www.fao.org/3/a-i6582e.pdf (950 KB). On a related subject, FAO organized a side event on 20 September 2016 dedicated to “Application of genome sequencing for sustainable agriculture and food security” during the 25th session of the FAO Committee on Agriculture. The 9-page report of the side event is available at http://www.fao.org/3/a-bq675e.pdf (1 MB). For more information, contact Masami.Takeuchi@fao.org.

27/01/2017

The 25th session of the International Poplar Commission (IPC) took place on 13-16 September 2016 in Berlin, Germany. During the meeting, concurrent sessions were arranged under six themes, one of which was dedicated to “Tree improvement with focus on genomics”. All relevant documents, including the IPC session report and presentations, are available at http://www.fao.org/forestry/ipc2016/92288/en/. Contact IPC-Secretariat@fao.org for more information. The IPC is an FAO technical statutory body established in 1947. Its sessions are held every four years for the poplar and willow community to exchange and share the progress and advances in research, silviculture, management, forest industries and markets.

26/01/2017

FAO has just released a new publication entitled “Averting risks to the food chain: A compendium of proven emergency prevention methods and tools”. The 103-page document is a compendium of 23 information sheets issued over the last two years by the Food Chain Crisis - Emergency Prevention System (FCC-EMPRES) to showcase best methods and tools for good management of food chain threats and enhancing the preventive side. The publication demonstrates how the development of new technologies, tools, manuals and guidelines can facilitate monitoring, detecting, assessing and warning against threats to animal and plant health (including for fish and forests) and food safety. The 23 studies include ones on the veterinary diagnostic laboratory network (VETLAB Network), providing technical advice, training on serological and molecular techniques for disease diagnosis and a quality assurance programme on the diagnosis of major diseases, and on use of the sterile insect technique to control fruit fly pest. See http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/86c16a7f-08c6-49a9-bba0-821badda8050/ or contact food-chain-crisis@fao.org for more information.

25/01/2017

On 4-17 December 2016, the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 13); the 8th 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 (CP COP-MOP 8); and the 2nd meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (NP COP-MOP 2) took place concurrently in Cancun, Mexico. All documents and decisions (outcomes) from COP 13, CP COP-MOP 8 and NP COP-MOP 2 are available at https://www.cbd.int/conferences/2016/cop-13/documents, https://www.cbd.int/conferences/2016/cp-mop-8/documents and https://www.cbd.int/conferences/2016/np-mop-2/documents respectively. For more information, contact secretariat@cbd.int.

24/01/2017

The report of the latest meeting of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Biological Standards Commission, which was held from 30 August to 2 September 2016 in Paris, France, is now available (in English, French and Spanish) from the ‘Meeting Reports’ section of the Commission webpage: http://www.oie.int/international-standard-setting/specialists-commissions-working-groups/laboratories-commission-reports/. The Commission is concerned with developing internationally agreed standards for laboratory diagnostic tests and vaccines for OIE-listed animal diseases of mammals, birds and bees. For more information, contact scientific.dept@oie.int.

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