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

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.

09/09/2016

FAO organized the international symposium on “The role of agricultural biotechnologies in sustainable food systems and nutrition” on 15-17 February 2016 at FAO headquarters, Rome. Proceedings of the symposium, edited by J. Ruane, J.D. Dargie and C. Daly, are now available. Organized in eight chapters, the proceedings cover the main highlights of the symposium. Chapter 1 contains the addresses by the FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, and three keynote speakers in the opening plenary session. Chapter 2 contains the statements delivered in the high-level ministerial session by representatives of eight member countries plus a summary of the subsequent question and answer session. Chapters 3 to 5 contain the reports and summaries of presentations from a series of parallel sessions dedicated respectively to the themes of climate change; sustainable food systems and nutrition; and people, policies, institutions and communities. Chapter 6 contains the report and statements from students of eight universities worldwide during a session dedicated to interaction with students. Chapter 7 contains the reports of five side events arranged by external stakeholders. Finally, chapter 8 contains the statements by Louise Fresco, co-chair of the Advisory Panel, and the FAO Director-General in the closing plenary session. The proceedings can be downloaded as a single document (2.6 MB) or by single chapters at http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/66e9a36c-19b2-407a-83c9-5b767e233417/. A certain number of hard copies are also available free of charge for institutions in non-OECD countries. To request a copy of the proceedings for your institution, please contact Agri-Biotechs@fao.org, providing a full postal address.

08/09/2016

Following two similar events in November 2014 and May 2015, a third webinar was jointly organized by FAO, the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on 9 December 2015. It provided a training opportunity in understanding the location, contents, specific meanings and possible use of the data available on international databases on biosafety. The report of the third webinar, as well as the presentations and video recordings, are now available at http://tiny.cc/Biosafety-Events. For further information, contact Masami.Takeuchi@fao.org.

07/09/2016

As part of its Animal Production and Health Papers series, FAO has just published “Probiotics in animal nutrition – Production, impact and regulation”, by Y.S. Bajagai, A.V. Klieve, P.J. Dart and W.L. Bryden, edited by H.P.S. Makkar. The 89-page report presents a unique and exhaustive review of the state of knowledge regarding the use of probiotics in various animal production systems and their impact on animal productivity. It focuses specifically on definitions, production, mechanisms of action, applications in diverse animal production systems, effects, safety and potential public health risks of probiotics. It also covers labelling of probiotic products and the global regulatory status of probiotics in animal feed. See http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5933e.pdf (770 KB) or contact Harinder.Makkar@fao.org for more information.

06/09/2016

The 8th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 8) takes place on 4-17 December 2016 in Cancun, Mexico. The annotated provisional agenda and other documents are now available at https://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=MOP-08. The meeting will be held concurrently with the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 13). One of the items on the provisional agenda for COP 13 includes synthetic biology (item 17 on “Other scientific and technical issues, including synthetic biology, implications of the IPBES assessment on pollinators, and sustainable wildlife management”). See the COP 13 documents at https://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=cop-13. Contact secretariat@cbd.int for more information.

13/07/2016

The FAO international symposium on “The role of agricultural biotechnologies in sustainable food systems and nutrition” took place from 15 to 17 February 2016 at FAO headquarters, Rome. Its objective was to explore the application of biotechnologies for the benefit of family farmers in developing sustainable food systems and improving nutrition in the context of unprecedented challenges, including climate change.

 

The symposium encompassed the crop, livestock, forestry and fishery sectors and covered a broad range of biotechnologies, from low-tech approaches such as those involving use of microbial fermentation processes, biofertilizers, biopesticides and artificial insemination, to high-tech approaches such as those involving advanced DNA-based methodologies and genetically modified organisms.

 

A wide range of information resources are now available from the symposium website. These include a four-page summary report describing the objectives, highlights, outcomes and key messages from the symposium (in English, French and Spanish). They also include four FAO multilingual press releases published before, during and after the symposium.

 

The video recordings of all sessions can also be watched. These include the opening plenary session where keynote addresses were delivered by the FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, and a distinguished group of speakers, as well as nine parallel sessions that were organized around three main themes (climate change; sustainable food systems and nutrition; and people, policies, institutions and communities). These also include the high-level ministerial session involving representatives from eight countries; the five side events organized by external stakeholders; the interactive session involving students from different universities around the world; and the final plenary session, with reporting on the three main themes and the student session as well as closing remarks by Louise Fresco (co-chair of the Advisory Panel) and the FAO Director-General.

 

Written summaries and slides of the presentations are available. The website also includes frequently asked questions (FAQs), in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish; “voices from the symposium” (video clips of experts interviewed before and during the event); and photos from the symposium. The website also contains a 50-minute FAO podcast released in March 2016, entitled "Can biotech benefit smallholder farmers worldwide?" which looks back at the symposium. Proceedings of the symposium are currently being finalized and will be available soon.

 

These materials are all available from the symposium website at http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/agribiotechs-symposium/en/ (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). Contact agri-biotechs@fao.org for any further information.

12/07/2016

On 23-25 May 2016, FAO organized a technical meeting on the impact of whole genome sequencing (WGS) on food safety management, together with the 9th meeting of the Global Microbial Identifier (GMI). Before the meeting, held at FAO headquarters in Rome, a technical background paper on "Applications of whole genome sequencing in food safety management" was published, prepared by FAO in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). Sessions of the meeting were recorded and are available for viewing. See the meeting website, at http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/wgs-on-food-safety-management/en/ (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). In addition, on 28 June 2016, FAO with WHO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) organized a side event on WGS and food safety during the 39th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The video recording of this side event is available at http://www.fao.org/webcast/home/en/item/4153/icode/. For more information, contact Masami.Takeuchi@fao.org.

11/07/2016

The 9th Session of the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITWG-AnGR) took place at FAO headquarters in Rome on 6-8 July 2016. One of the session working documents, entitled “Review of implementation of the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources”, provides a 6-page overview of recent FAO activities, including the finalization, publication and distribution of “The second report on the state of the world’s animal genetic resources for food and agriculture”. This 562-page Report, edited by B.D. Scherf and D. Pilling and launched by FAO in January 2016, provides a comprehensive assessment of livestock biodiversity and its management. The core of information used in preparing the Report came from 129 governments that submitted country reports. It includes several sections relevant to biotechnology, such as those on the state of capacities regarding the use of reproductive and molecular biotechnologies and the state of the art regarding the use of molecular tools for exploring genetic diversity. See background information and documents from the 9th ITWG-AnGR website, at http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/programmes/en/genetics/angrvent.html (in English, French and Spanish), and the FAO press release for the January 2016 launch of the Report, at
http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/380661/icode/ (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Italian, Russian and Spanish). Contact cgrfa@fao.org for more information.

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