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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com for more information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com for more information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for any further information.
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.
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 email@example.com for more information.
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 20th meeting took place on 25-30 April 2016 in Montreal, Canada, where it adopted 15 recommendations, one of them (XX/8) dedicated to synthetic biology. See the official documents (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) and information documents (in English) prepared before the meeting, plus the recommendations (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) which emerged from the meeting, at https://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=sbstta-20. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
On 24-27 May 2016, the 15th session of the UPOV Working Group on Biochemical and Molecular Techniques, and DNA-Profiling in Particular (BMT) took place in Moscow, Russian Federation. One of the aims of the BMT, established by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) in 1992, is to provide a forum for discussion on the use of biochemical and molecular techniques in the consideration of essential derivation and variety identification. Meeting documents and presentations, as well as the meeting report, are available at http://www.upov.int/meetings/en/details.jsp?meeting_id=39504. Contact email@example.com for further information.
The latest issue (July 2016) of the OECD Biotechnology Update, prepared by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Internal Co-ordination Group for Biotechnology, is now available. The 34-page newsletter provides updated information on the diverse activities at OECD related to biotechnology. The many issues covered include biosafety; biotechnology statistics; genome editing; and impact assessment of biotechnology and nanotechnology. See http://www.oecd.org/env/ehs/biotrack/oecdbiotechnologynewsletterupdates.htm or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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