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

04/01/2003
The report of the "Evaluation of the Codex Alimentarius and other FAO and WHO food standards work", commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) and FAO, is now available. This 101-page, wide-ranging review of the food standards work of the two agencies also discusses, in section 4.3.2, Codex`s experiences with addressing the issues of labelling and assessing the health risks of foods derived from biotechnology. See http://www.codexalimentarius.net (in English, French and Spanish) or contact codex@fao.org for more information.
03/01/2003
A first series of six sub-regional workshops is being organised by the UNEP-GEF (i.e. United Nations Environment Programme-Global Environment Facility) Global Project on Development of National Biosafety Frameworks from November 2002 to April 2003. The documentation for participants includes background papers on "Public participation and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety", prepared by the Institute of Development Studies, and on "Regulation of biotechnology: needs and burdens for developing countries" by J. Kinderlerer. See http://www.unep.ch/biosafety/documents.htm or contact biosafety@unep.ch for more information.
02/01/2003
As part of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization) is compiling an on-line, searchable database of biodiversity-related access and benefit-sharing agreements or contracts, with a particular emphasis on the intellectual property (IP) aspects of such agreements. The database is intended to provide a means of promoting understanding about the range of approaches that have been taken concerning IP and genetic resources, and may be used as a practical tool for providers of genetic resources who are engaged in negotiations concerning use of their resources. Agreements in the database can, for example, be searched based on the IP clauses involved (e.g. patents, plant breeders` rights) or the applicable law (e.g. national, regional, international). See http://www.wipo.int/globalissues/databases/contracts/index.html or contact grtkf@wipo.int for more information. International regulatory frameworks concerning access to plant genetic resources include the Convention on Biological Diversity (see http://www.biodiv.org) and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (see http://www.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/itpgr.htm).
15/12/2002
A draft study entitled "The role of law in realising the potential and avoiding the risks of modern biotechnology: Selected issues of relevance to food and agriculture" is now available on the web. The study was prepared by L. Glowka at the request of FAO following the first session of the FAO Panel of Eminent Experts in Food and Agriculture which underlined the advisability of conducting a comparative study of national regulations concerning biotechnology, including GMOs, exploring the possibility and desirability of harmonizing such regulations. The study was put at the disposition of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture for its 9th Regular Session held on 14-18 October 2002 at FAO Headquarters, Rome. FAO`s Legal Office intends to publish a revised version in its FAO Legislative Studies series. See ftp://ext-ftp.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/BSP/bsp19e.pdf (154 pages, 1.6 MB) or contact cgrfa@fao.org for more information.
14/12/2002
FAO`s Fishery Development Planning Service has recently put on the web a paper prepared by R.D. Percy and N. Hishamunda and entitled "Promotion of sustainable commercial aquaculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. Volume 3. Legal, regulatory and institutional framework". The document identifies elements of a legislation that will encourage the emergence of a sustainable commercial aquaculture. The issue of legislating to cover the introduction of non-indigenous or genetically modified fish is also discussed. See http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/004/Y1802E/y1802e00.htm (29 pages) or contact nathanael.hishamunda@fao.org for more information.
13/12/2002
A symposium on "The co-existence of patents and plant breeders rights in the promotion of biotechnological developments" was held on 25 October 2002 in Geneva, Switzerland under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). Some 185 participants from the public and private sectors from 55 countries, 6 intergovernmental organisations and 17 non-governmental organisations took part. The papers presented are available at http://www.upov.int/en/documents/Symposium2002/index.htm. For more information, contact upov.mail@wipo.int.
20/11/2002
The 9th Regular Session of FAOs Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) was held on 14-18 October 2002 at FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy. The meeting tackled several issues related to agricultural biotechnology, such as Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs). It also considered a report on "The status of the draft Code of Conduct on Biotechnology as it relates to genetic resources for food and agriculture: Report of surveys of FAO Members and stakeholders". The Commission recognized the need to go ahead with the aim to maximize the positive effects of biotechnologies and minimize any potential negative effects or risks, and that the focus should be on biotechnologies related to genetic resources for food and agriculture and requested the Secretariat to prepare a study, in order to identify what is done in other forums, what remains to be done on the issues raised in the document, and which issues were relevant to FAO and in particular its Commission. The study "would help the Commission to identify issues on which it should concentrate in the future, with respect to a code, guidelines or other courses of action". The report of the meeting is now available. See http://www.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/docs9.htm or contact cgrfa@fao.org for more information.
19/11/2002
The 1st meeting of FAO`s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) acting as the Interim Committee for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was held on 9-11 October 2002 at FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy. The Treaty`s aim is to guarantee the future availability of the diversity of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and promote the fair and equitable sharing of all benefits. The report of the meeting is now available. See http://www.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/docsic1.htm or contact cgrfa@fao.org for more information.
18/11/2002
In a press release of 5 November 2002, FAO announced that a new partnership to promote and coordinate global investment in the genetic improvement of cassava, an important source of nutrition in tropical countries, has been established. It aims to develop and use biotechnologies such as genomics to produce cassava planting material with improved traits. Founding institutions of this "Global Partnership for Cassava Genetic Improvement" include FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (ILTAB). See http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/news/2002/10541-en.html (in English, French and Spanish) or contact NeBambi.Lutaladio@fao.org for more information.
17/11/2002
The International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) and FAO, in consultation with the UNEP/GEF (the United Nations Environment Programme/ Global Environment Facility), have jointly developed a "Decision Support Toolbox for Biosafety Implementation". This web-based toolbox is designed to assist policy makers, biosafety managers and other stakeholders in understanding and applying a biosafety framework for capacity-building and regulatory decision making. Feedback is welcomed on Version 2.0 of the toolbox. See http://www.isnar.cgiar.org/ibs/biosafety/index.htm or contact isnar-biotech@cgiar.org or hoan.le@fao.org for more information.
16/11/2002
The background document for the FAO e-mail conference entitled "What should be the role and focus of biotechnology in the agricultural research agendas of developing countries?" is now available (http://www.fao.org/biotech/C8doc.htm). The conference runs from 13 November to 11 December 2002 and is the eighth conference hosted by the FAO Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture. To join the Forum (and also register for the conference), send an e-mail to mailserv@mailserv.fao.org leaving the subject blank and entering only the following two-line text message:
subscribe BIOTECH-L
subscribe biotech-room4

Forum members wishing to register for the conference should leave out the first line of the above message. To access the background document by e-mail, join the Forum and retrieve it from the archives (instructions are provided in section viii of the Forum welcome text).
15/11/2002
At the 9th Regular Session of FAO`s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), held on 14-18 October 2002 at FAO Headquarters, Rome, FAO presented a document entitled "Potential impacts of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs) on agricultural biodiversity and agricultural production systems: Technical study" (document 9/02/17/Annex - in English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic http://www.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/docs9.htm). It focuses on GURTs within cropping systems, with reference to aquatic ecosystems, trees and livestock where possible. It distinguishes between various uses of GURTs: use restriction (technology protection), environmental contamination, and agricultural productivity contributions. Background to the document is described in document 9/02/17 - in English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic at http://www.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/docs9.htm). The document was prepared using a study carried out at the request of FAO and co-authored by B.Visser, D. Eaton, N. Louwaars, I. van der Meer, J. Beekwilder and F. van Tongeren (ftp://ext-ftp.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/BSP/bsp15e.pdf - 628 KB). For more information, contact cgrfa@fao.org .
14/11/2002
At the 9th Regular Session of FAO`s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), held on 14-18 October 2002 at FAO Headquarters, Rome, the Commission considered a report on "The status of the draft Code of Conduct on Biotechnology as it relates to genetic resources for food and agriculture: report on surveys of FAO Members and stakeholders". The report presents the result of surveys conducted in 2000, among FAO Members and a wide range of relevant stakeholders throughout the world, inviting them to provide comments or advice on the existing preliminary draft Code of Conduct on Biotechnology (presented in 1993). See document 9/02/18 at http://www.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/docs9.htm (available in Arabic, Chinese, English, Spanish and French). Background Study Paper 17 was also prepared for the CGRFA, entitled "Recent developments related to biotechnology that are relevant to the analysis of the survey on the Code of Conduct" (ftp://ext-ftp.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/BSP/bsp17e.pdf - 390 KB). The paper provides some perspectives on a selection of recent advances and relates them to the draft Code of Conduct on Biotechnology. For more information, contact cgrfa@fao.org .
13/11/2002
A study entitled "Opportunities for incorporating genetic elements into the management of farm animal diseases: policy issues", co-authored by S. Bishop, M. de Jong and D. Gray, prepared by FAO`s Animal Production and Health Division, was put at the disposition of FAO`s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) for its 9th Regular Session held on 14-18 October 2002 at FAO Headquarters, Rome. The document considers the opportunities for utilising quantitative and molecular genetics as additional tools in the strategies aimed at achieving sustainable disease management, and also considers needs and policy issues, in an epidemiological context. Current information on the costs to countries of animal disease and on the inheritance of many diseases is also provided. It is available at ftp://ext-ftp.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/BSP/bsp18e.pdf (616 KB) or contact keith.hammond@fao.org to request a copy.
12/11/2002
This 208-page Spanish book on global food security, entitled "La Seguridad Alimentaria Mundial Primeras décadas del siglo XXI. El papel de la FAO y el PMA", and written in April 2002 by Ignacio Trueba, is a general study on development, providing an analysis of hunger and poverty in the world and considering the role of FAO and the World Food Programme. Pages 77-82 consider agricultural biotechnology. See http://waicent.fao.org/country/espana/publicaciones/prologo.htm or contact afonso@cfame.etsia.upm.es for more information.
11/11/2002
The Aarhus Convention (i.e. the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters) was adopted in June 1998 in Aarhus, Denmark. It is "not only an environmental agreement, it is also a Convention about government accountability, transparency and responsiveness. The Aarhus Convention grants the public rights and imposes on Parties and public authorities obligations regarding access to information and public participation and access to justice". Since adoption of the Convention, five tasks forces and working groups have been established, one of them on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The third and last meeting of this working group was held on 17-19 June 2002 in Geneva, Switzerland. The report of this, and the other, meetings is available at http://www.unece.org/env/pp/gmo.htm (in English, French and Russian) or contact public.participation@unece.org for more information.

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Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries (ABDC-10) Conference