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 indicating which e-mail addresses are to be subscribed and in which language they wish to receive the newsletter.


On 21-23 March 2002, about 50 delegates attended an expert consultation at the FAO Regional Office in Bangkok, Thailand, jointly organised by FAO and the Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions. The consultation was called to review the status of agricultural biotechnology in the region, the role of the private sector, issues linked to intellectual property rights and biosafety as well as the ethical and social aspects of the development and adoption of the new agricultural technologies. See an FAO press release ( or a brief report on the meeting ( or contact for more information.
The 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 6) took place in The Hague, Netherlands, 7-19 April 2002. Some of the documents provided prior to the meeting, e.g. reports on the impacts of applying genetic use restriction technologies or on the status of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, are relevant to applications of biotechnology in food and agriculture in developing countries. See (most documents are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) or contact
The Institute for New Technologies (INTECH) of the United Nations University (UNU) has just published issue 2 of Technology Policy Briefs, which focus on topical technology policy issues for developing countries. This 12-page issue (in English, but with abstracts in French and Spanish) focuses on agricultural biotechnology and contains six short articles. See or contact The UNU was established in 1973 by the UN General Assembly and is engaged in research into the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare that are the concern of the United Nations and its agencies, with due attention to the social sciences and the humanities as well as natural sciences, pure and applied.
The March 2002 edition of OECD Biotechnology Update is available (it is sent roughly every 6 months). It contains 14 pages with information about news, events and recent publications stemming from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development`s activities related to biotechnology. The new edition includes, among others, e-mail contacts and weblinks for accessing recent publications on unique identification codes for transgenic plants and on "Modern biotechnology and agricultural markets: A discussion of selected issues". View it at (PDF, 161 KB) or contact
The International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) has recently placed on its website "Application of Genetic Markers to Forest Tree Species" (a draft report to IPGRI of the project "Developing Decision-making Strategies on Priorities for Conservation and Use of Forest Genetic Resources") by Gene Namkoong and Mathew Koshy. The document is available at (PDF, 116 KB). Note, a minimum amount of information - name, organisation and e-mail address - must be given to download it) or contact
At the 3rd Session of the Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology, held in Yokohama, Japan, 4-8 March 2002, two main texts were adopted that have important implications for risk analysis and safety assessment of novel foods - the Draft Principles for the Risk Analysis of Foods Derived from Modern Biotechnology and the Draft Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Plants. See or contact The draft texts will be submitted to the 25th Session of the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission (in mid-2003) for final adoption.
The 3rd Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety takes place in The Hague, Netherlands on 22-26 April 2002. The meeting documents, which cover themes such as the handling, transport, packaging and identification of living modified organisms, are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish at or contact for more information.
The 26th FAO Regional Conference for the Near East took place in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, 9-13 March 2002. One of the documents prepared for the meeting is entitled Biotechnology for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the Near East Region and includes a description of the current status and trends regarding biotechnology in the region. See (in English and Arabic) or contact to request a copy.
The 3rd Session of the Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology took place in Yokohama, Japan, 4-8 March 2002. The agenda and working documents are available at or contact for further information.
The 4th Session of the Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (ICPM) (the governing body for the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)) took place at FAO Headquarters, Rome, 11-15 March 2002. The IPPC is a multilateral treaty administered through the IPPC Secretariat located in FAO Headquarters. In coordination with the Convention on Biologicial Diversity, a working group of the ICPM is developing specifications for an international standard for phytosanitary measures on pest risk analysis for living modified organisms (LMOs). The document on "Specifications for standards on living modified organisms" (Agenda item 5.6) is available (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish) or contact to request a copy.
The 1st Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), Sub-Committee on Aquaculture takes place in Beijing, China, 18-22 April 2002. A working document entitled Aquaculture development and management: status, issues and prospects, which also considers the role of biotechnology, has been prepared by FAO for the Session. It is available at (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish) or can be requested from .
The Food Safety Programme of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has commissioned an evidence-based study of the human health and development implications of GM organisms and food products. The study began in February 2002 and a draft study report is to be completed by late 2002. The study involves a wide range of stakeholders, including FAO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other international organisations. For further information, contact Dr Jørgen Schlundt, Coordinator, Food Safety Programme at
An FAO Forest Genetic Resources Working Paper written by Konstantin Krutovskii and David Neale and entitled "Forest genomics for conserving adaptive genetic diversity" has recently been put on the web. It was prepared for the Forest Resources Development Service in FAO`s Forest Resources Division. See or contact to request a copy.
The Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium were published in June 2001 and have recently been put on the web. The conference was held in Bangkok, 20-25 February 2000, and organised by FAO and the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA). The introduction states that "these Technical Proceedings represent the most comprehensive and authoritative review assembled to date of the status of aquaculture development in the world". Among the many interesting articles is one related to biotechnology in aquaculture entitled "Review of the status of aquaculture genetics" by Rex Dunham et al. It is available at or a copy of the proceedings can be requested from the NACA Secretariat in Bangkok ( or from Dr Rohana Subasinghe (, Senior Fishery Officer (Aquaculture) in Rome.
The final Rapporteurs` Report for the conference on `New Biotechnology Food and Crops: Science, Safety and Society`, that took place in Bangkok, Thailand, July 10-12, 2001, is now available (29 pages). The conference was co-sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Government of the United Kingdom, in cooperation with FAO, World Health Organisation, United Nations Environment Programme, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Government of Thailand. See or contact for more information.
A paper commissioned by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization concerning Intellectual property rights (IPR) and biotechnology has been published recently in the free electronic journal "IP Strategies Today". The paper is by Anatole Krattiger and entitled "Public-Private Partnerships for Efficient Proprietary Biotech Management and Transfer, and Increased Private Sector Investments". See or send an e-mail to to subscribe to the journal.

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Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries (ABDC-10) Conference