[For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]
Sent: 04 July 2005 16:41
Subject: 122: End of e-conference - Cameroon
It's Roger Djoulde Darman, once more.
I just want at the end of this e-conference to acknowledge all of those who have been participating actively. I have really enjoyed it as I have learned a lot about biotechnology, especially concerning DNA data banks. I hope some of the ideas given here will be further materialised and be beneficial, particularly for preserving natural resources of developing countries. Anyway, I’II be happy to know more about the World Bank supported initiative to start up an African Institute of Science and Technology (AIST) mentioned by Alice Muchugi (Message 111, July 1). I am really interested and could you tell me where and what are the criteria to deposit a DNA in this bank? [Alice might be kind enough to respond directly to Roger about this...Moderator].
A special thanks to the moderator, he has done a great huge job!!!!.
Hope to participate again in the next e-conference.
Roger Djoulde Darman (PhD)
B.P 33 Maroua
Email: djoulde (at) gmail.com
Sent: 04 July 2005 16:42
Subject: 123: Summing up - Nigeria
I am Olayinka Edema, a food and applied microbiologist from Nigeria.
I had thought I would not contribute to this conference as the topic wasn’t directly related to my field. I have however enjoyed the messages tremendously and couldn’t help chipping in these words as the conference rounds up.
The first message by Charles Nkhoma (Message 1, June 6) and the seventh by Mahmoud Mohamed Ahmed Abdel Aziz (June 7) said it all and I thought those messages presented a good summary of the situation in the developing world.
I, however, do not totally agree with messages 16 (June 8) and 29 (June 9) by Roger Djoulde Darman. I believe that molecular techniques can even be used to modify the genes responsible for cyanide formation in cassava or even remove it totally. I’m sure fermentation improves the protein content of cassava, but I also know that it cannot be comparable to the increase by hybridization as reported by Nagib Nassar in message 5 (June 6). If the new techniques are too complicated, then it is our duty to present them in simpler ways. I do not agree that rural illiterate populations do not have the technical background to use starters. Some bread bakeries are owned by such categories of people and they handle and use baker's yeast quite effectively. Message 33 (June 10) by Kioumars Ghamkhar is very explicit and takes care of Roger’s concerns.
We do not have funds and resources to, on our own, advance in biotechnology. Neither can we afford to be left behind. I will advocate that we use all available opportunities at our disposal, provided by the more technologically advanced (as stated by D. Vijay in message 79, June 24), to learn and then come back home to work out appropriate ways of presenting the new technologies to our rural people in the forms they will understand and appreciate. If we fail to get the technical know-how as far as these technologies are concerned, we will be unable to control what happens to our countries in terms of food security in the near future.
In all, I think this has been a very informative and interesting conference.
Dr. Mrs. Olayinka Edema
University of Agriculture,
moedemao (at) yahoo.co.uk
Sent: 04 July 2005 16:43
Subject: 124: Gene banks and the role of biotechnology
This is Denis Murphy, a biotechnologist at the University of Glamorgan in the UK.
Firstly, as we draw to the end of this conference, I wish to thank the moderator and all participants for a most interesting and wide ranging discussion. It is especially good to hear from crop science colleagues whom I would never normally get a chance to meet, and from those in related disciplines, like animal breeding, where I am less aware of current progress. I have learned a lot in this conference and wonder if it would be possible to create a more permanent moderated forum for our community?
My specific points for the present discussion relate to gene banks and the role of biotechnology.
It is really a matter of priorities because, as we know from the current situation at CIMMYT (the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) and IRRI (the International Rice Research Institute), there are serious resource shortages even in the flagship centres of the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research). The situation in many national research centres in developing countries is much worse, with failings in basic infrastructure like refrigeration sometimes causing the loss of irreplaceable genetic stocks. Then we have the dreadful situation of the effect of civil conflict and environmental disasters on genetic resources. Just to cite a few recent examples, the work at WARDA (the Africa Rice Center) on the new rice for Africa (NERICA) was seriously disrupted when its headquarters in Bouaké in Côte d’Ivoire was bombed in November 2004, and breeder Robert Carsky killed. The main Iraqi seed bank at Abu Ghraib, near Baghdad, was pillaged and destroyed after it was left undefended in the wake of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Luckily, Iraqi colleagues had foreseen such a risk and had removed some of their precious seed across the border to safety at ICARDA (the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas), near Aleppo, Syria. ICARDA is now helping to rebuild Iraqi agriculture by sending seed back to Iraqi farmers - over 20 tonnes has been sent so far in 2005. A further twist to this story occurred in mid-2005, when it was reported that hostility of the US government to the Syrian government was in danger of jeopardising efforts to ensure the future of ICARDA itself as an international repository of plant germplasm (editorial in Nature - http://www.scidev.net/pdffiles/nature/435537b.pdf).
IRRI has also provided new seed to countries such as Afghanistan, Rwanda and Cambodia, where seed banks had been destroyed during recent civil conflicts, and to Honduras, Nicaragua and Cuba were crops had been devastated by hurricanes. However, such efforts are merely the tip of a very large iceberg, as was shown in a 2005 report from CGIAR entitled "Healing wounds; How the international research centers of the CGIAR help rebuild agriculture in countries affected by conflicts and natural disasters" (http://www.cgiar.org/publications/HealingWounds/index.htm). This report documents dozens of examples, from about 50 countries around the world, where the CGIAR network has provided seed and breeding advice following a succession of environmental and manmade disasters. Examples range from famine in North Korea to post-hurricane assistance in the Caribbean.
We need to ensure that the world accepts the need for genetic resources to be available to all as a public good, as well as available for private exploitation as appropriate. Unless we have a stable, secure and genuinely accessible global system, it is difficult to think about progressing to the more sophisticated high-tech methods like markers and tissue culture, outside of those favoured countries that already have access to both the technology and the guaranteed resources to enable them to deploy it in the long term. There are many agronomic traits and crops where molecular markers can make a huge difference to crop breeding, but they require significant investment in both skills and infrastructure. In places where seed banks are being destroyed by looters who are just after the plastic bottles, or where stocks are dying from want of electricity to refrigerate them, we need to question our priorities.
A final point about progress in biotechnology. We have recently spent tens of millions of dollars on sequencing the rice genome. Out of the 60,000 computer-predicted genes in the rice genome, roughly half of them have been assigned an as-yet uncertain role on the basis of their DNA sequences, while only about ONE HUNDRED genes (0,166% of the total) have a known and verified function (Cyranoski D 2003, Rice genome: a recipe for revolution? Nature 422, 796–798 - www.nature.com/uidfinder/10.1038/422796a ). It will probably take many decades for plant physiologists and breeders to catch up with all this new information - maybe we should rethink our priorities and focus more on assimilating and exploiting the immense amount of information that we already have than in generating ever more terabytes of new data.
I will be exploring these and other issues in a forthcoming book on Agriculture, Plant Breeding and Biotechnology, to be published in 2006.
Prof. Denis Murphy
School of Applied Sciences
University of Glamorgan
dmurphy2 (at) glam.ac.uk
Sent: 04 July 2005 16:44
Subject: 125: Thanks a lot!
It is Rajeev Varshney from IPK-Gatersleben, Germany again.
By this mail, I would like to thank FAO in general and John in particular for organising this wonderful conference. Like many other participants, I have enjoyed very much this conference and I have been benefited a lot by listening to the experiences and ideas of many participants. Without any doubt, the conference has witnessed the critical assessments of presently available tools for conservation of biodiversity and has provided many new ideas for further follow up and necessary actions.
I look forward to participating in such FAO's conference in the area of biotechnology.
Thanking John (Moderator) and all the participants once again.
Rajeev Kumar VARSHNEY, Ph.D.
Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK)
D 06466 GATERSLEBEN
Tel: ++ 49 39482 5594(off.),5231 (lab) Fax: ++ 49 39482 5595
E-mail: rajeev (at) ipk-gatersleben.de / rajeevkvarshney (at) hotmail.com
Web: http://www.ipk-gatersleben.de/en/ ; http://pgrc.ipk-gatersleben.de/
Sent: 04 July 2005 16:44
Subject: 126: Capacity building for biotechnology - Suggestion for a global biotech programme
I am John Caesar, a senior lecturer in biology at the University of Guyana and presently Project coordinator for Guyana's UNEP-GEF (United Nations Environment Programme-Global Environment Facility) National Biosafety Framework Project.
This conference has been very rewarding. FAO and the moderator must be commended for this very enlightening forum. Please permit me to add to the discussion on capacity building. We in the Caribbean have similar biotechnology capacity problems akin to most developing countries with the exception of Cuba which is very far ahead. Additionally, the small size of countries comprising the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) necessitates harmonization of efforts and collaboration. To this end, the community's agricultural research organization, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), recently coordinated an effort on the harmonization of biotechnology policy - www.cardi.org. The CARICOM Charter requires regional consultation on key developmental issues confronting member states. A CARICOM Single Market and Economy framework is to be implemented early next year. As we have been advised by some experts, this century is the bioeconomy century. Information technology has been a key developmental construct to date, with its attendant digital divide syndrome. Perhaps developing countries can learn from those experiences and leapfrog the biotech/bioeconomy age without compromising the safety of the technology. As has been pointed out by a number of participants, developing countries lack adequate capacity for biotechnology development. Where do we go from here? Should bilateral arrangements be the only means? Or should we look at a current model for capacity building in biosafety and adapt its process to facilitate all developing countries in the process?I believe a concerted effort is needed in designing a global project with the following features:
Such a global project may go a long way in helping all developing countries to narrow the impending biotechnology-divide.
Thank you for this opportunity
John Cartey Caesar BSc(Hons) MSc
National Project Coordinator, UNEP-GEF National Biosafety Framework,
[Commissioner (part-time), Public Utilities Commission of Guyana; Secretary, Caribbean Academy of Sciences;
Senior Lecturer and former Dean of Natural Sciences, University of Guyana, Box 10-1110, Georgetown]
Environmental Protection Agency,
Tel.: 592-222-5784 or 5785 ext.31 ext. 40(messages) or 6004(messages), 592-222-6610 (h); Cell: 592-623-8773
PhoneFax: 592-222-4180 or 2442
Email: jccaesar (at) yahoo.com
Sent: 04 July 2005 16:46
Subject: 127: Re: Not depending heavily on a single type of marker
From Edo Lin, some references as requested in Message 109, July 1, of E.M. Muralidharan:1. ANGELA KARP, OLE SEBERG and MARCELLO BUIATTI, 1996. Annals of Botany 78: 143-149. Molecular techniques in the assessment of botanical diversity. Full text available at http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/78/2/143.pdf . The article points out the importance of understanding the different ways in which the data from different molecular techniques can be utilized before embarking upon a programme of applying them to any particular diversity study.
Ceres Consulting International
309, rue de Bombon
tel and fax: +33 164387844
e-mail: ceres.consult (at) free.fr
[Articles 1 and 2 have abstracts, that are reproduced below
1. "A variety of different molecular techniques can be used for the study of botanical diversity. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), arbitrary primed DNA, amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP), variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR), sequence-tagged simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) sequencing are briefly reviewed here. These techniques differ in the way that they resolve genetic differences, in the type of data that they generate and in the taxonomic levels at which they may be most appropriately applied. It is imperative to understand the different ways in which the data from the different molecular techniques can be utilized before embarking upon a programme of applying them to any particular diversity study".
2. "The ability of populations to undergo adaptive evolution depends on the presence of quantitative genetic variation for ecologically important traits. Although molecular measures are widely used as surrogates for quantitative genetic variation, there is controversy about the strength of the relationship between the two. To resolve this issue, we carried out a meta-analysis based on 71 datasets. The mean correlation between molecular and quantitative measures of genetic variation was weak (r = 0.217). Furthermore, there was no significant relationship between the two measures for life-history traits (r = - 0.11) or for the quantitative measure generally considered as the best indicator of adaptive potential, heritability (r = - 0.08). Consequently, molecular measures of genetic diversity have only a very limited ability to predict quantitative genetic variability. When information about a population’s short-term evolutionary potential or estimates of local adaptation and population divergence are required, quantitative genetic variation should be measured directly"...Moderator].
Sent: 04 July 2005 16:50
Subject: End of FAO conference on biotechnology and genetic resources
The last message, (number 127, from Edo Lin), has been posted so Conference 13 of the FAO Biotechnology Forum, entitled "The role of biotechnology for the characterisation and conservation of crop, forest, animal and fishery genetic resources in developing countries", is now officially closed.
I personally found it an extremely interesting conference and I learned a lot. I was particularly glad to see that all sectors were covered in the conference, with excellent inputs about crop, livestock, fisheries and forest genetic resources, and that messages came in from so many people in nearly 40 different countries.
FAO established this Biotechnology Forum in 2000 with the aim of providing quality balanced information on agricultural biotechnology in developing countries and to make a neutral platform available for people to exchange views and experiences on this subject. We hope that you also found this conference informative, interesting and of value.
All the messages posted will remain on the Forum website for people to read in the future, at http://www.fao.org/biotech/logs/c13logs.htm. I will also put all the 127 messages into a single webpage and send a message to you with the weblink in the next couple of days. NB - We strongly encourage you, as Forum Members, to widely disseminate information from this conference so that the voices of the people that participated can be heard.
For your interest, we can provide some figures about the conference. It ran for four weeks, from 6 June to 4 July 2005, and a total of 645 people subscribed, the highest number for any of the Biotechnology Forum conferences held so far. Of the 645 people, 64 (i.e. 10%) submitted at least one message. Messages were received from all major regions of the world - 35 of the 127 messages posted (i.e. 28%) came from participants in Asia, 20% from Africa, 17% from Europe, 13% each from Latin America and the Caribbean and from North America and 10% from Oceania.
Messages came from people living in 38 different countries - the greatest proportion was from participants in India (15%), followed by Australia (9%), Canada (7%), Brazil and the United States (6% each), France (5%) and Kenya, Malaysia and Nigeria (4% each). A total of 78 messages (i.e. 61%) were from participants in developing countries and 49 (39%) from participants in developed countries. Most messages came from people working in research centres, including six CGIAR centres, (45%) and in universities (43%).
This conference was a success due to the active participation of the 64 people who sat down and invested their time and effort in sharing their views and experiences on the many diverse issues raised in this conference, such as the potential role for molecular markers in prioritising populations for conservation purposes; the potential role for markers in characterisation of different populations; the advantages and disadvantages of different marker systems; the potential importance of DNA banks; international collaboration and capacity building etc. etc. To each one of you, a special thanks.Best regards
John Ruane, PhD
FAO Working Group on Biotechnology,
Moderator, Conference 13
E-mail address: Biotech-Mod1@fao.org
FAO website http://www.fao.org
Forum website http://www.fao.org/biotech/forum.asp
FAO Biotechnology website http://www.fao.org/biotech/index.asp
p.s. I would like to remind you that that the next e-mail conference (number 14) of this Forum will deal with the important issue of the efficiency of water use in agriculture, and the potential role that biotechnology can play there.
p.p.s. I would also like to inform you that FAO-BiotechNews, the free FAO e-mail newsletter containing news and event items relevant to applications of biotechnology in food and agriculture in developing countries, already available in English, French and Spanish, is about to be launched in a Russian version.