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Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod4
Sent: 11 June 2009 13:56
To: 'biotech-room4@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 3: Apomixis - cassava - Brazil

This is Nagib Nassar, Professor at the Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil, and editor of the online open acess journal www.geneconserve.pro.br

An example of success in chromosome number manipulation comes from the case of apomictic cassava developed by the University of Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil. Apomixis means the formation of seed without fertilization, i.e. production of a crop by true seed that came vegetatively giving rise to identical new plants. In this way it offers to crop cultivars superiority of the original variety, conferring on it at the same time advantages of reproduction by seed. In the case of cassava this is important because cuttings accumulate bacteria and viruses leading to deterioration of productivity in further generations.

We found apomixis in this crop associated with chromosome aneuploidy (2n+1 and 2n+2). This guided us to select apomictic plants among progenies of inter-specific hybrids. See details on how this could be done at http://www.geneconserve.pro.br/artigo_44.htm. Related articles on the subject are cited in the same article link. These apomictic cultivars are available at the Universidade de Brasilia for any non-profit international institution should it attend requisite of Brazilian Law (i.e. have approval (authorization) of the Brazilian national council of genetic resources for transferring germplasm abroad).

Nagib Nassar
Professor
Departamento de Genetica e Morfologia,
Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Universidade de Brasilia,
Campus Universitario Darcy Ribeiro,
Asa Norte.
CEP: 70910-900, Brasilia - DF,
Brazil.
Phone: (+55.61) 3349.3253
Fax: (+55.61) 3349.3562
nagnassa (at) rudah.com.br

[For more information on apomixis, I quote from Jeffersen (1994, http://www.biotech-monitor.nl/1906.htm): "Plant reproduction occurs by complex and diverse mechanisms. Sexual reproduction is most common in flowering plants of agricultural importance. Male and female gametes (the pollen and the egg cells respectively) are separately produced with half the normal chromosome number. These combine during fertilization and further develop to give rise to a seed. This seed contains genes derived from both parents in a form that is distinct from both parents so that once that seed germinates a plant of unique genetic constitution is generated. By contrast, apomixis produces seeds through asexual processes. The genetic make­up of the seeds is identical to that of the mother plant. If the mother plant is well adapted to a particular environment or purpose, so will be the offspring. Although many wild plants are naturally apomictic, for instance the common dandelion (Taraxacum sp.), very few crop species are apomictic. This is perhaps not surprising. Over the last thousands of years today's crop species were selected from amongst the numerous edible or fibrous plants by farmers. The criteria for such a choice almost certainly included the plant's ability to segregate variation: to reassort traits through sexual reproduction, and thus to improve under mass selection. This is the very property that apomixis prevents. Thus our small collection of modern day crops probably represents a biased population in favour of sexuality"...Moderator].

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod4
Sent: 11 June 2009 14:15
To: 'biotech-room4@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 4. Failure of agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries - Nigeria

This is from Uchechukwu Chikezie, an MSc. biotechnology graduate and lecturer at the Federal University of Technology (FUTO), Nigeria. I am a female biotechnologist.

I think a major reason for the failures of the agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries is the lack of funds, facilities and properly trained manpower to implement these biotechnologies.

By these, I mean, that the third world countries, do not have enough research facilities and funds to enable them to develop these technologies to achieve the desired aim of increased food yields, better quality food products, disease-resistant foods/animals etc., thereby reducing food scarcity and hunger in the third world.

In most cases, the 'grassroot farmers' are not even aware of these agricultural biotechnologies, and even when they do, these farmers can not implement them to Improve their crop/animal yields because there are no available equipment/facilities and also because they have not been trained to use these technologies.

Even the research scientists in the universities/research institutes face the same problems, and these hamper productive research in the academic institutions. All these and other factors lead to failure of the agricultural biotechnologies in the Third World over 20 years.

It is advised that donor agencies in the developed countries should assist the third world, by making sufficient funds available, training manpower in the agricultural biotechnologies and providing the equipment for implementation of these biotechnologies.

Uche Chikezie
Dept. of Biotechnology,
Federal University of Technology (FUTO),
P.M.B. 1526. Owerri. Imo State.
Nigeria
uchikezie (at) yahoo.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod4
Sent: 11 June 2009 14:28
To: 'biotech-room4@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 5: Cameroon - Food safety

I am Norbert Tchouaffe, agricultural engineer, in activity at the Ministry of Environment and Protection of Nature, Cameroon.

My viewpoint is based on food safety. According to the Wikipedia definition, food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness.

As a success in Cameroon, specific efforts have been put in place to address biotechnology development, in particular food safety. In fact, there exist policies for biotechnology development. From the due explicit policies, government has supported private industry and universities to engage in agricultural biotechnology product development. In addition, government has concentrated on providing a policy environment for safe development of biotechnology. There have also been efforts aimed at managing risks associated with agro-biotechnology activities in the country.

As a failure, our higher learning institutes and universities have an important role to play in the developmental activities going around them. Their research needs to be re-oriented towards addressing practical problems in the country based on farmers' needs, which should be demand-driven.Unfortunately, it wasn't the case.

Norbert Tchouaffe
Ministry of Environment and Protection of Nature (MINEP),
Box. 8114 Yaounde,
Cameroon
ntchoua (at) yahoo.fr

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod4
Sent: 11 June 2009 14:33
To: 'biotech-room4@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 6: Re: Bt cotton and MAS for crop improvement in India

I am P.M. Priyadarshan, a plant breeder with the Rubber Research Institute of India.

I have only one point to highlight here: The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has been spending huge amount of money for research on genetically modified crops - for making seeds of vegetables, cereals and alike. Still, the Government of India is encouraging purchase of GMO seeds from multi-national corporations like Monsanto and Cargill. When ICAR has facilities to produce its own seeds, why is this encouraged?

P.M. Priyadarshan
Plant Breeder,
Rubber Research Institute of India,
Regional Station, Agartala - 799 006,
India
Tel: Off : 91-381-2355287/2355143 - Extn:205
Tel (personal): 91-9436129992
Fax: 91-381-2354815
alternate mails: pmpriyadarshan (at) rediffmail.com, pmpriyadarshan (at) yahoo.co.in

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod4
Sent: 11 June 2009 14:55
To: 'biotech-room4@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 7: GM cassava - CMVD resistance

This is Nagib Nassar, Professor at the Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil, and editor of the online open acess journal www.geneconserve.pro.br

An example of of GMOs failure may be the case of the transgenic cassava variety developed for resistance to cassava mosaic virus disease (CMVD) by a multinational company. It had its trials of cultivation in Nigeria. After spending more than 10 million dollars in producing this variety, a very few number of farmers plant it now, almost none at all!! This is compared to 4 millions hectares planted now in Nigeria with cultivars that are resistant to mosaic virus disease which came from inter-specific hybridization with the wild species Manihot glaziovii.

Apparantly molecular transformation and introducing foreign genetic material will not improve a crop, because it reached the maximum of adaptation by its present genetic constitution form. Any modification by mutation will harm it and reduce its fitness. This is exactly what happened by introducing mosaic virus disease genetic material to cassava aiming to improve its resistance to this disease. It did improve partially the resistance but productivity of the cultivar dropped drastically.

Nagib Nassar
Professor
Departamento de Genetica e Morfologia,
Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Universidade de Brasilia,
Campus Universitario Darcy Ribeiro,
Asa Norte.
CEP: 70910-900, Brasilia - DF,
Brazil.
Phone: (+55.61) 3349.3253
Fax: (+55.61) 3349.3562
nagnassa (at) rudah.com.br

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod4
Sent: 11 June 2009 15:57
To: 'biotech-room4@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 8: Re: Failure of agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries - Nigeria

This is from Olusola Oyewole. I am a Professor of Food Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria. I am currently coordinating the Unted Kingdom Government support program to African Universities called Mobiizing Regional Capacity Initiatives (MRCI) at the Association of African Universities, Accra, Ghana. My area of research focus is on Food Biotechnology and Higher education leadership and research systems

As a follow-up to the very informative contribution of Uchechukwu Chikezie (Message 4) to the causes of the failure of agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries, I wish to note that many scientists in the developing countries, who work in the field of agricultural biotechnologies have limited avenues for disseminating the outcomes of their research to the people who could benefit from them. It is also clear that because of the dearth of facilities and research funds, much of the agricultural biotechnological research carried out by the Southern scientists was largely done in advanced Northern institutions. The current challenge before us is what we need to do to remedy the situation. Let us also discuss strategies that we can employ to improve agricultural biotechnological research, dissemination and utilization in developing countries.

Prof. Olusola .B. Oyewole,
Coordinator,
Mobilizing Regional Capacity Initiatives (MRCI),
Association of African Universities,
P.O. Box AN 5744,ACCRA, GHANA ,
Tel. +233-24-293-7782 , Fax: +233-21-774821
oyewole (at) aau.org,
and
University of Agriculture ,(Dept. of Food Sc. and Tech.,)
P.M.B 2240, Abeokuta. Nigeria.
Tel. +234-803-335-1814
E-mail: oyewoleb (at) yahoo.com/ solaoyew (at) hotmail.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod4
Sent: 11 June 2009 16:27
To: 'biotech-room4@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 9: Plant diseases in Cameroon

I am called Tonjock Rosemary, a Ph.D mycology student at the University of Buea, Cameroon.

My area of contribution to this conference will deal with plant disease. Despite substantial advances in plant disease control strategies, in Cameroon and other developing countries the food supply is still threatened by a multitude of pathogens and pests. These plant diseases dramatically decrease crop yields.

A success for Cameroon is the provision of pesticides and fungicides to farmers by the Ministry of Agriculture, which is usually not enough for the farmers, also the provision of tissue cultured seedlings at low cost, but which some farmers can still not afford. Even by the use of these pesticides and fungicides, crop yields are still low, at times below 50%. This is because most plant diseases are resistant to these applications. This may also be due to climate change so we have to tackle this aspect of climate change to make agricultural biotechnology successful.

A failure for agricultural biotechnology in Cameroon in the aspect of plant disease is that there is still a long way for the principles to be intergrated. Firstly, there is lack of funds to carry out research in this area. Secondly, there is a lack of facilities, for example to develop plant resistant genes such as R genes to control plant diseases. There is supposed to be the use of molecular equipments such as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and others but the truth is that most of our research institutes and universities have but stores and not laboratories so there is a need to equip them for proper research work to go on. Also training should be done on a regular basis for researchers in developing countries to improve their skills in agricultural biotechnology and finally there should be the dessimination of research work to the farmers through seminars, worhshops and extension work. I think the past 20 years has been a failure for developing countries and we look forward to success in the future if all the problems are resolved.

Mrs Tonjock Rosemary Kinge
Permanent Address:
Department of Plant and Animal Sciences,
Faculty of Science,
University of Buea,
Cameroon

Present Address:
PhD, TWAS-CAS research fellow,
Kunming Institute of Botany,
Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS),
China
e-mail: rosemary32us (at) yahoo.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod4
Sent: 11 June 2009 17:07
To: 'biotech-room4@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 10: Re: Failure of agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries - Nigeria

This is Norbert Tchouaffe, again.

Before proceeding further, I wish to thank Mrs Uchechukwu Chikezie for her contribution (Message 4). I do agree with her that the failure of agricultural biotechnologies is based on lack of facilities and funds; it is a common share in sub-saharan Africa, most of these countries are financially limited. To prosper, Africans need technologies tranfer, but the due technologies should be adequate to fit the local needs.

Norbert Tchouaffe
Ministry of Environment and Protection of Nature (MINEP),
Box. 8114 Yaounde,
Cameroon
ntchoua (at) yahoo.fr

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod4
Sent: 11 June 2009 17:44
To: 'biotech-room4@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 11: Biotech research in developing countries

I am Jose Moro-Mendez, statistical programmer in a contract research organisation (CRO) in the pharmaceutical industry. In the past, I have been involved in the application of milk recording for smallholder farmers in the tropics in Mexico, and recently, I am involved in animal breeding research in Canada. That is why I am identified with the some of the messages posted so far, and I would like to put in my 5 cents...hoping not to deviate too much from the topic of the conference.

P.M. Priyadarshan (message 6) mentions a conflict that seems common in developing countries: on one hand, scarce funding for some research initiatives (also pointed by Uche Chikezie, message 4), and on the other hand, encouraging the use of germplam owned by multi-national corporations. Getting to the root of that seems to be out of the scope of this conference; however, after Professor Oyewole's message (number 8) it seems appropriate to seek a common ground for success histories (if available).

Here, we have to remember that, despite efforts to involve private sectors, the main source of funds in developing countries is the government (either local or international through various financial institutions). In many cases, that is the justification for the official support of multi-national corporations.

In terms of how to improve biotechnology research in developing countries, Do we need an association-combination of government-multinational corporations? Some would argue that there is a de facto association, so, do we need a middle point? Is there a middle point? Are the present regulations enough? What do researchers in developing countries need to be able to thrive in such association?

Jose Moro, PhD.
Statistical Programmer
LAB Research Inc.
445, boul. Armand Frappier
Laval, Quebec,
Canada H7V 4B3
Tel.: 450-973-2240, Ext.1102
jose.moro at mail.mcgill.ca

[Yes, these kinds of issues, such as the appropriate interphase-relationship between multinational companies and developing country governments, do go beyond the scope of this e-mail conference. However, they may be discussed in the context of specific past experiences of applying agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries and determining/evaluating the key factors that were responsible for their success or failure (be it partial or complete)...Moderator].


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