GM/Biotech Crops Report – February 2021

15th February 2021
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GM/Biotech Crops Monthly Report February 2021

Pink bollworm eradication

A combination of traditional pest control measures and the adoption of genetically-engineered cotton varieties that are resistant to pink bollworm have reduced populations of the pest by 90% in America and Mexico. In turn this has allowed cotton growers to reduce insecticide applications by 82% which has benefitted non-target organisms. It seems that complete eradication might actually be possible.
Full story
Pic: David Stanley


Better rust resistance in wheat

Yellow rust resistance in wheat is usually a short-lived benefit as new races of rust overcome the resistance bred in but now researchers in Australia have stacked 5 resistance genes in one variety to hopefully produce a variety with longer-lived resistance. Full Story.

Shifting oil deposition

Some crops are grown for the oil content of their seeds but a team at Missouri University has discovered that turning off three genes in the plant allows more oil to be retained in the leaves which leaves more space in the seeds for protein accumulation. It could make the seeds better feed for animals but is this what processors want? Full Story

Fall army worm

Maize production in sub-Saharan Africa was hit by a plague of Fall Army Worm in 2016 but now CIMMYT has announced that it has successfully developed resistant hybrids by using maize germplasm from Mexico and bred it in to stress-tolerant maize lines suited for conditions in sub-Saharan Africa. It is hoped that this will allow growers to avoid the significant crop losses that they suffered in 2016. Full Story

Rice for low nitrogen soils

Like all cereals, rice need optimum amounts of nitrogen in the soil to achieve the best yields but now a team in the Chinese Academy of Sciences has identified a rice gene that allows the rice to scavenge nitrogen from the soil more effectively and so can produce optimum yields with less applied nitrogen. This benefits the economics of the crop and brings a reduction in potential environmental contamination from lost nitrogen. I wonder if it would work in wheat and barley? Full Story

Striped stem borer in rice

A team from the Huazhong University in China have developed a variety of rice that is resistant to the stem borer attack by using RNAi expression technology. Control is not complete but it reduces the damage by 50-60% at the tillering stage and 50-74% at the heading stage. Full Story

DEFRA launch consultation on gene-editing

At the recent Oxford Conference on farming George Eustice announced that DEFRA were to conduct a consultation on the release of gene-edited crops in the UK. Gene-editing offers new opportunities for varietal development to help combat both pests attack and make crops more resilient to extreme weather conditions. Full Story

Drought-tolerant chickpeas

India has developed some transgenic chickpeas that are more tolerant of drought and higher yields than traditional varieties . The new varieties will reduce the crop losses caused by drought each year since they produce increased seed yields even under extremely dry conditions. Full Story

Safeguarding bananas

Commercial banana crops around the world are all clones of the same plant and that lack of genetic variation puts it at risk of a global pandemic. The greatest risk is perceived to be an outbreak of Fusarium wilt disease and researchers in China have proposed that this could be reduced by using gene-editing to improve the resistance of bananas to this disease. Full Story

EU authorises 8 GM crops for food and feed use

The approval of three GM maize varieties has been renewed and supplemented by approval of three new maize varieties and two soybean varieties for food and feed use. This means that while it may not yet be possible to grow these crops in EU member states, you can at least import them. Full Story

Who needs trees?

A team at MIT have decided that forestry is too much like hard work and so have grown their own wood-like cells in the laboratory, controlling the amount of lignin that the cells contain by adjusting the levels of two hormones in the nutrient gel. They hope that this could prove an efficient way of producing biomaterials and avoid the need to harvest materials from the environment. Full Story


• There are no new approvals of biotech crops to report this month



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