GM/Biotech Crops Report – May 2023

13th June 2023
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GM/Biotech Crops Monthly Report June 2023

New human genome map

The human genome map published 20 years ago was from one individual and has been used to guide the development of drugs to treat various diseases. Now a new genome map has been produced that includes the DNA of 47 individuals from Africa, America, Europe and China so drug development will have wider relevance. Plans are underway to increase the number of genomes sequenced to 350 individuals from a variety of backgrounds.

Full Story.

Potential gene test for stroke victims

Having a stroke increases the risk of having another one but now there is a gene test available to determine whether a new drug will be effective against warding off further strokes in specific victims.

Full story

New GM Maize

A company called Origin Agritech has started to demonstrate their new triple-stacked GM maize in China ahead of a commercial launch. It has two insecticide genes and is also tolerant of application of glyphosate.

Full Story.

Malaria prevention

Researchers at the Burnet Institute in Australia have discovered how a drug inhibits the development of malaria. The parasite uses the protein Actin to breach the walls of the red blood cells but the drug binds to this protein and renders it ineffective.

Full Story.

Methane reductions

Cows produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas, when they burp. The methane is produced by the gut bacteria in the cow but now a collaborative effort by three universities in California is planning to use CRISPR editing to modify the bacteria so that they produce less methane.

Full Story.

Fusarium resistance in strawberries

Fusarium wilt is a common disease in strawberries but some varieties have a natural resistance and University College Davis in California has identified the genes involved in this resistance and bred them into five new varieties.

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Leukaemia treatment

Studies in South Korea have identified a gene that seems to speed the progression of acute myeloid leukaemia and suppressing this gene slows the development of the disease, can limit its spread and improves the prospects of long-term survival.

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GM-lite crops

Transferring DNA using agrobacterium results in permanent introduction of foreign DNA to a crop and requires approval before it can be released into the environment. Now researchers at Purdue University have found a way which they claim allows introduction of the vital traits without the permanent introduction of foreign DNA. Sounds too good to be true.

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Panama disease in bananas

Panama disease threatens global production of bananas because they are all clones of one particular strain of banana but now a team at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia are seeking approval of a GM strain that is resistant to Panama disease (Fusarium wilt tropical race 4).

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Gene-edited cows

Cows can suffer from a viral disease that causes diarrhoea and can lead to spontaneous abortions and low birth weight but now collaboration between universities and industry partners in America has developed a gene-editing amendment to the genome that confers resistance to the virus and the first edited calf has been born.

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Extending lifespan

Cells age naturally and the mitochondria that they contain also age naturally but now a team at the University of San Diego have developed a synthetic gene that switches between these two aging processes and seems to prolong the life of the cell by 82%! They believe that the technique is not limited to single cell organisms but could be applied to animals and even humans.

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Death cap antidote

Researchers at the Sun Yat-sen University in China have used CRISPR screening to identify the mode of action in the cells of poisoned organisms and have then screened a range of drugs to block the action. A chemical used in photography was found to be partially effective, allowing 50 % of poisoned mice to survive whereas 90% of mice not treated with the drug died of the ill-effects.

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Non-allergenic eggs

Some people are allergic to the protein in egg whites but now a team at Hiroshima University in Japan have silenced the gene that makes ovomucoid protein and thus produced eggs that does not cause an allergic reaction in sensitive people.

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Two peas in a pod?

Peas could be a substitute for soya in alternatives to meat but it is difficult to mask the flavour of the peas. Scientists have identified the gene responsible for the pea flavour and so they plan to silence this gene which will allow peas to be used in place of imported soya. Increasing the area of peas in the UK will also increase the capture of atmospheric nitrogen for following crops and with the recent spikes in the cost of nitrogen due to the gas price spike, it could be a win/win situation.

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The latest approvals of biotech crops to report this month:

  • MON87429, maize with tolerance of glyphosate, glufosinate, dicamba and 2,4-D approved for food and feed use in USA.
  • MON87427, maize with tolerance of glyphosate approved for food and feed use in Nigeria.


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