GM/Biotech Crops Report – May 2018

8th May 2018
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GM/Biotech Crops Monthly Report May 2018



Hand-held DNA sequencer for $500

Sequencing DNA on the spot will revolutionise health care, disease identification in crops, food provenance and much much more. A firm in Oxford (Oxford Nanopore) now has the technology and the machine to do it. Their hand-held reader can sequence DNA in minutes. More

Pic: Micah Baldwin

CRISPR editing does not a GM crop make…

… at least in America where the USDA has decided that genome editing is simply a faster way of achieving what could be achieved by traditional breeding and that varieties produced by this technique to not warrant special scrutiny or approval.  More

Pic Source: Bioscience for Farming

Optimism UK public optimistic about GM technology

The Royal society has commissioned a survey of public opinion and found that more people are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about genetic engineering developments than those that expressed concerns.  More

Pic: Yvonne Rafferty

Australian vine helps soybean yields climb

Soybean has a very narrow genetic base and crossing it with the Australian vine Glycine tormentella has increased the genetic variability with some of the new lines showing good resistance to rust and increases in yield potential. More

Pic Source: United Soybean Board

rice Gene replacement therapy for rice

Chinese scientists have successfully replaced an allele in rice with a better version using CRISPR-Cas9 editing. This has allowed the transfer of improved nitrogen utilisation between ‘indica’ and ‘japonica’ rice varieties. More

Pic: M-Louis

Brewer’s yeast used for cough suppression

Noscapine is a cough suppression treatment that does not make you drowsy. It has been used since the 1930’s and is currently extracted from 100’s of tonnes of opium poppies. Now a team at Stamford University in America have managed to edit the genes of brewer’s yeast to produce noscapine in just a few days rather than the months it takes to grow the poppies and by tweaking the edited genes they achieved an 18,000-fold increase in output! More

Pic: Mylissa

Eggplant Opposing views on GMOs aired in a Dutch documentary

A film about the pros and cons has been made centred on the effects of GM crops grown in places like Bangladesh where growers use Bt eggplants to reduce their exposure to toxic insecticides. The Dutch film with English sub-titles can be viewed here: More

Pic: Mike Lewinski

Pests fight back with GM engineering of their own

Cotton bollworm has an extensive range whereas Corn earworm, although from the same genus, has a more restricted distribution. However, hybrids of these two distinct pests have now been identified in Brazil and the hybrids have been labelled a ‘Mega-Pest’ due to the threats that it poses.  More

Source: Jimmy Smith

 cotton bollworm
A greener fuel for cars

Researchers at Singapore University have identified a bacterium found in mushroom compost that can convert cellulose to biobutanol which can be used as a replacement for petrol. I wonder what the octane rating is? More

Pic: Samuel King Jr

Lycopene-enhanced tomatoes

Lycopene found in tomatoes is a powerful anti-oxidant and promotes healthy hearts. Now a team at the Chinese Agricultural University has achieved a five-fold increase in lycopene content of some lines simply by a little CRISPR-Cas9 editing. They confirm that the change is stable and is passed on to succeeding generations. More

Source: magdda

More on tomatoes

Darwin may have missed it but researchers from Wageningen University have found a wild relative of the tomato growing in the Galapagos Islands. Cultivated tomatoes are prey to many insect pests but this wild relative appears to have a resistance to many of them and cross-breeding this resistance into cultivated lines is expected to be relatively easy. More

Pic Source: pantxorama


  • CTB141175 – Sugarcane with Lepidopteran insect resistance now approved for food use in Canada.


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