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2-Plants: Monsanto's GE crop research focus shifts to drought-tolerant, health providing GM crops



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   "'The focus has clearly turned to using biotechnology to derive crops
    that can sustain themselves in times of drought. Also, research is on
    to ensure plants contain less or no mycotoxins, which are carcinogic
    and less transfatty acids,' says Dr Eric Sachs, who is in charge of
    scientific affairs at Monsanto. Researchers at the Donald Danforth
    Science Center for plant research agree that such experiments have
    not gathered pace. 'This does not mean that such crops will be out
    in the market tomorrow. Research is on and it could take 5-10 years
    to reach the results of laboratory to land,' say scientists at the
    centre.
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-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Focus shifts to drought-tolerant, health providing GM crops
SOURCE: The Hindi, Business Line, India, by M.R. Subramani
        http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2005/06/29/stories/
2005062901251000.htm
DATE:   28 Jun 2005

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


Focus shifts to drought-tolerant, health providing GM crops

In the pipeline are soyabean that have low linolenic acid, corn that have
high lysine content and essential amino acids and corns with high oil content.

St. Louis (US) , June 28 - AS genetically modified (GM) crops gain
acceptance among farmers, the focus has now turned to development of
varieties that are drought-tolerant and those that can deliver health
benefits.

"The focus has clearly turned to using biotechnology to derive crops that
can sustain themselves in times of drought. Also, research is on to
ensure plants contain less or no mycotoxins, which are carcinogic and
less transfatty acids," says Dr Eric Sachs, who is in charge of
scientific affairs at Monsanto. Researchers at the Donald Danforth
Science Center for plant research agree that such experiments have not
gathered pace. "This does not mean that such crops will be out in the
market tomorrow. Research is on and it could take 5-10 years to reach the
results of laboratory to land," say scientists at the centre.

At Donald Danforth Center, one of the Indian-related research that is
currently on is to produce a rice variety that is rich in folic acid,
which can rectify malnutrition problems and be a good source of nutrition
for lactating mothers. Another experiment of relevance to developing
nations, particularly Africa, is to develop a cassava (tapioca) variety
that can withstand the mosaic virus. "Cassava is an important food source
for Africa and this research will go a long way in ensuring food
sufficiency in that continent," scientists say.

Research personnel, both in the private and public sectors, assure that
all these developments would be safe for human consumption and
environment-friendly. "Our crops derived from biotechnology are approved
by the US Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and
the Environment Protection Agency," says Dr Sachs.

According to Dr John P. Purcell, Global Leader, Scientific Affairs,
Monsanto, research in biotechnology crops has broadened to control pests
that are hard to kill through pesticide or have developed immunity to
such chemicals. "In fact, the research is currently on to provide farmers
a combination of various factors in the crop," he says.

In the pipeline are soyabean that have low linolenic acid, corn that have
high lysine content and essential amino acids and corns with high oil
content. "There are a number of companies that are working on drought-
tolerant and stress-tolerant varieties," Dr Purcell says.

Monsanto officials say that following the success in introducing Bollgard
Bt cotton in India, efforts are now on to introduce a superior Bollgard
II variety. "Greenhouse trials are on to introduce Bt corn also," an
official said.

According to the Biotechnology Industry Organisation Guide for 2005-06,
area under Bt cotton in India witnessed a 400 per cent rise between 2003
and 2004 to 1.2 million acres. It is the highest growth recorded by any
country during the year, with Brazil registering a 66 per cent growth in
coverage of genetically modified crops.

On genetically modified products that could hit the market within six
years, it says the list extends to apples, bananas and wheat. The
organisation says DuPont is developing a glyphosate resistant crop.
Monsanto, on the other hand, has developed an Alfalfa (fodder) crop that
allows application of herbicide to kill weeds while it grows, and apples
that have in-built resistance against codling moth.

There are at least seven varieties of GM corn in the pipeline, including
ones that nutritionally enhances, three varieties of corn and two strains
of soyabean."As acceptance of biotechnology crop grows, we will see the
research widen to ensure that yield increases without any increase in the
arable area," says Dr Purcell.


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