GENET archive


9-Misc: GMO issues in the Caribbean region

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Regional officials to hold talks on genetically modified food
SOURCE: Associated Press / Jamaica Observer
DATE:   30 Aug 2005

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Regional officials to hold talks on genetically modified food imports

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) - Caribbean officials will meet in Belize this
week to discuss ways of regulating genetically modified food imports to
the region amid concerns over safety, an official said yesterday. The
three-day meeting of agriculture officials and experts from the 15-member
Caribbean Community begins tomorrow in Belize City, said Selwyn King,
spokesman for the Trinidad-based Caribbean Agricultural Development
Institute, an affiliate of the regional bloc. Officials will try to
develop policies regarding genetically modified food products that are
increasingly appearing in grocery stores across the Caribbean, King said.
The meeting will include talks on how to monitor the safety of
genetically modified foods and regulate their import, King said. The
talks come weeks after Grenada expressed concern about the safety of
genetically modified foods and set up a body to develop safety standards.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Caribbean Agri-Scientist At The Cutting-Edge
SOURCE: The Bahamas Journal, by Godfrey Eneas
DATE:   18 Jul 2005

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Caribbean Agri-Scientist At The Cutting-Edge

Agricultural scientists at the St. Augustine, Trinidad based Caribbean
Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) are demonstrating
their capacity in agricultural science research globally and regionally.
In the past many countries wrote CARDI off as the premier agricultural
research institution in CARICOM.

However, over the past decade, CARDI has re-organized itself by
decentralizing its work by establishing units at the country-level to
deal with research and development problems which are or may be specific
to individual countries.

The Bahamas has never been a member of the Institute. There are several
reasons for this. The primary reason stems from the era of the late Mr.
Oris Russell, the first Bahamian Director of Agriculture.

Mr. Russell was a University of Florida graduate who had gained a great
deal of familiarity of the work which was being undertaken by the Sub-
Tropical Research Centre in Homestead, Florida. For years, there was much
collaboration between that centre and The Bahamas, particularly in
citrus, sub-tropical and tropical fruits, winter vegetables as well as
land preparation technology on Rockland soils. In recent decades, this
close relationship seems to have petered out.

In the 70s The Bahamas moved to developing its own research capacity via
the US funded Bahamas Agricultural Research, Training and Development
Centre (BARTAD) in North Andros. Here again this facility suffered from
the inability to be sustained at a high technical level as a result of
deficiencies in funding, technical, manpower and an appreciation for its
role in national agricultural development.

Today, The Bahamas is deficient in agricultural research capacity. There
is one individual, Kenneth Richardson, with a Ph. D. in Agricultural
Science. Apart from Dr. Richardson, there is no one with a high level of
training in the conduct, execution and analysis of agricultural research.

CARDI is moving at a pace which keeps it in the global research game and
there is much one in The Bahamas can benefit from the work being
undertaken at CARDI.

CARDI is moving into the genare age through its work with genetically
modified organisms (GMO), as seen in the flowing press releases:
- Research Scientist Completes Training for Variety Verification And GMO

Regional scientists have concluded a training workshop for cultivar
identification regarding seed testing for international trade and public

The theme of the workshop was entitled: "Electrophoretic Methods and PCR-
Techniques for Variety Verification and GMO Detection." It was conducted
by Dr. Andrea Jonitz and Mr. Rainer Knoblauch of the Agricultural
Research and Development Institute, Augustenberg, Karlsruhe, Germany.

To this end, scientists and technicians were trained in methods and
techniques for the verification of species, cultivars and hybrids, as
well as for quantitative and qualitative Genetically Modified Organism
(GMO) detection. In essence, regional scientists and technicians would be
better equipped to comply with future globally accepted standards.

Recent advances in plant breeding have been greatly facilitated through
the application of genetic engineering techniques, which have had
significant implications for testing and monitoring at the levels of
international trade and public safety. It is within this context, that
seed is the foundation on which the expansion of genetically modified
crops is premised.

At present there are no official seed testing schemes that exist
throughout the CARICOM region, although standards have been accepted by
several of the countries.

CARDI's work in seed production dates back over several years. At the
regional level one of its most notable achievement is the production and
marketing of seed of the hot pepper variety West Indies Red by the CARDI
Antigua and Barbuda Unit, which started in 1992.

CARDI's scientists at the training workshop included the Institute's
Country Representative of Antigua and Barbuda Mr. Julius Ross and Ms
Michelle John of the Trinidad and Tobago Unit.

The workshop consisted of lectures and practical laboratory sessions,
which focused on electrophoretic methods for varietal verification as
well as laboratory sessions which included protein extraction, gel
extraction, fixation and staining of samples, extraction and purification
of DNA, gel preparation and electrophoretic analysis of PCR products.

It was held at the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences of UWI Mona, Jamaica
from the 9th to the 13th May 2005.

Globally CARDI based scientists have gained recognition for their work
and this is depicted by the work which is being done on plant diseases as
described in this CARDI press release:
- CARDI To Participate In Naming New Plant Diseases

CARDI's Plant Pathologis Dr. Litta Paulraj, has been invited to
participate in the International Society for Plant Pathology-Committee
Common Names of Plant Diseases - Taro Subcommittee.

In this regard, the CARDI scientist will represent the Caribbean region
at this international Society.

The Committee is designed to work with plant pathologists worldwide to
establish principles (guidelines) for the naming of new plant diseases.
Also, where multiple names, sometimes as many as 7 or 8 names, are being
used for the one disease, the Committee will undertake discussion aimed
at choosing the most appropriate name.

The aim is to encourage the use of common names, which describe a major
symptom of a disease in words, which are internationally meaningful. It
is envisioned that the lists of internationally approved common names of
plant diseases will be produced, which will assist authors, editors,
quarantine officers and others communicating internationally.

Dr Pulraj is based in the Institute's Country office in Barbados. She has
been instrumental in identifying the infestation of the Moth Borer,
Diatraea saccharalis in the sugar industry in Barbados as well as the
identification of the Organism, which causes the Nutmeg Root Rot disease
in Grenada.

ISPP was founded in 1968 and is a member of the International Union of
Biological Sciences (IUBS), the International Union of Microbiological
Sciences (IUMS), in liaison with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization

At the country level, CARDI is addressing production issues as CARICOM
states respond to the Food Security issue. The Executive Director's
address in Guadeloupe on this subject is outlined in the following CARDI
press release:

Improving Sustainable Food Production, Distribution And Food Security In
The Region

Executive Director of CARDI Dr. Wendel Parham will deliver one of the
keynote addresses at the 41st Annual meeting of the Caribbean Food Crops
Society (CFCS). It will take place in Gosier, Guadeloupe, French West
Indies from the 10-16 July 2005.

The theme for this year is entitled: "Alternatives to high input
agriculture in the Caribbean: toward the elaboration of innovative systems."

At the meeting, activities of significance will be held such as a meeting
of directors from research agencies and institutions. Dr. Parham will
make a presentation highlighting CARDI's research programmes.

Other activities include a special session entitled: "Embedding a
Caribbean Invasive Species Safeguarding Strategy within a Regional
Integration Framework: Institutional and Technical Dimensions." CARDI is
responsible for the co-ordination of a working group consisting of
Caribbean and United States scientists to mitigate against the invasion
of alien pests.

A session on Tropical Root and Tuber Crops in collaboration with the
International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC), Caribbean Region
will also be held. It is being organised by CARDI's Country
Representative in Dominica, Mr Greg Robbin.

Research in Root Crops by CARDI has contributed to the expansion of the
dasheen fresh produce trade in the Region over the past 2 to 3 decades
among other activities.

CARDI scientists will also deliver presentations on number of topics
including Invasive Species, Root Crops, Livestock Development and Sugar.

To date CARDI has been instrumental in providing support to CFCS for the
last ten years through the Institute's Regional Branch Office of the
Caribbean for the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-
operation ACP-EU. Four persons are being sponsored from ministries of
agriculture to attend the meeting.

In addition to Dr. Parham and Mr. Robbin CARDI scientists at CFCS will
consist of Research and Development Manager (acting) and Biometrician Mr.
Bruce Lauckner, Plant Breeder Mr. Herman Adams, Country Representative
for St Kitts and Nevis Mr. Llewellyn Rhodes, Entomologist, Dr. Litta
Paulraj, Plant Pathologist, Ms. Dionne Clarke-Harris, Entomologist, and
Mr. Ansari Hosein, Technician.

Bahamian Agriculture has suffered and is suffering from the lack of a
direct research relationship with a bona-fide research institution.
Agriculture in The Bahamas will not progress to new heights until we
improve our competency in agricultural research. CARDI can be that link.


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