GENET archive


PLANTS: Indian field trials of genetically modified rice plant encouraging

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: The Hindu, India



DATE:   30.06.2007

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MADURAI: Field trials of a genetically modified disease-resistant rice plant developed in the Madurai Kamaraj University laboratory and conducted at three locations in the State have given encouraging results in the first phase. The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) in Coimbatore, to whom the plants were handed over, is now taking the process to the next stage wherein multi-location trials will be carried out for the ’white ponni’ variety, developed after a seven-year research at the Department of Plant Biotechnology, MKU.


Disease resistant

The tests, held at Coimbatore, Aaaduthurai and Ambasamudram, showed that the transgenic plants developed resistance for ’Sheath Blight’ disease, common in paddy crop in the southern India.

K. Veluthambi, Professor and Head, Department of Plant Biotechnology at the MKU, told The Hindu on Friday said the trials lasted a few months since October last and after detailed studies the agricultural university decided to go f or multi-location field trials.

Around 1,000 seeds of genetically modified rice plants were given to the TNAU for trials and it was found that the loss of yield due to ’Sheath Blight’ disease could be prevented.

”The disease brings down the resistance power of the plant resulting in yield loss. That was contained by genetic modification,” Dr. Veluthambi said.

While ’Sheath Blight’ was common occurrence in rice cultivation in southern States, the problem faced in northern States was ’Rice Blast.’

This trial stage was undertaken after getting permission from the Review Committee of Genetic Manipulation in the Department of Biotechnology, he said.

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: The Hindu, India



DATE:   28.06.2007

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It uses a ’genetic shield’ as buffer against saline soil

CHENNAI: The M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation is into field trials for developing a paddy crop that uses a ’genetic shield’ as buffer against saline soil, foundation executive director P. C. Kesavan said on Wednesday.

Addressing a function got up to mark the annual day of the Madras Medical Mission and commemorate two decades of its cardiac care, he said the salt-tolerant genes transferred to this potential super crop were sourced from the mangrove species, Avicennia Marina, found on the east coast.

The trials were progressing on a piece of land near the reactor of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research to benchmark the genetically engineered crop against bio-safety and environmental-impact parameters before being released for cultivation.

The salinity-resistant paddy was conceived to withstand the onslaught of global warming that is pushing up sea levels and leading to coastal soil and water being salinised.

The project that explored yet another potentially path-breaking biotechnology application for food security would also mark the transition from the ’green revolution’ to the ’evergreen revolution,’ Mr. Kesavan said.


Excess stocks

He pointed out that the Green Revolution had unfortunately mutated from ’green’ to ’greed.’ The country was now producing rice stocks that exceeded the needs of the population of one billion. While excess production signalled prosperity, it also meant over-exploitation of soil resource. The tragic side was that around 230 million people were unable to afford food.

Mr. Kesavan said it was the Foundation’s mission to resolve the ’famine of livelihood’ rather than a ’famine of food’ by empowering 70 per cent of the population, spread across six lakh villages, with technology and knowledge. This vision of Dr. Swaminathan coalesced with that of President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

Verghese Eapen, honorary vice-president of the MMM, called for a healthcare revolution to make available treatment to the needy.

Mr. Kesavan later felicitated Mr. Eapen and C. O. Varghese, members of MMM’s first managing committee.

R. K. Kalyan Singh, advisor, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, and S. Rajan, director, cardiac surgery, Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases were also felicitated.



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