GENET archive


Plant: GM advances aim to alter Eastern European perceptions

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: CEE-Foodindustry, France

AUTHOR: Neil Merrett


DATE:   07.03.2007

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07/03/2007 - The growing commercialization and continued innovation of genetically modified crops (GM) could have significant benefits for the food industry in Eastern Europe over the coming decade, says a leading Biotech expert.

In a conversation with, Europabio’s Simon Barber explained that the increasing applications of GM like drought resistant crops will continue to change European perceptions on their use.

Europe currently remains well behind countries like the US, Canada and Brazil in terms of GM usage as it struggles with divided opinion on their use.

Despite countries like Slovakia and the Czech Republic using insect resistant maize for feed purposes, GM use is limited particularly in the developing markets of Central and Eastern Europe due to moral and health concerns.

Barber feels however that the developments of new bio-technologies like crops more resistant to drought will encourage both consumers and the food industry to accept the technology in the region.

”Along with increased nutritional outputs like healthier rapeseed oils, beneficial input implications like crops with better water-use efficiency will really benefit food production in the region,” he said.

”Though it is impossible to be exactly sure, within the next ten years I would expect the industry to become fairly advanced in what can be done.”

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) drought resistance is one area in particular, which is seen as a key development for the growth of GM crops.

It predicts that the genes which expected to be available for commercial use by around 2011 will significantly reduce the affects of drought on grain production.

Drought has proved a major problem for grain processors particularly in Central and Eastern Europe where adverse conditions throughout both the summer and winter last year took their toll on soil quality.

As a result the International Grains Council (IGC) found grain production last year was down by 51m tones from 2005 due to poor harvests in countries like Poland and Ukraine.

The decline in grain stocks resulted in increasing prices for processors as demand in the region tightened.

Groups like US biotech giant Monsanto, which has testing already underway on water efficient crops, are hoping they can it can capitalise on demand for products resistant to climatic uncertainty.

Monsanto revealed earlier this year that trials of its drought tolerant corn and water efficient soy bean were found to produce higher yields of crop with less wilting.

The company’s figures for 2006 found that yields of its drought resistant corn under drought stress in certain cases showed a 23.2 per cent increase over controlled non-GM corn production.

Besides GM applications in protecting the supply chain of raw materials, the increasing focus on nutritional benefits in food products to meet growing demand for wellness products is also seen as an important development.

This month alone, US research into food stuffs as simple as tomatoes and rice have found methods to amplify the nutritional benefits of a product.

University of Florida researchers have suggested that transgenic engineering of tomatoes has allowed them to increase the content of folates - which have been linked to reducing infant spina bifida by around 25 times.

The US department of agriculture has also announced its desire to develop nutritional benefits in food by approving the cultivation of GM rice engineered to produce the proteins lactiva and lysomin.

Test into the two proteins found naturally in breast milk suggest that they can have significant potential on diarrhoea.

While the US continues to lead the way in both GM research and yields, Barber was confident that producers in Eastern Europe would become increasingly receptive to the potential benefits of the products.

Not all are as keen to embrace GM use however, with some European states still coy on adopting the techniques

into their food chains.

There are currently just six countries in the European Union currently employing insect resistant form of genetically modified agriculture out of a total of 25 member states.

Though some EU nations like France and Spain have expressed desire to increase their yields, other including Hungary remain staunchly opposed to any form of GM use.

Hungary has banned the use of any GM in its food chain, including a strain of insect resistance maize approved by the EU for feed use.

With the EU upholding Hungary’s right to continue to outlaw GM use in the country, objection in the bloc could hold out for some time yet.

Hungary’s reservations have also been backed by environmental groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who have expressed concern at the unknown long term health affects of GM, which it fears could pose a risk to consumer health.

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: Agro Perspectiva, Ukraine



DATE:   02.03.2007

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02.03.2007 09:45 ”Agro Perspectiva” (Kyiv) — According to « New Region - Kiev », in Ukraine cultivation H’m-potato, H’m-corn and H’m-soya is widely widespread. According to local ecologists, transgenami zaseyan almost 1 million in hectares of the Ukrainian grounds.

« They are absolutely informal data, - Tatyana Timochko has declared the first deputy head Vseukrainskoj of ecological league. - the official statistics in the country is not conducted ».

As she said, the genetically-modified grades are grown up in the south of Ukraine, the Volynsk and Dnepropetrovsk areas. Thus it(she) did not begin to name agrofirmy which are engaged in similar activity, having explained, that does not wish it(this) to do(make), as « to people who have from it(this) million incomes, it is very easy(light) to prove in court, that they are right ».

According to official data, in Ukraine any of grades H’m-plants in commercial objectives is not grown up. At the same time representatives of the international organizations who counteract uncontrollable distribution of the genetically-modified organisms (GMO), declare, that the Ukrainian markets are already sated(saturated) H’m-production, however, unlike the EU countries, it(she) here is not marked. 


                                  PART 3

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SOURCE: FreshPlaza, Netherlands



DATE:   07.03.2007

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Warsaw - Corn farmers losses caused by the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) in Poland are estimated at 59 million € annually. The pest has become a major problem not only in agriculture, but also in horticulture since sweet corn is an important vegetable grown for the fresh market, as well as for processing. Damages are significant during warm summers and in the warmest regions of Poland.

The larval stage tunnels into corn stalks and ear shanks, and will feed on kernels in the ear. Damaged ears are useless for processing. Sweet corn is a relatively new crop in Poland, but its acreage expands fast and was estimated at about 3 thousand hectares in recent years. Hungary is a European leader in this vegetable production (39 thousand hectares), followed by France (26 thousand hectares), Italy (3800 hectares) and Spain (3000 ha). According to scientists, losses can be avoided by allowing to grow genetically modified corn, but this is impossible due to the Polish ban on such crops.

In recent years European corn borer became also a major pest of sweet pepper grown under plastic tunnels in Poland. It even looks like the pest prefers pepper to corn, destroying green and red fruits (what is interesting caterpillars doesn’t like yellow fruits). German, French and American sources notice that European corn borer can also feed on tomatoes, potatoes, celeries and green pea.



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