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PLANTS: 2006-2015 billed as 'biotech decade of Asia' by ISAAA



                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  2006-2015 billed as 'biotech decade of Asia'
SOURCE: The Philippine Star
AUTHOR: Rudy A. Fernandez
URL:    http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=70781
DATE:   21.03.2007
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2006-2015 billed as 'biotech decade of Asia'

JAKARTA -- The period 2006-2015 is the "decade of Asia" in the field of
biotechnology.

Thus projected Dr. Clive James, founder and president of the
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri- Biotech Applications
(ISAAA).

Dr. James painted a rosy picture of biotechnology crop production the
world over at a recent symposium billed "Commercialization of Agro-
biotechnology Products: Status, Opportunities, and Challenges" held at
the Department of Agriculture in this capital city.

The symposium was organized by the Indonesian Biotechnology Information
Center, Indonesian Agricultural Biotechnology Program, Croplife
Indonesia, and Indonesian Department of Agriculture.

It was supported by the Indonesian Biotechnology Consortium, Indonesian
Biotechnology Student Forum, Indonesia-based Southeast Asian Ministers
of Education Organization-Regional Center for Tropical Biology, and ISAAA.

The symposium was attended by representatives of Bangladesh, Egypt,
India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri
Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

The first decade (1996-2005) of the commercialization of biotechnology
crops (maize, soyabean, cotton, canola, squash, papaya, rice) was the
decade of the Americas, Dr. James said.

"The second decade will likely feature strong growth in Asia led by
India, China, and new countries like Pakistan and Vietnam," he added.

India tripled its area of Bt cotton from 1.3 million hectares in 2005 to
3.8 million ha in 2006.

China's Bt cotton area increased from 3.3 million ha in 2005 to 3.5
million ha in 2006. Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium
that naturally occurs in soil. It is harmful only to some lepidoptera
(insects) such as bollworm and pink bollworm.

In 1989, scientists of Monsanto Co. in the United States, a world-famous
chemical firm, successfully put a boll-protecting gene from Bt into the
genetic group of cotton.

The scientific method (biotechnology or genetic engineering) makes
cotton a "natural chemical factory" that can itself produce Bt protein,
which protects the plant from pests from insemination to harvest.

Bt or genetically modified crops have been found not to have any harmful
effects on humans, animals, and other plants.

The Philippines, as reflected in Dr. James' report, also has increased
its Bt corn area by more than 100 percent -- from 70,000 ha to 200,000 ha
in 2006.

Thus, it has maintained its position in the global league of "mega-
countries" commercially producing biotech crops. "Mega-countries" are
those growing biotech or transgenic crops in 50,000 ha or more.

The United States topped the "mega-countries", devoting 54.6 million ha
to biotech crops in 2006, from 49.8 million ha in 2005. It is followed
by Argentina (18 million ha), Brazil (11.5 million ha), and Canada (6.1
million ha.

The other "mega-countries" are India (3.8 million ha), China (3.5
million ha), Paraguay (2 million ha), South Africa (1.4 million ha),
Uruguay (400,000 ha), the Philippines (200,000 ha), Australia (200,000
ha), Mexico (100,000), Romania (100,000 ha), and Spain (100,000 ha).

Other biotech crop-producing countries are France, Germany, Portugal,
Czech Republic, Slovakia, all in Europe; Colombia, South America,
Honduras, Central America and Iran, Middle East.

Last year, Slovakia became the world's twenty-second and sixth European
Union country producing biotech crops, commercially planting Bt maize
for the first time.

Dr. James reported that as of 2006, the first year of the second decade
of biotech crop adoption, GM or transgenic crop area broke the 100-
million ha mark for the first time -- 102 million ha from 90 million ha
in 2005.

"The five lead biotech crop developing countries (China, India,
Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa), with a combined population of 2.6
billion or 40 percent of the total global population, grew 38.2 million
ha of GM crops in 2006, equivalent to 37 percent of global total," he said.

He added: "The number of farmers planting biotech crops surged past 10
million for the first time, to 10.3 million, from 8.5 million farmers in
2005."

He predicted that by 2015, more than 20 million farmers will be planting
200 million ha of biotech crops in about 40 countries.

Dr. James concluded: "We are at an exciting time in biotechnology's
adoption. As we look into the future at the second decade of
commercialization, many factors are poised to drive substantial growth
of biotech crops well beyond the early adopters. It is in this decade
that biotech crops can make a significant contribution and impact on the
world's 1.3 billion people."


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                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Govt plans to develop high yielding cotton
SOURCE: New Age Business, Bangladesh
AUTHOR: Obaidul Ghani
URL:    http://www.newagebd.com/2007/feb/10/busi.html
DATE:   10.02.3007
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Govt plans to develop high yielding cotton

The government is planning to develop high yielding varieties of cotton
through research for boosting up production to minimise its huge import
for country's growing industrial consumption as well as making the
cotton cultivation popular among the farmers.

Department of Agricultural Extension sources said the researchers of
country's five cotton research institutes are thinking of using bio-
technology in cotton production under the supervision of Bangladesh
Agricultural Research Council for developing high yielding varieties of
cotton aiming to boost up the production.

A three-year project titled 'Strengthening the Research Activities of
Cotton Development Board' has been submitted to the planning commission
and it is waiting for final approval of the government. The project cost
was estimated at Tk 12.50 crore [1,361 Mill EUR].

The introduction of the project will pave the way for conducting
research in developing high yielding varieties of cotton in the country
using bio-technology, said a CDB official.

At present the country has no application of bio-technology in
increasing crop production. There is no alternative to boosting up
cotton production using high technology as the country's existing yield
is not sufficient to meet up the demand for 248 spinning mills.

There are around two lakh hectares of arable land for cotton production.
But the farmers are not cultivating cotton on this whole land as they
prefer growing other crops for earning more as the cotton cultivation
gives less returns.

The officials attached to the cotton farming and the CDB identified that
the main cause of declining cotton production in the country since the
fiscal year 1997-98 is drastic fall in the price of cotton affecting the
cultivators seriously. Then the country's cotton production was around
98,000 tonnes.

The prospect of cotton cultivation in Bangladesh is very bright as the
country has to import around 12 lakh bales of cotton per year to meet up
the requirement for its ever flourishing textile sector.

Government should undertake requisite measures to restore the confidence
of the farmers in cotton cultivation providing them with all out
supports including, fair price, seeds, fertilisers and other necessary
assistances, at field level. Besides, the government should set up
biological laboratories for research and training institutes to train up
the field level manpower, the officials said.

Now 12 varieties of cotton including the CB-cotton and the Hill-cotton
are being cultivated in the country and those varieties provide with
maximum two tonnes of yield per hectare. The use of bio-technology in
cotton production can increase the yield almost double per hectare.

Moreover, the existing varieties of cotton yield in five to six months
while the developed varieties need four and a half months.

The executive director of the Cotton Development Board, Shamsul Alam,
said, 'The introduction of cultivating BT-cotton, a genetically modified
variety, can boost up production substantially reducing the country's
dependency on import saving a huge foreign currency.'

There is no chance of pest attack on BT-cotton plant. But the existing
varieties are vulnerable to attack by ball-worm, a kind of pest, causing
huge loss in production, he said.

The cotton producing districts of the country are Jessore, Jenidah,
Magura, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Rajbari, Rajshahi, Natore, Pabna, Bogra,
Gaibandha, Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Panchgarh, Dhaka,
Manikganj, Tangail and Jamalpur.

In addition, two varieties -- Hill-cotton-1 and Hill-cotton-2 -- are
produced in Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban districts of
Chittagong Hill Tracts.

The country needs 12 lakh bales of cotton per year. But it produces
around 70,000-80,000 bales including the CB-cotton and the Hill-cotton
from around 65,000 hectares of land in the country.

India ranks third in cotton production yielding 167 lakh bales per year
among the cotton producing countries across the world, next to China and
the USA.


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