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SCIENCE & POLICY: Cloned meat, ’Golden Rice’ among top-100 science projects in South Korea



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  CLONED MEAT, ?GOLDEN RICE? AMONG TOP-100 SCIENCE PROJECTS

SOURCE: The Korea Times, South Korea

AUTHOR: Kim Tong-hyung

URL:    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/12/133_35403.html

DATE:   01.12.2008

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CLONED MEAT, ?GOLDEN RICE? AMONG TOP-100 SCIENCE PROJECTS

Would anybody?s idea of a gourmet meal ever include a T-bone steak from cloned cattle? Genetic scientist Seong Hwan-hu from the Rural Development Administration (RDA) is certainly hoping that day will come, as he is as a pioneer in the cloning of ?hanwoo,? a native breed that is a popular source of prime beef in the country.

Seong?s work was named among this year?s ?top-100 research projects? selected by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, which identifies state-sponsored science projects showing significant progress. The ministry, which has been announcing the list since 2006, chose from 282 projects first sorted by 16 government organizations, institutions and universities.

Cloned meat is not the only gut-testing idea to chew on ? local scientists have also developed what they call ?golden rice? to go with the steak, with genetically modified yellow grains packed with vitamin A, which isn?t found in rice naturally.

Other projects on the list include the discovery of a new drug candidate for treating diabetes, the development of an unmanned aerial vehicle with a near-silent engine, and the finding of a bacteria that could be used for producing nano-tubes.

The list also includes a good number of advancements in mobile communications, reflecting the country?s leadership in information technology and electronics.

The country spent around 10.2 trillion won (about $6.9 billion) this year to support government research and development (R&D) projects.

Biotech Bring Changes to Dinner Table

Korean scientists have been researching the cloning of native cattle in the past decade, with the RDA producing 12 clones from 2002 to 2003, and successfully breeding calves from the cloned cows since 2006 at the agency?s National Institute of Animal Science in Gangwon Province.

The birth of ?third-generation? clones last year adds further proof that there is little difference between natural-born and clones in growth and reproductive abilities, Seong said.

The clones were produced from the body cells of a three-year-old ?super? hanwoo cow from Incheon, Gyeonggi Province, and grow to weigh up to a ton, larger than average hanwoo cows, which weigh around 600 to 700 kilograms.

The development in cloning technologies for hanwoo cows could provide a major income source for farming communities down the road, by allowing the mass production of high-quality cattle and improve efficiency in stock breeding.

The technologies could also provide new opportunities, such as drug development and ?organ farming,? Seong said.

It remains to be seen how consumers will react to cloned meat, but as for consumption, Seong claims that recent tests conducted by the RDA concluded that meat and milk from the cloned hanwoo cows are safe for human consumption.

German and Swiss researchers first engineered rice to produce beta-carotene, an inactive form of vitamin A, which turns the rice a gold color, with the intent of using it to treat vitamin A deficiency.

Now, an RDA research team led by Ha Sun-hwa is trying to take the quantity and quality of nutrients in golden rice to the next level. According to Ha, 100 grams of golden rice developed by RDA researchers contain 1.27 milligrams of vitamin A, which means that about two bowls would be enough for an adult?s daily-recommended allowance of 5,000 international units (iu).

?We are approaching the day when rice could double in nutritional value,? Ha said.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  KOREA MAKES STRIDES IN GM ORGANISMS

SOURCE: The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea

AUTHOR: Arirang News, South Korea

URL:    http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200811/200811280025.html

DATE:   28.11.2008

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KOREA MAKES STRIDES IN GM ORGANISMS

In anticipation of food shortages and global food price inflation the biotech industry is being looked to as one of the next industrial and scientific powerhouses that will give the world the environmental and economic answers it needs. For example, so-called ?Golden Rice? is one of 84 genetically modified farm products that are being developed in Korea.

Genetic engineering of Korean chili peppers allowed researchers to get more beta-carotene into the grain, making it rich in vitamin A. Dr. Ha Sun-hwa of the National Academy of Agricultural Science led the team that developed the grain.

?So far, genetically modified organisms that are easier to grow, resistant to diseases and adaptive to harsh climates have been the main concerns in the field, but we are now expanding the biotechnology by adding extra nutrients, producing edible vaccines and producing vegetable proteins that have a curative effect.?

Also in development in Korea are anti-drought potatoes, vitamin-E-enhanced lettuce and virus-resistant cacti. Researchers also hope to make products that are tolerant to pests, salty soil, hot or dry climates and have higher yields without using much insecticide.

However, at present, there are no farms in Korea that grow genetically modified crops for commercial purposes, and resistance by environmental and consumer groups that question the safety of biotech crops has hindered progress.

Scientists say these technologies are expanding from agriculture to cosmetics and even alternative energy research. But for genetically modified technology to become a true economic engine, scientists must continue working to demonstrate its safety.


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