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[genet-news] SCIENCE & POLICY: Monsanto and African Governments see hope in GE crops

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: The New Vision, Uganda

AUTHOR: Ronald Kalyango


DATE:   22.04.2009

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GENETICALLY Modified cotton will be planted at different sites in May and June this year, an official has revealed.

?We are on the right track. The technology providers are positive. They have visited all the sites and at last the trails which had delayed for the last seven years are going to be conducted,? said Dr.Tilahun Zeweldu, who has been at the forefront of Bt. Cotton research.

Confined field trials are studies that are made by scientists to collect data on any new varieties developed at research stations within the country or outside.

The importation of the seeds followed the granting of an importation permit by the crop protection department of the agriculture ministry in February.

Speaking recently at a stakeholders meeting at Mosa Court in Kampala, the Monsanto South Africa?s business development manager, Danie Olivier, said the trials would be conducted for three consecutive seasons.

?The confined field trial will help Ugandan scientists gather information to use when the crop is commercialised,? said Olivier.

The Monsanto Company is an American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation and the leading producer of genetically engineered seed, holding 70%?100% market share for various crops.

It is charged with the responsibility of providing the technology which will be tested at the National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI) in Serere, Soroti and at the prisons farm in Mobuku, Kasese. Uganda has been targeting the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) with a bacterium gene for tolerance to Bollworm pests and the Roundup Ready (RR) cotton with resistance to the Roundup herbicide for the control of weeds.

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: The Punch, Nigeria

AUTHOR: Everest Amaefule


DATE:   10.04.2009

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About 90 million Nigerians are in a condition of food vulnerability, Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr. Sayyid Abba-Ruma, has said.

This means that abut 90 million Nigerians cannot take the issue of food for granted as they could be susceptible to the danger of lack of this basic need of life.

Abba-Ruma, who spoke in Abuja on Thursday, at the inauguration of the Agricultural Empowerment Initiative for a New Generation of Nigerian Farmers and Entrepreneurs by Fidelity Bank Plc, however, said food insecurity was worse than food vulnerability.

At another event, the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa , Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Alhassan Bako, called for the use of biotechnology to address food insecurity in the country.

Abba-Ruma said Nigeria had been facing a number of challenges in its goal to achieve food security, including low application of technology, low yield of crops and poor financing of agriculture.

He said the policy of the Federal Government on agriculture was to ensure that a substantial proportion of the food items that were currently imported into the country were produced locally through backward integration.

According to the minister, the nation, in about nine years, used only 1.3 metric tonnes of fertiliser, which he described as less than the minimum requirement that would guarantee a good yield.

He also identified mitigation of the effects of climate change as another challenge that must be tackled in order to ensure that the nation could produce food that was adequate for its citizenry.

Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Reginald Ihejiahi, said the bank was promoting agriculture because of its belief in the critical role of the sector to the nation?s economy and citizens? welfare.

The highlight of the event was the launch of four new products that aimed at boosting the nation?s agricultural production. The products are the Trust Fund Facility, the Self Help Group Facility, the Cooperative Union Facility and the Agric Lease Facility.

He said, ?These products are designed to pool strengths and resources of loan beneficiaries, promoters and banks for the purpose of funding agricultural activities or assets required for production along agric value chains.?

At the agricultural biotechnology forum organised by the National Biotechnology Development Agency, Zaku said biotechnology was critical to enhancing the nation?s food security.

The minister said, ?Biotechnology products have achieved sales in excess of $500bn per year and a growth rate of 24 per cent since the turn of the century. There are regions of 4,000 biotechnology firms across the globe and almost 50 per cent are in the European Union; 30 per cent in United States and the balance in Asia.

?In the past five years, China has increased investment in the development and application of biotechnology to 12 billion yen or $1.5bn. It is encouraging that Africa recorded substantial growth in 2008 with Burkina Faso (cotton) and Egypt (maize) planting biotech crops for the first time.?

He said the forum was very important because of the vital role it would play in promoting biotechnology development in Nigeria.

                                  PART 3

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SOURCE: Botswana Press Agency, Botswana



DATE:   14.04.2009

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GABORONE - It is high time Batswana adopted the use of biotechnology in production due to both political and economic changes, says the Director of Agricultural Research, Dr Pharoah Mosupi.

Officially opening the Regional Agricultural and Environmental Initiatives Network (RAEIN) Africa workshop organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and RAEIN-Africa, Dr Mosupi said modern biotechnology brings new challenges for policy and regulatory framework in the country.

The main limiting factors in the application of biotechnology and biosafety research and development, he said, are lack of biotechnology policy and biosafety legal framework, inadequate infrastructure, funding issues and lack of public awareness.

The aim of the workshop was to initiate the process of refocusing and broadening RAEIN-Africa?s activities and partnership base as well as to help the country to develop a national strategy to promote sustainable development using life sciences and biotechnology in agriculture and the environment.

Given the galloping food prices, Dr Mosupi added that the workshop would serve as a stimulus package that will provide support to lead to an increase in the production of food per unit.

RAEIN-Africa is a regional non-governmental organization based in Namibia.

Its mission is to enhance the capacities of the stakeholders to undertake research, formulate policies and apply scientific and technological innovations that are people centred and gender sensitive through inclusive and participatory processes for sustainable development.



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