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GMO-FREE PRODUCTS & SEEDS: Non-GE high-iron pearl millet ready for India in 2012



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   FORTIFIED SUPER CROP TO FIGHT HUNGER

SOURCE:  Hindustan Times, India

AUTHOR:  Zia Haq

URL:     http://www.hindustantimes.com/Coming-at-a-farm-near-you-super-foods/Article1-660043.aspx

DATE:    08.02.2011

SUMMARY: "In its less-than-impressive fight against malnourishment, India is set to deploy a new weapon: super foods from ?bio-fortified? crops packed with nutrients. The first of these, high-iron pearl millet, will be introduced in 20112. Indian research facilities are also close to breeding high-zinc wheat and provitamin-A rice and maize. ?Together, they have the potential to improve nutrition of millions,? said Kedar Rai, the director of HarvestPlus, part of a globally funded alliance that has introduced super foods in impoverished Sub-Saharan Africa."

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FORTIFIED SUPER CROP TO FIGHT HUNGER

 

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READ MORE about the HarvestPlus pearl millet research at:

http://www.harvestplus.org/sites/default/files/HarvestPlus_Pearl_Millet_Strategy.pdf

In line with many other organisations that are reducing their engagement in GE research to apply more promising non-GE methodologies, HarvestPlus does not inform the reader explicitely that this is a non-GE approach.

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In its less-than-impressive fight against malnourishment, India is set to deploy a new weapon: super foods from ?bio-fortified? crops packed with nutrients. The first of these, high-iron pearl millet, will be introduced in 20112. Indian research facilities are also close to breeding high-zinc wheat and provitamin-A rice and maize. ?Together, they have the potential to improve nutrition of millions,? said Kedar Rai, the director of HarvestPlus, part of a globally funded alliance that has introduced super foods in impoverished Sub-Saharan Africa.

HarvestPlus is ?biofortifying? seven food crops that can help reduce micronutrient malnutrition or ?hidden hunger? globally.

Despite a strong economy predicted to overtake China?s within three years, India is among 29 countries with the highest levels of hunger, stunted children and poorly fed women, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)?s 2010 hunger index.

Malnutrition is by far the biggest contributor to child mortality in India. According to the Lancet medical journal, malnutrition in the first two years is irreversible.

Fortifying the food handed out by the government?s public distribution system (PDS) would be an economical and effective way to tackle malnutrition. ?Discussions are on to introduce bio-fortified foods through the PDS,? said Swapan Kumar Dutta, ICAR?s chief of crops sciences.

In Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat, where millet or bajra is commonly grown and consumed, the prevalence of anemia among children is a staggering 66%. When severe, it also raises women?s risk of dying in childbirth.

Under an optimistic scenario, HarvestPlus estimates that 10 years after release, 28 million people in India will be consuming new iron-rich pearl millet. However, Dutta says the real breakthrough would come from super wheat and rice.

Pearl millet is an important cereal crop in arid and semi-arid tropical regions of Asia and Africa. It is a significant source of dietary energy and nutritional security for poor farmers and consumers in several highly populated regions of India. Pearl millet with elevated iron levels can help reduce iron deficiency, and to some extent, zinc deficiency, in regions of India where it is a staple food crop. It is hoped that some benefit will also be realized in parts of Africa where pearl millet is consumed.

India has been identified as the first target country for biofortified iron pearl millet.

Super foods is the result of a collaboration between India?s department of biotechnology, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and HarvestPlus.

Bio-fortified crops, by design, offer a rural-based approach to initially reach low-income groups. According to the IFPRI, their success hinges on three things. First, the breeding must be effective for both high nutrient density and yields. Second, sufficient nutrients must be retained after cooking. Third, farmers must adopt them widely.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   PEARL MILLET SET FOR RELEASE IN 2012

SOURCE:  HarvestPlus, USA

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.harvestplus.org/content/pearl-millet-set-release-2012

DATE:    09.02.2011

SUMMARY: "HarvestPlus and its partners are breeding and disseminating nutritious varieties of staple food crops that are widely eaten by the poor. These new crops will provide critical nutrients such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron. First to be released in India in 2012 is high-iron pearl millet. [...] The initial pearl millet releases will be improved versions of an already released open-pollinated variety (ICTP 8203)."

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PEARL MILLET SET FOR RELEASE IN 2012

February 9, Washington, D.C: Most of the world?s undernourished people live in South Asia where micronutrient deficiencies are rampant. HarvestPlus and its partners are breeding and disseminating nutritious varieties of staple food crops that are widely eaten by the poor. These new crops will provide critical nutrients such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron.

First to be released in India in 2012 is high-iron pearl millet. In the states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh where pearl millet is a staple food, an estimated 70% of children under five are anemic, mainly due to iron deficiency. The initial pearl millet releases will be improved versions of an already released open-pollinated variety (ICTP 8203).

?These will be higher yielding and will also have a high iron content,? says Dr. Kedar Rai, Director of the HarvestPlus India Biofortification Program. Poor farmers will benefit from significant yield increases and their family members, who eat large amounts of pearl millet every day, will benefit from higher iron intakes.

?As food prices rise, dietary quality will worsen; more nutritious non-staple foods will become even more expensive for the poor,? says Dr. Howarth Bouis, HarvestPlus Director. ?Agricultural-based strategies that improve the nutritional quality of the staple crops the poor rely upon will be essential.?

High-zinc varieties of rice and wheat are also in the pipeline and slated for release in 2013. In South Asia, the prevalence of zinc deficiency in children under five is almost 80%. ?The additional amounts of zinc these crops will provide should have a significant and widespread impact on reducing zinc deficiency,? according to Dr. Bouis.

HarvestPlus works with numerous partners around the world to develop these new crops. In India, it is working with the Indian Council on Agricultural Research, the Government of India?s Department of Biotechnology, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, numerous regional universities and institutes, and other public and private sector partners.



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   FARMERS KEPT IN DARK ABOUT NON-GE CROP INNOVATION

SOURCE:  GE free Nea Zealand, New Zealand

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://press.gefree.org.nz/press/20110207.htm

DATE:    07.02.2011

SUMMARY: "New Zealand farmers are being kept in the dark about traditionally bred non GE crops in commercial production that are proven to reduce methane emissions, are pest resistant, drought, salt and flood tolerant. Instead New Zealand farmers are being asked to wait decades for a GE magic bullet. Crop innovations are being ignored and sidelined with promises of a magic-bullet GE crop."

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FARMERS KEPT IN DARK ABOUT NON-GE CROP INNOVATION

New Zealand farmers are being kept in the dark about traditionally bred non GE crops in commercial production that are proven to reduce methane emissions, are pest resistant, drought, salt and flood tolerant. Instead New Zealand farmers are being asked to wait decades for a GE magic bullet.

Crop innovations are being ignored and sidelined with promises of a magic-bullet GE crop. Instead of using a variety of legumes for their pasture seed mix which has proven benefits, public money is being misused in trying to genetically engineer one legume variety to carry the whole genetics of every legume. This is short sighted and doomed to fail.

New Zealand is in a unique position and cannot afford to ignore proven solutions. Recent research found that traditionally bred legume Birdsfoot trefoil grown as part of the pasture seed reduced methane by 32%, increased milk solids and the boosted the nutritional levels of Omega 3 and LactoFerrin in the milk, when compared to ryegrass pasture.

?There are proven legumes for forage pastures as well as new cultivars of Rye grass being used successfully in New Zealand,? says Jon Carapiet spokesman for GE-Free NZ. ?These are proven solutions that are conventionally bred and producing high quality feed for animals. So why are they being sidelined for GE research??

New Zealand should take heed of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (www.cimmyt.org) research on trait selection and traditional breeding. The Centre has worked on selective traditional plant breeding programmes which has led to improved maize and wheat varieties, preserved genetic resources and developed new cultivars over the last 20 years. The non ?GE plant varieties are expanding the options to help farmers cope with drought conditions and diseases and have been able to substantially boost yields.

It is these conventionally bred high yield plants that are being genetically engineered with proprietary pesticides genes. GE plants are becoming more susceptible to fungal disease, increased weed resistance to herbicides causing rising pesticide use, toxic ecosystem effects and poor performance in follow on crops.

The public have been told that the only way to gain future crop improvements is down the GE path. This is blatantly false and misleading as the published literature shows.

?New Zealand science must fit the New Zealand Brand. There is no place for GE if we are to maximize the value of our clean green reputation and not blow it,? says Jon Carapiet.

New Zealand has a reputation to protect. We hope Scion, AgResearch, Plant and Food and the new owners of PGG Wrightsons, maintain standards for purity and excellence in seed production focused on traditionally bred selected plant cultivars that benefit the farmers of New Zealand.

References:

Turner S-A, Waghorn GC, Woodward SL, Thomson NA Condensed tannins in birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) affect the detailed composition of milk from dairy cows Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 65, pp 283-289, Jan 2005

Woodward SL, Waghorn GC, Laboyrie PG Condensed tannins in birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) reduce methane emissions from dairy cows, Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 64, pp 160-164, Jan 2004

La Rovere, R., G. Kostandini, T. Abdoulaye, J. Dixon, W. Mwangi, Z. Guo, and

M. Bänziger. 2010. Potential impact of investments in drought tolerant maize in Africa. CIMMYT, Addis Ababa , Ethiopia . ISBN: 978-92-9059-267-9

?Drought-Hardy Soybean Lines Show Their Stamina? November/December 2008, Agricultural Research magazine. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/nov08/soybean1108.htm

All eyes on PGG Wrightson takeover 4 February 2011 http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1102/S00116/all-eyes-on-pgg-wrightson-takeover.htm

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