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SCIENCE & RISK ASSESSMENT: U.S. Department of Agriculture funds resistance management project for stacked Bt cotton



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   U.S. REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS? OFFICE WELCOMES $500,000 GRANT FOR UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

SOURCE:  Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, USA

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://giffords.house.gov/2011/09/us-rep-gabrielle-giffords-office-welcomes-500000-grant-for-university-of-arizona.shtml

DATE:    27.09.2011

SUMMARY: "over time, pests may evolve resistance to the toxin in Bt cotton, Tabashnik said. To delay that resistance, some Bt crops produce two or more distinct toxins that are active against the same pest ? an approach called a ?pyramid.? ?We need to better understand how some characteristics of pyramids affect the evolution of resistance,? said Yves Carrière, a professor of entomology and the project?s principal investigator. [...] If the pests were to eventually become fully resistant, the current Bt technology would be of no use."

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U.S. REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS? OFFICE WELCOMES $500,000 GRANT FOR UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

Research will examine how to delay evolution of pest resistance to genetically modified cotton

TUCSON ? The office of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is welcoming a grant of nearly $500,000 that was awarded to the University of Arizona for research into genetically modified cotton.

?The University of Arizona has a nationally recognized expertise in agriculture research,? said Pia Carusone, chief of staff to Giffords. ?Pima cotton was developed and perfected by UA researchers and they continue to be at the forefront of important national agricultural studies.?

The UA grant of $499,909 will fund a study by a team of scientists in the Department of Entomology of the risks associated with genetically modified Bt cotton that is protected against some key insect pests. The grant was one of eight awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for studies of the risks associated with genetically engineered plants.

Bruce E. Tabashnik, head of the UA Department of Entomology and part of the research team, said Bt cotton was commercialized 15 years ago. It has been engineered to produce bacterial proteins that kill key insect pests but are harmless to people and most other organisms. ?The concept is to reduce the use of insecticide sprays that can harm people and the environment,? Tabashnik said.

Bt cotton now represents about 65 percent of all cotton grown in the United States. But over time, pests may evolve resistance to the toxin in Bt cotton, Tabashnik said. To delay that resistance, some Bt crops produce two or more distinct toxins that are active against the same pest ? an approach called a ?pyramid.?

?We need to better understand how some characteristics of pyramids affect the evolution of resistance,? said Yves Carrière, a professor of entomology and the project?s principal investigator.

The study, which will be conducted at UA, will develop and test strategies to delay evolution of resistance by the pests, Carrière said. If the pests were to eventually become fully resistant, the current Bt technology would be of no use.

?All types of agriculture ? conventional, organic and genetically engineered ? play important roles in our agricultural system,? said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, acting director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. ?These grants will help inform sound, science-based decisions.?

Other research grants will study pollen flow in perennial grasses intended for biofuel use and examine the flow of pollen between genetically-engineered alfalfa and conventional and organic varieties.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   USDA PROVIDES GRANTS TO ASSIST IN MAKING SCIENCE BASED BIOTECHNOLOGY RISK ASSESSMENTS

SOURCE:  U.S. Department of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USA (USDA - NIFA)

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2011news/09262_brag.html

DATE:    26.09.2011

SUMMARY: "The U.S. Department of Agriculturehas awarded eight research grants to study the agricultural effects of genetic engineering. [...] USDA awarded the grants through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. ?All types of agriculture ? conventional, organic and genetically-engineered ? play important roles in our agricultural system,? said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, acting NIFA director. ?These grants will help inform sound, science-based decisions.?"

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USDA PROVIDES GRANTS TO ASSIST IN MAKING SCIENCE BASED BIOTECHNOLOGY RISK ASSESSMENTS

 

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http://www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2011news/brag_awards.html

FY 2011 Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grants

[for details see: http://cris.nifa.usda.gov/cgi-bin/starfinder/0?path=fastlink1.txt&id=anon&pass=&search=GC=HX&format=WEBTITLESG]

University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., $499,909 ? This project will research the risks associated with insect-resistance pyramided Bt cotton.

University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn., $306,023 ? This project will study pollen flow in perennial grasses intended for biofuel use, such as switchgrass and miscanthus.

University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., $ 500,000 ? This project will develop a framework for assessing the risks of RNAi crops to arthropods.

University of Maryland, College Park, Md., $374,303 ? This project will assess the impact of genetically modified fungi on all functionally known geochemical, ecological and environmental processes in the soil.

AquaBounty Technologies, Waltham, Mass., $494,162 ? This project would research technologies that would render fish sterile to decrease the risk of gene flow from transgene fish.

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., $499,819 ? This project will investigate the potential risks of releasing the transgenic New World screwworm fly Cochliomyia hominivorax in the United States, Mexico and South America.

USDA Agricultural Research Service, Prosser, Wash., $992,760 ? This project intends to assess the role of feral alfalfa in transgene transmission; the impact of pollinators on pollen-mitigated gene flow; and the flow of transgenes from genetically engineered RRA hay fields to conventional alfalfa seed production fields in different environments.

USDA Agricultural Research Service, Gainesville, Fla., $381,374 ? This project will improve the development and ecological safety of genetically engineered insects created for improved biologically-based control programs.

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2011?The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded eight research grants to study the agricultural effects of genetic engineering. The projects support the development of science for regulatory decisions and other USDA policies and programs related to biotechnology. USDA awarded the grants through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

?All types of agriculture ? conventional, organic and genetically-engineered ? play important roles in our agricultural system,? said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, acting NIFA director. ?These grants will help inform sound, science-based decisions.?

USDA awarded the grants through the Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grants (BRAG) program, which was established in 1992. In addition to supporting research that assists federal regulatory decision-making, the BRAG program also supports conferences that bring together scientists, regulators and other stakeholders to review assessment data.

BRAG funding supports research in the following areas: identifying and developing practices to minimize risks associated with genetically engineered organisms; developing methods to monitor the dispersal of genetically engineered organisms; increasing knowledge about the characteristics, rates and methods of gene transfer that may occur between genetically engineered organisms and related wild and domesticated organisms; and providing analysis which compares impacts of organisms modified through genetic engineering to other types of production systems.

NIFA awarded $4 million for projects in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Washington. Project highlights include:

A project in Washington to examine the flow of pollen between ?Roundup Ready? genetically-engineered alfalfa and conventional and organic varieties

A project in North Carolina to investigate the potential risks of releasing the transgenic New World screwworm fly Cochliomyia hominivorax in the United States, Mexico and South America

A project in Connecticut to study pollen flow in perennial grasses intended for biofuel use, such as switchgrass and miscanthus

A full list of awardees can be found online at: www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2011news/brag_awards.html

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, USDA?s National Institute of Food and Agriculture focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people?s daily lives and the nation?s future. More information is available at: www.nifa.usda.gov.