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Articles from CropBiotechUpdate (January 10, 2018)

FSANZ Releases Approval Report for Food Derived from Provitamin A Rice Line GR2E

Food derived from Provitamin A rice line GR2E can be sold in Australia and New Zealand. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) released the approval report for Application A1138 submitted by the International Rice Research Institute seeking approval for food derived from rice line GR2E, genetically modified (GM) to produce provitamin A carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, in the grain.

FSANZ stressed that the approval was meant to prevent trade disruption should GR2E be inadvertently present in imported shipments of milled rice, and that GR2E is not intended to be used in the Australian or New Zealand food supplies.

A safety assessment and nutrition risk assessment of GM rice line GR2E are included as supporting documents to the report. No potential public health and safety concerns have been identified. Based on the data provided in the present Application, and other available information, food derived from line GR2E is considered to be as safe for human consumption as food derived from conventional rice cultivars.

For more information, read the Approval Report and supporting documents on the FSANZ website.

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in collaboration with  ETH Zurich Plant Biotechnology Lab has started the confined field trials of transgenic cassava. The research aims to reduce starch breakdown in storage roots of cassava after pruning the shoots, before the crop is harvested. It is also a fact-gathering process to gain fundamental knowledge about starch metabolism in the storage root and about cassava as a crop.

Cassava is an important food crop in sub-Saharan Africa as well as other tropical and subtropical regions, but cassava farmers face high level of postharvest loss caused by rapid deterioration of the starch-rich roots which occurs naturally after harvesting. The project aims to address this through cassava plant cultivar 60444 generated in ETH Zurich using RNAi to reduce starch breakdown in the root after pruning of the shoots.

The CFT permit was issued by the National Biosafety Management Agency in accordance with the National Biosafety Agency Act 2015,  for the period September 22, 2017 to December 31, 2018. IITA adheres strictly to national and international biosafety standards and will ensure that these are enforced during the trials, which will be carried out within the IITA campus in Ibadan, Nigeria. The cassava plants from the confined field trial are not destined for the market nor for commercial development, and therefore will not be consumed. And according to national regulations, all plants will be destroyed within the CFT site after analysis.

For more details, read the IITA News.

A research team from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center led by Andrea Eveland has identified a genetic mechanism that could increase the yields of cereal crops. The team performed the research in Setaria viridis, a grass that is closely related to economically important cereal crops and bioenergy feed stocks such as maize, sorghum, switchgrass, and sugarcane.

In their study, the scientists mapped a genetic locus in the S. viridis genome that controls growth of sterile branches called bristles, which are produced on the grain-bearing inflorescences of some grass species. They discovered that these bristles become spikelets that produce flowers and grain. The conversion is determined and regulated by a class of plant hormones called brassinosteroids (BRs), which modulate a range of physiological processes in plant growth, development and immunity.

The study also showed that localized disruption of BR synthesis can lead to the production of two flowers per spikelet rather than the single one that it typically forms. Eveland said that the discovery of the BR-dependent phenotypes represent two potential avenues for enhancing grain production in millets, including subsistence crops in many developing countries that remain largely untapped for genetic improvement.

For more details, read the news release by Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.


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