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1.Genetically-modified crops get mixed response in Asia
2.Farmers' rally today against GM crops
3.Pests emerging concern for Bt cotton

NOTE; Item 1 provides a very useful roundup on the attitudes of different governments in Asia to GMOs.

EXTRACT: In Bangkok the regional headquarters for the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said it had not seen any signs that governments in Asia were pushing for genetically-modified seeds.

"With modern agricultural technology countries should be able to produce enough food without genetically-modified seeds," said He Changchui, the FAO's regional representative for Asia. "You don't need them." (ITEM 1)
1.Genetically-modified crops get mixed response in Asia
AFP, 5 May 2008

Manila: With food prices hitting record highs the jury is still out in Asia as to whether genetically modified crops hold the key to future food security.

The Philippine government has openly embraced commercial growing of genetically modified (GM) corn, but neighbouring countries appear less than enthusiastic.

"There has been a lot of talk about developing high-yielding crops and crops that can cope with climate change using GM seeds," said Daniel Ocampo, a genetic engineering campaigner with the environmental group Greenpeace. But, he said, the technology was still a long way from "addressing these needs."

Even so this has not stopped the Philippines from subsidizing production of GM corn. "This is despite the fact that GM corn and some conventional varieties have the same yield potentials," Ocampo said.

Japan does not grow GM crops

While Japan does not grow GM crops due to safety concerns among consumers it does import GM grains for use in making products such as cooking oil, animal feed and manufactured goods.

Japanese companies have been reluctant to test the market for consumer-ready GM food because of labelling requirements and public safety worries.

While Japan does not ban GM farming, strict regulation has discouraged corporate investment in the area. With rising food prices causing increasing concern in a country that imports more than half of what it eats, the government has said that GM crops may be a way to ease food security and environmental problems.

S Korea: GM seeds not used for commercial cultivation yet

In South Korea, a law which came into effect on 1January this year imposed strict rules on the import of GM seeds.
While there are domestic GM seed programmes for experimental purposes none are for commercial use, an agriculture ministry official said on condition of anonymity. "So far all imported GM seeds have been processed immediately after being cleared through customs," the official said.

"There have been no cases of imported or home-grown GM seeds being used for commercial cultivation here and we are not considering easing our rules despite price hikes," he added.

In Bangkok the regional headquarters for the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said it had not seen any signs that governments in Asia were pushing for genetically-modified seeds.

"With modern agricultural technology countries should be able to produce enough food without genetically-modified seeds," said He Changchui, the FAO's regional representative for Asia. "You don't need them. Just try to supply good fertilizer and good water," he said.

China has research but no commercial aplication
China the State Council, or cabinet, issued detailed rules in 2001 covering safety, labelling, licensing for production and sales, and import safety policies of all GM products.

Xie Yang of the Development Research Centre, a major think tank under the State Council, said: "No genetically modified grain, including seeds, is allowed for edible consumption in China.

"Genetically modified products are allowed for indirect uses, such as making edible oil, but it must be labelled clearly."
There is successful research in China, but no commercial application yet, he said, adding: "It is said that there are breakthroughs in the research of (genetically modified) rice and corn. But none is allowed on to the market."

According to Greenpeace's Ocampo the Philippines is the first country in Southeast Asia, and possibly all Asia, to have a commercial GM food crop.

"The government would say it is because the Philippines should not be late in embracing a technology that promises to help increase the income of farmers and provide higher yields. But the fact is the Philippines is so close to the U.S. that whatever policies the U.S. have regarding GM crops it usually follows suit."
2.Farmers' rally today against GM crops
The Hindu, 6 May 2008

NEW DELHI: Several members of Parliament will address a farmers' rally here on Tuesday against sale and distribution of genetically modified crops and seeds in general and Bt brinjal in particular. Bt brinjal is the first GM food crop which will be approved for a second and final season trial before commercialisation.

The “Coalition for a GM-free India,” which will organise the rally, represents farmers’ unions, environmental organisations, organic farming groups and women’s organisations.

It has one of the largest membership of practising ecological farmers.

Farmers from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh will participate. Consumers from Delhi are also expected to join the farmers in the protest against the government and big agribusiness corporations.

Large-scale trials

“In India, we are standing on the verge of the first GM food crop, Bt brinjal, being approved for the second [and probably last] year large-scale trials this kharif 2008. It is at this juncture that this protest, a symbol of the building resistance against GM crops, is being organised for an informed debate on genetically modified crops as food safety is an issue that concerns all of us,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, Coalition member-secretary.

The Tamil Nadu-based Indian Farmers and Toilers Party said AIADMK MPs V. Maitreyan and K. Malaisamy would participate in the rally.
3.Pests emerging concern for Bt cotton
Financial Express, April 27 2008 /

New Delhi, Apr 27 The target pests becoming resistant to Bt cotton has now emerged as a new problem in parts of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Maharasthra. A study done by the Nagpur-based Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) has suggested the need for proactive six-pronged insect resistance management (IRM) on Bt cotton fields. “Otherwise the development of insect resistance to Bt cotton can significantly diminish the returns and benefits that are currently being derieved from the technology,” it said.

The Cry 1 Ac gene from soil bacteria, bacillus thuringiensis, was inserted in selected cotton hybrids to protect it from the bollworm, helicoverpa armigera. The team led by the head of the CICR crop protection division, KR Kranthi conducted a study on the population of the major pest, helicoverpa armigera collected from 10 cotton growing districts of north India, 26 districts of central India and 17 districts of south India in the period 2001-07.

“The data did not indicate high levels of resistance in the pest population that may be adequate for significant survival of the pest under field conditions. However, the data indicated that there was a clear decrease in the proportion of susceptible pest population,” said Kranthi.

Other pests like spodoptera litura, mealy bugs, mired bugs, dusky cotton bugs and pink bollworms have increased due to lack of adequate sprays of insecticides.

He said that stochastic model outputs indicated the need to initiate IRM strategies in addition to the currently recommended 5-row non-Bt cotton refuge per acre of Bt cotton. “In light of the facts that the Cry 1 Ac expressed in Bollgard (Bt cotton) does not represent high dose against helicoverpa armigera and also that the allele conferring bollworm resistance to Cry 1 Ac is not extremely rare and is inherited in a semi-dominant manner, it is important to develop IRM strategies appropriate to Indian conditions,” he said.

Kranthi said that Cry 1 Ac has been inserted in 10 crops including cotton, out of which eight were good alternate hosts of helicoverpa armigera and had been serving as naturally occurring refugia area near Bt cotton fields.

"As we go ahead with more and more crops harbouring Cry genes, it is important to consider that the target pests would be under immense pressure and the fittest would survive and multiply to adapt themselves to toxins being deployed in transgenic plants," he said.

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