News

2019-03-14 |

Am I Regulated? The US example: why new methods of genetically engineering crop plants need to be regulated

New methods of genetic engineering, also known as genome editing, are increasingly at the centre of controversial public debate. One crucial question is, how the risks of organisms resulting from this methods
should be assessed.

In the EU, all genetically engineered organisms must undergo a mandatory risk assessment. In the USA, on the other hand, there are no such legal requirements, instead individual cases are registered at the US Department of Agriculture resp. the APHIS division (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) to assess whether they need to be regulated.

For the purposes of this report, we have chosen organisms already registered with the APHIS division of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which offers a program titled “Am I Regulated?”. The applications filed at APHIS are especially relevant because some of the organisms (mostly plants) are intended for cultivation in the near future, and for use in food and feed production.

2019-03-14 |

Non-GMO Flour Market Growth, Trends, Absolute Opportunity and Value Chain 2018-2028

The non-GMO flour market is likely to remain influenced with growing consumer inclination toward healthy diet worldwide. Various lifestyle diseases have translated in a paradigm shift toward gluten free food products and non-GMO flour is no exception. The non-GMO flour being organic in nature, facilitate removal of bad fat, supporting in maintaining cardio-vascular health of people. In addition non-GMO flour removes obesogens that stack body fat, which results in lower cholesterol levels.

Growing certifications from regulatory authorities are expected to impact the growth of non-GMO flour market. The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and Non-GMO Project Verified are two vital certifications that non-GMO flour must undergo in order to enter the commercial market. Main focus behind these stringent certifications on non-GMO flour is to gain consumer confidence on non-GMO flour and other organic products, largely to push the organic trend worldwide. However, though these certifications ensure zero dent in consumer confidence, it becomes difficult for non-GMO flour producers to fully meet certification requirements.

2019-03-14 |

New cause for concern over weedkiller glyphosate

Study examines how herbicide adds to phosphorus levels in soil and waterways

New research from McGill University reveals an overlooked impact that the widely used herbicide glyphosate may be having on the environment.

First commercialized by Monsanto under the name Roundup, glyphosate has come under scrutiny in the past, mostly in relation to its potential toxicity. This new research, published recently in the Ecological Society of America’s Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, focuses not on direct health risks associated with the herbicide, but on its contribution to environmental phosphorus levels, an issue that has yet to receive much attention.

“No one has thus far investigated the impact of glyphosate use on phosphorus loads in agricultural areas, most likely because pesticides have always been considered a negligible source of nutrients,” says Marie-Pier Hébert, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in the Department of Biology at McGill University.
(.....)
“Our study argues that the recent and rapid rise in glyphosate use has magnified its relative importance as a source of anthropogenic phosphorus, especially in areas of intensive corn, soybean and cotton cultivation,” Hébert says.

2019-03-13 |

Domestic supplies of organic, non-GMO crops grow

Mercaris, a market data and auctions startup that is helping to grow organic and non-GMO agriculture in the U.S., released March 13 its monthly market update outlining the current state of organic corn and soybean production and imports in the U.S.

U.S. organic corn production reached nearly 42 million bushels last year, experiencing a 2% year-over-year (y/y) increase that was boosted by acreage expansion in the 2018/2019 marketing year. Yields held mostly even with the prior year, Mercaris noted.

2019-03-13 |

CRISPR spin-off causes unintended mutations in DNA

DNA base editors not as safe as previously thought

The past few years have seen a large number of research articles showing that the CRISPR gene-editing tool, designed to make a double-strand break in the DNA in a targeted location, may also cause many unintended mutations (damage to DNA).

Genetic engineers have tried to get around this problem by adapting the CRISPR gene-editing tool so that it no longer makes a double-strand break in the DNA. One adaptation consists of piggybacking onto the CRISPR tool an enzyme that changes individual DNA bases (so called “base editing”).

Base editing has been touted as a way of introducing changes in genes while avoiding the unintended effects, such as large deletions or rearrangements, which can arise from DNA repair processes following the usual CRISPR-induced double-strand DNA break.

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