Global biotechnology year-in-review

By Atu Darko

December 14, 2016

Upon reviewing the major headlines over the last year, as well as our own work at the Alliance for Science, it becomes very clear that 2016 has been an exciting year for global biotechnology. A number of published studies, government rulings, and other events have made front-page news worldwide.

American Academy of Sciences GE Crop Study: It is safe to eat GM food

A major announcement that favors GMO this year was presented in May by the prestigious National Academies of Science, based in Washington, D.C. The academy has issued what is probably the most impactful report ever produced by the scientific community on GM crops, finding no substantiated evidence that foods from these crops are less safe than foods from non-GE crops.

Philippines Supreme Court reverses GMO ruling

In July of this year the Philippines Supreme Court reversed its decision banning Bt talong (eggplant) field trials after a motion of reconsideration was submitted. This ruling is promising for the future commercialization of this crop because results from trials over three seasons in the Philippines demonstrated that Bt talong provides outstanding control of the fruit and shoot borer and eliminates the need for additional sprays. Studies have also confirmed Bt eggplant is safe for the environment and human consumption.

US Congress passes labeling law

July 2016 also marked the month that the US Congress passed a law requiring labels on food products containing GM ingredients. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will decide how to implement the law, a process that could take two years to complete.

Nigerian Academy of Sciences weighs in

Similar to the report released by the American Academy of Sciences, the Nigerian Academy of Sciences released a statement urging the Nigerian government to maximize the benefits of biotechnology by embracing GMO research, technology and production. This report will go a long way towards earning public acceptance of the technology not only in Nigeria, but in other African countries due to the influence that this scientific body has on other parts of the continent.

WEMA s climate smart crops

The Water Efficient Maize in Africa (WEMA) project announced the start of a drought-tolerant GM maize trial in Tanzania. This is the first step toward commercializing this innovative new maize hybrid in Tanzania, which has already been adopted in South Africa. Non-GM varieties are already being cultivated in other sub-Saharan nations.