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Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program (BRAG)

The purpose of the BRAG program is to support the generation of new information that will assist Federal regulatory agencies in making science-based decisions about the effects of introducing into the environment genetically engineered organisms (GE), including plants, microorganisms — such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses — arthropods, fish, birds, mammals and other animals excluding humans. Investigations of effects on both managed and natural environments are relevant. The BRAG program accomplishes its purpose by providing federal regulatory agencies with scientific information relevant to regulatory issues. See the Request for Applications for details. Continue reading

NIFA to Invest in Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced a competitive opportunity to conduct research on the environmental effects of genetically engineered (GE) organisms, including plants, animals, insects, and microorganisms. The $3.5 million in grants is available through NIFA’s Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants (BRAG) Program.

The BRAG program supports applied and fundamental research to help federal regulators evaluate the effects of GE organisms on their environment. Proposals are solicited to support standard research projects or conference proposals that bring together stakeholders to discuss and evaluate science-based data relevant to environmental risk assessments or risk management related to biotechnology-developed organisms. Continue reading

Announcing Two Public Meetings: New Technologies in Agriculture and Scientific Society Forum on GE Crops Report

The Board of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BANR) is presenting two webinars on technology in agriculture. Below are summaries of both webinars, including links to register. Continue reading

Biotech regulations need review, says NC State scientist

by Nash Dunn, NC State University

In a new Policy Forum article in Science, NC State professor Jennifer Kuzma argues that federal authorities are missing an opportunity to revise outdated regulatory processes not fit for modern innovations in biotechnology, such as a current situation involving genetically engineered mosquitoes.

Earlier this summer, the Food and Drug Administration approved the engineered mosquitoes as a potential weapon in the fight against the Zika virus. Continue reading

Genetically-modified mosquitoes released in Caymen Islands

The first wave of genetically modified mosquitoes were released Wednesday in the Cayman Islands as part of a new effort to control the insect that spreads Zika and other viruses, officials in the British Island territory said.

Genetically altered male mosquitoes, which don’t bite but are expected to mate with females to produce offspring that die before reaching adulthood, were released in the West Bay area of Grand Cayman Island, according to a joint statement from the Cayman Islands Mosquito Research and Control Unit and British biotech firm Oxitec. Continue reading

GMOs just one in a line of demonized tech, study finds

In AgFax

Disruptive, transformative technologies are being introduced at an accelerating pace, fuelling opposition that impedes forms of innovation needed to meet profound challenges such as climate change, poverty and world hunger, says a new study from Harvard University.

Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technology, by Prof. Calestous Juma of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, chronicles the history of opposition to change — from tractors and certain uses of the printing press to coffee and margarine — and its underlying reasons. Continue reading

New Requirements to Address Corn Rootworm Resistance to Bt Corn

In response to signs that the corn rootworm is becoming resistant to single trait Bt products, the Environmental Protection Agency is announcing new, more protective requirements designed to delay corn rootworm resistance to genetically engineered “Bt corn.” Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn produces a Bt pesticide, long used as part of organic farming, as part of the plant itself, to address corn rootworm pests.

When EPA registered Bt corn, EPA ensured that mid-course corrections could be made if additional restrictions on the use of the pesticide were needed to address evolving issues. For example, these corrections could include requirements for additional measures or use restrictions if a specific Bt pesticide begins to lose its effectiveness to kill the corn rootworm. EPA is adding additional requirements to delay pests from becoming resistant.   Continue reading