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The Root of the Problem

The Scientist August 2011 » Cover Story » Features New research suggests that the flow of carbon through plants to underground ecosystems may be crucial to how the environment responds to climate change. By Richard D. Bardgett | August 1, 2011  5 Comments Link this Stumble Tweet this CORBIS, MICHAEL POLE Human beings have inexorably altered the world’s ecosystems. We’ve plowed and seeded more than 40 percent of the Earth’s land surfaces, introduced alien species into new territories, poured carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, disrupted natural climate cycles, and polluted aquatic ecosystems with excessive nitrogen and other contaminants. These far-reaching changes have spurred scores of researchers to examine the impacts of human activities on biodiversity […]

How agricultural research systems shape a technological regime that develops genetic engineering but locks out agroecological innovations

Gaëtan Vanloqueren∗, Philippe V. Baret Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium Agricultural science and technology (S&T) is under great scrutiny. Reorientation towards more holistic approaches, including agroecology, has recently been backed by a global international assessment of agriculture S&T for development (IAASTD). Understanding the past and current trends of agricultural S&T is crucial if such recommendations are to be implemented. This paper shows how the concepts of technological paradigms and trajectories can help analyse the agricultural S&T landscape and dynamics. Genetic engineering and agroecology can be usefully analysed as two different technological paradigms, even though they have not been equally successful in influencing agricultural research. We used […]

Phosphorus Famine: The Threat to Our Food Supply

This underappreciated resource–a key component of fertilizers–is still decades from running out. But we must act now to conserve it, or future agriculture could collapse Key Concepts Mining phosphorus for fertilizer is consuming the mineral faster than geologic cycles can replenish it. The U.S. may runout of its accessible domestic sources in a few decades, and few other countries have substantial reserves, which could also be depleted in about a century. Excess phosphorus in waterways helps to feed algal blooms, which starve fish of oxygen, creating “dead zones.” Reducing soil erosion and recycling phosphorus from farm and human waste could help make food production sustainable and prevent algal blooms. […]

PTTC working on transgenic variety of groundnut

PTTC working on transgenic variety of groundnut PTI | 10:06 PM,Jun 27,2011 Hyderabad, Jun 27 (PTI) City-based Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops (PTTC) is working on the first ever transgenic variety of groundnut that would be drought as well as heat resistant. PTTC, an initiative of the International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will make available this variety for trials in the next 4-5 years, Dr Sharma, Director of PTTC said. He said this while addressing a press conference here today, on the sidelines of 20th Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC). Sharma said that even though efforts are on to create genetically improved […]

Microbial properties, enzyme activities and the persistence of exogenous proteins in soil under consecutive cultivation of transgenic cottons (Gossypium hirsutum L.)

PLANT SOIL ENVIRON., 57, 2011 (2): 67–74 67 Download Z.H. Chen, L.J. Chen, Y.L. Zhang, Z.J. Wu Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, P.R. China ABSTRACT One Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and two stacked Bt and cowpea trypsin inhibitor (Bt + CpTI) cottons and their non-transgenic isolines were consecutively cultivated to investigate the soil persistence of Cry1Ac and CpTI pro­teins and their effects on microbial properties and enzyme activities involving C, N, P, and S cycling in soil. Results showed that there were the persistence of Cry1Ac and CpTI proteins in soil under 4-year consecutive cultivation of transgenic cottons. Cry1Ac proteins varied from 6.75 ng/g to 12.01 ng/g […]

Gene alarm on GM crops New Delhi, June 2: Indian scientists have discovered that the genetic modification of plants with a gene already used in crops worldwide may severely damage the plants, a surprising finding that may stir a debate on current crop biotechnology science. The scientists at the University of Delhi have shown that inserting a bacterial gene that makes a protein named Cry1Ac into genomes of plants appears to cause developmental defects, growth retardation and sterility in the plants. Several experimental and commercial genetically-modified plants, including GM cotton cultivated in India and other countries, make the Cry1Ac protein which is toxic to some insects. The insects die when they try to eat […]

The expression of Bt endotoxin Cry1Ac has detrimental effect on the in vitro regeneration as well as in vivo growth and development of tobacco and cotton transgenics

Press release Download the article There has been considerable interest and activity in genetically engineering insect-resistant crop plants using Cry genes encoding insect toxins from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. The proteins encoded by Cry genes are called Bt-toxins and are thought to specifically affect only certain insects and not other organisms. A paper (Rawat et al., 2011) from the laboratory of Dr. Pradeep Burma (Department of Genetics, University of Delhi South Campus) in the June issue of Journal of Biosciences now reports that expression of the Bt-toxin Cry1Ac in cotton and tobacco is detrimental to growth and development of the plants. Many of the transgenic plants obtained showed developmental […]

Detrimental effect of expression of Bt endotoxin Cry1Ac on in vitro regeneration, in vivo growth and development of tobacco and cotton transgenics Detrimental effect of expression of Bt endotoxin Cry1Ac on in vitro regeneration, in vivo growth and development of tobacco and cotton transgenics PREETI RAWAT 1,† AMARJEET KUMAR SINGH 1,† KRISHNA RAY 1 BHUPENDRA CHAUDHARY, SANJEEV KUMAR, TARU GAUTAM 1,  SHAVETA KANORIA,  GURPREET KAUR 1, PARITOSH KUMAR, DEEPAK PENTAL, 1,2, and PRADEEP KUMAR BURMA 1, * 1 Department of Genetics, University of Delhi South Campus, Benito Juarez Road, New Delhi 110 021, India 2 Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, University of Delhi South Campus, Benito Juarez Road, New Delhi 110 021, India *Corresponding author (Fax, +91-11-24112761; Email, † These authors contributed equally to the work. High levels of expression of the cry1Ac gene from Bacillus thuringiensis cannot be routinely achieved in transgenic plants despite modifications made in the gene to improve its […]

Natural Gas requirement by fertilizer sector in India

Download fertilizer sector in India-Gas_Parikh 2009 Interesting paper that argues for India to shift to gas based fertilizer plants – based on ‘efficiency’. Obviously, efficiency is not something that is to be measured without considering how (the subsidy) the resource/energy is supplied to the fertilizer plant. If markets are to determine prices of all energy sources, then the state must bring in criteria to value human and animal labour also as energy sources, with parity in pricing. The latter-  the doubling or trebling of wage rates for human labour, is however, not acceptable. Equally unacceptable is a reduction of other energy prices (on the basis of current market rates for […]

Association of financial or professional conflict of interest to research outcomes on health risks or nutritional assessment studies of genetically modified products

Download the article Research published in a leading scientific journal concludes that commercial interests interfere with peer reviewed articles on health risks of genetically modified plants. The study shows that studies funded by industry or involving scientists employed by industry are almost certain to produce conclusions in favor of product commercialization, as opposed to studies not dependent on such conditioning. The study also shows that more than half (52%) of the 94 analyzed articles did not declare funding source. However, in those articles specifically, the existence of at least one author affiliated to industry was prevalent (73%). In 83% of the cases where funding was actually declared, none of the […]

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