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Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California manipulated Escherichia coli bacterial cells to incorporate two types of foreign chemical bases, or letters, into their DNA. The cells then used that information to insert unnatural amino acids into a fluorescent protein.

Source: Nature News, 29 November 2017.

Argentina's Ministerio de Agroindustria has announced the commercial approval of Syngenta's genetically modified (GM) soybean SYN-000H2-5 event, a new biotech crop tolerant to glufosinate-ammonium herbicides and herbicides based on inhibition of the HPPD enzyme (mesotrione). Suppliers of these herbicides are Bayer Crop Science and Syngenta.

The stacked event was previously approved in Australia and the United States.

Source: Reuters, 24 November 2017.

The US Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on turning genetically modified plants into next-generation surveillance technology. Dubbed Advanced Plant Technologies, the biotech project aims to engineer plants with detection and reporting capabilities for a wide range of stimuli such as chemicals, electromagnetic signals, harmful microorganisms and radiation.

Source: The Independent, 23 November 2017.

Researchers from France and China have developed biotech tomatoes with greater levels of nutrients tied to anti-aging. The biotech tomatoes contain 494% more vitamin E, 94% more phytosterol, 169% more provitamin A, 210% more squalene and 111% more lycopene, all which are thought to have anti-aging properties.

Source: FoodNavigator, 16 November 2017.

Researchers at The Ohio State University and the Italian National Agency for New Technologies have developed yellow-orange biotech potatoes that have higher levels of vitamins A and E. According to the study, the biotech potatoes can provide as much as 42% and 34% of a child's recommended daily intake of vitamins A and E, respectively.

Source: Seeking Alpha, 11 November 2017.

Cancer immunotherapies unleash the body’s immune system to fight cancer, but microbes living in a patient’s gut can affect the outcome of those treatments, two research teams have found. Their studies, published on 2 November in Science, are the latest in a wave of results linking two of the hottest fields in biomedical research: cancer immunotherapy and the role of the body's resident microbes, referred to collectively as the microbiome, in disease.


Sources: Nature, 2 November 2017; Science, 2 November 2017; Science, 2 November 2017.

This month, bags of sliced apples will hit grocery-store shelves in the midwestern United States for the first time. Shoppers who purchase the apples can leave the slices out for snacking, because of a feat of genetic engineering that prevents their flesh from browning when exposed to air. The ‘Arctic apple’ is one of the first foods to be given a trait intended to please consumers rather than farmers, and it joins a small number of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be sold as a whole product, not an ingredient.



The US Environmental Protection Agency will allow release of insects in 20 states and Washington DC. On 3 November, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told biotechnology start-up MosquitoMate that it could release the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis into the environment as a tool against the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Lab-reared mosquitoes will deliver the bacterium to wild mosquito populations.


Source: Nature, 6 November 2017.

CRISPR-Cas9 was developed to edit specific parts of the genome permanently. With REPAIR, scientists can target single bits of messenger RNA, which can be transient or even reversed. The edited portion may be degraded over a period of time and the modifications made in the cell will also disappear. Thus, REPAIR dispels safety concerns faced by the CRISPR-Cas9 system.


Sources: Science, 25 October 2017; Nature, 25 October 2017; Vox, 25 October 2017.

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard granted Syngenta a nonexclusive license to CRISPR-Cas9 technology for agricultural applications, which the company intends to apply in multiple crops, such as wheat, corn, sunflower, tomato and rice. "Gaining access to CRISPR-Cas9 technology will allow us to accelerate the rate of innovation in the development of new plant varieties, and bring novel traits into the hands of growers faster, and with greater efficiency," said Michiel van Lookeren Campagne of Syngenta.


Source: AGDAILY, 6 November 2017

Scientists have long been working on rice that can grow in seawater, and finally commercially viable varieties are now being tested. Around 200 rice varieties are under testing near the Yellow Sea coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong province to see which ones perform best in salty conditions. Seawater is pumped into the fields, diluted, and then channelled into the rice paddies. The researchers projected that the rice varieties would produce 4.5 tons per hectare, but one variety already showed promising results by producing 9.3 tons per hectare.


Source: Genetic Literacy Project, 1 November 2017.


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