China’s Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in approved August, 2009 to two strains of (genetically modified) GM rice and one of GM maize for small-scale field trials — the first time that China has granted safety certificates to staple food crops.
A document published on the website of the MoA’s Biosafety Management Office in October said safety certificates for the three crops are valid from August 2009 to August 2014. During this time the rice and maize will be planted on farmland in central China’s Hubei and Shandong provinces respectively.
New Scientist reports: “I expect that large-scale production of these two insect-resistant rices will occur in 2011 in Hubei province, one of the major rice production regions in China,” says Jikun Huang, director of the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing
Two varieties, called Huahui 1 and Bt Shanyou 63, received clearance and should be launched within the next two years. Both contain “Bt” proteins from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium to protect them against the rice stem borer, the most serious rice pest in China
The International Rice Research Institute believes that genetic modification and genetically modified rice have the potential to safely deliver unique benefits to rice farmers and consumers that cannot be achieved through other breeding methods.
This year, farmers in India and the Philippines have begun receiving a flood-tolerant rice developed at the IRRI which is non-GM but was developed using knowledge from GM studies.
IRRI has not developed any GM rice varieties yet. However, we are researching the development and delivery of GM rice with improved
* drought, heat, and salinity tolerance;
* photosynthetic capacity to increase yield and enable it to become more efficient in using water and nitrogen fertilizer (C4 rice); and
* nutritional value of the grain, including higher pro-vitamin A, improved protein quality, and higher iron.
Other breeding techniques – Marker-assisted breeding
Marker-assisted breeding is a breeding technique that also helps to more accurately breed new rice varieties and to do so in a shorter time frame.
In marker-assisted breeding, a gene or group of genes responsible for a favorable trait is identified using a DNA marker to “flag” its location. As in conventional breeding, two parent plants are still crossed, but this time scientists can do a quick DNA test on the progeny to see if the marker is present in the new plant. If it is, then the desired gene and its associated trait have been successfully passed on to the new generation. Plants not carrying the marker do not carry the gene of interest and are dropped, simplifying the job of the plant breeder. Marker-assisted breeding can also be used to minimize the number of unwanted genes in the new variety by ensuring that only the markers associated with the gene of interest are transferred.
Marker-assisted breeding is being increasingly and successfully employed at IRRI to develop new rice varieties. IRRI’s recently released submergence-tolerance rice is also an example of a rice variety developed using marker-assisted breeding.
China’s ministry of Agriculture website
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