New GMO crop: Brazil approves insect resistant sugarcane for commercial use

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Brazilian biosecurity agency CTNBio on Thursday [June 8] approved commercial use of a genetically modified sugarcane, setting a milestone for Brazil’s highly competitive sugar industry which accounts for about 50 percent of the global trade.

This is the first time in the world that genetically modified sugarcane was approved for commercial use.

The chief executive officer of CTC Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira SA, which developed the technology and made the application seeking approval in December 2015, said it would take some years for sugar produced from GM crops to reach export markets.

CTC said the new variety is resistant to the insect Diatraea saccharalis, known locally as ‘broca-da-cana’ (cane borer), one of the main plagues threatening Brazil’s sugarcane fields, with an estimated 5 billion reais ($1.52 billion) of annual losses to producers. It uses the gene Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), widely used in other GM crops such as corn and soybeans.

Brazil exports sugar to about 150 countries and some 60 percent of them do not demand regulatory approval to import sugar made from genetically modified organisms.

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