Access to plant genetic data sparks conflict between rich, poor countries trying to breed climate-resilient crops

| November 18, 2019
shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Ahead of renewed negotiations to revise a global treaty in Rome on [November 11], rich and poor countries are at loggerheads over how to share genetic plant data that could help breed crops better able to withstand climate change.

The little-known agreement is seen as crucial for agricultural research and development on a planet suffering from rising hunger, malnutrition and the effects of climate change.

“We need all the ‘genetics’ around the world to be able to breed crops that will adapt to global warming,” said Sylvain Aubry, a plant biologist who advises the Swiss government.

The debate over “digital sequence information” (DSI) has erupted as the cost of sequencing genomes falls, boosting the availability of genetic plant data, Aubry said.

Related article:  Combining acoustic waves and CRISPR to create gene therapies for cancer and genetic disorders

Pierre du Plessis, an African technical adviser on treaty issues, said companies and breeders can use DSI to identify the genetic sequence of a desired plant trait and send it by email to a gene foundry that prints and mails back a strand of DNA.

That process could enable businesses to circumvent the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which stipulates that the benefits derived from using material from species it covers must be shared — including money and new technology.

Read full, original article: Rich and poor debate treaty on plant gene data as climate change hits crops

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
sperm swim

Video: Sperm are ‘spinners not swimmers’—because they are lopsided

Research by fertility scientists in the UK and Mexico challenges the accepted view of how sperm “swim”, suggesting that it ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
breastfeeding bed x facebook x

Infographic: We know breastfeeding helps children. Now we know it helps mothers too

When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes increases for the rest of her life, perhaps because ...
biotechnology worker x

Can GMOs rescue threatened plants and crops?

Some scientists and ecologists argue that humans are in the midst of an "extinction crisis" — the sixth wave of ...
food globe x

Are GMOs necessary to feed the world?

Experts estimate that agricultural production needs to roughly double in the coming decades. How can that be achieved? ...
eating gmo corn on the cob x

Are GMOs safe?

In 2015, 15 scientists and activists issued a statement, "No Scientific consensus on GMO safety," in the journal Environmental Sciences ...
Screen Shot at PM

Charles Benbrook: Agricultural economist and consultant for the organic industry and anti-biotechnology advocacy groups

Independent scientists rip Benbrook's co-authored commentary in New England Journal calling for reassessment of dangers of all GMO crops and herbicides ...
Screen Shot at PM

ETC Group: ‘Extreme’ biotechnology critic campaigns against synthetic biology and other forms of ‘extreme genetic engineering’

The ETC Group is an international environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Canada whose stated purpose is to monitor "the impact of emerging technologies and ...
Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend