Expect more genetically-modified products next year, says int'l firm

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) is optimistic there will be more genetically modified (GM) or biotechnology products that will have beneficial effects to consumers in the next few years.

More of these with nutrition enhancement and medical uses, including vaccines and enzyme-rich corn that results in environment-friendly hog raising, are expected to be released in the market up to 2017, an ISAAA statement reaching here Friday said.

“There are (GM crops with) input and output traits in the pipeline,” according to Dr. Randy Hautea, ISAAA Global Coordinator in Crop Biotechnology: Impact and Future Prospects for Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture project.

“These will help ensure food security and alleviation of poverty and hunger,” he said.

GM crops that have the beneficial input traits will benefit farmers in terms of higher yield and profit and reduced exposure to health risks such as pesticide sprays, Hautea said, adding that these include those with resistance to pests and diseases and drought and tolerance to salt, cold, and herbicide.

Their input traits result in higher crop yield, he said.

There will also be crops that have high nitrogen-use efficiency, enabling plants to require less fertilizer and be produced cheaper.

These products have traits like increased shelf life, increased omega 3, improved nutrition, reduced lining, and improved quality.

These products may be biopharmaceuticals, according to Hautea.

For one, he said, there are GM soybeans that have several superior traits being high in oleic content with reduced transfat, low phytase that reduces phosphorus levels in animal manure, high omega-3 that enhances human health, and high stearic acid that reduces harmful fats.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has noted that there are potential GM products that may succeed in the market up to 2017, Hautea said.

Some of these GM products are already “routinarily” used to enhance nutrition in food or to produce pharmaceutical products.

Ensuring food security will continue to be a primary role of GM products, he said.

“The challenge is to produce enough food over the next four decades to meet expected requirement of over nine billion people on less land area, water, and nutrients. The need for GM products will even become pressing amid climate disturbances,” Hautea said.

Climate change is worsening hunger threats as it may adversely affect health and productivity of crops, livestock, and fisheries, he explained.

For animal nutrition, he said, there are cases where amino acids and enzymes use GM microorganisms.

One GM product beneficial as feed additive is high lysine corn.

Lysine, methionine, and tryptophan are among amino acids that are added to diets of animals.

There are also bacteria that are used to enhance meat and milk production of animals.

A GM bacteria, according to Hautea, is used to produce recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) in order to more efficiently convert feed into higher yield milk and decrease milk fat in dairy cows.

In general, these GM bacteria are called metabolic modifiers or compounds that enable change in physiology and metabolism of animals.

GM has also been instrumental in enhancing animal health through vaccination that has advantages over conventional vaccines.

These are safe and cheaper and have more protective immunity.

There are already GM trees in the market.

Biotechnology (Bt) trees were approved in 2002 for commercialization in China and these are the European black poplar and the hybrid white poplar clone GM 741.

As there are ethical concerns on development of GM animals, Hautea said, there are yet no known commercial GM animals in the market.

However, for pharmaceutical purposes, the commercialization of a GM animal has been approved for production of pharmaceutical proteins.

These include the use of GM rabbits to produce conestat alfa, the active substance in Ruconest (a medicine used to treat attacks of hereditary angioedema in adults) and the use of GM goats to produce antithrombin alfa, the active substance in Atryn (used to treat patients who have congenital antithrombin deficiency), according to FAO. (PNA)



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