Emerging Technologies IFT provides the latest information to ensure that science is at the center of food related public policy and regulatory decision making.


European Commission Authorizes Six GM Maize for Food and Feed Uses
On July 28, 2010 the European Commission adopted five Decisions which authorized six different genetically modified (GM) maize crops for food and feed uses. Specifically, the crops are GM maize 1507x59122, 59122x1507xNK603, MON88017xMON810, MON89034xNK603 and Bt11xGA21 and one Decision renewing the authorization of Bt11 maize. The Decisions authorize the crops for food and feed uses as well as import and processing but not for cultivation. These authorizations will be valid for 10 years. The GM maize varieties in question obtained a positive safety assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as well as experienced the full authorization procedure within EU legislation. Any products produced from the GM maize varieties will be subject to the EU's labeling and traceability rules.

US Farmers Support Sanctions against EU's GM Crop Ban
The American Farm Bureau Federation is the largest group of farmers in the U.S. Currently, they are urging President Obama to begin steps toward imposing sanctions on the European Union's (EU) ban on genetically modified (GM) crops. Farm Bureau gave comments last Monday to the Obama administration to reinforce the fact that the EU has still not complied with a 2006 World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against its "de facto" moratorium on approving new varieties of biotech crops for sale in the EU. In January 2008, steps were taken to retaliate against the EU ban but were subsequently suspended. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, U.S. agriculture has suffered substantial damage from the EU's failure to abide by its WTO commitments and this damage will continue to grow as long as the EU does not comply with the ruling.

Kansas Bioscience Authority to Join USDA's Agricultural Research Service
On July 26, 2010 the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA) held its annual stakeholders' meeting. It was there that the organization announced its partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. KBA will serve in the private sector as part of the Agricultural Technology Innovation Partnership Network. According to KBA, the state of Kansas is ranked fifth in the nation for biotechnology by the magazine Business Facilities: The Location Advisory. KBA also announced its investments through June have helped to create 1,184 new jobs, $151.7 M in capital spending, $75.2 M in research funding, and for every dollar KBA invested the state economy of Kansas saw $7.47 in return.

Nanotechnology Safety Act of 2010
Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a program for the scientific investigation of nanoscale materials included or intended for inclusion in FDA-regulated products.

Backgrounder: Nanotechnology An IFT Scientific Perspective
Nanotechnology, also known as nanoscale science, engineering and technology, is a rapidly growing field of research and applied science that is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy including medicine, energy, electronics and defense.

Nanotechnology and Food: An IFT Perspective
IFT recognizes the potential to positively impact the food industry as well as the possible environmental, health, and safety implications that may negatively impact the food supply chain.

White House Advisory Committee recommends NNI
Report Calls for Greater Emphasis on Commercialization, Strategic Coordination of Health and Safety Research
The Federal government's leadership position is threatened by several aggressively investing competitors such as China, South Korea, and the European Union, according to the report, which recommends a number of changes in the Federal oversight program in order to assure U.S. dominance in the decade ahead.

Health Canada defines nanotechnology
Health Canada is announcing the adoption of the Interim Policy Statement on Health Canada's Working Definition for Nanomaterials. The Interim Policy is effective immediately.

NOSB requests for scientific input to define nanotechnology
In response to two separate NOSB Materials Committee documents related to restricting the use of Nanotechnology in organic production, processing, handling, and primary packaging, public comment has clearly supported the prohibition of most, if not all types of products of nanotechnology.

Global Regulatory Policies on Food Nanotechnology (Subscriber Login Required)
Regulatory bodies around the world have established rules and guiding principles toward nanoscale materials, which have ramifications for use in food. This Food Technology magazine article is to offer readers an understanding of the current potential regulatory hurdles and future opportunities for nanotechnology applications.

New rust resistance genes added to common beans
New cultivars of common beans developed by USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and university scientists could shore up the legume crop's defenses against the fungal disease common bean rust.

According to Talo Pastor-Corrales, an ARS Plant Pathologist, the new cultivars possess two or more genes for resistance to the rust fungi. Most of the cultivars also harbor Ur-11, which is considered the most effective rust-resistance gene in the world. Pastor-Corrales and his colleagues resorted to this multi-gene strategy in response to the high diversity of strains of the bean rust pathogen. Lately, virulent new races of rust that have overcome the Ur-3 resistance gene appeared in Michigan and North Dakota.

Until recently, this gene had been very effective in controlling rust in the United States, especially in North Dakota and Michigan, the country's largest bean-growing states. Now, Ur-3-protected varieties that once withstood the disease are succumbing to it, and there's concern the new races will spread to other Northern Plains states where common beans are grown, such as Colorado and Nebraska.

Pastor-Corrales' search for novel sources of rust resistance in dry-, snap-, and other common beans has taken him to 21 countries in the Americas and 11 in Africa. The battle against rust is complicated by the fact that races present in crop fields can vary from one year to the next, adds Pastor-Corrales, who leads a bean breeding project at the ARS Soybean Genomics and Improvement Research Unit in Beltsville, Md.

Agriculture Research article


EU-China Collaboration on Risk Management and Consumer Protection
A collaboration of risk management and improved consumer protection in the field of nanotechnology and alternative methods to animal testing has begun between the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine and the JRC Institute for Health and Consumer Protection. At the EU-China Food Safety Scientific Seminar on June 6th, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the two organizations.

Source: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/jrc/index.cfm?id=1410&obj_id=10750&dt_code=NWS&lang=en

US Supreme Court Decision Concerning Roundup ReadyTM Alfalfa
The US Supreme Court made a decision on Monday, June 21, 2010 that favored Monsanto. The ruling reversed a previous court's ban on planting Monsanto's Roundup ReadyTM alfalfa brand. The Supreme Court's opinion was delivered by Justice Samuel Alito on June 21st and stated "the district court abused its discretion."

The full Supreme Court decision can be found at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/slipopinions.aspx.
Source: http://www.monsanto.com/roundupreadyalfalfa/default.asp?WT.svl=2

GAO's Report on Nanotechnology: Nanomaterials Are Widely Used in Commerce, but EPA Faces Challenges in Regulating Risk

On June 25, 2010 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report entitled "Nanotechnology: Nanomaterials are Widely Used in Commerce, but EPA Faces Challenges in Regulating Risk." For this study, the GAO identified examples of current and potential uses of nanomaterials, decided what is known about the potential human health and environmental risks from nanomaterials, assessed actions the EPA has undertaken to better understand and regulate the risks posed by nanomaterials as well as its authorities to do so, and identified approaches that other selected national authorities and actions U.S. states have undertaken to address potential risks associated with nanomaterials. To complete this study, the GAO analyzed selected laws and regulations, reviewed information on the EPA's Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program, as well as consulted with EPA officials and legal experts to obtain their point of view on the EPA's authorities to regulate nanomaterials. It was recommended by the GAO report that the EPA complete its plans to modify its regulatory framework for nanomaterials as needed. The EPA agreed with the GAO's recommendations and provided technical comments.

EU States Stay Deadlocked Over GM Maize Imports
On June 29, 2010 the European Union farm ministers were unsuccessful in coming to an agreement on six genetically modified varieties of maize, despite the possibility that inaction could lead to a shortage of animal feed. Following this impasse the European Commission stated it could unilaterally approve import applications for use in food and feed. However, the Commission has not decided whether or not the approval will be granted before or after the European summer break.

NNI to hold Strategic Planning Stakeholder Workshop
The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) is planning to hold a Strategic Planning Stakeholder Workshop July 13-14, 2010 at the Hotel Palomar in Arlington, Virginia. One goal of this workshop is to bring together those who are new to nanoscale science, engineering and technology as well as those familiar with the NNI. They also hope to obtain stakeholder input concerning the goals and objectives of an updated NNI Strategic Plan which is currently under development and scheduled to be finished by December 2010. At the workshop, suggestions will be gathered for the U.S. Government interagency task force that is drafting the new plan, which will update the December 2007 NNI Strategic Plan.

Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in US
According to a report released July 1, 2010 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops has increased since their introduction in 1996. The report stated in 2010 the adoption of GE soybeans and GE cotton is 93 percent, and the adoption of all biotech corn is 86 percent. These figures will be updated in June 2011 with the reports becoming available at the end of that month.

Monsanto-BASF Joint Venture in GM Wheat
On July 7, 2010 Monsanto Co. and BASF announced they would develop genetically modified (GM) wheat as part of an increased joint endeavor. Monsanto is the world's largest seed maker and BASF is a large German chemical company. The two companies had explored producing GM wheat in 2004, but decided not to continue with the project due to apprehension in foreign markets of biotech crops. However in recent years, the United States has experienced a decrease in the production of wheat and this has restored an interest in some farmers. The first commercial products of the company's joint venture are set to hit the market in time for the 2012-2013 growing season with drought tolerant corn.

MEPs Call to Ban Food from Cloned Animals
On July 7, 2010 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) revitalized their appeal to ban food from cloned animals. They are also seeking a moratorium on foods using nanotechnology until further research can prove them safe. The regulation of "novel foods" began in 1997, for those foods from new production processes consumed only outside the European Union (EU). It was the wish of the Commission and Council to have food from cloned animals categorized under novel foods as well, but MEPs voted against that. Now the European Parliament voted in favor of a new authorization procedure which would be carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

EU Gives Member States Freedom on GM Crops
The European Commission recently gave its member states permission to allow, restrict or even ban the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within their territory. According to the Commission, the EU's science based GM authorization system the new adoption is made up of a communication, a new recommendation on co-existence of GM crops with conventionally grown or organic crops as well as a draft regulation that proposes a change to the GMO legislation. The new recommendation on co-existence allows flexibility to Member States and takes into account their local, regional and national conditions when adopting such measures.