Seed World

Cross Pollination | November 2012


Something to Provecrosspoll_cwb_nov2012
“[CWB] has to prove itself. I’m really interested to see how many tonnes they take versus the main grain companies, what their final price looks like, and the movement of tonnes. That kind of shows how important the final consumers have felt the board was in the past, that they still want to use the board to manage their buying.”—Derek Brewin, agribusiness and agricultural economics professor at the University of Manitoba, in a recent CBC News article.

Winter Wheat Seed Quality
According to BioVision, “The winter wheat harvest started in Manitoba in July, then progressed through the other prairie provinces in August. The germinations to date have been strong, with very few samples falling below the grade table standards. Numerous winter wheat germination results were above 90 per cent at the four-day count, which is attributed to consistent crop maturity and ideal harvest conditions. Rye germinations also follow a consistent, strong pattern.”

Plant Pharmaceuticals
Research led by Simon Fraser University biologist Allison Kermode and an international team of scientists from SFU, Griffith University and Macquarie University in Australia, the University of British Columbia, and the Washington University School of Medicine have made a potential step forward in developing a plant-based enzyme replacement treatment for rare genetic diseases. The study involves an mRNA-based strategy that enables the therapeutic protein, called alpha-L-iduronidase, to be generated within a transgenic corn plant. Quoted in a Reuters’ article on the finding, George Lomonossoff of Britain’s John Innes Centre says the strategy is “an important addition to the toolkit for producing pharmaceuticals in plants.”

Recruitment Matters
“It is probably the perception that plant breeding is a lost and old science in the minds of some students coming out of school. There are fewer rural students, due to farm consolidations, that carry an agriculture background. A bigger group of students has to come from urban areas, but they are less likely to be exposed to careers in agriculture, and it doesn’t cross their minds that a career in plant breeding could be rewarding and worthwhile. We need to make students realize that plant breeding is an exciting and new high technology that has dramatically changed. We all need to get the word out to get a bigger share of high-quality students to enter the career.”—Marv Boerboom, Monsanto plant breeder

Biotech Acceptance Continuescrosspoll_chinafarmer_nov2012
“Unprecedented high adoption rates are testimony to overwhelming trust and confidence in biotech crops by millions of farmers worldwide,” said Clive James, founder and chairman of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, commenting on the June 2012 United States Department of Agriculture Crop Acreage Report. James said that in the near term, the biggest driver of global biotech crop adoption will be Brazil, followed by China, once approval to commercialize biotech maize in China is in place, which could be as early as 2013. China already has seven million small-scale farmers growing biotech cotton successfully, and recently assigned priority for maize so that China can benefit from enhanced biotech maize that will increase meat productivity and make the country more self-sufficient for animal feed. As China is becoming more prosperous, more meat is being consumed, which in turn creates more demand for feed crops, maize and soybean, said James.

Glencore/Viterra Marriage Almost Completecrosspoll_glencore_nov2012
“While the closing of the transaction remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of all applicable conditions, the sole remaining regulatory approval is the approval of the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China under the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law. Glencore and Viterra continue to engage with MOFCOM to ensure approval as soon as possible. In order to accommodate MOFCOM’s review process, Viterra and Glencore have extended the outside date for completion of the acquisition by one month to November 15, 2012. MOFCOM is expected to provide its approval within this time frame. Viterra and Glencore will advise the market once MOFCOM approval has been received of the subsequent closing date on which the acquisition will occur.”—Viterra press release

Ready for Rust
“If the wolf has to come, we’d better get prepared,” said Kang Zhensheng, head of a wheat lab at Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in China, speaking about the spread of wheat stem rust. “We are breeding new Ug99-resistant wheat types, and cooperating with the [Borlaug Global Rust Initiative] to develop a surveillance system to track the disease.” Zhensheng spoke at a technical workshop hosted by the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative in China at the end of August. Wheat experts from around the world attended the meeting and discussed breakthroughs in technology used to resist wheat rust. After spreading widely in East Africa and West Asia and causing severe damage to crops, the catastrophic disease has become a threat to China, where it is likely to be carried in the wind. But farmers in the United States need to be wary as well. “This is the most damaging disease for wheat,” added Dave Hodson, an expert with the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative who has spent years conducting field studies in Ethiopia. “Wheat rusts are global travellers with no respect for political boundaries. Effective control often depends on finding out what is happening in distant regions.” Hodson plans to encourage farmers to use cellphones and other mobile devices to help them better observe the spread of the disease.