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[MUTARE, ZIMBABWE] Contrary to the concern that genetically modified (GM) maize may have adverse impacts on biodiversity, a new study in South Africa indicates that it has no negative effects on the environment.

GM maize has been engineered to produce a toxin that kills specific target pests when they feed on the leaves of the plant. Farmers do not need to apply insecticides against stalk borer pests of maize because the plant is able to protect itself.

But whether GM maize could adversely affect non-target arthropods — insects and related species — has largely not been explored in Africa, according to the researchers from South Africa.

“The fact that biodiversity is high means that there is no danger associated with growing the GM maize. High biodiversity means it is good.”

Johnnie van den Berg, North-West University, South Africa

The researchers randomly selected a total of 480 maize plants — 240 GM maize and 240 non-GM maize from two different locations: smallholder and commercial farming systems in South Africa. They collected a total of 8,771 arthropods at two different growing seasons in both farms during the two-year study that began in 2008 and compared the biodiversity of arthropods at the two locations.

The study, published in the February issue of Environmental Entomology, showed that the biodiversity of arthropods in both subsistence and large-scale farming systems was high without significant differences.

Johnnie van den Berg, the study’s co-author and professor of North-West University, South Africa, tells SciDev.Net that GM maize did not affect the abundance and diversity of arthropods.

The abundance of diverse insects in GM crop fields will not endanger maize growing in both GM and conventional maize fields, van den Berg explains.

“The fact that biodiversity is high means that there is no danger associated with growing the GM maize. High biodiversity means it is good,” he says. “This type of study and its results are important for regulators of GM technology, and together with many other factors, they use it when they make decisions on whether to release GM crops in a particular country.”

He adds that their findings provide useful information that could help African governments decide on adopting the technology, citing Egypt and South Africa as the only African countries currently growing GM maize.

But van den Berg warns that although the short-term study showed no adverse effects on the environment, GM maize may cross-pollinate with other maize varieties planted by neighbouring farmers, leading to resistance development of target pests which have not been considered carefully in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Godfrey Mamhare, a Zimbabwe-based senior agronomist and provincial extension officer at Manicaland regional agricultural extension services, says the study’s findings are complicated and do not adequately persuade African farmers to grow GM maize.

“Africa is calling for indigenous solutions to produce cereals for human consumption. Indigenous knowledge systems are crucial to increasing maize production in Sub-Saharan Africa rather than artificial breeding,” he adds.

Link to study abstract in Environmental Entomology

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa desk

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Philippines Invasive Species Aug  2014-5a

Elsevier releases the 2013 Journal Metrics based on Scopus data. For impact of Crop Protection and other journals see; www.journalmetrics.com

Welcome to Journal Metrics from Elsevier

The academic community has long been demanding more transparency, choice and accuracy in journal assessment. Elsevier now provides three alternative, transparent and accurate views of the true citation impact a journal makes:

The three different impact metrics are all based on methodologies developed by external bibliometricians and use Scopus as the data source. Scopus is the largest citation database of peer-reviewed literature and features tools to track, analyze and visualize research output. Via this website, the three journal metrics are provided free of charge.

Crop Protection impact

Nr. Source ID Title SNIP 2011 IPP 2011 SJR 2011 SNIP 2012 IPP 2012 SJR 2012 SNIP 2013 IPP 2013 SJR 2013
1 12898 Crop Protection 1.315 1.585 0.733 1.206 1.508 0.685 1.337 1.784 0.751

 

Elsevier releases the 2013 Journal Metrics based on Scopus data. For impact of Crop Protection and other journals see; www.journalmetrics.com

Welcome to Journal Metrics from Elsevier

The academic community has long been demanding more transparency, choice and accuracy in journal assessment. Elsevier now provides three alternative, transparent and accurate views of the true citation impact a journal makes:

The three different impact metrics are all based on methodologies developed by external bibliometricians and use Scopus as the data source. Scopus is the largest citation database of peer-reviewed literature and features tools to track, analyze and visualize research output. Via this website, the three journal metrics are provided free of charge.

Crop Protection impact

Nr. Source ID Title SNIP 2011 IPP 2011 SJR 2011 SNIP 2012 IPP 2012 SJR 2012 SNIP 2013 IPP 2013 SJR 2013
1 12898 Crop Protection 1.315 1.585 0.733 1.206 1.508 0.685 1.337 1.784 0.751

 

 

 

FreshFruitPortal.com

http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2014/07/21/first-cbs-inspection-in-europe-disappointing-for-south-african-citrus-growers/?country=australia

July 21st, 2014
The South African citrus industry is on the hunt for answers as to how a consignment with citrus black spot (CBS) was intercepted in Europe, after receiving word from plant health authorities in the Netherlands today.

citrus – peel unravel panorama

citrus-peel-unravel-panorama

The interception is the first this year and as a result the industry has been issued a notification of phytosanitary non-compliance.

“This is disappointing news particularly considering the steps taken to ensure compliance with, and demonstrate commitment to meeting, the European Union’s requirements, at enormous cost to the SA government and citrus industry – including testing regimes and a comprehensive CBS risk management,” Citrus Growers’ Association (CGA) of Southern Africa CEO Justin Chadwick said in a release.

 

“The Citrus Growers Association (CGA) will today dispatch an accredited expert to accompany representatives of the DAFF [Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries] to the farm in question to investigate how CBS could have slipped through the risk management net and, importantly, to propose any remedial measures necessary to prevent a reoccurrence.”

Chadwick said CGA’s special envoy to the EU, Deon Joubert, was dispatched to Europe today for discussions on the matter with all stakeholders.

“While today’s interception is a setback, it is also an opportunity for us to improve our risk management processes, which we will continue to implement in order to ensure unrestricted trade conditions for the immediate future,” Chadwick said.

The executive emphasized that for the long term, it was important to note that there has been no agreement since 1992 between South Africa and the European Union on the risk of CBS being transmitted by fruit.

“There is still no agreement on whether commercial fruit from areas where CBS is present is a risk to citrus-producing countries of the EU where CBS is absent, the magnitude of any possible risk, or the measures required for adequate mitigation of the actual risk,” he said.

“It remains imperative that this difference of opinion – and the science that underlies it – is resolved once and for all.”

He added the EU continued to be an important historic market for the South African citrus industry.

“The CGA calls on the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Minister Senzeni Zokwana, to prioritise the swift and amicable resolution of the CBS dispute with the European Union,” Chadwick said.

“The future of this important agricultural sector, the 120 000 jobs and their 1,2 million dependents depend on it.”

Photo: http://www.shutterstock.com

http://www.freshfruitportal.com

 

grist

A BEACON IN THE SMOG

kealiapondnationalwildliferefugeByron Chin
Hawaii’s Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge

http://grist.org/news/feds-move-to-restrict-neonic-pesticides-well-one-fed-at-least/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520July%252021&utm_campaign=daily

By John Upton
Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
Byron Chin
Hawaii’s Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
So far the EPA has refused to ban use of neonicotinoid insecticides — despite mounting evidence that they kill bees and other wildlife, despite a ban in the European Union, despite a lawsuit filed by activists and beekeepers.

But if the EPA is somehow still unclear on the dangers posed by neonics, it need only talk to the official who oversees federal wildlife refuges in the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Ocean.

Kevin Foerster, a regional boss with the National Wildlife Refuge System, directed his staff this month to investigate where neonics are being used in the refuges they manage — and to put an end to their use. Foerster’s office is worried that farming contractors that grow grasses and other forage crops for wildlife and corn and other grains for human consumption on refuge lands are using neonic pesticides and neonic-treated seeds. There are also fears that agency staff are inadvertently using plants treated with the poisons in restoration projects.

“The Pacific Region will begin a phased approach to eliminate the use of neonicotinoid insecticides (by any method) to grow agricultural crops for wildlife on National Wildlife Refuge System lands, effective immediately,” Forster wrote in a July 9 memo that was obtained and published last week by the nonprofit Center for Food Safety. “Though there will be some flexibility during the transition and we will take into account the availability of non-treated seed, Refuge managers are asked to exhaust all alternatives before allowing the use of neonicotinoids on National Wildlife Refuge System Lands in 2015.”

An information sheet attached to the memo notes that “severe declines in bee fauna have been a driving force behind the growing concern with neonics,” but that other species are also being affected. The information sheet also warns that pesticide drift, leaching, and water runoff can push neonics into wildlife habitats near farmed lands.

The use of the pesticides in U.S. wildlife refuges has triggered outcries and lawsuits from groups that include the Center for Food Safety. “Federal wildlife refuges were established to protect natural diversity,” said Paige Tomaselli, an attorney with the center. “Allowing chemical companies to profit by poisoning these important ecosystems violates their fundamental purpose and mission.”

Foerster’s move will help protect nearly 9,000 acres of refuges in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands from ecosystem-ravaging poisons.

But the memo has significance beyond that. It confirms that wildlife experts within the federal government are acutely aware of the dangers that the poisons pose. Now we just need the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the EPA to talk to each other.

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