Category Archives: Nature Biotechnology

Greenpeace campaign prompts Philippine ban on Bt eggplant trials

homecoverA court in the Philippines has ordered scientists to halt field trials of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplant, over concerns that the genetically modified (GM) crop poses a risk to human health and the environment. On May 17, 2013, the Philippine Court of Appeals issued a cease-and-desist order to scientists running the field trials, a ruling that, if upheld, could set a precedent that may affect other biotech crops in development locally, such as the Golden Rice and GM papaya and abaca under development in the country. Continue reading

SARS-like virus reignites ownership feuds

homecoverA new human coronavirus isolated from a patient in Saudi Arabia is raising questions over how to handle the intellectual property (IP) of newly emerging infectious diseases. As Nature Biotechnology went to press, the World Health Organization (WHO) had been notified of 81 cases and 45 deaths globally since September 2012 attributed to the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, (MERS-CoV). Ali Mohamed Zaki, a microbiologist at Soliman Fakeeh Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, who isolated the virus from a patient, has lost his job after announcing the existence of the virus through a public medium. Saudi officials accuse him of mailing a virus sample to a laboratory in The Netherlands without permission. Continue reading

Argentina cuts GM red tape

homecoverArgentina has streamlined its biotech crop regulatory framework to ensure neither red tape nor international trading partners’ policies hold up commercialization. The country, one of the first to embrace biotech crops, relied for two decades on a hodgepodge of agencies and rules to govern genetically modified (GM) crop commercialization (Nat. Biotechnol. 28, 393–395, 2010). A 2010 reform established a new Ministry for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, which updated and consolidated rules in 2012. This spring, the Ministry packaged those rules in a single booklet for commercial and academic growers. Continue reading