Sep. 1, 2017
By Leonardo Gottems, reporter for AgroPages
Biologist Adriana Brondani, executive director at the Center of Information on Biotechnology (CIB), recently gave an interview to the AgroPages portal, where she affirmed that there are genetically-modified events of soybeans, corn, and cotton, in which agronomic insecticides were inserted with the chance of approval until the end of the year. Check it out:
Which new transgenic varieties were approved by CTNBio in 2017?
Adriana Brondani: In 2017, the National Technical Commission on Biosecurity (CTNBio) approved 13 new genetically-modified events. Those are 10 plants, two vaccines, and one micro-organism. Among the new varieties that are genetically-modified and approved this year, we can highlight events of “pyramid” (result of the crossing of two or more GMOs) soybeans, corn, and cotton. The goal of this approach is to offer the producer a seed that is each time more protected, which incorporates diverse resistance to insects, and has tolerance for the different active ingredients of pesticides. This allows the farmer to have more management options and make the production more sustainable. Besides, we should also mention that the approval of the first GMO sugarcane in the world, a resistant variety developed by a Brazilian company.
How many and which ones can be approved until the end of this year?
Brondani: The meetings of CTNBio take place at the beginning of each month and some days before these meetings, the subjects are released for all society. Though the Commission has not released the subject of the next meeting, deeming for the most recent, there are other GMO events for soybeans, corn, and cotton, in which agronomic characteristics are inserted with chances of approval. In the short-term, we could also expect other micro-organisms for use in diverse industries and new vaccines for veterinary and human use.
How is the pace of analysis of the Commission?
Brondani: If we follow the work of CTNBio throughout the years, we observe that the average time for analysis of a new transgenic is 24 months (two years). This period is similar to other countries that also do an analysis of the evaluation of GMO biosecurity.
Which is the importance of these approvals for Brazilian agriculture?
Brondani: The products that have been approved are technological solutions that ease the management of the farmer in the field. We know that agricultural practices in tropical or sub-tropical climates in Brazil face big pressure from weeds and insects. A significant part of the transgenic available today have agronomic benefits, that is, characteristics that help the transgenic produce better in this environment where other plants compete for nutrients and where insects attack the crops.
In order to keep the current levels of yields without the transgenic seeds, farmers would have to have different control strategies, which could provoke an increase in the use of pesticides, fuel (for machinery) and water. This means that GMO’s contribution to agriculture will be a more sustainable activity.
What is expected for the next year and also for the long-term?
Brondani: Over the medium and long-terms, it is already possible to think of the second generation genetic modification (nutritional benefits and tolerance to abiotic stresses, i.e. the drought-tolerant soybeans developed by Embrapa). Besides, we should consider that a new technology that has great potential of generating revolutionary products for agriculture: CRISPR-Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). Discovered in 2012, this technique uses the enzyme Cas9 to cut the DNA in some determined points for guide chain of RNA. Using a metaphor, it is like a tool that locates and replaces Word’s words. If Brazil wants to continue to be competitive in the global market, we should give attention to this technology.