Training on DNA-based GMO detection for Seed Testing and Certification under PRIP

A training on DNA-based GMO detection for Seed Testing and Certification was organised for policy makers from Government of Nepal. Precisely, these delegates were from different departments like Seed Quality Control Centre (SQCC), Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC), Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC) and Regional Seed Laboratory. IFPRI organised a 13-day (30th Nov to 12th Dec 2015) intensive training program for these officials under Policy Reform Initiatives Project (PRIP). The training was conducted in Indian Council of Agricultural Research - National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (ICAR-NBPGR). The delegates had an opportunity to understand the concepts of GMO detection. They were given hands-on training on real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), DNA extraction, TaqMan real time PCR method, and other detection methods. Renowned experts, researchers, and policy makers deliberated on GMO detection, biosafety issues of GM crops, and IPR issues in this training.

Besides NBPGR, the delegates also visited different laboratories and institutions pertinent to the GMO detection. The delegates visited and interacted with the scientists of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in New Delhi, the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR) in New Delhi, the Department of Plant Molecular Biology on the South Campus of the University of Delhi, Tilda Hain India Private Limited in Gurgaon, Basmati Export Development foundation (BEDF) in Meerut, and NBPGR various divisions like National Gene Bank and Cryobank, Plant Quarantine Division National Containment Facility, Division of Genomic Resources. During their interaction, the delegates were also granted an opportunity to see latest equipment related to DNA-based GMO detection. They also saw various varieties of Basmati Rice and at the end of the training they were in better position to differentiate between GM rice and Non-GM rice. Furthermore, in practical sessions, expert’s talks and panel discussion, the delegates were shown how to understand the integrities of plant genetic resource management, and exposed to GMO detection, DNA extraction, designing of primer, bio-safety regulatory regimes, and Visual Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) assays for GM detection.

In most of the countries, genetically modified organisms (GMO) legislation has been established in order to guarantee the traceability of food / feed products on the market and to protect the consumer freedom of choice. Therefore, several GMO detection strategies, mainly based on DNA, have been developed to implement these legislations. For example, Nepal is in an early stage in hybrid research and development; however, demand is increasing over time. National legislative mechanisms human resources and physical facilities are not well established in testing and regulation of GMOs in Nepal. Thus, it is necessary to encourage policy makers to strengthen their commitment and provide strong policy and financial support to promote hybrid research and development in Nepal. This training should serve this purpose by helping the policy makers and officers of the Government of Nepal to implement best practices and bring reforms into the regulation of GMOs.

Child Growth in India vs. Africa

Source: Flickr (IFPRI South Asia)
Source: Flickr (IFPRI South Asia)

IFPRI will continue with its AMD (Applied Microeconomics and Development) Seminar Series on Thursday, October 17 at 12:00pm EST. Rohini Pande of the Harvard Kennedy School will present on the differences in height-for-age among children in India and children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Pande will discuss results from the paper Why Are Indian Children Shorter than African Children? This paper examines data collected from demographic and health surveys in India and Sub-Saharan Africa and finds that while India is richer than the average African country and fares better in terms of infant mortality, height-for-age among children in India is in fact lower than among children in Africa. The paper posits that this result could be explained by cultural norms such as parental preferences regarding higher birth order, particularly for elder sons.

The AMD Seminar Series is designed to provide a forum for researchers to present high-quality applied microeconomics and development work. Seminars are held on the first Thursday of each month at the IFPRI home office in Washington DC. (It should be noted that the October 17 seminar deviates from this schedule.)

To RSVP for this or future seminars, please contact Alexandria Cannon (a.cannon@cgiar.org).

Fighting Hidden Hunger in India with Iron-Rich Pearl Millet

Hidden hunger – the lack or chronic deficiency of essential nutrients and minerals in diets – is severe in India. Iron deficiency, for instance, often results in anemia, a condition affecting 7 in 10 Indian children under five and 59 percent of all pregnant women. Lack of iron impairs children’s mental development and increases fatigue, while it raises the risk of maternal mortality, morbidity from infectious diseases, and premature delivery among pregnant women.

As a public health problem in India, iron deficiency is as serious as it gets.  Which is why a recently- published study on iron-rich pearl millet is creating significant buzz among nutritionists.  Pearl millet is an important staple food in the semi-arid regions of India where iron deficiency is widespread.  A new study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, shows that pearl millet bred to have higher iron content , is able to meet the full daily iron needs of young children.  It is also able to meet the children’s full daily requirement of zinc, another essential micronutrient.

Iron-rich pearl millet has been developed by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) using conventional breeding techniques as part of HarvestPlus’s efforts to improve nutrition and public health.

Find out more about the study and its significance for improving nutrition, especially in rural farming communities.

Workshop: The Feed the Future Zone in Bangladesh: A Comparison of Food Security Aspects

16 January 2013   |   Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, Dhaka, Bangladesh

On January 16, 2013 IFPRI and USAID jointly held a one-day workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh to present the findings of a 6,500-household survey on food security and agriculture across the country. IFPRI conducted the survey for USAID’s Policy Research and Strategy Support Program (PRSSP) in order to assess the impact food security programs, like Feed the Future, have across the country and in specific areas, like southern Bangladesh.

Findings from analysis of a wide range of demographic and agricultural data included:

  • Smallholder farmers (less than 1 acre) represent about 61% of the farmers in the south and southwest part of the country.
  • Smallholders irrigate more of their land on a percentage basis, use more fertilizer per hectare, and have higher yields than the larger size farmers.
  • Smallholders have much lower access to credit and access extension services at lower rates than large farmers.

The comprehensive survey also collected data on women’s empowerment in the agriculture sector and found that the most critical factor is control over income, rather than the overall size of household income.

In attendance for the presentations were Bangladesh’s Honorable Minister of Agriculture Matia Chowdhury; Honorable Minister of Food Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque; Honorable Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury; and His Excellency Dan Mozena, the Ambassador of the United States of America.

Presentation by Dr. Akhter Ahmed, IFPRI

Profile of the Feed the Future Zone in the South and Other Regions of Bangladesh.

Cereals in Pakistan: Supply and Demand 2010-2030

Wheat field in Pakistan. Source: Flickr (The Reboot)
A growing population, food price inflation, and frequent natural disasters in Pakistan have raised concerns about the country’s food security. Pakistan’s population depends on wheat and rice to meet their daily food energy requirement but past studies have not provided supply or demand projections for these important cereals. IFPRI researchers bridge this information gap using the Almost Ideal Demand System (LA-AIDS) to project household demand for eight food items.

Supply and Demand for Cereals in Pakistan- 2010-2030 presents results and recommendations which include:

  • Demand for wheat and rice will more than double by 2030.
  • The demand for wheat is expected to be greater than supply, resulting in a deficit.
  • Rice production will be more than adequate to meet demand, resulting in a surplus.
  • Further research and appropriate policy measures are needed to address the wheat deficit.

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