Saturday, May 06, 2017

6th May,2017 daily global regional local national rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Farmers urged to grow super basmati rice and exporters urged to promote it globally
Government urged to protect and save our heritage. The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises ( UNISAME ) has appealed to the farmers to grow our original super basmati rice and not to grow other varieties like 1121 and 1509 as it will not be possible to compete for export of 1121 and 1509 as Indian rice market is having consistently downward trend.

 Indian shippers are quoting 1121 sela now at  980/-  which has dropped down from 1200 dollars.Chaudhry Masood a leadimg rice exporter said the Indians are expecting 1509 bumper crop in July, almost three times larger than last year. Currently 1509 is  being quoted at USD 950. The grain length is  8.5 mm plus.They are quite optimistic to accept 1509 as substitute of 1121. Like 1509, other early varieties like parmal and sharbati's new crop is arriving in July.
Zulfikar Thaver president UNISAME said  we need to propagate the fact that our super basmati is the real rice and good for health and the other varieties are not natural. Unfortunately we have low cultivation of our super basmati the best rice in the world. 
We can compete in our original super basmati rice provided we work on it with research and strategy. The Super Basmati has a rich taste and aroma. It is well accepted by the consumers around the globe. We must encourage to boost its production. We also need to expedite the Geographical Indications ( GI)  and also settle the trade mark issue. 

Ch. Masood while agreeing about the superiority of super basmati rice said that unfortunately all concerned have materialistic approach. They abruptly switch and tilt towards their monetary gains. The farmers always have their own priorities. They are more inclined towards early sowing and early harvesting so as to get their lands ready for the next crop. The millers and traders prefer to search for more and more profits. And the exporters are left with limited choice for marketing. The governmental departments and bodies are least bothered for extending guidelines to the farmers and for evolving new seeds.

There is a dire need for the stakeholders to collectively  come  forward and use influence  on the farmers.
Thaver said the government also needs to intervene and fix support price for super basmati rice and also immediately order research for new seeds of this aromatic basmati variety which is the best rice in the world.
Pusa and 1401 are not basmati nor aromatic.the caterers are very fond because of the commercial benefits in business but for long run we need to save our super basmati otherwise it will vanish like the 385.
The super basmati needs to be propagated by the Pakistan government as a national heritage. It is our pride and you cannot compare it to these other varieties which do not match it in taste and aroma. The real rice eaters know the worth
We must market this rice differently as the real banquet rice and rice for the rice lovers as in Iran they know the value of this rice. However we must see a little beyond the immediate benefits from demand from the market which is based on demand and supply. We must try to save our real rice by educating the buyers that the other varieties are not the real rice they are the concocted varieties.

Concerns about alleged 'harmful' arsenic levels in baby rice cakes

Friday May 5 2017

Many foods have small trace amounts of arsenic in them
Description: Rice cakes are a popular choice for older babies"Almost half of baby rice food products contain illegal levels of inorganic arsenic despite new regulations set by the EU, according to researchers," ITV News reports.While this may sound shocking, arsenic is a common chemical compound naturally present in the environment.It's found at very low levels in tap water in this country, but is present in foods that come from places where water contamination is higher.
At low levels, it causes no problems. The concern is whether levels could be high enough to cause health problems and, in the case of babies, developmental issues.
This study included 11 babies from Belfast who had their urinary arsenic levels measured pre- and post-weaning. Arsenic levels were higher post-weaning than pre-weaning, when most babies were eating some baby rice products.
Researchers also sampled baby rice products bought in February 2016, and found arsenic levels exceeded the maximum limit.
However, it was only in January 2016 that the European Commission introduced regulations on the amount of arsenic that should be present in rice.
As a spokesperson for the British Specialist Nutrition Association Limited, the trade group that represents rice cake makers, pointed out: "Research … was carried out using products bought in February 2016. This was one month after the application of the legislative requirements. It is likely that all samples were manufactured before the legislation came into force."
This research involved a very small sample from just one region. And there was no comparison group from elsewhere in the UK.
This means we can't conclude with any certainty that the measured arsenic levels can be directly attributed to rice, or that these levels would have any adverse developmental effects. Further testing of rice products could be useful.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from Queen's University and Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, and Dartmouth College in the US.
Funding was provided by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme, and the Metabolic Research Unit at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS One on an open access basis, and is free to read online.
While some of the headlines could be seen as alarmist, the general tone of the UK's media coverage was generally fair and balanced.
The Guardian is of one of many sources that provided helpful quotes from independent experts, including a spokesperson from the Food Standards Agency, who said:
"We recommend that consumers eat a balanced, varied and healthy diet. Rice and rice products can be part of that, including for young children.
"However, we do advise that toddlers and young children – ages 1-4.5 – should not be given rice drinks as a substitute for breast milk, infant formula or cow's milk.
"This is because of their proportionally higher milk consumption and lower body weight compared to other consumers." 

What kind of research was this?

This small cohort study aimed to assess arsenic metabolites in the urine of babies before and after weaning.
The researchers also analysed the levels of arsenic in rice cakes and other baby foods used in infant weaning to look at the association.
The researchers explain how early-life exposure to inorganic arsenic is of concern because it could impact health and development.
Arsenic in this country is found at low levels in water, so most exposure comes through dietary sources.
Infants and young children may be at greater risk of arsenic exposure because of their higher food consumption per unit of body weight.
Rice and rice-based products have been reported to contain higher levels of arsenic relative to other foods, and are commonly used in weaning.
In January 2016, the European Commission set a maximum level of inorganic arsenic in rice of 0.1mg per kg. But there's limited information on the impact of this regulation.
This study aimed to look at levels in baby rice, rice cakes and rice cereals compared with this standard, and look at child's levels before and after weaning. 

What did the research involve?

This cohort was set up to look at nutrition during pregnancy and then the first few months after birth.
Researchers recruited mothers who were Caucasian non-smokers with a healthy nutritional status from a hospital in Belfast.
Most (70%) were said to be of high socioeconomic status. Their babies included 41 girls and 38 boys born in 2015.
Infants were grouped into their feeding mode before weaning: breastfed (20), formula fed (32) and mixed feeding (27). Pre-weaning urine samples were collected at an average age of 3.4 months.
A small subsample of 11 infants (born September/October 2015) had post-weaning samples taken at an average age of 7.7 months.
An interview with their mothers at that time confirmed that all but one were eating rice-based products as part of their diet.
The researchers measured the arsenic levels in 13 samples of baby rice, 29 of rice crackers/cakes, and 31 samples of rice cereal from nine different manufacturers obtained from 17 shops in the Belfast area in February 2016.

What were the basic results?

The researchers reported levels of two arsenic metabolites (substances created when the metabolism breaks down compounds like arsenic): monomethylarsonic acid (MMA) and dimethylarsinic acid (DMA).
They found that before weaning, infants who were exclusively formula fed had higher urine levels of MMA, DMA and total arsenic than those who were exclusively or partially breastfed.
For example, compared with breastfed infants, formula fed babies had 6.7 times higher levels of MMA, and around double the level of DMA and total arsenic.
Post-weaning urine samples contained higher levels of these metabolites than pre-weaning samples. Urine concentrations were about 7.2 times higher for MMA, 9.1 for DMA, and 4.8 times higher for total arsenic.
Around three-quarters of the baby rice and rice crackers (specifically marketed for babies) analysed exceeded the maximum set arsenic level of 0.1mg per kg, with an average concentration 0.117mg per kg (range 0.055 to 0.177). 

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that, "Efforts should be made to provide low inorganic arsenic rice and rice-based products consumed by infants and young children that do not exceed the maximum level to protect this vulnerable subpopulation." 


Arsenic is found in the earth's crust and is naturally present in the environment. Certain countries – including India, China and Bangladesh – are known to have higher levels of arsenic in ground water than others.
Water supplies in the UK are low in arsenic, but we may be exposed to arsenic through foods – such as rice and other crops – that have been exposed to contaminated water.
This study shows that babies tend to have higher levels of arsenic metabolites in their urine when exposed to food – including formula milk and rice – and that rice contains higher than recommended levels.
These are important findings, but there are a few points to put this in context:
  • This research used a small sample of infants (particularly the post-weaning sample of 11) and they're all from one region of Belfast with a very specific sociodemographic background (e.g. non-smoking white mothers of high occupational status). These levels may be representative of babies across the country, but we have none for comparison and don't know that for sure.
  • Though nearly all of the 11 babies were given rice products, we can't conclude with certainty that this food was the direct cause of the higher levels.
  • Continued exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic is known to have toxic effects, possibly increasing the risk of cancer and affecting development. However, this study doesn't give evidence that the arsenic levels in urine observed here would be toxic to the child and could affect their future health. Again, there's no other group for comparison. Many healthy adults today could have had similar (or higher) levels of arsenic metabolites in their urine had they been tested as a baby.
These findings are, nevertheless, important. Europe set a limit on the amount of arsenic that should be present in rice products in January 2016.
Most products tested here exceeded this level, but they were bought in February 2016. It's possible this sampling may have been too close to when the legislation changed, and samples collected now may be different.

Uganda: Ministers, MPs Disagree Over Rice Tax

Imported rice in a warehouse (file photo).
By Isaac Imaka
Parliament — A paper trail from the Finance ministry shows that the plot to exempt husked rice from tax has stirred disagreements and back and forth exchanges between the ministry and interested parties that wanted the tax waived.
While in Plenary on Wednesday, Mr Odonga Otto, the Aruu County MP, accused Mr Matia Kasaija, the Finance minister, and Mr Keith Muhakanizi, the Secretary to the Treasury, of being behind a decision to exempt taxes on imported unprocessed rice in order to benefit from the directive. Mr Otto said the duo had imported, "colossal tonnes of unprocessed rice through a company they have interest in and that it's the same rice, which the Disaster Preparedness ministry bought and is donating to famine-stricken families."
However, the letters Daily Monitor has seen, show that Mr Hilary Onek, the Disaster Preparedness minister, and Mr Mangusho Cherop, the Kween County MP, wrote to the Prime Minister, and the ministry of Finance, making a case for a relaxed tax regime for husked rice on the grounds of helping to fight hunger and to protect FOL Logistics Ltd, a rice importing company, from possible closure.
This was after the Finance minister wrote in December last year, instructing the minister of East African Community Affairs to inform the EAC Secretariat that Uganda was to reinstate the EAC tax rate charged on every tonne of rice imported from the subsidised rate of $250 per metric ton (MT) to $345 per MT.
A February 2 Cabinet meeting agreed to not only reinstate the old $250 tax, but also to waive the tax.
Subsequently, Mr Kasaija wrote to the URA Commissioner General, citing minute No. 65 (CT) and directed her to clear the unprocessed with without import duty with effect from April 1, 2017, for an initial period of four months.
"By copy of this letter, the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister and minister for East African Community is hereby requested to proceed to obtain the duty waiver from the East African Community. "Also by copy of this letter, Rt Hon Prime Minister and minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives are informed that we have agreed with the millers to sell their product at not more than Shs3,000 per kilo, retail price," the letter dated March 30 reads.
After Mr Kasaija's instruction to the EAC minister, letters started flying in from rice importing companies and politicians who argued that reinstating the tax rate would tantamount to removing the tax.
"...The rice price will increase by 60 per cent leading to the food inflation and hunger that will affect the whole population, especially now that there is a nationwide drought," Mr Mohammed Ahmed Bawazir, the managing director FOL Logistics Ltd, one of the rice importing companies, wrote to Mr Kasaija in January.On January 11, 2017, Minister Onek wrote to the Prime Minister expressing surprise over the government's increase in tax liability on imported rice from $250 to $345.
"As you are already aware, there is looming hunger in the country as a result of severe drought. Consequently, the number of households in urgent need of food relief has increased from the recent 1.3 million people to 8 million [people]. It is anticipated this may increase to 11.1 million [people] in the next few weeks," he said.
Mr Kasaija objected to Mr Onek's request to stay the implementation of the tax increase, arguing that the company Mr Onek was making a case for is not a charity organisation.
Minister responds
To Mr Cherop, who had also written a letter to the minister, Mr Kasaija thus responded: "The decision to reinstate the common External tariff to $345 was reached in an effort to protect the domestic rice growers like the ones in Kween District from undue competition from husked rice imported at a reduced rate and sold in the local market to outcompete the locally grown rice

Arsenic Poisoning In Babies Due To Rice-Based Baby Foods, Scientists Warn Parents

First Posted: May 05, 2017 05:10 AM EDT
High concentration of arsenic reported in baby foods, especially the non-dairy rice-based ones. 
(Photo : HwTechBlog Online TV/YouTube screenshot)
Description: Arsenic Poisoning In Babies Due To Rice-Based Baby FoodsRice is one such natural food item that is known to possess comparatively more amounts of arsenic. It has also been observed that rice-based cereals and baby food items also contain illegal amounts of inorganic arsenic.
Last year, the European Union specifically addressed the issue and notified all baby food manufacturers to pay heed to the arsenic levels present in the food items manufactured by them. A subsequent study made by Plant and Soil Sciences expert Professor Andy Meharg from Queen's revealed that the levels of arsenic pre- and post-EU notification remained almost similar.

Arsenic is a carcinogenic element that is also associated with the occurrence of many chronic disease and neurodegenerative disorders. These effects are further amplified in the case of small children. Children are inherently sensitive. They possess an immune system that is still in its developmental stage.

Furthermore, based on body weights, children consume more amount of food than adults. This implies that the process of bio-accumulation in children is faster than that of adults. Due to these reasons, children are more prone to arsenic-associated developmental disorders, neurological and cardiological problems, reported.

According to a recent publication in the PLOS ONE journal, biochemical analysis of urine samples of infants, both breast-fed and formula-fed, indicated that the level of arsenic in infants after weaning was significantly high. Furthermore, infants those who were weaned with non-dairy milk products such as rice-fortified formula powders due to dairy or gluten intolerance had higher levels of arsenic exposure. The calculations made on the basis of the data obtained from the experiment indicated that the level of exposure to arsenic in children fed with rice-based baby foods was almost five times high.

A recently published Independent report highlighted the fact that most rice milk packets carry a statutory warning that the product is not suitable for children below five years of age. However, other rice-based food products like crisps, cereals and porridge, among others, do not follow such specifications. Due to this reason, parents remain ignorant of the possible health risks associated with their ingestion.

Experts are of the opinion that simple methods like soaking the rice overnight before it is used to manufacture baby products can help in reducing the concentration of arsenic in them. Commercial baby food manufacturers should be encouraged to adopt these methods on a large scale. Furthermore, parents should also consider feeding their children other nutritious alternatives such as oats porridge instead of rice porridge.

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  Cloudy skies as far as the eye can see
May 5, 2017
Louisiana Weather Update
By Randy Jemison
 CROWLEY, LA -- Wet weather is the theme in the midsouth this week and Louisiana is no exception.  The northern part of the state dodged the bullet this time, but a lot of rice, and other crops - soybeans and crawfish - have been impacted in central and south Louisiana.  The hardest hit areas seem to be in Avoyelles, Evangeline, and St. Landry parishes.  However, the excess water there will move south so it is too early to determine what the extent of damage will be in any given area.
Michael Fruge, a rice farmer in St. Landry Parish, reported 10 inches of rainfall last Saturday.  "I spent all of Sunday repairing busted levees.  The process of using tractors with blades to repair levees destroyed a lot of rice and we also had damage to soybeans in this area," he said.
Over in Jeff Davis and Cameron Parishes, Paul Johnson's rain gauge measures 12-14 inches since Saturday.  Johnson said, "My rice is ok for now, but we've got deep water on every acre and I'm just hoping it drains off before the water from central Louisiana arrives."

Kevin Berken, also in Jeff Davis Parish, is dealing with very deep water but is working to get it pumped off.  If successful, Berken is not expecting any impact on his rice.
"I can only estimate rain totals here as my 8-inch rain gauge overflowed last Saturday," said Jeffery Sylvester in his report from Avoyelles Parish.  "We started pumping water off immediately and building up protection levees to stop water from the surrounding area from entering the farm.  Then Wednesday dropped another five inches that overtopped the raised protection levees so we've got nowhere to discharge pumped-off water."  Sylvester expects to lose 2,000 acres of rice because the water cannot recede quickly enough, and noted that although his crawfish ponds are okay for now, many of his neighbors will likely lose much of their crawfish in addition to their rice.
St. Martin Parish received less rain Saturday but by Wednesday total precipitation was between eight and nine inches.  Jeff Durand expects some stand reduction on younger rice and still has 40 percent of his crop to plant.  "This is rice planted following crawfish," said Durand.  "These latest rains will delay those plantings by a week or more, which will likely reduce the yields on those acres.  We're also losing some crawfish on ponds where the water topped the levees."
The full extent of the impact on Louisiana rice production will not be known for a couple weeks.  The big factor, according to Dr. Dustin Harrell with the LSU AgCenter, is how long the rice is submerged.  "How long the rice can live underwater depends on the conditions and the stage of rice development but consensus tells us rice can live under submerged conditions about eight days," said Harrell.  "For now, we just need to focus on fixing washed out levees and getting the water off the submerged rice as soon as we possibly can."
USA Rice Daily, Friday, May 5, 2017

USA Rice's Whole Grain Announces 2017 Advertising Specials 
 ARLINGTON, VA -- USA Rice's award-winning newspaper, Whole Grain, has just released special advertising rates for the remaining 2017 issues.  Advertisers who purchase a half page or larger ad for the Summer Issue, will receive 50 percent off to place the ad in the Fall Issue.

"Our readership has grown to more than 25,000 people who are all either in the business of rice, or the business of making policies, regulations, and laws that directly affect the rice industry," said Whole Grain editor Michael Klein.  "We limit the number of pages we assign for advertising, so if companies want to reach the rice industry, now's the time."

The Whole Grain is published three times annually in the U.S. and Klein said future issues will contain stories about the new regulatory climate the Trump Administration is unveiling, winning rice-centric social media campaigns, the outlook for the next Farm Bill, challenges and opportunities in top rice markets, and much more.

Recent advertisers include Anheuser-Busch, BASF, Buhler, Doguet's Rice Milling Company, HorizonAg, and Riviana Foods.  To see recent issues of Whole Grain, click 
here.  To download the advertising rate card, click here, or email the author. 
USA Rice Daily, Friday, May 5, 2017

Reinventing Rice for a World Transformed by Climate Change

UC Davis plant geneticist Pamela Ronald wants to create rice varieties that can survive in harsher conditions, including more frequent droughts. Description:

May 4, 2017
Plant geneticist Pamela Ronald in her lab’s greenhouse at UC Davis.

Pamela Ronald stands in front of two rows of rice plants, sprouting from black plastic pots, in a stifling greenhouse on the edge of the University of California, Davis, campus.Researchers in Ronald's plant genetics lab starved the grasses of water for more than a week. The ones on the right, the control in the ongoing experiment, are yellowing and collapsing. The leaves in the adjacent plants, equipped with an added gene, are thick, tall, and green.
The hope is that these or similar genetic alterations could help rice and other crops survive devastating droughts, preventing food shortages in some of the poorest parts of the world. Ronald, a trim scientist with short brown hair, smiles as she looks down at the early results.
She has spent the last three decades working to make rice, a food staple for more than half of the world's population, more resistant to environmental stress. She was a central player in one the greatest recent success stories in plant genetics, isolating a gene that allows rice to survive extended periods of flooding. It’s a huge challenge in low-lying parts of Asia, wiping out around four million tons of rice each year in India and Bangladesh alone. A decade after her lab’s discovery, more than five million farmers grow rice varieties engineered with the so-called Sub1 gene, covering more than two million hectares across Asia.
The latest research could be even more significant, as climate change ratchets up the frequency and intensity of droughts across large swaths of the Earth, threatening the food security and stability of entire nations. The number of extreme droughts could double by the end of the century, devastating fields and farmers across South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Ronald's work provides a powerful statement for the potential of modern genetic tools to preserve livelihoods and lives, offering a counter narrative to the widespread fears and distortions surrounding genetically modified crops (see “Why We Will Need Genetically Modified Foods”). “This focus on genes in our food is a distraction from the really, really important issues,” she says. “How can we reduce the use of toxic inputs? How can we feed the poor and malnourished? How can we be sure that farmers have access to seeds, and that consumers can afford the food that’s produced?” 
Pamela Ronald gets hands-on with a rice plant.


Ronald grew up San Mateo, California. Her mother was a talented gardener and cook. Her father was a businessman who fled Nazi Germany as a child.
Years after arriving in California, he built a 500-square-foot cabin in south Lake Tahoe, where the family spent summer vacations. One hot day when she was around 15, Ronald and her brothers hiked a steep path into the High Sierra. At the saddle, they happened upon a couple hovered over a book. They were a pair of professional botanists who were cataloguing flowers. She had developed an affection for plants from the time she spent with her mother in the garden and kitchen, but this was the first time she realized you could make a living working with them. 
In the late 1980s, during her PhD program at UC Berkeley, Ronald started working with peppers and tomatoes. But as she began her postdoctoral work, she decided to shift her focus to rice, realizing that even small advances in stress tolerance for such a critical crop could help a lot of people. Tomatoes and peppers are “important for salad, but I wanted to work on supper,” she says. “I wanted to work on a staple food crop, I wanted to move to something more important.”

Will genetic engineering be a necessary tool to feed 10 billion people in the decades ahead?

Ronald arrived at UC Davis as an assistant professor in 1992. Her small, square office carries signs of the work she’s done since, including Asian tapestries, illustrations and covers from journal articles, and arrayed copies of "Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food," the 2008 book she co-wrote with her husband, Raoul Adamchak, who teaches organic farming at UC Davis.

Ronald’s work on flood-tolerant rice started in the mid-1990s, as a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded collaboration with colleagues at UC Davis. Over the course of a decade, the team pinpointed and isolated the Sub1 gene in an ancient but unpopular Indian rice variety, known as landrace, that enables it to survive even when it was submerged under water for more than two weeks. Since then, the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute, backed by more than $70 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has bred that gene into 10 popular Asian rice varieties. In turn, the nonprofit put the seeds into the hands of farmers in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, and other nations.
Rice is a tough crop to grow, requiring a lot of work and a lot of water. Too much all at once kills it, but so does too little. It takes just a week without rain to significantly decrease yields in hilly rice-growing areas.
The challenges of rice production are only bound to get worse in many areas, as climate change raises temperatures, reduces rainfall in certain places, and increases flooding or sea level rise in others.
Under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario, rice yields would be nearly 15 percent lower than otherwise expected at midcentury, and prices would be 30 percent higher, according to a 2015 report in Environmental Research Letters.
Shifting farming practices and the fertilizing effect of increased carbon dioxide could offset some of these climate impacts. But it’s going to become much harder and more expensive to maintain yields in many areas, and rich nations will have far greater capabilities than poor ones to make the necessary changes, says Keith Wiebe, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute.
Crops altered to survive harsher environmental conditions will be a crucial tool for helping “small farmers who produce in the more tropical environments, who will be the most exposed to climate shocks,” says Alain de Janvry, a UC Berkeley economist.
The work at Ronald’s lab on drought-tolerant rice varieties is in an early phase. She declines to discuss details, including the basic approach, until they’ve conducted additional experiments to verify the initial results and published their findings.
Other scientists around the world are also racing to develop drought-resistant crops, and have already achieved some advances, including sprays, hybrids, and genetic alterations that help crops switch into water-preserving modes at earlier signs of trouble, or otherwise enable plants to get by with less moisture.
But greater advances will be required to confront the growing challenges ahead, and drought tolerance is a tricky problem. The trait generally involves various genes and cellular communication pathways. It’s crucial that any improvements not come at the expense of yield, taste, and other qualities important to farmers and consumers. And there would seem to be hard limits on how much can ever be achieved, as all plants need water.


On an overcast Saturday in late April, Ronald stood on stage at a brick plaza on the edge of the San Francisco Bay, addressing the sign-wielding crowd gathered for the March for Science. “Science is based on data, not on alternative facts,” she said, pausing for applause at the end of most sentences. “Science is not a buffet where people can pick and choose the parts they like, and throw out the rest.”
But people do, of course. The weakest applause line of her speech before the crowd, gathered largely to protest the Trump administration’s denial of climate science, was when she said that science had improved California’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts. In other words, when she took a moment to acknowledge a field that could help address some of the problems arising from a changing climate. It was typical Ronald, determined to assert where she believes the science leads, whomever the audience. Genetically modified crops have become incredibly contentious, widely portrayed as reckless attempts to tinker with Mother Nature for the sole benefit of seed conglomerates. But Ronald argues the body of science shows they’ve been both safe and beneficial. She publicly sparred with the Union of Concerned Scientists on these issues, suggested Greenpeace was “misinterpreting data,” and criticized Vermont’s GMO labeling laws in these pages (see “How Scare Tactics on GMO Foods Hurt Everybody”). Taking on the role of public face for the field has, of course, earned her critics. GMOWatch called her a “GMO propagandist,” and reveled in highlighting that her lab retracted a pair of papers in 2013, due to mislabeled bacterial strains and a faulty test. (Others praised the lab for discovering their own error, and taking pains to correct the record.)
The gravest concerns over GMOs center on transgenic plants, such as the soybeans or corn engineered with a foreign bacterial gene that allowed for the use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
Read Next
Climate change will make it increasingly difficult to feed the world. Biotech crops will have an essential role in ensuring that there’s enough to eat.
But Ronald’s research highlights the broader definition and promise for genetic alterations. Sub1 rice sidestepped any anti-GMO backlash because, while it required the tools of modern genetics to isolate and express the gene, it doesn’t carry along any non-rice DNA. The trait from one rice variety was added to others through modern breeding methods, accelerated by analyzing the DNA of offspring to avoid false paths.
Ronald notes that every major food crop has been altered by human hands in one way or another. And some of the most important advances in the future, to improve yields, nutrition, environmental tolerance, or biofuels, may be possible only with increasingly powerful gene-editing technologies such as TALENs and CRISPR.
What should matter to lawmakers, regulators, or critics isn’t which implement was pulled from the ever-advancing genetic toolbox, but whether it produced a positive or negative impact on human health or the environment. At this point, we have a four-decade track record of genetic engineering in plants, medicine, and cheese, with no evidence of harm, Ronald says.
The danger is that unfounded fears could come at the expense of easing real human suffering, if misguided regulations slow down the science, or protests prevent seeds and crops from reaching the farmers and consumers who need them most. For Ronald, the real goal should be sustainability in the broadest sense, applying whatever combination of breeding, organic farming, or genetic technology helps us feed a growing population without exacting a higher environmental cost.
“We need to make policy based on evidence, and based on a broader understanding of agriculture,” Ronald says. “There are real challenges for farmers, and we need to be united in using all appropriate technologies to tackle these challenges.
Asia Rice: Prices up on Thin Supply in India, Thailand

Description: Rice prices rose on thin supply in India and as exporters in Thailand rushed to fill orders amid a slow off-season harvest, while Vietnam markets were quiet after a three-day holiday.
India's 5 percent broken parboiled rice rose by $7 per tonne to $394 to $399 a tonne this week as local paddy prices rose due to thin supply.
"The government agencies are actively buying paddy ... Supply is very limited for private players. This has pushed up paddy prices. Accordingly we have to raise rice export prices," said M. Adishankar, executive director at Sri Lalitha, an exporter based in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The Indian government buys rice from local farmers at a fixed price for subsidized food inventories and to meet any emergency needs such as a sudden spike in prices.
"The strengthening rupee is also making us uncompetitive," said another rice exporter based in Kakinada.
The rupee has gained around 6 percent so far in 2017 and is trading near its highest in 21 months. A strong rupee means exporters need to charge more for their overseas shipments.
India, the world's top rice exporter, mainly exports non-basmati rice to African countries and premier basmati rice to the Middle East.
Thai benchmark 5-percent broken rice rose to $380-$390 a tonne, free-on-board (FOB) Bangkok, this week from $360-$3775 last week, on exporters' rush to fill shipments amid a slow off-season harvest.
"It looks like exporters are scrambling to fulfill large orders previously received, and now market supply is also running low," a Bangkok-based trader said.
As long as exporters are still taking care of their orders, prices could be rising steadily, another trader in Bangkok said.
Thailand has exported 3.87 million tonnes of rice this year through April 26, a 12 percent jump from the same period last year, according to the latest figures by the commerce ministry.
Vietnam's 5-percent broken rice edged up to $350-$352 a tonne, FOB Saigon, from $350 last week, with traders citing a quiet market after national public holidays on Monday (01/05) and Tuesday.
Vietnam has shipped an estimated 1.84 million tonnes of the grain between January and April, down 8.8 percent from the same period last year, the government said on Friday.
Thailand and Vietnam are the world's second and third-biggest rice exporters.

Myanmar Set To Export 2 Million Tonnes Of Rice In FY 2017-18

YANGON, May 5 (Bernama) -- Myanmar is exerting sustainable efforts to export two million tonnes of rice worth US$700 million in the present fiscal year 2017-18, official media reported Friday, according to China's Xinhua news agency.In the past five consecutive years, the country exported high volumes of rice, 1.2 million tonnes in FY 2013-14, 1.8 million tonnes in FY 2014-15, 1.4 million tonnes in FY 2015-16 and 1.7 million tonnes in FY 2016-17.Myanmar Rice Federation is making efforts to earn up to US$1 billion from the country's rice sector by 2020.

The government established a public-private partnership to distribute pedigree seeds to the farmers, transform from a traditional farming system into a mechanised system, upgrade local rice mills and provide agricultural loans.In April, the first month of FY 2017-18, the country earned over US$178 million from agricultural exports which is up by over US$72 million compared to the same period of FY 2016-17.

Apart from rice export, the country is trying to promote other export products including peas/pulses, fisheries products, textiles, timber/forest products, rubber and tourism to solve the trade deficit.


Rice basmati remains weak on tepid demand

PTI | May 5, 2017, 12.29 PM IST
New Delhi, May 4 () Rice basmati prices continued to slide for the fourth day by losing up to Rs 300 per quintal owing to slackened demand at the wholesale grains market today.However, wheat recovered on scattered demand from flour mills.
Traders said easing demand from retailers and stockists kept rice basmati prices lower.
In the national capital, rice basmati common and Pusa- 1121 variety drifted further lower to Rs 7,400-7,500 and Rs 6,000-6,800 from previous levels of Rs 7,700-7,800 and Rs 6,000-7,100 per quintal, respectively.
Non basmati rice permal raw, wand, sela and IR-8 also finished down at Rs 2,250-2,275, Rs 2,300-2,350, Rs 2,700- 2,800 and Rs 1,875-2,000 from previous levels of Rs 2,275- 2,325, Rs 2,400-2,450, Rs 3,000-3,100 and Rs 2000-2025 per quintal respectively in line with rice basmati trend.
On the other hand, wheat dara (for mills) edged up by Rs 15 to Rs 1,705-1,710 per quintal. Atta chakki delivery followed suit and traded higher by Rs 20 to Rs 1,720-1,725 per 90 kg.
Following are today's quotations (in Rs per quintal):
Wheat MP (desi) Rs 2,100-2,400, Wheat dara (for mills) Rs 1,705-1,720, Chakki atta (delivery) Rs 1,720-1,725, Atta Rajdhani (10 kg) Rs 240, Shakti Bhog (10 kg) Rs 240, Roller flour mill Rs 940-950 (50 kg), Maida Rs 955-965 (50 kg) and Sooji Rs1,030-1,040 (50 kg).
Basmati rice (Lal Quila) Rs 10,700, Shri Lal Mahal Rs 11,300, Super Basmati Rice Rs 9,700, Basmati common new Rs 7,400-7,500, Rice Pusa (1121) Rs 6,000-6,800, Permal raw Rs 2,250-2,275, Permal wand Rs 2,300-2,350, Sela Rs 2,700-2,800 and Rice IR-8 Rs 1,875-2,000, Bajra Rs 1,350-1,360, Jowar yellow Rs 1,600-1650, white Rs 3,300-3,500, Maize Rs 1,450-1,460, Barley Rs 1,550-1,570. SUN KPS SRK

Tanzanian Farmers Expect Good Rice Harvesting Season

By Florence Mugarula
Tanzania rice farmers need to open small rice milling plants and package facilities to boost sales of the food product in the East African region and beyond as they expect bumper harvest in the forthcoming season.
The Rice Council of Tanzania (RCT) Marketing Officer, Mr Geofrey Edward, said yesterday that Tanzania farmers produce high quality rice but fail to meet international market criteria due to various reasons including poor packaging.
He said as rice farmers expect bumper yields in the next season, they need to strategise on how to boost sales in the EAC region and benefit more from what the country is richly endowed with.
"With the ongoing rains in various parts of the country, it is obvious that in the coming season, Tanzania farmers are going to get good harvest, we are therefore advising them to think of good market so that they can benefit from this business," he said.
Tanzania's rice is the most sought product in the region but despite plentiful supply, it has not been able to penetrate the huge and lucrative regional market due to doubts on genuineness, as there were cases of some dishonest traders mixing it with low quality imports from Pakistan.
According to information posted on the Rice Council of Tanzania website, Tanzania currently produces about 1.40 million MT of rice, grown mainly by small scale farmers and mostly under low-input, rainfed conditions. Although local production provides over 90 per cent of national demand, yields are generally low and there is little cohesive value chain development.
The result is an inefficient and generally uncompetitive rice sub-sector, but one which has great potential for rapid and substantial improvement. Mr Edward said RCT was emphasising on the proper use of fertilisers, modern storage and packaging and educate farmers across the country to add value to their products.
"We want them to pack rice in special bags that will be stamped with their company's names, this will help to maintain quality of their products," he said. According to Mr Edward, Tanzania farmers are currently selling rice informally and that through that process the government loses millions of shillings in revenues.
Tanzanian rice is always sold to neighbouring countries that pack it on bags and sell it at higher price.
Mr Edward said establishment of rice packaging and supply companies will add value to the local produced rice and it will be easier for the government to collect revenues

GIEWS Country Brief: Guyana 04-May-2017

04 May 2017 

·         Description: previewRice production in 2017 forecast at high level
·         Rice exports in 2016/17 marketing year to decline from last year’s high level
Rice production in 2017 forecast at high level
The harvest of the 2017 first season rice crop is well underway. The area sown during the first season increased some 25 percent over last year’s low level. Early estimates point to a good crop as the season developed normally and no major losses, due to abnormal weather conditions or pest infestations, have been reported. The planting of the second season rice crops, which accounts for half of the annual output, will not begin until June. The severe economic crisis affecting Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Guyana’s main export market, coupled with the good outcome of the first season crop may, however, depress sowings. FAO’s preliminary forecast for 2017 anticipates an increase in aggregate output of 8 percent over last year’s reduced rice crop, mostly reflecting better yields.
Rice exports in 2016/17 marketing year to decline from last year’s high level
Rice is the country’s second most important export commodity after gold, with normally about half of the annual production being exported. Rice exports in the 2016/17 marketing year (January/December), the bulk of which is exported in 2017, are anticipated to decline by 5 percent from last year’s high level, mainly reflecting the tight domestic supplies from the reduced 2016 crop and weaker demand due to the loss of main export markets.