Saturday, May 11, 2019

11th May,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Gene editing reassuring for safety of crops

By Wang Xiaoyu | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-10 09:01

Researchers from Huazhong Agricultural University showcase genetically modified rice at a scientific activity in Yichang, Hubei province. [Photo by LIU JUNFENG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Scientists say China should follow other countries in removing market barriers
Agricultural scientists in China have called for a regulatory shift to classify crops and plants developed through gene editing technology as traditionally bred varieties.
The current regulatory framework subjects gene-edited agricultural products to a high level of scrutiny, they said. The shift would streamline the examination and evaluation process, thus stimulating scientific research while accelerating commercial cultivation of gene-edited plants.
Research to develop new varieties of plants with desirable traits through gene editing has grown exponentially in recent years because the process is simpler and less expensive than genetic modification techniques that introduce foreign DNA into the plant, according to Zhu Jiankang, director of the Shanghai Center for Plant Stress Biology.
Gene editing relies on tweaking existing genomes, rather than adding DNA from other sources - a technique used in some hotly debated genetic work. The simpler, self-contained gene editing process exempts the technology from environmental and safety concerns that hamper progress in marketing other genetically modified products.
"In essence, gene editing technology is no different from natural mutations that take place in nature all the time," Zhu said. "The same result can also be achieved through traditional plant breeding, but gene editing is more precise."
It takes a minimum of a couple of months to develop a new variety of plant or crop using the gene editing technology, he said.
Even when off-target cuts of a DNA strand occur - meaning the cutting tool chops out unintended genes - the incident is unlikely to cause harm to humans, Zhu added.
The merits of genome editing, especially a key technique known as CRISPR, have already intrigued agricultural scientists around the world. A variety of advanced crops and plants, ranging from gluten-free wheat to seedless tomatoes, have been hatched in laboratories.
In recent years regulatory and legal frameworks have taken shape in some developed countries, Zhu said. In Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare ruled that food products developed through genome editing can be launched in the marketplace without safety evaluations if they meet certain criteria, Asahi Shimbun reported in March.
The move is seen as following a regulatory decision in the United States in August to drop extensive screenings for gene-edited agricultural products. A company based in Minnesota announced six months later that its oil from gene-edited soybean - a heart-healthy alternative with longer shelf life than conventional oil - had been sold to local restaurants.
Not every country is entirely on board, however. The European Court of Justice ruled last year that gene-edited agricultural products are subject to the same rigorous regulatory scrutiny as their traditional GMO counterparts.
Zhu said China has been a leading player in fundamental gene editing research, but the lack of a clear regulatory system to classify and evaluate resulting products means that applications are confined to scientific labs.
"From the beginning, plenty of discussion about how to ensure the safety of such products has taken place at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs," he said, adding that initial documents available suggest that a set of standards similar to GMO regulations will be applied in gene-edited plant field.
In Jinan, Shandong province, an industrial base devoted to developing gene-edited plants with advice from Zhu's team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is on track to roll out roughly 50 species within about six years.
"These new varieties are likely to enter the marketplace in China with much anticipation and at a swift pace, provided that clear rules are written that distinguish them from GMOs," he said.
He said about two dozen Chinese academicians have signed up for an initiative that calls for clear regulations of gene-edited plants, which will eventually increase the competitiveness of Chinese agricultural goods and smooth out their adoption in the mass market.
Zhao Bingran, a researcher at the Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center, said authorities should break down various genetic engineering techniques based on whether outside genes are introduced into the end product, and then devise regulations accordingly.
In late 2017, the research center announced that a low-cadmium Indica rice strain, cultivated through a combination of gene-editing technology and hybridization, had passed evaluation by the ministry that September. Zhao participated in the project.
"Since then, we have conducted a series of follow-up experiments and enlisted third parties to examine the safety, stability and quality of this new strain. More tests are underway," he said.
However, to obtain the examination and approval certificates required for new varieties of agricultural products, crop developers need greater flexibility than what the current regulatory mechanism allows, Zhao said.
"If we abide by the GMO regulation, field trials involving vast expanses of land are troublesome because strict quarantine measures are required," he said.
Other roadblocks are also likely to pose difficulties in the future, including consumer misunderstandings that demonize genetic engineering tools. It is also necessary to sort out patent issues associated with CRISPR, which is owned by research institutes in the United States.

A plant hormone that speeds root growth could be a new agricultural tool

MAY 10, 2019

Description: plant roots

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A molecule sold as a food additive has an underground role, too: helping roots grow faster.

When added to soil, the molecule, called beta-cyclocitral, speeds root growth in rice and tomato plants, scientists report May 8, 2019, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It also makes rice plants resistant to salty soil, which usually turns plants sickly and stunted. The molecule, a hormone found naturally in plants, could be a useful tool for farmers seeking healthier and more drought-resistant crops.

For centuries, plants have been bred for vigorous foliage and other easily visible traits. Because roots are hidden underground, "they've been largely ignored," says developmental biologist Philip Benfey, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Duke University.
And yet, roots make up half the plant, points out coauthor Jazz Dickinson, also at Duke. She and Benfey wanted to find plant hormones that affected root development. Their previous research had hinted that some molecule chemically related to carotenoids – the pigments that give carrots their vibrant orange hue – might be important. But the researchers weren't sure exactly which one, Dickinson says.

These racing roots show the effects of beta-cyclocitrical, a plant hormone that boosts root growth. The rice plants on the left are growing in a gel that contains the hormone, but the ones on the right aren’t getting any help. Credit: Benfey Lab/Duke University/Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Many of these carotenoid relatives have been repurposed and are available commercially as food additives or dietary supplements. Dickinson rounded up about 20 and tested their effects on a common lab plant, Arabidopsis. She added each compound to the clear agar gel in which the plants were growing – a setup that let her easily see the roots – and monitored what happened over 10 days.
"Beta-cyclocitral stood out," she says. It made the roots grow faster and also branch out more. And it had the same effect in rice and tomato plants, follow-up tests showed.
In rice plants, the team noticed an even more striking effect: the plants could also withstand salty soil. Irrigation of farm fields can make soil saltier, especially near the top. The team mimicked those conditions in the lab, and then watched how rice plants grew. "Untreated rice plants were very unhappy with that level of salt," Benfey says. But with beta-cyclocitral added, the plants didn't seem perturbed.
It's possible that the compound helped the roots push down through the salty topsoil to reach the deeper, less-salty soil more quickly, Dickinson proposes.
The researchers hope that beta-cyclocitral will be useful agriculturally, either added to soil or sprayed onto crops. And since the molecule worked in both rice and tomatoes – two very different plants – it may boost root growth in crops more broadly.

Govt urges European Union to relax residue norms for Indian basmati

Thursday, May 9

By Kaushal Verma

NEW DELHI – India has urged the European Union to relax norms on the maximum permissible residue level of a fungicide found in basmati rice exported to the common bloc, a senior government official said.

"The European Union has lowered the maximum permissible residue level of Tricyclazole (fungicide) in basmati rice to that level which was difficult to reduce in Indian rice all of a sudden," the official said.

Though Indian scientists are working on it, the government has written to the common bloc seeking relaxation for at least one year, he said.

The European Union has reduced the maximum permissible residue level of Tricyclazole in basmati rice to 0.01 mg per kg from the previous limit of 1.0 mg per kg, effective Jan 1, 2018.

Though the government has asked farmers and market participants to comply with the new norms, rice producers and scientists found it difficult to reduce maximum permissible residue to the required level in such a short span of time. 

Since it is difficult to export the commodity at the given maximum permissible residue level to the European Union, the Centre has requested the common bloc to buy basmati at the previous level of 1.0 mg per kg, the official said.

Earlier, the maximum permissible residue level of Tricyclazole in basmati rice was 5 mg per kg and eventually, it was lowered to 1.0 mg per kg. To further reduce it to the desired level would take time, the official said.

Demand for Indian basmati rice waned significantly in European Union in 2018-19 (Apr-Mar) due to the new mandate, he said.

Countries in European Union have bought 208,503 tn basmati from India in Apr-Feb, around half of what they imported in 2017-18 (Apr-Mar), according to Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority data showed.

However, higher demand from Iran and Saudi Arabia offset any steep fall in overall basmati exports from India, the world's largest producer of basmati rice, in the last fiscal, he said.  End

Edited by Ramya J.S. D'Rozario

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KUFOS scientists identify new fish

PublishedMay 11, 2019, 1:31 am IST
UpdatedMay 11, 2019, 1:31 am IST

Ajeer, fish hobbyist, stumbled upon this interesting fish on his rice field near Vengara in Malappuram District of Kerala.
Description: Aenigmachanna gollum
 Aenigmachanna gollum
Kochi: A research team of Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) along with British scientists have found a new species of 'snakehead fish' in the subterranean waters of Kerala. The scientific paper reporting the finding, made by Dr. Rajeev Raghavan, assistant professor at the Department of Fisheries Resource Management, Kufos, and  V.K. Anoop, a research student under him, will be published in the international animal taxonomy journal Zootaxa, published form Auckland.
The fish has been named Aenigmachanna gollum (Gollum Snakehead- common name) after 'Gollum', a character from the 'The Lord of the Rings', a creature that changed its morphological features. The new fish has been identified as new genus of the snakehead family Channidae (which is currently represented by two other genera, Channa in Asia, and Parachanna in Africa).

Snakehead fishes (varaal - in Malayalam) of the family Channidae are predatory freshwater fish comprising 50 valid species, many of which are important edible fishes. Although readily recognised as a member of the family Channidae, the new species shows several morphological features that are highly unusual or even unique in comparison to its closest relatives. Aenigmachanna gollum also represents the first species of snakehead to be recorded from subterranean waters.
Ajeer, fish hobbyist, stumbled upon this interesting fish on his rice field near Vengara in Malappuram District of Kerala. "The fish had a strikingly distinct morphology from any other species found in India, and the fact that it represented a new species was evident from the moment I saw the specimens" said Mr Anoop, a co-author of the paper.

A "Retreat from Commitments" Leads to a Quick Jump in U.S. Import Duties on China 
By Bob Cummings

WASHINGTON, DC -- It took only days for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to follow through on President Trump's weekend tweet expressing frustration over apparent backsliding by China after months of trade negotiations, to increase U.S. duties today on $200 billion of imports from China, including rice.  Published in yesterday's Federal Register, USTR said that "...China has chosen to retreat from specific commitments agreed to in earlier rounds (of negotiations)" as the reason for the increase in duties from the current 10 percent to 25 percent.
"The U.S. rice industry has relied on the clear-eyed and strong approach of the Trump Administration towards our market access goal of opening the China market in the broader bilateral U.S.-China trade negotiations," said Bobby Hanks, chair of the USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee and a Louisiana miller.  "The Administration's efforts have gotten us legal access to China, but we have yet to ship, while China continues to displace domestic rice in Puerto Rico, so an increase in import duties to 25 percent is welcome and a move we support."      

A high level delegation from China is currently in Washington, DC, for what many viewed were to be concluding discussions in preparation for a summit meeting between Trump and China's President Xi to conclude a comprehensive trade agreement.  However, media reports indicated that Chinese officials made substantive edits to the agreement, characterized by USTR Robert Lighthizer in the press as "an erosion of commitments by China" that resulted in the U.S. increase in import duties.  Negotiations continue as this edition of the USA Rice Daily is published.

"Rice and the rest of U.S. agriculture can only benefit from a comprehensive trade agreement with China that stresses trade over tariffs.   But that can only come when China lives up to the commitments it has negotiated and can be held accountable," concluded Hanks.

            USA RICE DAILY

WASDE Report Released  

WASHINGTON, DC -- The 2019/20 outlook for U.S. rice is for higher supplies, exports, domestic use, and ending stocks.  For the 2018/19 market year, imports and exports are each reduced 1 million cwt, and the season-average farm price is lowered $0.10 per cwt to $12.00. U.S. 2019/20 all rice production is projected at 218.2 million cwt, down 3 percent from the previous year.  Both long-grain and combined medium- and short-grain production are projected to be smaller this year.  The year-over-year supply increase stems from an 82 percent increase in
beginning stocks.  Total U.S. rice supplies are projected to increase more than 6 percent to 299.8 million cwt.

U.S. 2019/20 total use is projected at 241 million cwt, up nearly 6 percent from the previous year with both domestic and residual use and exports higher.  Long grain exports are projected up 9 percent to 72 million cwt, and combined medium- and short-grain exports are up 7 percent to 29 million cwt.  Both export changes are based on improved price competitiveness and larger exportable supplies.  All rice ending stocks are projected at 58.8 million cwt, up 10 percent and the largest since the 1985/86 market year.  The 2019/20 all rice season-average farm price is projected at $11.20 per cwt, down $0.80 from last year's revised price.

World rice production for 2019/20 is projected at 498.4 million tons, down fractionally from the previous year's record.  China and India lead production declines with crops reduced 2.5 million tons and 1 million tons, respectively.  Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Indonesia have the largest production increases.  Global rice consumption is projected at a record 496.1 million tons, up 4.1 million.  Global exports for 2019/20 are projected at a record 47.6 million tons, up 900,000 from the previous year.  World 2019/20 ending stocks are projected at a record 172.2 million tons with China projected to hold 68 percent of global stocks.

Go here to read the full report. 

It’s cool watching plane drop rice seed in flooded Sacramento Valley field


It's rice planting time in the Sacramento Valley and Northern California as planes seed flooded fields form above at 100 mph. 

In shallow-flooded fields north of Sacramento, planes flying at 100 mph are dropping rice seed as another growing season begins.
It takes 150 pounds of seed to plant once acre, according to the California Rice Commission. About 9,000 pounds of rice will be produced from that one acre. The rice commission says that one acre will feed 350 U.S. consumers for one year.
This is the time of year rice growers run water into their fields to a depth of 5 inches. After the shallow flooding, the seeding begins. The heavy seeds sink into the furrows and begin to grow. By early August, the rice will start to flower. The fields will be drained later that month, and the crop harvested around September or October.
As a byproduct, California rice production will provide birds and other wildlife with 500,000 acres of habitat.
The video above shows the seeding at Montna Farms near Yuba City, CA.

Govt Provide Agri-implements On Half Price

Description: Govt provide agri-implements on half price

Provincial Agriculture department evolved a plan to track the agriculture sector on modern lines in order to enhance its productivity

SIALKOT, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - APP - 10th May, 2019 ) -: Provincial Agriculture department evolved a plan to track the agriculture sector on modern lines in order to enhance its productivity.
Sources in Agriculture department told APP on Friday that the cost of the plan was Rs.4.50 billion and under the program the government will provide modern agri-implements on half price to the growers in fifteen districts of the Punjab.
He said the government will provide 700 rice Trans-planters, power sprayers etc in SialkotLahoreGujranwalaFaisalabadSheikhupuraJhangOkaraGujratMandi Bahauddin through balloting.
In Sialkot district,the department initiated training programme for the paddy growers to adopt new rice cultivation techniques.
Drip Sprinkler system would be installed on 20,000 acres of land in order to utilize available irrigation water.
He said steps were taken for promoting the tunnel farming to promote growing off-season vegetables around the year.

Pakistan's exports to China grow 3.93pc in 8 months

  Last Updated On 09 May,2019 04:26 pm
The trade of goods and services with China witnessed decrease of 11.85 percent
ISLAMABAD (APP) – Pakistan’s exports of goods and services to China grew by 3.93 percent during the first eight months of the current fiscal year compared to the corresponding period of last year, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported.
The overall exports to China were recorded at $1150.523 million during July-February (2018-19) against exports of $1107.004 million during July-February (2017-18), PBS data revealed.
On the other hand, the imports from China into the country during the period were recorded at $6633.191 million against $7326.706 million last year, showing negative growth of 9.46 percent in first eight month of current fiscal year.
Based on the trade figures, the trade of goods and services with China witnessed decrease of 11.85 percent in deficit during first eight months of ongoing fiscal year as compared to the corresponding period of last year.
The deficit during the period under review was recorded at $5482.668 million against $6219.702 million during same period of last year, the data revealed.
The commodities that contributed positively growth in exports included fish frozen exports of which grew from $23.563 million last year to $44.048 million during the current fiscal year, showing growth of 86.93 percent.
The exports of rice also increased by 77.70 percent, from $71.829 million to $127.645 million whereas the exports of flour, meal and meat (not for human) increased by 132 percent, from $8.959 million to $20.786 million.
The exports of fruits nuts grew by 437.15 percent, from $0.681 million to $3.658 million while the exports of refined copper and copper alloys increased by 515.35 percent, from $5.908 million last year to $36.355 million, the data revealed.
Over all Pakistan’s exports to other countries witnessed an increase of 0.16 percent in eight months, from $19.486 billion to $19.454 billion, the SBP data revealed.
Meanwhile, the commodities that contributed positively growth in imports included rice imports of which grew from US $3.829 million last year to US $9.311 million during the current fiscal year, showing increase of 143.17 percent.
The imports of ginger, saffron, turmeric, thyme, bay leaves and curry also increased by 4.70 percent, from $26.706 million to $27.963 million whereas the imports of nitrile- function compounds increased by 14.69 percent, from $66.659 million to $76.457 million.
The imports of palm oil and its fractions also increased by 358.68 percent, from $0.881 million to $4.041million whereas the imports of carbon NES increased by 106.73 percent, from $3.963 million to $8.193 million.
The imports of tomatoes prepared or preserved NES increased by 20.67 percent, from $2.549 million to $3.076 million whereas the imports of heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atom(s) also increased by 25.18 percent, from $26.212 million to $38.814 million.
The overall imports into the country decreased by 4.85 percent, from $43.004 billion to $41.032 billion, according to the data.

Pakistani Food Products Have A Huge Market In Saudi Arabia: Envoy

Description: Pakistani food products have a huge market in Saudi Arabia: Envoy

Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz has said that Pakistani food and textile products have a huge market in Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - APP - 10th May, 2019 ) : Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz has said that Pakistani food and textile products have a huge market in Saudi Arabia.
According to a news report published in Saudi Gazette on Friday, the ambassador said, "We are encouraging our exporters to take advantage of this market." In a meeting with Jeddah-based Pakistani journalists, he said that a recent visit of a delegation of Rice Exporter Association of Pakistan has enabled our rice exporters to expand their reach in Saudi Arabia.
Responding to a question regarding the problems being faced by Pakistani workers in some companies, the ambassador said that he was personally in contact with the heads of these companies and assured that the interest of Pakistani workers interest will be safeguarded.
Answering another query on labor requirement in the Kingdom, he said that Saudi Arabia is a fast growing economy and its need for labor has not decreased. He said the country has diversified its labor requirement from unskilled to skilled labor, adding "We need to send more qualified and skilled worker to Saudi Arabia".
The Ambassador said that the transfer of prisoner agreement with the Saudi government is in process and we hope that it will be finalized soon. He appreciated the interest shown by the journalists in community issues and said that the media should keep on playing its constructive role in bringing forth the issues of Pakistani community.

The truth about the Mohmand Dam

To save precious water, and help curb excessive land degradation in Sindh due to waterlogging, seepage and salinity, the chief minister of Sindh has urged the farmers near Ghotki Feeder, Rohri, Nara, Dadu, and the northwest canals not to grow rice (which consumes 70 inches of the irrigation) and grow cotton (which consumes 36 inches of irrigation) and other low-delta crops instead.
The chief minister also urged the irrigation managers to provide water in these canals in the month of May to ensure that farmers have water to grow cotton and other crops which are sown in May, as opposed to rice which is sown in June. But if water does not become available in May, the farmers are left with no choice but to plant rice later in June.
The Kabul River, feeding the Indus from the west, is known as ‘early riser’ for summers. It adds significant volumes of water into the Indus below Tarbela Dam. This early water comes in Kabul River from snowmelt and glacial melt starting in April. Other sources of water in the Indus, in the month of May, come from upper Indus (upstream of Tarbela), Jhelum, Ravi and Sutlej. But all these rivers are dammed.
Dam managers at Tarbela and Mangla start filling their reservoirs as soon as the glacial melt starts in April, releasing little for downstream that can help early sowing in Sindh. Ravi and Sutlej have also been dammed and diverted by India as a consequence of the Indus Water Treaty. Chenab is the only un-dammed river but it is not predominately glacial fed and hence does not significantly contribute to waters in Indus in the month of May. Given this, the most significant source of early waters in Indus for Sindh is the Kabul River. The significance of the river’s waters for Sindh cannot be overemphasised.
Afghanistan, which shares a significant part of the Kabul River Basin with Pakistan is already planning and constructing some major works in her part of the Kabul River Basin with the help of foreign agencies. Pakistan has some reservations on these plans. Various Track II meetings have been held between the representatives of the two countries with the help of the United States Agency for International Development. One of Pakistan’s point in these meetings is the importance of “prior use” of Kabul River waters for the early crops of Sindh. The “prior use” is protected by many international treaties, declarations and conventions and Pakistan can build a strong case on this.
According to the Madrid Declaration of 1911, the regime of rivers and lakes, contiguous or successive, could not be altered by one state to the detriment of a co-riparian without the consent of the other.
The Geneva Convention of 1923 specially provides in Article 4 that the development of hydropower might not cause serious prejudice to downstream users. In the Declaration of Montevideo of 1933, Article 2 articulates that industrial or agricultural exploitation should have the consent of the other riparian as well. Then there are Helsinki Rules of 1966 on shared basins which, besides recognising prior use, also invokes environmental impacts, social aspects and navigation. The 1994 UN Draft Article on international rivers also supports the doctrine of ‘prior use’. The list goes on.
Equipped with these internationally recognised doctrines on prior use, we can make a good case to ensure that Kabul River continues to flow as it does today, avoid the mistakes we made in negotiating the Indus Water Treaty, and, strike a ‘benefit sharing’ formula with Afghanistan instead of ‘water sharing’.
But by the construction of the Mohmand Dam on the Swat River, which is one of the major tributaries of Kabul River Basin within Pakistan, we shall cause prejudice and harm to the lower riparian Sindhi farmers who are so critically dependent on early flows from the Kabul River.
Sindh is an already estranged entity on damming and diversions of Indus waters since the 1850s. The country needs, more than ever before, national unity and integration. Damming of Swat River could seriously impact national harmony – giving ammunition to our foes.
The emerging dialogue between Pakistan and Afghanistan could also be seriously impacted where Pakistan can take advantage of ‘prior use’ of Kabul River in Sindh. The construction of a dam in Kabul River Basin by Pakistan, however, will demonstrate that Pakistan, in reality, does not hold important the ‘prior use’ of the river’s waters for early crops in Sindh. This will damage our international stance on devising a benefit-sharing formula with Afghanistan, where we are proposing invoking of River Navigation as a win-win for both countries and let the river flow.
Last, but not the least, environmental consequences (which would run in billions of dollars per year if accounted accurately) are well established for such dams. Generations to come will keep paying these costs.
At the groundbreaking of the Mohmand Dam, the prime minister was all praise for China in his speech. He urged the nation to follow Chinese examples. One important example from China, that the PM missed out, is worth mentioning here. According to BBC Future and Forbes, Chinese have installed 130 GigaWatts (GW) of solar power so far (highest in the world), out of which 96 GW were added in the last two years alone. On the other hand, the massive Three Gorges Dam (TDG) took 20 years for 23 GW, at the installation cost of $1.75 per watt.
The installation cost of solar, on the other hand, is currently well below $1 for utilities and falling. According to a research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), published in the Energy Policy in 2018, the prices of solar would drop between $0.30 and $0.18 per watt over the next five years. The cost at Mohmand Dam (if no cost overruns happen) will be in the tune of $3.5 per watt – ten times higher than solar.
Ignoring future trends and adopting expansive/outdated technologies is not our best option – that too when it comes at the cost of national harmony, environmental destruction and our international stance on Kabul River Basin’s future.

Pakistan’s exports to China upwardly mobile, increase by 3.93 percent in 8 months

Web Desk May 9, 2019 May 9, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s exports of goods and services to China grew by 3.93 percent during the first eight months of the current fiscal year compared to the corresponding period of last year, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported.
The overall exports to China were recorded at $1150.523 million during July-February (2018-19) against exports of $1107.004 million during July-February (2017-18), PBS data revealed.
Based on the trade figures, the trade of goods and services with China witnessed decrease of 11.85 percent in deficit during first eight months of the ongoing fiscal year as compared to the corresponding period of last year.
The deficit during the period under review was recorded at $5482.668 million against $6219.702 million during same period of last year, the data revealed.
The commodities that contributed positively growth in exports included frozen fish of which a growth from $23.563 million last year to $44.048 million during the current fiscal year was observed, showing growth of 86.93 percent.
The export of rice also increased by 77.70 percent, from $71.829 million to $127.645 million whereas the exports of flour, meal and meat (not for humans) increased by 132 percent.
The exports of fruits and nuts grew by 437.15 percent, from $0.681 million to $3.658 million while the exports of refined copper and copper alloys increased by 515.35 percent, from $5.908 million last year to $36.355 million, said the report.
Over all Pakistan’s exports to other countries witnessed an increase of 0.16 percent in eight months, from $19.486 billion to $19.454 billion.
The overall imports into the country decreased by 4.85 percent, from $43.004 billion to $41.032 billion, according to the data.

Metro high school baseball roundup


Breckenridge 5, 3, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 1, 2

GLYNDON, Minn. — Cooper Yaggie hit a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 2 to seal a doubleheader sweep for Breckenridge over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton on Thursday in Minnesota high school baseball.
Jay Greuel and Carter Bohn each had two hits to lead D-G-F in Game 1.
Yaggie hit two doubles and Jack Aigner drove in two runs for Breckenridge in the opener.
In the second game, Jimmy Phillips whacked a two-run double to pace the Rebels.
D-G-F dropped to 4-5 overall and 2-4 in the Heart O’Lakes conference. The Cowboys improved to 9-4 overall and 6-2 in the HOL.

Grand Forks Central 8, Fargo North 3

FARGO — Grand Forks Central erupted for five runs in the top of the seventh inning en route to an Eastern Dakota Conference victory over Fargo North.
Blake Anderson had three hits for the Spartans and Payton Reed drove in two runs.
Joey Grabanski had a game-high three RBIs to lead the Knights. Cole Wigestrand brought home two runs.
Central improved to 8-4 overall and 6-1 in the EDC. North fell to 8-9 overall and 3-5 in conference play.

Moorhead 11, Sauk Rapids-Rice 7

SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. — Moorhead scored four innings in the first inning and four in the fourth en route to a victory over Sauk Rapids-Rice.
Caleb Saari went 2-for-3 with three RBIs for the Spuds. Thomas Horan went 2-for-3 and drove home one run.
The Spuds improved to 9-2 overall, while Sauk Rapids-Rice dropped to 4-5.

Việt Nam, China look to increase rice trade co-operation

Update: May, 10/2019 - 15:20
A paddy field in the Mekong Delta. — VNA/VNS Photo
AN GIANG — A conference to boost rice trade co-operation between Việt Nam and China was held in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang on Thursday.
China was one of the biggest rice producers and rice import markets in the world, according to Phan Lợi, deputy director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade.

An Giang exported over 400,000 tonnes of rice annually, he said, adding the province was leading the country in building large-scale paddy fields and material areas.

It was able to meet the import criteria of other countries, including China, he said.

With the assistance of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the opportunity for An Giang rice to penetrate into the Chinese market is absolutely feasible.

The locality has big ambitions to export more rice to China and aims to ship more products besides rice to the market.

Liu Ying, vice chairman of Shanxi province’s food association and head of the Chinese business delegation, expressed high regard for the quality and price of rice in the Mekong Delta.

He advised Vietnamese exporters to follow China’s regulations on quarantine and design, and participate more in brand promotions as China had limited imports through unofficial channels while imposing stricter requirements for imports.

China’s modern population was increasingly busy with little time to travel to markets to buy rice. Vietnamese businesses should pay attention to the production of suitably weighted rice bags for sale online to serve this segment, he recommended.

Trần Quốc Toản, deputy head of the Department of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said businesses participating in the conference were potential customers from the Shanxi food association.

These firms had been allowed by the Chinese Government to import 180,000 tonnes of rice, accounting for about 10 percent of Việt Nam’s total rice exports to China.

The event also created an opportunity for Chinese rice importers to study Việt Nam’s rice production development plans and orientations to seek co-operation contracts with Vietnamese partners.

On this occasion, the An Giang Department of Industry and Trade and the Shanxi food association signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on bilateral trade cooperation.

Two local businesses also inked five MoUs on trade co-operation with Chinese firms. — VNS 

Vietnam, China look to increase rice trade cooperation

Description: paddy field in the Mekong Delta (Photo: VNA)

An Giang (VNA) –
 A conference to seek methods towards boosting rice trade cooperation between Vietnam and China was held in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang on May 9.

China is one of the biggest rice producers and rice import markets in the world, according to Phan Loi, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade.

An Giang exports over 400,000 tonnes of rice annually, he said, adding that the province is leading the country in building large-scale paddy fields and material areas.

It is able to meet the import criteria of countries, including China, he said.

With the assistance of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the opportunity for An Giang rice to penetrate into the Chinese market is absolutely feasible.

The locality has big ambitions to export more rice to China and aims to ship more products besides rice to the market.

Liu Ying, Vice Chairman of Shanxi province’s food association and head of the Chinese business delegation, expressed high regard for the quality and price of rice in the Mekong Delta.

He advised Vietnamese exporters to obey China’s regulations on quarantines and design, and participate more in brand promotion as China has limited imports through unofficial channels while imposing stricter requirements for imports.

China’s modern population is increasingly busy, with little time to travel to markets to buy rice. Vietnamese businesses should pay attention to the production of suitably weighted rice bags for sale online to serve this segment, he recommended.

Tran Quoc Toan, deputy head of the Department of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said businesses participating in the conference are potential customers from the Shanxi food association.

These firms have been allowed by the Chinese Government to import 180,000 tonnes of rice, accounting for about 10 percent of Vietnam’s total rice exports to China.

The event also creates an opportunity for Chinese rice importers to study Vietnam’s rice production development plans and orientations to seek cooperation contracts with Vietnamese partners.

On this occasion, the An Giang Department of Industry and Trade and the Shanxi food association signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on bilateral trade cooperation.

Two local businesses inked five MoUs on trade cooperation with Chinese firms. –VNA 

Perverse situation

  • The country's cereal import bill hits a record high despite bumper harvests
Workers unload sacks of onion at a market in Kapilvastu. Vegetable imports jumped 32.38 percent to Rs22.48 billion in the review period.Post File Photo
May 9, 2019-

Nepal saw the largest paddy and wheat harvest in history in the third quarter of this fiscal year. Despite this, its cereal import bill also hit a new record high. Analysts maintain that the steep rise in cereal imports is largely due to soaring demand for fine rice and maize used as animal feed. This is a perverse situation, especially for a country where agriculture still largely dominates economic activities, as Nepal is rapidly becoming dependent on imported food. As a corollary, people are facing accelerating prices of basic food imports, too. Annually, billions are being poured into the agricultural sector, mainly on subsidising fertiliser; but it looks like the investments have not been able to yield the desired results.
According to the Department of Customs, Nepal imported rice, paddy, maize and wheat worth Rs40.21 billion in the first nine months of 2018-19, up 23.10 percent year-on-year. The top contributors are rice and maize. Rice imports hit 384,956 tonnes valued at Rs19.32 billion. Nepal imported 201,620 tonnes of paddy worth Rs5.60 billion and 302,382 tonnes of maize worth Rs8.72 billion.

Nepal’s reliance on foreign markets for agricultural goods has increased nearly fivefold in the last nine years. The food import bill in 2009-10 amounted to Rs44.43 billion. It jumped to Rs76.05 billion in 2011-12 and to Rs99.35 billion in 2012-13. It further ballooned to Rs127.51 billion in 2013-14. In 2014-15, Nepal imported agro products worth Rs157.78 billion, pushing agro commodities to the top of the list of imports and knocking petroleum products from the number one spot.
Agricultural issues related to imports and ballooning trade deficits are not new. The government has for years been saying that it will make the country self-sufficient in food, but it is constantly fallen short of delivering on its promise. One of the key reasons behind stagnant agricultural production is labour shortage. This problem has been further exacerbated by the country’s mechanisation policy failing to address the problem of labour shortage.
The agriculture sector continues to decline and is no longer the main economic driver of the country. According to Ram Krishna Regmi, the chief statistician at the Agriculture Ministry, commercial vegetable farming has boomed in the country, but the government cannot ascertain the sharp rise in imports. This cannot be an excuse. The government needs to get into the root cause of the problem and try to find a solution. This has been said over and over again, but it bears repetition: To enhance exports, the country first must identify and diversify its exportable items and find markets for them along with adopting measures of farm mechanisation and modernisation.

A crisis that grew under the shadow of 2008’s Great Recession

The speculation on food staples set off a price surge and forced countries to intervene


A lot of attention was paid to the financial crisis of 2008. Regulations were introduced and somewhat enforced; stress checks became standard practice in understanding where the banking sector is headed; and various monetary and fiscal measures were carried out to bring back economic growth.
The same year also witnessed a food crisis which, relatively speaking, garnered much less attention than the financial crisis. This is despite the fact that the build-up to the 2008 food crisis began in 2006, as prices for maize, rice, and wheat ascended to levels that inflated food import bills for countries and made necessary food commodities unaffordable for rural populations. This left countries in a dire fiscal situation and rendered rural populations’ food sourcing insecure.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), its food price index rose “by 63 per cent between January 2007 and June 2008”, where “international prices of traditional staple foods such as maize and rice increased by 74 and 166 per cent, respectively”. In the second-half of 2008, domestic prices for maize, rice and wheat, were “about 40 per cent higher” than their levels 10 years ago.
The 2008 food crisis is attributed to a few factors.
One, the increase in food prices is linked to an increase in oil prices, especially given the 1973 precedent and the higher food prices that correlated with it. In fact, the recent increase in prices of maize and wheat mirrored that of oil towards their peak levels in 2008. The price of rice increased the most among the three, as less than 10 per cent of all the rice produced globally is traded, i.e. exported and imported.
Two, higher production of biofuels, which means that more farmland and food commodities are going into their production rather than to other uses. This was especially the case for maize and sugar.
Three, the possibility of a food shortage at the time of the crisis, which limited supply while demand for food is constantly on the rise, theoretically at least.
Any of the above factors could be the cause of the 2008 food crisis, or could have simply correlated with it, without necessarily causing it. There was no shortage in food production around the time of the crisis. There was however an unprecedented increase in demand for food that was not destined to feeding the populace or the hungry.
While there is no denial that the above-mentioned reasons could have contributed to the hike in food prices, the main reason behind the 2008 food crisis was the 2008 financial crisis itself.
When the world started to feel the ramifications of the 2008 financial crisis, institutional investors as well as speculators started moving their investments from mortgage-backed products to futures and options that trade in food commodities. In a report by the UN, more than $300 billion were invested in such products.
As demand for the futures and options went up, so did demand for actual food commodities that are required to fulfil those contracts. The sudden surge in demand caused an unaccounted for imbalance between demand for food and its supply, with food prices increasing as a result.
The increase in international food prices was detrimental for countries that relied on food imports to meet their needs. Not only because such reliance significantly increased their food imports, but because producers and exporters of rice and wheat decided to impose export bans on those commodities.
In his account of the 2008 food crisis, Walden Bello, author of “The Food Wars”, points out that “countries like China and Argentina resorted to taxes or quotas on their rice and wheat exports to avert local shortages”, while “rice exports were simply banned in Cambodia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam”. Export bans limited food supply at a time when it was facing a sudden surge in demand from investors and speculators, which further aggravated the crisis.
High food prices and export bans that pushed those prices even higher have made countries weary of importing food and keen on establishing, or re-invigorating, their agricultural sector. Post-2008 data for food production, food imports, and food exports show a general increase in the Self-Sufficiency Ratio (SSR) — a ratio calculated by FAO that measures the production of a food commodity in proportion to its net overall supply in a country.
This includes countries that were self-sufficient at a certain point and were lured away by cheaper food imports.
To sum up, the 2008 food crisis would not have taken place if not for the 2008 financial crisis and the shift in investments from mortgage-backed to financial products that deal with food commodities. The heightened speculation in food-related futures and options have thrown global food markets off balance, resulting in higher food prices that were pushed even higher with quotas and export bans.
Other factors, such as higher oil prices and higher production of biofuels have added to the mix of factors that increased food prices to the unprecedented levels witnessed in 2008.
Higher international prices for key commodities such as maize, rice, and wheat, which constitute 60 per cent of global energy intake, have dissipated into higher domestic food prices. Food importing countries footed a financial bill in addition to unrest as food protests broke out in tens of countries following the 2008 crisis.
Non-food producing populations footed the bill too by being locked out from a food market that was, until the 2008 food crisis, affordable. Consequently, countries re-visited their food self-sufficiency plans, and many have re-started them too.
The last thought that I want to leave you with: at what cost should higher self-sufficiency in various food commodities be sustained?
Abdulnasser Alshaali is a UAE based economist.


Cambodian rice exports to China surge following EU tariffs

By Prak Chan Thul
PHNOM PENH, May 6 – Cambodian rice exports to China have surged after the European Union imposed duties on imports of the grain from the Southeast Asian nation, the World Bank said on Monday.
The EU in January imposed tariffs for three years on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar to curb an increase in imports from those two countries and to protect EU producers such as Italy.
Cambodia has filed a challenge with the European Court of Justice against the duties, saying the so-called “safeguard” measure did not relate to any unfair behaviour and was based on broad generalisations and a flawed use of data.
After the tariffs were imposed, Cambodia’s milled rice exports to the EU in February reached only 10,080 tons, a 57.8 percent decline from the previous month, the bank said in its country economic update.
Cambodia exported 270,000 tones or 43 percent of its total milled rice exports to the EU in 2018, the World Bank said.
“Overall, the decline of Cambodia’s rice exports to the EU was more than offset by the increase in the country’s rice exports to the Chinese market,” the bank said in its report.
Cambodia’s rice exports to China grew by 45.6 percent, the bank said, and it managed to increase its overall exports of rice by 2 percent during the first two months of the year.
Cambodia at present gets a trade preference from the EU known as Everything But Arms (EBA), making all Cambodian exports duty free except arms.
The EU accounts for more than one-third of Cambodia’s exports, including garments, footwear and bicycles.
In February, the EU started an 18-month process that could lead to a suspension of Cambodia’s EBA status over its record on human rights and democracy.
The World Bank said if the EBA is suspended, Cambodia would see a maximum decline in exports to the EU of $654 million. (Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Tom Hoguer)

A New Source Of Antioxidants Is Finally Discovered, Experts Say

Description: burning charcoal
burning charcoal(Photo: Hasan Albari/ Pexels)
Stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers are only some of the diseases that could eventually lead to death. But did you know that there is but one common denominator among all these illnesses? These are all the effects of free radicals.
With all these diseases, it is indeed undeniable how free radicals can be dangerous to the body, as reported by Live ScienceThese byproducts of oxygen metabolism are said to be very toxic and could even cause damages to healthy cells. Good thing we have antioxidants. These substances are what covers the body against the negative effects of these toxins.
Because of the efficiency of these antioxidants in combating free radicals, experts have been aggressive in working hand in hand to search for every possible source of it. After several studies, experts have finally been successful in finding an unexpected and amazing source.
The new study, which was posted in Medical News Todaywas led by the scientists at Rice University in Houston, TX, the McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center, and the Texas A&M Health Science Center. These experts have finally found a common source that could fight oxidative stress. That is coal.
Years ago, several experts discovered there is an antioxidant that can be derived from graphene quantum dots (GQDs), a substance that can be extracted from common coal. With this discovery, the scientists behind the recent study were able to manipulate the substance to create something that could combat oxidative stress in a cheaper but still effective way.
After several trials, based on the study posted in the ACS Applied Material & Interfaces journal, the experts finally came up with a solution after adding polyethylene glycol (PEG) to these coal-derived quantum dots. That was after they witnessed positive results to the rodents they've tested.
To see the results of the study, several rodents were given different coal dots concentration. Through observation, researchers were able to witness how rodents that were given a dosage 15 minutes after adding hydrogen peroxide, which is a substance that can effectively induce oxidative stress, showed a positive response.
There are two kinds of coal that were used in the study where researchers have extracted quantum dots. These two coals include anthracite and bituminous coal. Through the results of the study, experts found that among the two, quantum dots from anthracite coal is much more effective in preserving more cells even with just a minimum quantity.
Though researchers believe there are still so much to discover regarding this study, James Tour, one of the chemists at Rice University, has his faith focused on it. The expert believes that in the future, with this discovery, the future society will be healthier and will be able to live a longer life. 
Sea rice research moves ahead as China works to boost food security
Bonnie Au
Chinese researchers are making progress in a more than 30-year programme to develop rice that can thrive in tidal flats and saline-alkaline soil.

Also known as salt-alkali-tolerant rice, sea rice is being tested on five types of saline-alkaline areas across the country.

Researchers also have built an extensive bank of sea rice seeds, as part of the project started in 1986 to improving food security in China.

Plants and the art of microbial maintenance

Description: Plants and the art of microbial maintenance
The plant as sculptor. Credit: Phil Robinson
It's been known for centuries that plants produce a diverse array of medically-valuable chemicals in their roots.
The benefits for human health are clear, but it's been less apparent how and why plants expend 20 percent of their energy building these exotic chemicals. Is it for defence? Is it waste? What is it for?
A joint study from the John Innes Centre and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has shed new light on this fundamental question of plant specialised metabolism.
Appearing in the journal Science, the study reveals that plants use their root-derived chemicals to muster and maintain communities of microbes. It suggests that across the plant kingdom diverse plant chemistry may provide a basis for communication that enables the sculpting of microbial communities tailored to the specific needs of the host plant, be that a common weed or major crops such as rice or wheat.
The findings provide researchers with a gateway to engineering plant root microbiota in a range of major crops.
"This question has fascinated people for hundreds of years and we've found this chemistry enables plants to direct the assembly and maintenance of microbial communities in and around the roots," says Professor Anne Osbourn of the John Innes Centre, a co-author of the study.
"We assume that the plant is shaping the root microbiota for its own benefit. If we can understand what the plant is doing and what kind of microbes are responding to it and what the benefits are then we may be able to use that knowledge to design improved crops or to engineer the root microbiome for enhanced productivity and sustainability and to move away from fertilizers and pesticides," adds Professor Osbourn.
In this study the team uncovered a metabolic network expressed in the roots of the well-known model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. This network, organised primarily around gene clusters, can make over 50 previously undescribed molecules belonging to a diverse family of plant natural products called Triterpenes.
The researchers generated plants altered in the production of these root-derived chemicals and working with Professor Yang Bai of the Chinese Academy of Sciences grew these plants in natural soil from a farm in Beijing.
The results showed clear differences in the types of microbial communities that these plants assembled compared with the wild plants.
In further experiments the group synthesized many of these newly-discovered chemicals and tested their effect on communities of cultured microbes in a laboratory re-enactment of plant-microbial interactions in the soil.
"Using this approach, we can see that very small differences in chemical structures can have profound effects on whether a particular molecule will inhibit or promote the growth of a particular bacteria. Taken together we can clearly see that very subtle, selective modulation of microbes by this cocktail of chemicals," says first author of the paper Dr. Ancheng Huang.
Comparisons with root bacterial profiles in rice and wheat that do not make these Arabidopsistriterpenes demonstrated that these genetic networks were modulating bacteria towards the assembly of an Arabidopsis-specific root microbiota.
The next steps for the researchers is to explore further the benefits of this sculpting of the microbial community for the plant and observe other influences on plant chemistry such as nutrient limitation and pathogen challenge.
The full study "A specialized metabolic network selectively modulates Arabidopsis root microbiota," appears in Science.

Will the food of the future be genetically engineered or organic? How about both?

Feeding the planet — now and tomorrow — is no small task. Plant biologist Pamela Ronald says sustainability means using every tool in the toolbox.
Plant biologist Pamela Ronald is concerned with the pressing problem of feeding the world without destroying it. The question of how to grow enough food for an expanding global population has grown more urgent in the face of climate change. And it’s only made harder, she says, by the push-back against the use of the genetic tools now at scientists’ disposal.
Ronald’s views have emerged from nearly 30 years of research on how plants resist disease and tolerate stress, work that is ongoing in her lab at the University of California, Davis. Much of that work has focused on rice, a staple crop that feeds nearly half the globe. While she’s an outspoken advocate for using genetic engineering to modify crops — her TED Talk The Case for Engineering Our Foodhas been translated into 26 languages and watched more than 1.7 million times — she’s also married to an organic farmer, Raoul Adamchak. Together, they wrote the book Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food , exploring how the best of both approaches might be needed for long-term sustainability.
Description: Portrait of plant biologist Pamela Ronald of the University of California, Davis
We spoke with Ronald about her research and her views on genetic modification and its place in the sustainable agriculture toolbox. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
How do genetically modified crops fit into the sustainable agriculture landscape?
Sustainable agriculture has three pillars: social, economic and environmental. It creates food that’s nutritious, it allows farmers to reduce the amount of land and water they use, to foster soil fertility and genetic diversity, and to reduce toxic inputs. And it enhances food security for the very poorest farmers and families in the world. So, for example, if you can breed resistance into a plant, whether through conventional or genetic engineering, and that means you can reduce the amount of sprayed chemicals you use, that’s part of sustainable agriculture.
Any type of agriculture is pretty challenging. Most farmers are trying to move their farm toward more sustainable approaches. Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet because farmers in different regions of the world face different challenges, grow different crops and have different markets.
The book you and your husband cowrote is titled Tomorrow’s Table. What does tomorrow’s table look like to you?
In the book, we describe what’s on our table and explain how the foods were developed — the kinds of genetic techniques and organic farming techniques used to produce that food. We try to give the reader an idea of what geneticists do and what organic farmers do. We have a number of recipes.
But the book isn’t about nutrition, it’s about: How do we produce and provide that nutritious food with minimal environmental impacts? How do we ensure that farmers and rural communities can afford the food? How do we address this critical challenge of our time: to produce sufficient, nourishing food without further devastating the environment? There are a lot of issues, a lot of people on the globe right now, and even more in the future. They all need to eat.
Sticky “mutant” rice, included in this recipe from the book Pamela Ronald and her husband wrote, came into being more than a thousand years ago. The stickiness arose thanks to a spontaneous genetic mutation that disrupted the gene for making the starch amylose, which helps make non-sticky rice fluffy. The recipe juxtaposes that ancient genetic modification with a more modern one: genetically engineered papaya, which farmers began planting in the late 1990s after papaya ringspot virus decimated orchards.
Does your husband have a different view of the future of food?
It’s a shared view. We both think people should focus on the challenges and not get distracted by the concept of genes in our food. We really want to use all the tools that are available and use scientific-based farming practices, such as those that minimize pests and disease. There are many organic farming practices that are very useful, such as crop rotation.
It’s the combination of farming strategies and genetic strategies that are going to continue to be quite important for producing our food and moving forward to a sustainable farming future. Farming is destructive. But, as my husband says, we farm because we have to eat. Some people say, well, let’s change our diets, or reduce waste. Those are both important, but we still need technological change. All these aspects are even more critical as the population continues to grow.
A lot of your research has focused on rice, a hugely important staple crop. Did you always want to work on rice?
I was working on peppers and tomatoes as a graduate student at UC Berkeley and as I was making the transition to a postdoc, I thought, what do I want to do, because this may last my whole career. And I decided to work on rice because it feeds half the world’s people. It’s also a very good genetic system; it’s easy to do genetic analysis of rice. So I thought if we can make any kind of incremental advance we could potentially help millions of people.
One of those advances has been the development of flood-resistant rice. I’ve seen so many photos of rice paddies flooded with water, doesn’t rice tolerate flooding?
The rice plants that many of us are familiar with grow well in standing water. But most rice plants will die if they are completely submerged for more than three days. When the leaves are submerged, they can’t carry out photosynthesis. My UC Davis colleague David Mackill was working with this ancient variety of rice, discovered at the International Rice Research Institute, that could be completely submerged in water for two weeks, and then can start to grow again when the water is removed. So this was very, very exciting.
Breeders then tried to use conventional breeding to introduce this trait from the ancient variety into varieties grown by farmers. But when you cross-pollinate with another variety, even though it has a nice trait, you can bring a lot of other traits you don’t want. So, the result from conventional breeding were rice varieties that were rejected by farmers because they had traits that the farmers did not want such as reduced yield, or a change in the texture of the rice grain.
How did you tackle the problem?
First, we carried out the initial work of isolating the flood-tolerance gene, called Sub1a, from the ancient variety. Then we introduced the gene into a model rice plant using genetic engineering. We then grew up those plants and submerged them, in large tanks in our greenhouses for two weeks.
The plants that carried the Sub1a gene were very robust; you could see the difference right away. Plants without Sub1a turned yellow, had very long leaves and soon died. This is because when the leaves try to grow out of the water, they deplete their chlorophyll content and energy reserves. But the plants that carry the Sub1a gene just stay kind of metabolically inert — they don’t grow very fast, they just kind of wait out the flood. And when the flood’s gone, they start to regrow. The Sub1 plants remained green and healthy, indicating we had indeed isolated the correct gene.
Is Sub1 rice now being grown by farmers?
Yes. As I described we used genetic engineering tools to isolate and validate the submergence-tolerance gene in the greenhouse. That genetic knowledge was then used to develop a flood-tolerant variety through a different approach called marker-assisted breeding. That work was done by the International Rice Research Institute. The ancient, flood-tolerant variety was cross-pollinated with a modern variety that farmers like because of its flavor and high yields. Seeds derived from those hybrids were planted, and tested for the preferred genetic fingerprint that included Sub1a but did not carry genes from the ancient variety that affected traits important to the farmers.
Description: Photo shows two piles of harvested rice. A larger pile shows the rice bred to contain the Sub1a gene, which had yields of 3.8 tons per hectare. The other smaller pile is the same variety of rice without the flood-tolerant gene, which yielded 1.4 tons per hectare.

Rice bred to contain the Sub1a gene can survive even when completely submerged for 17 days. This flood-tolerant rice yielded 3.8 tons per hectare (pile on left), compared with 1.4 tons per hectare for the same variety lacking the flood-tolerant gene (pile on right).
Marker-assisted breeding is very focused, you don’t drag in genes that you don’t want, you can just drag in a very small region of a chromosome. And because the genetic fingerprint can be determined at the seedling stage, it saves a lot of time and labor that would normally be spent on submerging hundreds of plants.
Farmers have now been growing Sub1 varieties for several years. In 2017, more than 5 million farmers grew it. Sub1 rice is disproportionately benefiting the poorest farmers in the world, who often have the most flood-prone land. Compared with conventional rice varieties, farmers growing Sub1 rice are able to harvest three- to fivefold more grain after floods. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that flooding will become more frequent and last longer as the climate changes.
These various breeding approaches underscore the difficulty in defining “genetically modified” crops. How do you define them?
The term “genetically modified” is scientifically meaningless, and so it’s not useful. The FDA does not use the term.
With Sub1 rice, for example, scientists can introduce the Sub1a gene with either genetic engineering or marker-assisted breeding. In each of these cases, the genetic region that’s introduced is smaller than the huge number of genes that you bring in with conventional breeding, in which you are mixing two genomes together.
Grafting is another kind of conventional breeding that mixes two genomes. There are a lot of grafted varieties on farms in California. The walnuts harvested in California are actually a graft of two different species where the rootstock is a different species than the top part of the plant. Then there are foods that we eat that have been developed through radiation and chemical mutagenesis, like grapefruit. Those approaches create many random uncharacterized changes in the genome and are not regulated. They can also be sold as “certified organic.”
What do you think most consumers mean when they say genetically modified organism or GMO?
I think some consumers are concerned only about plants engineered to contain genes from another species, like the bacterial Bt gene. It sounds a little strange to put bacterial genes into a plant, but it is important to consider the risks versus the benefits. Organic farmers spray Bt to prevent insect damage to their crops. It is safe to use. But spraying Bt is not always effective. In Bangladesh, for example, there is an insect that can destroy an entire eggplant crop and spraying doesn’t keep the insect from getting into the plant. And the Bt sprays are expensive and difficult to get. So Bangladeshi and Cornell scientists engineered eggplants with the bacterial gene so that the plants produce the Bt organic insecticide in the crop. And it’s been tremendously successful over the last five years, allowing farmers to reduce their insecticide sprays dramatically.
Description: Photo shows close-up of spores of the rice blast fungus, an extremely destructive rice pathogen. Developing rice strains that can resist infection by the fungus is an active area of research.

Among the challenges to feeding the world’s growing population is crops lost to disease. Developing rice strains that can resist infection by the extremely destructive rice blast fungus (spores shown) is an active area of research.
One reason that the FDA and many scientists don’t find the term “GMO” useful is because it means different things to different people. You can’t really compare an eggplant engineered for farmers in Bangladesh that has allowed them to reduce insecticide use to, say, the “Golden Rice” plants engineered to have higher amounts of provitamin A to help save the lives of children in developing countries, or herbicide-tolerant canola grown in developed countries. These are different traits, different crops, and different people benefit.
Why do you think there is so much distrust of modern genetic approaches?
I think part of the issue is that less than 2 percent of people in the US are farmers and are somewhat removed from food production. Many people aren’t familiar with the challenges faced by farmers and may not understand that Bt crops have massively reduced the use of insecticides in the US and globally. The World Health Organization estimates that 200,000 people die every year from misuse or overuse of insecticides, primarily in less developed countries.
The use of genetic technologies has become very politicized like several other issues in science — vaccines, climate change. The major scientific organizations have concluded that the climate is changing, that vaccines can save lives, and that genetically engineered crops are safe to eat and safe for the environment.
I think most of us know someone who has been very sick and we would do anything to help them. Often that means using a genetically engineered drug. Or maybe we know someone with diabetes who uses genetically engineered insulin. We accept that use of the technology, most consumers accept it, because they have some understanding of it in their own world. But I think very few Americans have seen a malnourished Bangladeshi kid, so it’s not in their world. It’s not that they aren’t compassionate, it’s that at some level they don’t understand or see it. They don’t really understand why farmers need genetically improved crops.
I think people understand with computer technology that there are different applications of that single technology. People wouldn’t say “computers are bad.” But somehow it gets confusing to people when it comes to agriculture, maybe because so many of us are so removed from actual farming. 

Plant Innate Immunity: Perception of Conserved Microbial Signatures

Flood brings Kottayam a paddy windfall

KOTTAYAM, MAY 09, 2019 23:34 IST
Description: Bumper crop: Procurement of paddy has entered the last phase in Kottayam. A scene from the Thiruvarppu paddy fields.
Bumper crop: Procurement of paddy has entered the last phase in Kottayam. A scene from the Thiruvarppu paddy fields.  

Once procurement is over, farmers will get around 300 crore

Thanks to back-to-back floods last year, Kottayam is on track to reap a windfall of over 300 crore from paddy cultivation this season.
As per the estimate of the Paddy Marketing Office of Supplyco, the authorities have procured about 1,09,136.18 tonnes of paddy from Kottayam so far this season at 25.30 a kg. They have paid about 117 crore to the farmers while a balance amount of 158 crore is slated to be distributed in the next stage.
“Since paddy has to be procured firom about 240 hectares, the total amount to be distributed this season will touch 300-crore mark, said a Supplyco official.

Lack of storage space

During the season, farmers in Kottayam had taken up farming in about 16,793 hectares, spread across 450 clusters of paddy fields. The agency has approved a list of 21,415 farmers for procurement, being carried out through 37 rice millers, including 27 from Ernakulam and two from Palakkad.
Meanwhile, the initial cheer of a bumper crop was dampened by a slow start in the procurement process and concerns over adequate storage space in godowns. With the arrivals picking up in the latter half, the procurement agencies witnessed an influx and caused a slow movement of the harvested crop, forcing the farmers to store the crop in the open for several days.
“The overall production is about 30% higher compared to the last two seasons, forcing us to arrange for more storage facilities to procure the excess rice before the summer rains,” said a top official.

Factors responsible

During the season, the yield per acre across the region shot up by an average of five to eight quintals.
Experts attribute the rise in production to a combination of factors ranging from sedimentation due to the floods to washout of the early crop.
While the gush of flood water brought down soil acidity, the fields remained submerged for several weeks, enabling the farmers to follow the crop calendar.
At the same time, the instances of pest and diseases were also relatively less during the period, noted a scientist with the Rice Research Station, Mankombu.
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India signs protocol for export of chilli meal to China; discusses market access for farm products

Our Bureau  New Delhi | Updated on May 09, 2019  Published on May 09, 2019
China wants India to expedite approval for the import of its apples and pears as well as dairy products   -  Getty Images/iStockphoto
India and China on Thursday signed a protocol for the export of Indian chilli meal to China. This is the fourth protocol signed between the two nations over the past year allowing the export of farm commodities from India.
Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan and General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) Vice-Minister Li Guo, who signed the protocol at a meeting here, also discussed issues related to India’s pending request for the clearance of more farm products for the Chinese market, said an official release.
India raised the issues over market access for items such as bovine meat and soyabean meal, an official told BusinessLine. “New Delhi argued that the de-boned and de-glanded meat being supplied by India to developed markets was not affected by foot-and-mouth disease and should not be rejected by China on those grounds,” the official said.
China said it would look into the matter, as it wanted exports to be approved by the global standards agency OIE.
India also pointed out that a large number of agricultural items for exports were awaiting China’s nod, including soyabean meal, pomegranate, okra, sapota, banana, papaya, pineapple, maize and sorghum. The draft protocol for okra is ready and is expected to be finalised soon for soyabean meal, the official said.

Earlier agreements

The protocols for export, signed since June 2018, include those for basmati and non-basmati rice, fish meal and oil and tobacco leaves.
The Indian delegation expressed disappointment over the country not being able to export raw sugar to China — despite Beijing agreeing to it — as the sugar quota release time was not suitable for Indian farmers. The fact that Beijing sourced processed sugar from Pakistan rather than from India was also brought to Li’s attention.
China, on its part, wanted India to expedite approval for the import of its apples and pears. It also wanted India to allow the import of dairy products including chocolates and candies.
“Both sides appreciated each other’s concerns and agreed to resolve market access issues expeditiously in order to achieve a more balanced trade,” the official release stated.

Nay Pyi Taw, 10 May 2019 – A new initiative will introduce sustainable rice-growing practices to farmers across Myanmar, with the goal of reducing vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters, project partners announced today.
The Climate Smart Rice Project will introduce sustainable standards and best practices to 4,000 smallholder farmers around Mandalay, southern Shan, Mon and Bago over the coming three years, working closely with the Government of Myanmar and the agri-business sector.
The project is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Swiss Agency for Development (SDC) and implemented by a consortium of partners including UN Environment, the Sustainable Rice Platform, Helvetas Myanmar and PRIME Agri Group.
The Government of Myanmar has previously announced its intention to boost sustainable rice production in order to both satisfy domestic demand and turn the country into a sustainable rice exporter. This project is fully aligned to the government’s policies and has been endorsed by the Parliamentary Committee for Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development.
Rice production in Myanmar faces several challenges, including the rice sector’s vulnerability to climate change impacts like higher temperatures, drought, flooding and other stresses. The sector is also challenged by its demand for water, land, fertilizer and pesticides and its own environmental impact, including a significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
Peter Schmidt, Country Director of Helvetas, said, “This project will support participating farmers and other actors in the value chain in adopting global rice sustainability standards and resource-efficient practices. These standards and practices have been shown to boost productivity, make crops more water- and fertilizer-efficient and improve resilience to climate change impacts, safeguarding livelihoods in the process.”
Dechen Tsering, UN Environment’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, said, “Myanmar is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. By expanding sustainable rice production, we can ensure rice crops are resilient to the impacts we are seeing and protect the economic welfare of thousands of farmers and their families.” 
Wyn Ellis, Coordinator of the Sustainable Rice Platform, said, “Sustainable rice standards and practices are spreading rapidly around the world. Not only are they nature-friendly, they also increase production and protect against various environmental threats. The potential upside for Myanmar’s rice sector in adopting these practices is substantial.”
Mike Anderson, Operations Manager of PRIME Agri, said, “We have significantly increased the incomes of rural farming households by developing Myanmar farmers into reliable compliant suppliers for both domestic and export markets. The CSR Project is another example of the successful collaboration between public and private sector commercial partners for the improvement of the livelihoods of Myanmar’s smallholder farmers. Upskilling and training farmers for higher productivity to international standards like Global G.A.P. and SRP (Sustainable Rice Platform) have proven successful in connecting smallholders to higher value markets.”
For more information, please contact:
Adam Hodge, UN Environment Communications Consultant, Asia and the Pacific Office, adam.hodge[at]
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open- MAY 10, 2019
MAY 10, 2019
* * * * * *
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices – APMC/Open Market-May 10, 2018 Nagpur, May 10 (Reuters) – Gram prices zoomed up in Nagpur Agriculture Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC) on good seasonal demand from local millers amid weak supply from producing regions. Healthy rise on NCDEX, good recovery in Madhya Pradesh gram prices and repeated enquiries from South-based millers also jacked up prices. About 1,300 bags of gram reported for auction, according to sources.

* Desi gram reported higher in open market on renewed demand from local traders.

* Tuar Karnataka firmed up in open market on good seasonal demand from local


* Moong Chamki reported strong in open market on increased buying support from

local traders amid weak supply from producing regions.

* In Akola, Tuar New – 5,400-5,550, Tuar dal (clean) – 8,000-8,200, Udid Mogar (clean)

– 6,900-7,800, Moong Mogar (clean) 8,000-8,600, Gram – 4,200-4,400, Gram Super best

– 5,800-6,000 * Wheat other varieties of rice and other foodgrain items moved in a narrow range in

scattered deals and settled at last levels in weak trading activity.

Nagpur foodgrains APMC auction/open-market prices in rupees for 100 kg

FOODGRAINS Available prices Previous close

Gram Auction 3,900-4,385 3,700-4,250

Gram Pink Auction n.a. 2,100-2,600

Tuar Auction n.a. 4,600-5,500

Moong Auction n.a. 3,950-4,200

Udid Auction n.a. 4,300-4,500

Masoor Auction n.a. 2,200-2,500

Wheat Lokwan Auction 1,700-1,900 1,750-1,900

Wheat Sharbati Auction n.a. 2,900-3,000

Gram Super Best Bold 6,000-6,200 6,000-6,200

Gram Super Best n.a. n.a.

Gram Medium Best 5,600-5,800 5,600-5,800

Gram Dal Medium n.a. n.a

Gram Mill Quality 4,400-4,500 4,400-4,500

Desi gram Raw 4,300-4,400 4,250-4,350

Gram Kabuli 8,300-10,000 8,300-10,000

Tuar Fataka Best-New 8,400-8,500 8,400-8,500

Tuar Fataka Medium-New 8,000-8,200 8,000-8,200

Tuar Dal Best Phod-New 7,600-7,800 7,600-7,800

Tuar Dal Medium phod-New 7,300-7,500 7,300-7,500

Tuar Gavarani New 5,750-5,850 5,700-5,800

Tuar Karnataka 5,950-6,050 5,900-6,000

Masoor dal best 5,400-5,600 5,400-5,600

Masoor dal medium 5,200-5,300 5,200-5,300

Masoor n.a. n.a.

Moong Mogar bold (New) 8,500-9,000 8,500-9,000

Moong Mogar Medium 7,000-7,800 7,000-7,800

Moong dal Chilka New 7,000-8,000 7,000-8,000

Moong Mill quality n.a. n.a.

Moong Chamki best 8,200-9,000 8,000-9,000

Udid Mogar best (100 INR/KG) (New) 7,000-8,000 7,000-8,000

Udid Mogar Medium (100 INR/KG) 6,000-6,500 6,000-6,500

Udid Dal Black (100 INR/KG) 4,400-4,600 4,400-4,600

Mot (100 INR/KG) 6,000-7,000 6,000-7,000

Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg) 4,600-4,800 4,600-4,800

Watana Dal (100 INR/KG) 5,300-5,500 5,300-5,300

Watana Green Best (100 INR/KG) 6,700-6,900 6,700-6,900

Wheat 308 (100 INR/KG) 2,100-2,200 2,100-2,200

Wheat Mill quality (100 INR/KG) 2,000-2,050 2,000-2,050

Wheat Filter (100 INR/KG) 2,500-2,600 2,500-2,600

Wheat Lokwan best (100 INR/KG) 2,500-2,600 2,500-2,600

Wheat Lokwan medium (100 INR/KG) 2,200-2,400 2,200-2,400

Lokwan Hath Binar (100 INR/KG) n.a. n.a.

MP Sharbati Best (100 INR/KG) 3,400-4,000 3,400-4,000

MP Sharbati Medium (100 INR/KG) 2,800-3,200 2,800-3,200

Rice Parmal (100 INR/KG) 2,100-2,200 2,100-2,200

Rice BPT best (100 INR/KG) 3,300-3,800 3,300-3,800

Rice BPT medium (100 INR/KG) 2,700-3,100 2,700-3,100

Rice BPT new (100 INR/KG) 2,800-3,200 2,800-3,200

Rice Luchai (100 INR/KG) 2,900-3,000 2,900-3,000

Rice Swarna best (100 INR/KG) 2,500-2,700 2,500-2,700

Rice Swarna medium (100 INR/KG) 2,300-2,400 2,300-2,400

Rice HMT best (100 INR/KG) 4,100-4,600 4,100-4,600

Rice HMT medium (100 INR/KG) 3,600-3,900 3,600-3,900

Rice HMT New (100 INR/KG) 4,000-4,200 4,000-4,200

Rice Shriram best(100 INR/KG) 5,300-5,500 5,300-5,500

Rice Shriram med (100 INR/KG) 4,600-5,000 4,600-5,000

Rice Shriram New (100 INR/KG) 4,400-4,800 4,400-4,800

Rice Basmati best (100 INR/KG) 9,000-14,000 9,000-14,000

Rice Basmati Medium (100 INR/KG) 5,000-7,500 5,000-7,500

Rice Chinnor best 100 INR/KG) 6,500-7,200 6,600-7,200

Rice Chinnor medium (100 INR/KG) 6,200-6,400 6,200-6,400

Rice Chinnor New (100 INR/KG) 5,000-5,200 5,000-5,200

Jowar Gavarani (100 INR/KG) 2,350-2,550 2,350-2,550

Jowar CH-5 (100 INR/KG) 2,050-2,250 2,050-2,250 WEATHER (NAGPUR) Maximum temp. 44.6 degree Celsius, minimum temp. 29.0 degree Celsius Rainfall : Nil FORECAST: Partly cloudy sky towards afternoon or evening. Maximum and minimum temperature likely to be around 44 degree Celsius and 30 degree Celsius. Note: n.a.—not available (For oils, transport costs are excluded from plant delivery prices, but included in market prices)

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

S. Korea to send rice aid to Mideast, Africa

All Headlines 14:28 May 10, 2018

SEJONG, May 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will send 50,000 tons of rice to four famine-stricken nations in the Middle East and Africa as part of its overseas food aid program, the farm ministry said Thursday.
Seoul plans to deliver 17,000 tons of rice to Yemen, 15,000 tons to Ethiopia, 13,000 tons to Kenya and 5,000 tons to Uganda, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The first shipment of 22,000 tons left the southwestern port of Gunsan, about 270 kilometers south of Seoul, for Yemen and Ethiopia, with 12,000 tons going to the Middle Eastern country and the remainder to the latter.
The rice aid follows South Korea's accession to the Food Assistance Convention (FAC) in January this year. A month later, it signed an agreement with the World Food Program (WFP) to make a contribution worth 46 billion won (US$42.9 million) to the U.N. food agency.
"The rice aid, to be sent through the WFP, comes after Seoul's admission into the FAC," the ministry said. "It is expected to pave the way for cooperation and exchanges with those countries."
This undated file photo shows a ceremony marking the shipment of South Korean rice to poor foreign countries. (Yonhap)

The ministry said the rice to be sent was all harvested in 2016 and that the U.N. food agency will be in charge of maritime transportation and local distribution.
Seoul's rice aid represents the sixth-largest amount among the 16 signatories to the FAC, the ministry added.
The FAC aims to promote global food security and provide humanitarian food assistance to developing countries. Members include the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan and Australia.
South Korea delivered overseas rice aid for the first time last year. Seoul provided 750 tons of rice to Cambodia and Myanmar through the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), which is operated by South Korea, China, Japan and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Seoul's overseas food aid program is expected to help ease its problem of excess rice, with the government reserve coming to 1.86 million tons last year. The chronic glut of rice comes as a growing number of South Koreans have been reducing their rice intake and diversifying their diets with other cereals.

Policy Picks: The latest regulatory developments from the Philippines, India and New Zealand

By Gary Scattergood
- Last updated on GMT
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Description: The Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is considering the removal of suggested retail prices (SRPs) for rice.The Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is considering the removal of suggested retail prices (SRPs) for rice.
Policy development’s involving raw milk in New Zealand, coconut oil in India and rice in the Philippines are featured in our latest round-up of regional policy changes.

Rice crisis over? Philippines looks at removal of suggested retail prices as market stabilises

The Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is considering the removal of suggested retail prices (SRPs) for rice​ in the wake of the rice tariffication law being signed earlier this year.
Amid rapidly rising prices due to a shortage crisis last year, in October the government had implemented SRPs​  of (per kilogramme), PHP39 (US$0.73) for imported well-milled rice, PHP40 (US$0.74) for imported premium (Pakistan, India, China), and PHP43 (US$0.80) for imported premium (Thailand, Vietnam).
For local varieties, SRPs for local regular-milled rice were set at PHP39 (US$0.73), local well-milled at PHP44 (US$0.82), and local premium at PHP47 (US$0.87).
According to DTI monitoring, rice prices are now mostly hovering in the range of PHP 34 (PHP0.66) to PHP39 (US$0.73) per kilogramme, and as low as PHP32 (US$0.62) per kilogramme in some areas.
“We saw the prices now and we think that this is the right range, [and] we're hoping that it goes even lower,”​ said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez to Rappler​.

Coconut oil adulteration: FSSAI bans 14 brands in India as new detection method gains traction

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has banned 14 brands of coconut oil​ in the southern state of Kerala, citing the detection of adulteration.
In an article published on the FSSAI website, an official confirmed that laboratory tests had conclusively proved that the coconut oil products had been adulterated.
“[FSSAI has] banned the production, procurement and distribution of these 14 coconut oil brands, [and] these will face strict action,” ​she said.
Amongst the brands named as offenders were Surabhi and Soubaghya, both produced by Balakumaran Oil Mills.

Of note is the fact that such bans have taken place multiple times before in Kerala. In December last year, FSSAI had banned another 70 coconut oil brands in the state, June saw 51 bans and May saw 45 bans.

Including the latest ban updates, the total number of coconut oil bans that have been instated in the state so far has reached 180.
“If the unsafe food articles are not recalled with immediate effect, the very purpose of the Food Safety Act will be defeated and it may lead to serious public health issues,”​ said FSSAI.

Raw potential? New Zealand opens raw milk regulations review for consultation

The New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has launched an online survey seeking public consultation on the efficacy of current regulations surrounding raw milk.
Two types of questionnaires are currently available on the MPI website: One for suppliers and one for consumers, both with deadlines set for the end of this month.
According to MPI, the public opinion survey is being held to ‘determine whether the rules for processing and selling raw drinking milk in New Zealand are working as intended’​ and that if any changes are made to the regulations, further opinions would be sought.
It is part of the overall review that MPI is holding into raw milk regulations​ which began in November last year.
“This work is not about rewriting the rules nor making radical changes. It is an assessment of the existing system,”​ it said.
The current raw milk sales regulations entered into force in 2016, and were aimed at ‘better managing the risks to public health while recognising the consumers demand for raw milk’​. Back then, a public consultation was also held before the regulations came into effect.
Before these regulations, consumers were able to collect raw milk from collection points across the country.

‘No leniency’: Punjab Chief Minister orders ‘indiscriminate’ crackdown on food adulteration through Ramadan festival

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has ordered for ‘indiscriminate action’ and surveillance​ by the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) to be carried out in the province throughout the Ramadan festival period.
In a department meeting at the PFA head office earlier this week, Sardar described food adulterators as ‘not deserving of any leniency’​.
“[Although] PFA is already active against food adulteration, [even stricter] implementation of PFA laws [will ensue] during Ramadan-ul-Mubarak,”​ he told local media.
PFA Director-General Captain (R) Muhammad Usman Younas has already prepared for such an initiative, having directed PFA officers and heads of the various departments to prepare round-the-clock duty schedules in preparation for Ramadan, which begins on May 5.

Additionally, special teams to monitor for ‘suspicious activities’ during the sehri (pre-dawn meal before starting fast) and iftar (evening meal after breaking fast) timings will be formed.