Newsletter – Year I – Number II – Article 1 – August, 2022

IAC gets approval from CTNBIO to conduct on-farm trials on transgenic sugarcane plants

The Sugarcane Center of the Agronomic Institute of Campinas (IAC) was granted an extension to the Biosafety Quality Certificate (CQB), by the National Technical Biosecurity Committee (CTNbio). The approval, achieved in June 2022, is part of the technological deliveries set forth in the project Science Center for CCD-CROP-IAC Development (Citrus, Coffee and Cane: Research organization for Innovative Products). The approval involves an area of approximately one hectare in Ribeirão Preto in the state of São Paulo. The area will be used as experimental field for evaluation of sugarcane and energy cane transgenic lines developed in the context of the project, which carry modified traits such as tolerance to drought, increase in biomass, resistance to pests and herbicides, resistance to smut disease, and modification in cell wall composition to be used as raw material for second-generation ethanol production or to bioelectricity.

 “We have been prospecting genes involved with these traits for over a decade, with substantial investments from several support agencies as the Research Support Foundation of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP), the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and by the Agricultural Research Support Foundation (FUNDAG).   We believe that by the knowledge generated in this period, the expertise of our team and the importance of cane, we will be able to significantly contribute toward the development of sugarcane cultivars based on biotechnological approaches”, comments Silvana A. Creste Dias Souza, IAC researcher, from the Secretariat of Agriculture and Supply.

The development of a new sugarcane cultivar with biotechnological appeal is a process that includes exhaustive testing in the laboratory, greenhouse, and field over some time. In the product development cycle, the end of the research and development phase starts with the identification of a safe and best performing event for advancement to regulatory testing, likely commercialization, and general release. This area will be used to validate the transgenic plants developed by our team and that are over selection by Granbio Investimentos S.A., the company that works in partnership with IAC in the CCD-CROP-IAC project. “We have been working with Granbio since 2017, and in Alagoas we have plants exhibiting good performance under drought and increased the biomass yield. Therefore, those plants that show superior performance must evaluated in more places to validate their stability before starting the regulatory biosafety packages that precede commercial release”, Dr. Dias Souza commented.

According to the IAC researcher, the area could also become a relevant site for experimental trials of genetically modified plants within the public environment of the research. “We have several collaborators from public universities engaged in research in this area, however, with no conditions to continue, due to the lack of a legal experimental area to validate their technologies. With this area, it will be possible to strengthen our partnerships and act precisely on research and on the development of genetically modified sugarcane”, comments.


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