Research team produces environment-friendly GM sugarcane

Research team produces environment-friendly GM sugarcane

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Jakarta (ANTARA) – Molecular biology scientist from the University of Jember Prof. Bambang Sugiharto on Monday announced that a research team led by him has succeeded in producing genetically modified sugarcane that is safe for the environment.

The genetically modified (GM) sugarcane was produced by Sugiharto’s research team in collaboration with PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) XI and Ajinomoto, a Japanese company.

A gene encoding choline dehydrogenase (CDH) (betA) was cloned from Rhizobium meliloti by Ajinomoto, he said during a “Media Roundtable: The Role of Innovative Technologies in Addressing Agricultural Challenges,” held virtually on Monday.

The betA gene was inserted in the pMLH2113 binary vector and transformed into Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

A two-step assessment was performed, which involved a greenhouse trial and a confined field trial, Sugiharto, a lecturer at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Jember University, East Java, informed.

With regard to environmental safety assessment, he said, there was no evidence of gene flow to other organisms, no possible cross-breeding with Saccharum species, and no potential of its becoming an invasive weed or weediness. The GM sugarcane was issued Certificate No. B-7945/MENLH/08/2011, he informed.

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In relation to food safety assessment, he said, there was no toxicity and no allergen, and it was easily digested by the gastric and intestinal fluid. The GM sugarcane was issued certificate No: HK., Sugiharto added.

He affirmed that the genetically modified sugarcane is safe to eat and poses no environmental risk.

The GM sugarcane has been subjected to extensive testing and regulatory oversight, and so far, no detrimental health effects have been identified, he said.

The recent sugarcane cultivar does not flower, Sugiharto added.

Sucrose (sugar) can be extracted and purified from the sugarcane’s stems in sugar factories without the addition of any other substances, he said.

GM plants are a safe and beneficial option in the quest to sustainably feed a growing population. 

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