Tag Archive: genome sequence

THE RACE TO OWN AFRICA’S SORGHUM GENES!

17 June 2010

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) today published a third research paper in its ‘Sorghum Series’1titled, ‘The Sorghum Gene Grab.’

The hunt for agrofuel and drought tolerant crops has propelled a huge commercial interest in sorghum, including a spate of patent claims over different components of the sorghum genome.

Patent claims have been lodged by US companies, Ceres and Edenspace as well as the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University (Texas A&M) and Rutgers University. Key sought after traits include sorghum flowering, plant growth (biomass), sugar content and cold and salt tolerance. Patent claims are designed to control a set of promoter genes and other genetic components of sorghum to create sorghum cultivars. According to author, Edward Hammond “This move is the contemporary biotech equivalent of an 18th century European explorer planting his flag on a little understood foreign land and claiming it for himself or his sovereign, as if by divine right subordinating all other interests in the territory.”

The paper also points to the rapid consolidation of the sorghum industry in the US, as a result of the demand from agrofuel refineries and the importance of drought tolerant crops. Africa