In the news...

February 21st, 2019 / B4FA.org

This week, a report published in the journal Biological Control stated that the Bt crops planted on more than 1 million acres over more than two decades have had no unintended negative consequences affecting non-targeted species and in fact may support ecological conservation because the crops reduce the use of synthetic pesticides that would harm non-target insect life. Used on maize, cotton, soybean and aubergine, Bt genetic modification confers insect resistance in crops in the Americas and Asia. The study should put to rest concerns that Bt technology could harm non-target organisms that provide ecosystem services.

“The paper concludes that the efficacy of Bt crops in controlling important target pests has been very high,” says a summary posted in ISAAA’s Crop Biotech Update. “The large-scale adoption of Bt crops in some parts of the world has led to area-wide suppressions of target pest populations that benefited both the farmers that adopted the technology and those that did not.” The original report may be accessedhere.

Also published this week was a new United Nations report stating that there are 34.5 million more undernourished people in Africa than in 2015. This rise in numbers is to adverse climatic conditions, global economic conditions and rising food prices, the report says. ‘The 2018 Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition Report’ says that hunger now affects 20 percent of the African population. Out of 821 million undernourished people in the world 257 million are in Africa, the report says. Out of these, 237 million are in sub-Saharan Africa and 20 million in Northern Africa.

According to a piece published in Nigerian news outlet Blueprint, the Economic Commission for Africa’s deputy Executive Secretary Giovani Biha said of the report, “Interestingly, African economies grew at impressive rates often exceeding five per cent over the past decade spanning from 2004 to 2014. However, poverty and hunger are still hanging in as significant economic growth has not been integrated and inclusive.”

In the midst of this bleak news, however, the report singles out Kenya as particularly successful in reducing undernourishment. The country was rated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as being the best in sub-Saharan Africa in meeting global nutrition targets, thanks to “government leadership, coordination and partnership.”

We also hear from B4FA Fellows Lominda Afedraru, who writes about best practices for managing forest plantations and combating striga in Uganda, and Michael Ssali, who writes about the role of GE alongside traditional pest control practices in crop protection.

We welcome questions, comments and story links to [email protected]. Please also visit B4FA.org for further reading and useful resources – and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with daily news and join the conversation.

Headlines

A comprehensive review of the environmental safety of Bt crops now published
ISAAA

One billion acres of Bt crops, zero ‘unintended consequences’
Alliance for Science

Genetically engineered crops help support conservation biological control 
Science Direct

UN report reveals that hunger is on the rise in Africa following years of decline due to difficult global economic conditions, adverse climatic conditions due to El Niño and soaring staple food prices and more
Blueprint

Praise for Kenya in bleak UN report on food security in Africa
Business Daily Africa

AgBio news

UCLA biologist’s research could lead to more resilient crops
UCLA Newsroom

Researchers hunt for heat-tolerant rice, wheat varieties as global temperatures rise
Genetic Literacy Project

Evolutionary plant breeding helps farmers develop seeds for local conditions
ATTRA

Improved CRISPR system with power on switch for gene editing
ISAAA

Future of gene editing in limbo
Capital Press

Scientists battle for consumer approval as crop gene-editing revolution advances
Genetic Literacy Project

The world’s bananas are clones—and they are in imminent danger
Newsweek

Companies use CRISPR to improve crops
The Scientist

Why poor storage and handling are to blame for Uganda’s poor quality seed
The Conversation

Indian farmers rethinking attitude towards GM seeds
Financial Times

Best practices

Fighting against pests
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Grow your money on trees
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Biodiversity

The importance of seed banks in an uncertain future
WXPR

Norwegian seed vault preserves seeds for global food security and diversity
The Astana Times

Climate change and environment

Climate pioneers: how small farmers could be leading the way towards sustainable agriculture
The Conversation

Flies and fungi: Climate change could make food less safe, experts warn
Reuters

Development

Medium-scale farms are on the rise in Africa. Why this is good news
How We Made It In Africa

Agriculture in Africa, what does the future look like?
IPP Media

AfDB and ILO support agricultural projects to stem rural exodus of young people in Central Africa 
Business in Cameroon

Strengthening Africa’s trade links through stronger sanitary and phytosanitary capabilities
International Policy Digest

Three secrets to survival in science advice
Nature

Coffee industry grapples with low farm incomes
The New Times

Kuwait approves $2bn loans to Africa and has initiated another Annual Prize of $1 million for researches and research projects on agriculture, health and Ebola eradication
Journal du Cameroun

Planning for rainy season through agric insurance
Leadership

Energy and innovation

Data mining brings new clarity to plant breeding, according to new study
News Wise

Food security

New UN report reveals that hunger in Africa continues to rise
Africa News

Hunger in Africa continues to rise
Leadership

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva says the world must adopt a new approach that incorporate re-positioning food systems from feeding people to nourishing people
African Daily Voice

There is no food security without food safety
Africa News

Food chain crisis early warning bulletin: Forecasting threats to the food chain
ReliefWeb

Debunking GMO myths may improve food security in Africa
Farm and Dairy

How to eat to save the world
Mail & Guardian

Pests and diseases

Aflatoxins hurt farmers’ earnings
Daily Monitor

Combat striga with push-pull technology
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

FAO sounds alarm on Desert Locust outbreak in northeast Africa and Saudi Arabia triggered by heavy rains
Africa News

Policy

Experts call for urgent political support for agri-biotech in the Philippines
ISAAA

The GM debate

I fight anti-GMO fears in Africa to combat hunger
Alliance for Science

Another 2-year GMO corn and Roundup study finds no evidence of increased cancer, again repudiating Séralini’s retracted 2012 study
Genetic Literacy Project

Infographic: Are genetically engineered crops less safe than classically-bred food?
Genetic Literacy Project

New chocolate has its own pro-GMO label to promote GMO farming crop
ISAAA

Opportunities and resources

Webinar: Journalists are invited to join us to discuss latest news on Climate Change, science and agriculture in Africa. Register now!
CGIAR

Webinar: World Mycotoxin Report: Impact 2019
Biomin

Mwalimu Nyerere African Union Scholarship Scheme 2019 call for scholarship applications for refugees and displaced persons in Africa only for Masters Programmes in natural sciences, agriculture, health, education, engineering, and social sciences
African Union Headquarters