In the news...

April 22nd, 2015

Will we have to hack photosynthesis in order to meet the world’s food needs? A recent paper, published in Cell, suggests that supercomputers and genetic engineering could someday help boost plants’ ability to convert sunlight into energy. Among the possibilities are genetically engineering crops to widen the spectrum of light they can process, like algae and bacteria can, and to upgrade crops’ photosynthetic efficiency. However, the technology is unlikely to hit fields for two or three decades.

In Uganda, momentum is growing in support of the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, which is still waiting to be passed into law. At the launch of the Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2014 on April 7, 2015, in Kampala, Uganda’s State Minister for Industry and Technology James Mutende called for support of the adoption of biotech crops in the country, saying they could “enhance productivity, address food security issues, increase production, and increase our export base”. B4FA Fellow Isacc Khisa also reports that scientists in Uganda, worried that ongoing crop research may be put on hold unless the law goes through soon, are pushing for the bill to be passed.

From the B4FA Fellows this week, Abdallah el-Kurebe reports that an international conference calls on Kenya to lift ban on GMO Imports; Lominda Afedraru writes about universities’ efforts to combat climate change in East Africa; Michael Ssali sends in a piece about how the Ugandan army can help boost coffee production; Noah Nash’s video reports on new maize and millet Varieties released in Northern Ghana – and more.

Thanks for joining us this week! Please send your questions, comments, contributions and story links at [email protected]

Biosciences & plant genetics around the world

Photosynthesis upgrade proposed to raise crop yields
SciDevNet

New global crop data aid in food policy decisions
AllAfrica

GMOs could save banana industry, but could consumers accept it?
Genetic Literacy Project

The Svalbard Seed Vault is the backup plan if all our crops are wiped out
Washington Post

Tragic Papaya: a 12-part series by entomologist Anthony Shelton about GE papaya in Hawaii
Anthony M Shelton

GM eucalyptus approved for commercial use in Brazil
ISAAA

Why Biotech? A collection by ISAAA of personal essays about individuals who have followed the development of biotech
ISAAA

Are synthetic pesticides, used with some GMOs, more dangerous than natural ones?
Genetic Literacy Project

Glyphosate controversy sparks look at eco-benefits of GMO no till farming: Does hype match reality?
Genetic Literacy Project

Report: Unleashing a Decade of Innovation in Plant Science, a vision for 2015 – 2025
Plant Summit

GMO acreage increases globally, especially among small farmers
Genetic Literacy Project

Report explores uses of geothermal energy for food production, processing
AllAfrica

E-farming system launched in Pakistan
ISAAA

European Commission launches scientific debate on how to feed the planet
ISAAA

Report slams inequalities in research partnerships
SciDevNet

GMOs, food and pesticides 101: No chemical “flood” but yields are rising
Genetic Literacy Project

Do superweeds really exist?
Genetic Literacy Project

Aspirin an essential tool for plants during drought
ISAAA

Pan-Africa

An international conference calls on Kenya to lift ban on GMO Imports
News Diary Online, by B4FA Fellow Abdallah el-Kurebe

Universities join efforts to combat climate change in East Africa
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Video: Report from Int’l Agricultural Biotech and Biosafety communication conference in Nairobi
by B4FA Fellow Noah Nash

Kenya develops drought-tolerant passion fruits
African Farming

Could a ‘miracle tree’ help end malnutrition in Zambia?
BBC

Increased apple cultivation in Kenya and East Africa
FarmBiz Africa

Terracing is turning Ethiopia’s desert green
BBC

Ghana

Video: New maize and millet Varieties released in Northern Ghana
by B4FA Fellow Noah Nash

Video: Farmers urged to form groups to access credit
by B4FA Fellow Noah Nash

Manchie women at forefront of development
Modern Ghana

Nigeria

Wamakko calls for all-year farming in Sokoto
AllAfrica

‘There is need to reach out to real women farmers’
AllAfrica, by B4FA Fellow Ojoma Akor

Tanzania

Bad weather likely to cut cereal production
AllAfrica

Involve smallholders in decision-making, workshop urges
AllAfrica

Contract cotton farming increasing in Lake Zone
AllAfrica

Uganda

ISAAA GM Crops Adoption Report launched in Uganda
ISAAA

Scientists in Uganda push for law on GMOs
The East African, by B4FA Fellow Isaac Khisa

How the army can help in boosting coffee production
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Masaka, Rakai take up oil palm production
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Vermiculite, the mineral that boosts soils and crop yields
Daily Monitor

Featured image: “Scientist observing cassava leaf under electron microscope.” Photo: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture/Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.