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March 22nd, 2018 / B4FA.org

Researchers at the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources have recently released a report that analyzed 40 years of data – from 1976 to 2016 – on Bt maize to quantify its benefits in the United States, where the genetically modified crop, adopted in 1996, comprises more than 90% of the country’s maize production. According to a summary in ISAAA, the study shows that Bt maize is safe and effective as a strategy for managing the pest corn borer, and decreases the need for spraying. The study also credits Bt maize with reducing damage to nearby crops that also host corn borer, including peppers and green beans. “These benefits have never before been documented and showcase Bt crops as a powerful tool to reduce pest populations regionally thereby benefitting other crops in the agricultural landscape,” says a summary in PhysOrg.

“This study ultimately shows the importance of evaluating GM crops beyond the field that is being planted. These products and the new advances coming down the pipeline have the potential to suppress major pest populations just like Bt corn has,” said Dr. Galen Dively, one of the study’s authors.

“The next steps would to be quantify the potentially millions of dollars in economic benefits we see here in a very concrete way to show money and time saved on spraying and pest management, crop damage reduction, as well as consideration of the environmental benefits. The important thing here, however, is to think of Bt crops as one of many tools in an integrated pest management tool box. The benefits are undeniable, but must always be weighed against many other options to use a broad range of tools and maximize benefit while minimizing any potential risks such as the pests developing Bt resistance,” said the study’s other lead author, Dr Dilip Venugopal.

Bt maize is also being trialed in Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique by Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) to seek a solution to the Fall armyworm crisis. In South Africa, 85 percent of the maize grown is Bt maize.

The original paper, published Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), may be accessed here.

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Headlines

Forty years of data quantifies benefits of Bt corn adoption across multiple crops for the first time
PhysOrg

Bt corn associated with higher yields, less insecticide use in neighboring fields
The Scientist

Book review: Seeds of Science: Why We Got It So Wrong on GMOs by Mark Lynas
The Times

AgBio news

Vitamin A-biofortified maize: exploiting genetic native variation for nutrient enrichment
Crop Trust

Kenya: Fast-maturing maize, onion varieties offer hope to farmers
Standard

African seed companies encouraged to invest in biotechnology
ISAAA

Nigeria: The fuss about biotechnology: Why?
Nigerian Voice

Scientists on brink of overcoming livestock diseases through gene editing
Guardian UK

Safer potatoes developed using CRISPR-Cas9
ISAAA

A wild bean species that is resilient to tropical storms is saved
Gene Banks

CRISPR & Novel Breeding Techniques (NBTs) related in agriculture: an interview with Alison Van Eenennaam
AgroNews

Best practice

Uganda: The importance of using agricultural tools
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Zimbabwe: Agro-forestry – missing link in nutritional, food security discourse
Daily News

Researchers share findings on African vegetables with Kenyan farmers
Africa Science News

Kenya: Pawpaw farmers to earn Sh3.2 million with a new hybrid variety
FarmBiz Africa

Biodiversity

What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?
Guardian UK

Video: The CGIAR Genebank Platform
Crop Trust

Video: DOIs, or digital object identifiers, are a promising way to standardize identification across genebanks
Crop Trust

A warning cry from the Doomsday Vault: Humanity’s food security is at far more risk than you realize
Bloomberg

Climate change

Uganda: Farmers told to adopt drought-tolerant maize varieties
ReliefWeb

Kenya: Warning risks of food security
The Star

Making Southern African cereal and livestock farming climate resilient
CTA

Climate Smart Agriculture, combating climate change across Africa
Dev Discourse

Climatologists render skillful predictions of drought and food insecurity that help avert famine
PhysOrg

Climate change soon to cause mass movement, World Bank warns
Guardian UK

Disasters cost agriculture sector $96bn, poor farmers bear brunt – FAO
Independent Nigeria

Development

Empowering African women through plant breeding. Interview with Dr. Hale Ann Tufan of NextGenCassava’s Gender Responsive Cassava Breeding Initiative
CropLife

Gender gaps: Bane of Africa’s agricultural R&D
SciDevNet

African Development Bank commends Japan’s multi-billion-dollar support for Africa’s economic transformation
AllAfrica

Ghana and African Development Fund sign $39 million loan agreement
Business Ghana

Africa’s efficiency in agriculture now worse than colonial era, says historian
Citi FM Online

Sustainable agriculture can be key to reducing youth migration in Africa
Down to Earth

Ghana: Improving agriculture requires infrastructure, advises Harvard Professor Emmanuel Akyeampong
Modern Ghana

Ghana to host first West African value added agriculture expo
Ghana News Agency

Ghana: A former deputy agricultural minister has urged scientists to simplify the issue of GMO technology for ordinary members of the public to properly understand
MyJoyOnline

African governments, together with banking institutions, must develop a financing model that replaces land as collateral to help smallholder farmers thrive
New Vision

Now meeting: the Graça Machel Trust’s Malawi’s Development Agenda, a Pan-African organisation that amplifies women’s economic and social policies, and advocates for their rights and advancement
AllAfrica

Specialty training institutes can help African youth become the future of agriculture
AllAfrica

South Africa: Concern over lack of agricultural research training for future farmers
Farmers Weekly

How young women can find opportunities in African agriculture
Technoserve

Energy and innovation

Agri-tech is transforming Africa’s agricultural industry
Aid Forum

Digital farming: The rise of digitalization in African agriculture
Devi Discourse

Food security

Report: Southern Africa Food Security Outlook Update, February to September 2018
ReliefWeb

Pests and diseases

Mobile app and study tours to combat ‘voracious’ crop-munching Fall armyworm pest in Africa
Reuters

FAO launches mobile application to support fight against Fall armyworm in Africa
ReliefWeb

Tanzania: Armyworms threaten food security
AllAfrica

Policy

Canada: Government assessment of Provitamin A Biofortified Rice Event GR2E (Golden Rice)
Government of Canada

Study quantifies cost of delayed GM canola adoption in Australia
ISAAA

Japan to finalize GE labeling requirements soon
ISAAA

GMOinfo.eu website is launched
ISAAA

Viewpoint: Gene editing poised to revolutionize agriculture—if we can fix biotech regulations
Genetic Literacy Project

EU neonicotinoid report creates buzz, may not save bees
AgDaily

A federal judge is hearing testimony about Roundup’s purported links to cancer
Newsweek

The GM debate

How GMOs can save civilization (and probably already have)
Impossible Foods

Scientists must communicate boldly, urges Ugandan journalist as she sees GM crop for the first time
USJA

Can media help to enhance the adoption of GMOs in Africa?
USJA

Researchers discover how weeds develop glyphosate resistance
ISAAA

Ugandan journalists vow to change the rhetoric against science
ISAAA

UK public cautiously optimistic about genetic technologies
Royal Society

India: Pre-1900 organic farming can’t cure Green Revolution excesses
FinancialXpress

Disease-resistant GMO crops can reduce pesticide use—if environmental activists do not block them
Genetic Literacy Project

Opportunities

Upcoming trainings for April 2018 on Agriculture development, Food Security and Livelihoods at In-depth Research Services training facilities, Nairobi, Kenya.

Event: Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Congress, May 15-16, Kenya

Call for proposals: The African Union Commission launches 2018 Open Call for Proposals of the 2nd Phase of the African Union Research Grant, supporting research on food, nutrition security and sustainable agriculture. Deadline: May 22, 2018

Resources

Report: Contributions of biotechnology to meeting future food and environmental security needs
The EuroBiotech Journal

Southern Africa | Extended Dryness and Food Insecurity  – ECHO Daily Map
ReliefWeb

[PDF] Report: The Impact of Population Growth and Climate Change on Food

Security in Africa; Looking Ahead to 2050

Video: Interview with Prof Rattan Lal, soil scientist, on the function of soil and the problem of pollution