In the news...

November 22nd, 2018 / B4FA.org

Ghanaian scientists, politicians and farmers are asking their president to reintroduce and approve the Plant Breeders’ Bill to help strengthen the country’s seed industry, make improved seeds available to farmers and improve food security. According to a piece in Cornell’s Alliance for Science blog, the bill was first introduced six years ago but civil concerns over seed ownership halted progress. If it is passed, scientists and institutions will gain intellectual property and royalties over the plant varieties they develop. This financial support is necessary to develop seeds for the benefit of farmers and the nation, argue the bill’s backers. More than 10 African countries have so far passed a similar bill into law, says the report, including Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Crop Trust and partners have launched a fundraising campaign to secure funding for conservation of wild coffee species, reports a post by World Coffee Research (WCR). Unlike many other crops, says WCR, coffee can only be conserved as living plants called field genebanks. WCR and the Global Crop Diversity Trust in 2016 spearheaded the development of a Global Conservation Strategy for Coffee Genetic Resources. $25 million is required to implement this strategy and ensure the long-term conservation of four “origin collections”, each containing unique wild and cultivated coffee genetic resources: the Choche Field Genebank (Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute), the Fofifa Kianjavato Coffee Research Station (Madagascar), Centre National de la Recherche Agronomique Coffee Genebank (Côte d’Ivoire) and CATIE (Costa Rica).

The winners of the Feed the Future Fall Armyworm Tech Prize have been announced by USAID. Launched in March this year, the award called for digital innovations to help manage the rapid spread of Fall armyworm in Africa. Grand prize winner grand went to Farm.ink, a Nairobi-based start-up that created a Fall Armyworm Virtual Advisor that provides mobile-based information on identifying and treating the pest. Of the 228 entries to the competition, 80 per cent came from Africa. All prize winners are now working with smallholder farmers in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria.

Finally, B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya writes in Sunrise that Uganda must embrace science and technology—especially in the agricultural sector—as a crucial step in its development.

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Headlines

Ghana urged to pass law to encourage improved seed breeding
Alliance for Science

USAID announces Winners of the Feed the Future Fall Armyworm Tech Prize
AllAfrica

Crop Trust launch fundraising effort to implement strategy and secure stable funding for long-term global coffee diversity
World Coffee Research

AgBio news

Ghana: Government urged to re-introduce Plant Breeders’ Bill to parliament
GhanaWeb

Tech fall armyworm solutions winners recognised
The East African

Kenya: Experts oppose genetically modified cotton over safety
AllAfrica

Nigeria: Biotech can’t resolve every farming associated problem, say experts
Enviro News Nigeria

ISAAA releases statements on biotech at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Egypt
ISAAA

Improved method to identify salt tolerant crops
PhysOrg

Space-inspired speed breeding for crop improvement
John Innes Centre

DIY crop speed breeding to boost drought research
ISAAA

Researchers update on potato genome editing
ISAAA

How GMO crops can be engineered to ‘rehydrate’ after intense drought
Genetic Literacy Project

Gene silencing could ‘fool’ plants into surviving harsh environments
Genetic Literacy Project

Gene sequencing could help researchers breed cold-resistant crops
Genetic Literacy Project

Africa’s science ‘millionaires’: survey spotlights top-funded researchers
Nature

How scientists are using CRISPR to create non-GMO crops
Genetic Literacy Project

Best practices

Nigerian agriculture minister endorses groundnut thresher
ICRISAT

Combining manure and fertilizer doubles crop yields
FarmBiz Africa

The way forward for farming is modern tools & techniques which help cut air pollution & lead to healthier crops
YARA

Biodiversity

The women finger millet advocates of Western Kenya
ICRISAT

Agricultural biodiversity is vital for coping with a changing climate and securing our Future of Food. We have to halt the loss of biodiversity. FAO experts share their views on how we can achieve Zero Hunger  
FAO

Thanksgiving crops on the Space Station
ISS

Small farmers in Mexico keep corn’s genetic diversity alive
Scientific American

State of the World’s Fungi 2018
Kew Science

The Crop Trust releases a video celebrating crop biodiversity in the run-up to Thanksgiving
Crop Trust

Why monocultures might be the most sustainable option when choosing cover crops
Genetic Literacy Project

Can listening to bees help save them – and us?
BBC

Theorists debate how ‘neutral’ evolution really is
Quanta Magazine

Dumbarton Oaks and JSTOR combine their scholarly and digital expertise to launch the Plant Humanities Initiative to help discover how plants have shaped human societies
Scientific American

Climate change and environment

Don attributes agric problems in Nigeria, Africa to climate change
Today

Development

Uganda: Biotechnology seen as a crucial step in achieving industrialization
Sunrise, by B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya

Africa’s agribusiness tipped at U.S.$1 trillion business by 2030
AllAfrica

The largest trade and investment gathering in agriculture on the African continent to take stage in Cape Town
Farmers Review

Six careers that will be vital to South Africa’s agricultural future
Hypertext

Energy and innovation

Nigerian agritech startup Farmcrowdy launches National Digital Agriculture Day
Ventures Africa

The tech fix that won’t secure food supplies
SciDevNet

Food security and nutrition

Nigeria: 1.7 million people need food assistance in northeast, says FAO
AllAfrica

Nigeria needs food security, not food self-sufficiency
Stears

Diabetes is linked to food insecurity, and needs co-ordinated, multisectoral intervention
Daily Maverick

Pests and diseases

Ghana: New insecticides to fight Fall armyworms
AllAfrica

Italy’s olive crisis intensifies as deadly tree disease spreads
Nature

Genetic mutation key to resistance in cotton pest
ISAAA

Global scientists join forces to battle Fall armyworm in India
ICRISAT

Policy

EU legislation must safeguard precision plant breeding technologies
The Parliament Magazine

EC advisors call for update of GM legislation
Euro Biotech News

Top science panel criticizes EU’s GMO regulations
Alliance for Science

IWMI Research Report (173): A Hybrid Approach to Decolonize Formal Water Law in Africa
ReliefWeb

Is Europe Lost for GMOs?
Aspen

The GM debate

Are GMO crops the future of food? An interview with ISAAA’s Dr Paul S Teng
Green Global Travel

Genetic engineering and philosophy of technology
Biology Fortified

Will the Non-GMO Project embrace gene-edited foods or will they reject them as GMO?
Forbes

Values should be considered in discussions about GE products
ISAAA

CRISPR is perceived similarly as GMOs in five countries
ISAAA

We should stop saying biotechnology can “change the world,” expert argues
Genetic Literacy Project

Genetic engineering is changing our food. An expert explains everything you should know
Genetic Literacy Project

Opportunities and resources

Fully-funded places now available for vector and virus diagnostics course, Kenya, March 2019
Connected

CfP Conference “Pesticide Politics in Africa” call for contributions. 29 – 31 May 2019, Tropical Pesticide Research Institute (TPRI), Arusha, Tanzania
Iris

E-learning course developed by FAO on plant and animal genetic resources for food and agriculture & related indicators for the SDGs
FAO

Opportunity: Kew Science comms team vacancy: Science Administrator
Kew

Pore Safari seminar, Zambia Agriculture Research Institute, Mt Makulu Research Station, Chilanga. Spaces limited for this free seminar and workshop.
Oxford Nanopore Technologies