In the news...

November 25th, 2015 / B4FA.org

As governments prepare for the UNFCCC climate conference, which starts in Paris in just a few days, headlines abound with stories about how wayward climate patterns are set to affect many – and already are. A World Bank report states climate change could push 100 million people back into poverty by 2030. The report calls for containing the threat of climate change through rapid and inclusive development that protect the poor with targeted adaptation measures and emissions reductions efforts. It also warns that sub-Saharan Africa will suffer crop yield losses that could push up food prices 12 percent compared to scenarios without climate change – which would cause economic strain and malnutrition in poor households. Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that the current El Niño weather pattern is causing food shortages, floods, disease and droughts, putting millions at risk. While El Niño is a naturally occurring event, the article notes that its effects are being exacerbated by global warming.

In biotech news, CIMMYT has sequenced a “magic” wheat resistance gene, so called because it helps the wheat resist three wheat rusts as well as powdery mildew. In Ethiopia, a US-AID project has been launched to accelerate production of rust-resistant wheat seeds in order to quickly replace varieties falling to disease. A couple of interesting articles address the role of microbes in biotech. “Enhancing the biotechnology of crops with microbials” investigates “microbial innovation”, in which microorganisms are used for controlling pests or enhancing plants. Meanwhile, “How understanding microbes can help farmers manage Africa’s soil crisis” argues that evaluating the unique microbial diversity of Africa’s soils is important at a time when multinational corporations are investing to identify and develop soil microbes for commercial use. Knowledge of Africa’s soil microbes will also be valuable to farmers elsewhere who face similar agricultural challenges, the report says.

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Noah Nash, who sends in two video reports: “SARI completes second stage trials for Genetically Modified cotton varieties” and “Farmers urged to adopt conservation agriculture to help protect soil, improve yield”. From Nigeria, Abdallah el-Kurebe writes “How modern biotechnology can create 25,000 jobs”, and from Uganda, Michael Ssali sends in two stories: “Acceptance of GM crops spreads as agricultural challenges increase” and “President’s speech on biotech was spot on“. Also from Uganda, we hear from Christopher Bendana, who writes “Pass the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, Sekandi says”.

Please send materials, questions and comments to [email protected]. And thank you for joining us!

Biosciences & plant genetics around the world

World Bank report states climate change could push 100 million people back into poverty by 2030
Food Climate Resource Network

El Niño: food shortages, floods, disease and droughts set to put millions at risk
Guardian, UK

Global food demand estimated to double by 2050: new paper assesses global long-term food demand scenarios  
Food Climate Research Network

FAO intensifies stance on ‘Zero Hunger’
AllAfrica

“Magic” wheat resistance gene sequenced by CIMMYT
ISAAA

Enhancing the biotechnology of crops with microbials
Country Guide

Bio-safety measures can keep gene drives from causing ecological havoc
Genetic Literacy Project

Comparing pesticide use in agroecological and conventional agriculture
Genetic Literacy Project

Squash pots and bad bananas: The cultural myopia of American food activists
Huffington Post

Are GMOs to blame for the loss of nutrients in our fruits and vegetables?
Genetic Literacy Project

Egyptian and Indian scientists discuss biotech as sustainable approach to development
ISAAA

Western Australia expected to lift restrictions on new GM crops
Genetic Literacy Project

Malaysia poised to become pioneer in agricultural biotech crops
Genetic Literacy Project

Global Nutrition Report 2015: Actions and accountability to advance nutrition and sustainable development
IFPRI

Chinese agricultural investment in Africa: motives, actors and modalities
Eldis

China–Africa co-operation beyond extractive industries: the case of Chinese agricultural assistance in West Africa
Eldis

The scientists with reasons to be cheerful
Guardian, UK

Sequencing date palm genomes could lead to drought & disease-resistant varieties
Genetic Literacy Project

CRISPR: cutting edge tech for plant breeders
The Producer

OPINION: Time we gave science its fair due when it comes to GM crops
Hindustan Times

Pan-Africa

Aflatoxins poisoning health and trade in sub-Saharan Africa
AllAfrica

How understanding microbes can help farmers manage Africa’s soil crisis
The Conversation, Africa

Climate change threatens food security in sub-Saharan Africa
The Standard

East African scientists and regulators undergo advanced biosafety course
ISAAA

Proper handling of produce to save Africa Sh4bn every year
FarmBiz Africa

East Africa: Humble croton nut proves to be a valuable biofuel, fertilizer and feed
AllAfrica

Ethiopia

Project bridges rust–resistant wheat seed multiplication gap
AllAfrica

Soil campaign week launched
AllAfrica

UN warns of deepening food insecurity, allocates emergency funds to tackle severe drought
AllAfrica

1st STI conference week kicks off with a call for Africans to maximize the use of Science, Technology and Innovation
African Brains

Ghana

Video: SARI completes second stage trials for Genetically Modified cotton varieties
by B4FA Fellow Noah Nash

Video: Farmers urged to adopt conservation agriculture to help protect soil, improve yield
by B4FA Fellow Noah Nash

CSIR-SARI evaluates herbicides on GM cotton varieties
GhanaWeb

Influx of adulterated fertilizers affecting farmers’ produce
Pulse

Invest in agriculture, not oil – Mo Ibrahim to Ghana
Pulse

Kenya

Kenya: Farmers working to save last crop before El Niño rain falls  
FarmBiz Africa

Can silk shield Kenyan farmers from climate change?
SciDevNet

Programme launched to enhance Kenya food security
CAJ News Africa

Namibia

Namibia: Another dry season could devastate maize triangle
AllAfrica

Nigeria

How modern biotechnology can create 25,000 jobs
News Diary Online, by B4FA Fellow Abdallah el-Kurebe

Disease killing cocoyam farming in Katsina
AllAfrica

Need to revive agricultural extension services in Nigeria
AllAfrica

Tanzania

University of Dar es Salaam launches College of Agricultural Sciences and Fisheries Technology
AllAfrica

Uganda

Acceptance of GM crops spreads as agricultural challenges increase
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

President’s speech on biotech was spot on
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Pass the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, Sekandi says,
New Vision, by B4FA Fellow Christopher Bendana @newvisionwire

NARO’s new crop products offer hope against disease and drought
Sunrise

Uganda committed to reducing carbon emissions ahead of December UNFCCC meeting
Daily Monitor

Scientists to showcase agricultural innovations against climate change
Sunrise

Opportunities and resources

EVENT | Uganda hosting major biotech conference at Makerere University, 23 to 25 November 2015

Just launched: GFAR.net, the Global Forum for Agricultural Research’s new agri-food research and innovation forum
GFAR

New book: Genetically Modified Crops and Agricultural Development, by Professor of Agricultural Economics Matin Qaim, reviews the impacts of current and possible future GM crop applications and shows how these technologies contribute to sustainable agricultural development and food security
ISAAA