In the news...

September 6th, 2018 / B4FA.org

Scientists have made a genetic breakthrough in the fight against the globally devastating wheat stripe rust disease, isolating three rust resistance genes: Yr7, Yr5 and YrSP. The work of these researchers – a collaboration between the University of Sydney, CSIRO, the John Innes Centre, Limagrain UK and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) – may make it possible to edit wheat genes to try to switch on their rust resistance. According to an article in PhysOrg, the paper’s co-author Dr Peng Zhang of the University of Sydney said this research “represents the first authenticated molecular isolation of major resistance genes against stripe rust.” The article also quotes her stating: “This work finally resolved the relationships between these three genes and provided an answer to a question that is more than 30 years old.” The paper may be read at Nature Plants.

In related news, wheat stem rust researcher Matthew Rouse of the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was announced this year’s winner of the World Food Prize during the Sustainable Development Goals Conference at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. According to a release by the World Food Prize, Rouse is being recognized for his remarkable achievements in fighting the stem rust pathogen. “Dr. Rouse has played an essential role in the control and continued eradication efforts of Ug99, a devastating race of the stem rust pest that currently threatens the world’s wheat crops… His work has led to the release of several successful varieties resistant to Ug99, including ‘Linkert’ in the U.S., ‘NARC 2011’ in Pakistan, and ‘Kingbird’ in Ethiopia.”

A piece published in the Guardian, Nigeria, reports that the scientific community is celebrating the progress of GM in the country with two events: the release of two GM cotton varieties and the Federal High Court striking out a case challenging the powers of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) to grant Monsanto Nigeria a permit for confined field trials of GM maize and the commercial release of GM cotton.

Also in the news, Mohammed Adams Nasiru, Ghana’s former leader of anti-GM group the Peasant Farmers’ Association, has now changed his position to pro-GM. Nasiru says that he changed his mind after receiving scientific information about GM from the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology, and pledges to stop the spread of misinformation. “A lot of us were misled into believing GMOs are bad, but now I know the truth. I am very comfortable with GMOs… I don’t think there is any harm in going with GMOs,” he says.

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Headlines

Scientists solve 30-year wheat rust genetics puzzle
PhysOrg

World Food Prize Recognizes American researcher as winner of the 2018 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application
World Food Prize

GMOs: Nigeria making steady progress
Guardian

Ghana’s anti-GMO farm leader adopts pro-GMO position
Alliance for Science

AgBio news

Biotech in Africa: Can public pressure overcome a lack of political will?
Alliance for Science

Nigeria: Cross River to generate N13 billion from rice seedlings
AllAfrica

Zimbabwe: Govt declares war on armyworm 
AllAfrica

Grants for African universities to help address knowledge gaps in agriculture
University World News

Nigeria: Taraba farmers get improved cassava stems
AllAfrica

John Innes Centre wins funding for grass pea project in Sub-Saharan Africa
John Innes Centre

Industry experts discuss Africa’s biotechnology innovations
CNBC Africa

Nigeria at verge of agricultural revolution in Africa – Ghanaian lawmaker
Vanguard

Genes from Dead Sea to produce more drought-tolerant crops
Israel 21C

The Crop Trust’s Pre-breeding Project links genebanks and breeding programs to develop greater diversity in crop plants
World Vegetable Center

‘Smart plants’? Newly discovered genetic ‘messaging system’ could get us there
Genetic Literacy Project

Mutation breeding of rice increases food security across Asia
IAEA

Ghana: Farmers, media schooled on GMOs
Ghana News Agency

US pushes Kenya, Africa to adopt GM crops
Business Daily

Guar, wheat integration focus of new Texas A&M AgriLife study
Agrilife Today

Vital Sudan crops damaged by ‘deficient pesticides’
AllAfrica

Best practices

Uganda: Farmers flock to Kabanyolo for Farm Clinic
Daily Monitor

Uganda: Grow avocado and earn cash
Daily Monitor

Zimbabwe: Farmers urged to try zero tillage
AllAfrica

Biodiversity

Cowpea: A food and animal feed crop grown in West Africa
Open Access Government

Talking Biotech: Artemisinin—the malaria treatment that could help prevent 400,000 deaths a year
Genetic Literacy Project

Climate change and environment

The great African regreening: millions of ‘magical’ new trees bring renewal
The Guardian

Development

Interview: FAO hails new China initiatives to support Africa’s food security
XinHuaNet

China to help Africa attain food security by 2030- Xi
Africa News

China helps train African youth in agriculture
XinHuaNet

How Sino-Africa technology cooperation is boosting agriculture in Kenya
CP Africa

Feature: Kenyan youth to integrate Chinese technologies with African agriculture
XinHuaNet

New dynamics emerge between East and West in race for Africa
Business Daily

AfDB seeks $3.3bn for women, youth entrepreneurs
Punch

Zimbabwe: ‘Turn Lowveld into agric hub’
AllAfrica

WFP says 1.1 million Zimbabweans will need food aid by 2019
Africa News

Strategic partnerships and investments key to Africa’s economic transformation
CPI Financial

Brexit, trade and security are all on the agenda during May’s Kenya visit
News24

Nigeria, Germany sign memorandum of understanding on commerce, agriculture
The Guardian

AgDevCo welcomes new funding from the British government
Business Insider

African gov’ts urged to increase investments in agric technology
Modern Ghana

AfDB’s small-scale horticulture project benefits Kenyan farmers
African Farming

UK aid helps farmers across Africa grow their businesses and protect livestock
Gov UK

Unleashing the power of women farmers in Africa, and beyond
TRT World

10 tips for better communication about pesticide science, risks
Genetic Literacy Project

Food security

Southern Africa Food and Nutrition Security Working Group: Crop and Livestock Situation Update, Food Security Outlook and Nutrition Update (Bulletin, July – August 2018)
ReliefWeb

Pests and diseases

Tanzania eyes new tech to fight aflatoxins
AllAfrica

Ravenous insects may be coming for our crops in a warming world
Science Magazine

Breakthrough to combat devastating grape disease
Technology Networks

Video: Scouting for fall armyworms
Access Agriculture

Video: Killing fall armyworms naturally
Access Agriculture

China says can’t rule out new African swine fever outbreaks
Agriculture

China’s agriculture ministry says African swine fever outbreaks originated outside country
Devdiscourse

China battles spread of African swine fever as fifth case found
The Telegraph

Policy

Brazil court overturns ban on weed-killer glyphosate
Reuters

India: Soon finalise rules to import Genetically Modified food: Regulator
New Indian Express

The GM debate

Confused about GMO and CRISPR technology? Let science settle it
Growing Produce

Opportunities and resources

Mechanized: Transforming Africa’s Agriculture Value Chains
Malabo Montpellier Panel

The first round of funding has been awarded from the 1st CONNECTED pump-prime funding call. For info about the next call, join the network here 
Connected

Report: Gene drive systems: Do they have a place in agricultural weed management?
Read by QxMD

Agri-tech Catalyst competition – safer, more nutritious food for Africa: UK organizations may apply for funding
Gov UK