In the news...

February 10th, 2015

India took the spotlight this week in response to the recently released ISAAA report Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2014, which stated that developing countries planted more biotech crops than industrialised nations. According to a Hindustan Times article, India’s 11.6 million hectares of GM crops now equals Canada’s and is bigger than China’s, while another story states that India’s government is working to introduce even more.

Other interesting biotech stories include a project to unlock the genomes of 100 melon varieties as well as five wild melon relatives in order to help accelerate the breeding process. Sought-after traits include resistance to fungi, viruses and insects, as well as drought tolerance and longer shelf life. Science Daily reports how plant biologists are improving drought tolerance by engineering them to activate water-conserving processes in response to an anti-blight agrochemical that’s already in use.

We also hear from B4FA Fellows: from Ghana, Noah Nash sends a new video about how the Ghanaian chapter of OFAB (Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa) is working to sensitize science students to GM issues and encourage them to take up biotech careers. Michael Ssali writes about why farmers should plant improved seed in Uganda, while Lominda Afedraru offers a report on how researchers and farmers are gaining ground in the fight against deadly maize disease.

Thank you as ever for joining us. We look forward to receiving your questions, comments, and story links at

Biosciences & plant genetics around the world

Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2014

Biotech crops show continued growth, benefits in 2014, global plantings increase by 6 million
Business Wire

Despite stiff resistance, India’s GM crop size now equals Canada’s and more than China’s
Hindustan Times

India will soon be game for GM crops

DNA sequencing of 100 melon varieties could lead to improved taste, shelf life

Scientists reprogram plants for drought tolerance
Science Daily

“The world cannot afford empty arguments about biosafety” – summary of “Global Status of Transgenic Crops” workshop
Chinese Science Bulletin

Modern genetics – not necessarily GM – can help spur next Green Revolution
Genetic Literacy Project

Poll shows giant gap between what public, scientists think

Why GM is the natural solution for future farming
Guardian UK

How can we meaningfully engage the public in science debate?

Ex-EU science chief Anne Glover: GM tech ‘is safe’

Nine steps to food security – Kofi Annan
New Vision Wire


Kenya: Burning maize stalks on farms damages soil productivity, takes a toll on crop yields
FarmBiz Africa

Agriculture and food security efforts portal launched
Spy Ghana

Report: Revealing agriculture’s place in Africa

Local vendors, not supermarkets, key to Africa food security

‘FAO award shows Gambia’s commitment to food security’


Video: OFAB Ghana sensitizes science students to GM issues and biotech careers
by B4FA Fellow Noah Nash

India gives Ghana $150m line of credit for agriculture
Ghana Business News


Tapping the hidden treasure of water hyacinth

Group urges farmers to vote agric-minded politicians


Govt to enhance farmers’ access to markets


Researchers, farmers gain ground in fight against deadly maize disease
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

New soya bean varieties boost farmers and country’s income
FarmBiz Africa

Why farmers should plant improved seed
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Uganda selected as focus for project on root crops, bananas
Daily Monitor

Featured image: “Ladies bagging maize” by Scarlett Chidgey. Used under a CC 2.0 license.