In the news...

June 14th, 2017 /

A new peer-review report recently published by PG Economics shows that over the last 20 years, crop biotechnology has significantly reduced agriculture’s environmental impact and stimulated economic growth. The report, GM Crops: Global Socio-economic and Environmental impacts 1996-2015, is authored by Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot. Among the benefits they list are reduced land required to grow food, more efficient use of crop protection products, a lower carbon footprint for agriculture, and better livelihoods for smallholder farmers. Click to download a copy of the report.

Meanwhile, controversy continues in India as the country teeters on the brink of approving the commercial production of GM mustard. This week’s reports say that India’s scientists are backing GM mustard, saying it will help create better and high-yielding hybrids. “The National Academy of Agriculture Sciences (NAAS), with 625 members, adopted a resolution on the commercialisation of GM mustard, seeking immediate release of the crop in the field,” says an article in the Deccan Herald, which notes that the final decision is pending with Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan. Among the worries stalling final approval is the claim by environmentalists and NGOs that the GM mustard may cause a reduction of nectar in flowers, which would then affect honeybees, a theory that an article in Indian Express debunks (“Concerns over GM mustard impacting pollination and honey production have no empirical basis”).

In Africa, there’s been a lot of focus on African Development Ban (AfDB) activity in the weeks since its annual meeting in Ahmedabad, India. Stories this week include how the AfDB is exploring investment strategies to tilt markets in favour of African farmers; collaboration with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to promote sustainable agro- and forest ecosystems in Mali and Benin; how AfDB’s agri-interventions have benefitted 5.6mn African people; and how the AfDB wants to spur economic growth in Africa by transforming agriculture.

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Michael Ssali, who ponders Uganda’s strategy for climate-smart agriculture, and Abdallah el-Kurebe, who reports on a new partnership launched to support six Nigerian states in cassava mechanisation.

As ever, please send questions, comments and story links to [email protected] and visit  for further reading and useful resources. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with daily news and join the conversation.


India: Scientists back GM mustard, say will help create better hybrids
Deccan Herald

India’s National Academy of Agricultural Sciences endorses commercial release of GM mustard

India: Concerns over GM mustard impacting pollination and honey production have no empirical basis
Indian Express

India might be close to approving genetically-modified crops
Paste Magazine

India: Agricultural scientists’ body demands early government nod on GM mustard cultivation
Financial Xpress

Brazil biosecurity agency gives nod to GM sugarcane, says CTC

Report shows 20 years of economic and environmental Benefits from biotech/GM crops

New report highlights 20 years of economic and environmental benefits from using biotech/GM crops
PG Economics

How to produce more food with less damage to soil, water, forests

Buzzing ‘bee song’ tells farmers which crops will produce

Kevin Folta: Please say no to the term ‘GMO’

Harmonize conflicting regulations for genetically engineered plants and animals

Food insecurity strains deepen amid civil conflict and drought

New technology extracts drinking water and crop fertiliser from air
African Farming

The science of scientific writing
American Scientist

Salk scientists help plants pump iron using gene variants

CTA Flash – June 2017 – A year in review: Shaping the future

Italy rebuked for failure to prevent olive-tree tragedy

Plants use a human-like brain process to decide when to germinate

Nagoya University develops highly efficient CRISPR-Cas9 vector for Arabidopsis

Vietnam: Conference reveals the tremendous potential & promise of genome editing as an advancement in plant breeding

More to the bunch: Study finds large chromosomal swaps key to banana domestication

20-year GMO report card: Biotech shrinks ag’s ecological impact, increased farm income $167 billion
Genetic Literacy

Australia: New report reignites calls to drop GM crop bans
North Queensland Register

Unraveling the tea genome

SustainableCoffeeChallenge: Driving a movement to make coffee the world’s first sustainable crop
Food Tank

Enabling knowledge sharing and exchange in gender research across CGIAR: a working paper series


AfDB explores investment strategies to tilt markets in favour of African farmers
Biz Agriculture

AfDB collaborates with GEF to promote sustainable agro- and forest ecosystems in Mali and Benin
African Farming

AfDB’s agri-intervention benefits 5.6mn people in Africa
African Farming

How the AfDB wants to spur economic growth in Africa by transforming agriculture
Ghana Business News

Solving Africa’s food insecurity through biotechnology – Cambridge firm plays key role in African anti-poverty campaign
Business Weekly

Food security and humanitarian implications in West Africa and the Sahel, N°82

Case IH Sugar Camp 2017 gives African famers insight into Brazilian sugarcane production
African Farming

Genetically modified ‘resurrection’ crops could help Africa deal with drought, climate change
Genetic Literacy Project

New African Sciences Research Consortium PhD scholarship on food security, nutrition launched
Standard Kenya

Boosting bioenergy in Africa and Latin America

Next Einstein Forum launches first-ever Africa Science Week

Agriculture behind Africa’s health
Forbes Africa

African gov’ts to report on agriculture commitments effective 2018
New Vision

Join GFAR’s webinar on “Farm Radio, Community Radio and Participatory Radio”
Global Forum on Agricultural Research

ABCA 2017 Roundup: The latest research on agriculture in Africa
The World Bank


Gender and water technologies use for  irrigation and multiple purposes in Ethiopia
Africa Rising


Improved seeds, the answer to Africa’s food security needs – Ghana’s agric minister

Professor Owusu lauds WACCI for spearheading Africa’s agriculture transformation
Ghana News Agency

Ghanaians are being urged to give GMO technology a chance for dealing with food security challenges
MyJoy Online


Maize seed sector under threat from ravaging fall armyworm

Govt commits Sh300 million to fight spread of armyworms

Food shortage looms as armyworm ravages grain basket


With a bit of ‘time travel’, Malians prepare farms of the future


IITA expands research investment with the inauguration of 205.5 ha research farm
African Farming

Partnership supports six Nigerian states in cassava mechanisation
Procyon, by B4FA Fellow Abdallah el-Kurebe

Scientists begin research to ensure food security in Nigeria


Senna: the little shrub making a big difference in rural Senegal


Plans complete for first agricultural park in Tanzania

Tanzanian farmers urge gov’t to hasten delivery of GE crops


Agriculture​ training colleges to mainstream courses on aflatoxins
New Vision

Climate smart agriculture: what is Uganda’s strategy?
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

First field observation In Uganda shows extreme resistance to late blight by GM potato
CIP International Potato Center

Companies stand by neonic yield claims in response to new dust-off research
The Progressive Farmer

Ugandan journal says IITA’s breeding efforts to benefit no less than 15,000 farmers
Bulletin IITA

Public learns about biotech for climate smart agriculture at World Environment Day commemoration in Uganda


For sustainable socio-economic change in agriculture local communities should be empowered for themselves

Opportunities and resources

Postgraduate Course in Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology, Ghent University, deadline 31 August

Modern Biotechnology in Integrated Crop Management, 4-6 September 2017, Ghent, Belgium. deadline 23 July

Call for applications: Workshop on Reporting Africa-China Engagements, Ethiopia, August 2017. Deadline 18 July

Career op: AfDB Chief Agricultural Economist: Technologies for African agricultural transformation. Closing: 12 June

GFAR Webinar: Beyond decision making: Foresight as a process for improving attitude towards change, 27 June 2017