In the news...

November 15th, 2017 /

This week, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 23 (COP23) convened in Bonn, Germany, as news broke via the Global Carbon Project that carbon emissions have reached an all-time high – an assessment that foreshadows challenges for agriculture and food security. According to an article by Mark Lynas, “Emissions barely rose at all in 2014-2016, despite steady growth in GDP, leading some to suggest that humanity had turned the corner in tackling climate change. However, carbon releases rose sharply again in 2017, with fossil fuel emissions hitting a new all-time record of 37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide”. According to an article in The Conversation, this is a reminder that “there is no room for complacency if we are to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, which calls for temperatures to be stabilised at ‘well below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels’. This requires net zero global emissions soon after 2050”.

At COP23 itself, the mutual impact of agriculture and climate change was the theme du jour on Friday, 10 November. According to article “Finally, a breakthrough on agriculture on the cards at Bonn”: “Events throughout the day focused on the need to step up adaptation and mitigation finance to help the agricultural sector cope better and build climate-resilient agriculture to offset damages that have been increasing in recent years, especially in the global south and in countries vulnerable to climate change impacts.” The article also points out that the impact of climate change on agriculture so far has been heaviest in South-Southeast Asia and Africa, while differing priorities between developed and developing nations are creating a stalemate. However, says the article, “sources close to the negotiations have hinted at the possibility of bridging the differences and the acceptance of a work plan for climate actions in agriculture”. We will keep an eye on agriculture-related COP23 news as it breaks.

At a meeting of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, African nations requested a review of a framework for accessing and benefiting from exploration of genetic materials obtained from farmers in developing countries. The treaty removes restrictions to diverse plant genetic materials stored in gene banks around the world, making them available to plant breeders and scientists for research. According to an article in AllAfrica, 4 million samples of genetic resources have been exchanged over the last decade under this multilateral system. However, it says: “[D]elegates from developing countries say the exchange was not mutually beneficial due to lack of monetary contributions to the treaty’s common fund. It was also not clear how the transfer, mostly by private sector research organisations and seed companies, improved food security, livelihoods or contributed to empowering needy communities around the world. Developing countries pushed for stakeholders to commit to making the benefit-sharing provision work for all”.

In other African biotech news, farmers in Ghana are opting for Bt cowpea during field trials due to its resistance to pests such as the Maruca Pod Borer; Ugandan plant breeder and crop expert Erostus Nsubuga has started a disease-free Irish potato seed-multiplication plant near Kampala; Kenyan scientists have found new striga-resistance genes in wild sorghum; and stakeholders in Kenya are reportedlyeager for the introduction of Bt cotton.

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Michael Ssali, who writes in Uganda’s Daily Monitor about the importance of considering seeds’ crop yield potential, resistance to pests and diseases, tolerance to drought and nutrient value, and from Alex Abutu, who reports on Nigerian stakeholders strategising around the release of Bt cotton.

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Finally, a breakthrough on agriculture on the cards at Bonn
Down to Earth

FAO launches new Climate-Smart Agriculture web platform

COP23: Calls grow for fresh focus on ‘climate smart agriculture’
Business Green

Soil is crucial for addressing climate change but it’s often an unsung hero in the climate story
Nature Conservancy

Grim news for climate as carbon emissions reach new record high
Mark Lynas, Alliance for Science

Fossil fuel emissions hit record high after unexpected growth: Global Carbon Budget 2017

CO2 emissions are expected to rise by 2 percent this year

Soil bacteria, Bt, has a life beyond GM crops
Hindu Business Line

Changing where crops are grown could feed an additional 825 million people, study finds

Crunch time for food security

Scientists search for answers to growing global food security concern
The National

Biotech players discuss international agreements related to agri-biotech

Long-term study finds that the pesticide glyphosate does not cause cancer
The Scientist

GMO potatoes provide improved Vitamin A and E profiles

Genetic modification: Science suggests it’s not evil or unhealthy
Weekly Times

USDA to re-engage stakeholders on revisions to biotech regulation

Bangladesh government to provide incentives for Bt brinjal farmers

Discovery on circadian clock could help boost water efficiency of plants

UK will back total ban on bee-harming pesticides, Michael Gove reveals
Guardian, UK

USDA scraps overhaul of GMO and gene edited crop regulations that biotech advocates viewed as ‘unscientific’
Genetic Literacy Project

Viewpoint: Will Europe botch regulation of gene editing as it has GMOs?
Genetic Literacy Project

Talking Biotech: A former skeptic’s struggle to bring GMO crops to Bolivia
Genetic Literacy Project

Universally shared biodata could create powerful ‘internet of living things’
Genetic Literacy Project

Examining potatoes’ past could improve spuds of the future
MSU Today

US government report says that climate change is real — and humans are to blame

Genetically modified apple reaches US stores, but will consumers bite?

Trump’s agriculture department reverses course on biotech rules

Global nutrition crisis threatens human development, says new Global Nutrition Report 2017
Global Nutrition Report

AfDB partners with Purdue University to make technologies available to African farmers

50 experts meet at IDEP to reflect on new agricultural development approaches

Pioneers of organic farming are threatening to leave the program they helped create
Washington Post

Smallholder farmers to gain from targeted CRISPR-Cas9 crop breeding

14 corn genes identified that could boost vitamin E levels
Genetic Literacy Project


Africa pushes for gains on genetic materials

COP23: African youth fighting for climate action
Deutsche Welle

Video: Highlights of the biotech and biosafety status in Africa

Agricultural production and trade: the four corners of Africa

Interview with CIAT Climate Scientist Julian Ramirez, who looks at 9 important crops for agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa and the transformations each are projected to undergo in the 21st century
Crop Trust

AfDB partners with Green Climate Fund to unearth Africa’s potential
News Ghana

AGRA experts encourage quality seeds to boost food security in Africa
News Ghana

Meeting the challenges of investing in sub-Saharan agriculture
Biz Agriculture

NEPAD unveils new strategies to transform farming in Africa
News Ghana


Video: Ethiopia’s State Minister of Cabinet Affairs says India’s Bt cotton experience changed his perception on GM


Farmers opt for GM cowpea?
News Ghana

Pass plant breeders bill now, parliament urged

Korea extends US$9mn to develop rice industry in Ghana
African Farming

Ghana’s pineapple farmers need more intensive training

Ghanaian farmers must give technology a chance, says scientist
Public Agenda

Ghana-Hungary partnership to boost agricultural production
African Farming


Kenyan scientists find new striga resistance genes in wild sorghum

CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome editing of cassava

BT cotton commercialization in Kenya: Stakeholders ready to embrace the technology

Climate change: Poor Kenyan communities at risk
AgroAfrica Magazine

Can Kenyan farmers combat food insecurity with climate-smart agriculture?
Equal Times

Leaders told to support biotech crops programmes


Crop diversification key to improving Malawi’s economy – Mwanamveka

Crop diversification vital for countering fall armyworms


Soil-based filter bricks clean up water for Moroccan farmers


Farmers must adopt to reality of climate change

Six out of ten rural people food insecure – report


Nigeria stakeholders strategise on Bt Cotton release
Scientific NG, by B4FA Fellow Alex Abutu

Nigeria has enough food stock to address shortages in 2018 – Minister

Anxiety in senate over mycotoxins spread

How agro companies use GMO as battleground for market space
Daily Trust


Meet the retired soldier making millions from potato growing

South Africa

Agriculture training in South Africa badly needs an overhaul. Here are some ideas
The Conversation


Tanzania farmers adopts vegetable farming to improve nutrition
African Farming


Farmers beware of the seeds
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Nsubuga’s disease-free Irish potatoes
Daily Monitor

Uganda’s new funding for R&D stirs debate

Makerere to host two centres of scientific excellence
University World News

Uganda Parliament passes bill to promote use of genetically modified materials, biotech
Intellectual Property Watch


Conservation Agriculture: Zambia’s double-edged sword against climate change and hunger

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