In the news...

February 3rd, 2015

A study published this week by Pew Research Center and American Association for the Advancement of Science concluded that scientific consensus on GMO safety is stronger than for global warming. To be precise, 89% of the scientists surveyed believed genetically modified foods are safe, in sharp contrast to public skepticism. (The full study is available here.) The report delineates a massive gap between public perception and scientific understanding – a gap that can only be bridged by dialogue between citizens and scientists. This tension and mistrust of GM is holding up crucial biotech research, argues Calestous Juma and Katherine Gordon in “Biotech crops show global promise but suffer from restrictive regulations” (Read the full report here.)

Meanwhile, the  FAO is urging the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to adopt its recently hammered-out guidelines – advice for safeguarding a healthy gene pool, including ensuring access to a wide variety of plant, animal and microbe species through seed banks and beyond – as an essential resource for climate change adaptation.

Agricultural stories from Africa include the benefits of intercropping coffee with bananas, as well as how Kenya’s smallholder farmers are incorporating agroforestry to build crop resilience and boost their harvests. Researchers in Ghana are reportedly recording favourable outcomes in trials of GM rice.

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru writes in with “Efforts underway to develop maize varieties tolerant to drought, pests”, while Noah Nash posted a video about how in Ghana, Northern Rice Sector Development Hubs have been launched in Navrongo.

Thank you for joining us! We look forward to receiving your questions, comments, and story links at [email protected].

Biosciences & plant genetics around the world

Include seed genes in climate change plans, urges FAO
SciDev

Video: Can ag feed 9 billion? Pushing boundaries in agriculture – Rob Saik
TEDxRedDeer

From sustainable intensification to valuing nature: the top 10 ecosystem service and resilience reads of 2014
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

Are genomically recoded organisms needed to keep GMOs on a leash?
Genetic Literacy Project

Pew/AAAS survey: Scientific consensus on GMO safety stronger than for global warming
Genetic Literacy Project

Opinion: It’s time to stand up for agriculture
Agriculture Today

Report available: “Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2014
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications

Europe ‘lagging’ in GM crop cultivation
Pan European Networks

Genetically modified crop successfully fed to salmon, say scientists
Telegraph

Pests invade Europe after neonicotinoids ban, with no benefit to bee health
Genetic Literacy Project

Improved wheat varieties on horizon to address drought, flooding pests and stresses
Genetic Literacy Project

Breeders work to mainstream genetic diversity of potato
Genetic Literacy Project

From GMOs to GROs: Will life find a way?
Public Library of Science

UN’s sustainable development goals: all you need to know
Guardian UK

Pan-Africa

Efforts underway to develop maize varieties tolerant to drought, pests
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Malawi: Contract farming can boost legume production
AllAfrica

Kenya: Invasive species of cactus threatens livestock in Laikipia
AllAfrica

“Africa’s agricultural opportunities are just tremendous” – President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz
AllAfrica

Kenya: Smallholder farmers reap double growing crops with trees

FarmBiz Africa

The complexity of subsistence farming
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Ghana

Ghanaian scientists edge up GM rice trials
GhanaWeb

Video: Northern Rice Sector Development Hubs launched in Navrongo
by B4FA Fellow Noah Nash

Nigeria

Nigerian agri sector receives US$136.5mn for 2015 farming season
African Farming

“My goal is to ensure ‘no Nigerian is hungry”—Jonathan
Vanguard

Unending controversy about Nigeria’s rice policy
AllAfrica

Tanzania

Tanzania reports bumper harvest
AllAfrica

Farmers to gain from banana, potatoes drive
AllAfrica

Uganda

The benefits of intercropping coffee with bananas
Daily Monitor

Uganda targets triple yields with coffee farming manual
FarmBiz Africa

Community gardens to promote agriculture
Daily Monitor

Featured image: Ghanain women are learning dry season farming methods, enhancing their livelihoods. Photo: B4FA Fellow Geoffrey Buta