In the news...

November 30th, 2017 /

This week, the European Union voted to end the ban on glyphosate, licensing it for a new five-year term that falls short of the original 15-year license sought by the European Health Commission. While the weed killer was declared “probably carcinogenic” by the World Heatlh Organization (WHO) in 2015, subsequent studies by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and WHO and other agencies contradicted the original findings. The safety of glysophate will be revisited in two years by the European Food Safety Authority.

In other biotech news, a newly discovered heat-resistant wheat variety may help farmers in the Senegal River Basin – including Mali, Mauritius and Senegal – fight food insecurity and end North Africa’s dependence on foreign wheat. The non-GM wheat was bred using molecular techniques by researchers at the International Centre for Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) and can withstand temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, researchers at Michigan State University’s entomology department have found a way to make molecular adjustments to crops that will protect them from pestswithout the need for insecticides that harm bees.

In Kenya, 140 new drought-resistant seeds have been released commercially by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate, including maize, beans, sunflower, sorghum and potatoes. Four of the varieties of seeds released are resistant to maize lethal necrosis. Kenyan scientists have also discovered a way to fight fall armyworm using a planting technique called “push-pull”. According to a story in XinhuaNet, “The technology involves intercropping cereal crops with insect repellent legumes in the Desmodium genus, and planting an attractive forage plant such as Napier grass as a border around this intercrop. The intercrop emits a blend of compounds that repel away stem borer moths, while the border plants emit semi-chemicals that are attractive to the pests. [The technique] was originally developed for the control of stem borers, the key pests of cereal crops across most of Africa, and the parasitic Striga weeds.”

From the Ugandan B4FA Fellows, we hear from Michael Ssali on why mulching is an important agricultural practice to help protect and build soil and prevent weeds, and Lominda Afedraru on scientists advising farmers on how to boost soils using organic fertilizer.

As we have previously mentioned, the current funding of B4FA is coming to an end, and we are urgently searching for future support. This is now imminent, so if you feel that this weekly newsletter, our Tweets and website ( are useful and that you could help, please contact us [email protected] as soon as possible for further details. We hope to hear from you.

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.


Controversial glyphosate weedkiller wins new five-year lease in Europe
Guardian UK

French scientist calls for inquiry into IARC’s ‘misbehavior’ on glyphosate cancer study
Genetic Literacy Project

Bee friendly insecticides? Scientists unlock genetic key to kill crop pests, sparing beneficial insects
Genetic Literacy Project

Seeds hold hidden treasures for future food

High-tech tracker to battle ancient wheat plague
Biz Agriculture

Perspectives on organic agriculture and new plant breeding techniques

Scientists evaluate the use of CRISPR-Cas9 on date palm

How the plough made the modern economy possible

Better soil could trap as much planet-warming carbon as transport produces, says study

To address hunger effectively, first check the weather, says new study
Phys Org

Biotechnology for food security: hope over hype
Down to Earth

GMOs as safe as conventional food, beneficial for farmers — scientists
GMA News

Call for embracing biotechnology to meet growing nutritional demand

World Bank book shows value of data in farming interventions
Huffington Post

Australian OGTR releases report on 2017 study of public attitudes about GMOs, gene technology and its regulation

Giving thanks, 7 things we’re thankful for in 2017
International Potato Centre

USDA expects quick approval for genetically engineered virus to combat citrus greening disease in Florida
Genetic Literacy Project

Giving farmers the freedom to make choices
Alliance for Science

CRISPR breathing new life into crop breeding–can it avoid GMO controversy?
Genetic Literacy Project

Do these new apples mark the dawn of an era of designer fruit?

Global trends kick off TropAg 2017
North Queensland Register

FDA education initiative on agricultural biotechnology: emphasize safety and science
Center for Science in the Public Interest

The European fund for sustainable development: What’s it all about?

How the tomato lost its flavour–and the way biotech could bring it back
Genetic Literacy Project

India: the roots of the crisis in the seed industry
Live Mint

Why reducing post-harvest losses is a priority for Africa
The Conversation

Report: use of CRISPR systems in plant genome editing: toward new opportunities in agriculture
Portland Press

Video: CRISPR gene editing in real time
Genetic Literacy Project

The biotechnology and bioeconomy landscape in Malaysia

International food biotechnology and biosafety workshop releases final declaration


Heat tolerant durum wheat discovery to aid farmers in West Africa
African Farming

Roundup: agriculture experts, policy makers urge further actions on bio-technologies in Africa
Xinhua Net

Fall armyworm is threatening half of Africa’s corn harvest
DW News

How do we fight the fall armyworm, the new wound of African agriculture?

AfDB and IsDB partner to boost agriculture and fight drought in Nigeria, Somalia and Ugand

AfDB boosts African agriculture and nutrition with US$10 million equity investment In Phatisa Food Fund
Modern Ghana

Education: a key ingredient to realize Africa’s agricultural transformation
Malabo Montpellier Panel

Africa is changing and journalists are only telling half the story
Standard Media

Q&A: Africa needs to lead on the ‘quantum revolution’

Unresolved conflicts producing hunger and displacement: a call to Africa and Europe

What needs to be done to give Africa’s smallholder farmers access to machinery
The Conversation

Legislators and UN agencies join efforts to eliminate hunger
New Times Rwanda

In Africa, the stubborn challenge of malnutrition affects millions

Africa should follow SA’s lead to feed her children
Huffington Post

Nurturing young entrepreneurs as the next generation of hunger fighters
All Africa

FEATURE: The African engineers transforming their continent
Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Can GM crops fix Africa’s food crisis?
Raddington Report

“African armyworm” spreads to Hosur, India
Deccan Chronicle


Planting for food and jobs to receive $60m AfDB support
Graphic Online

Ghana holds agriculture census next year
Ghana News Agency

Members of Parliament schooled on relevance of GMOs
Ghana Web


Kenya: 140 new drought-resistant seeds unveiled to address food insecurity
Standard Digital

Kenya: scientists discover technology to manage fall armyworm
XinHua Net

“Business is much cooler than farming”: Migration to the city and the future of farming in Kenya
Sustainable Food Trust

Internationally funded project behind insect feed approval push in Kenya and Uganda
Feed Navigator


Nigeria’s e-wallet AgriTech being adopted in Afghanistan
African Brains

Nigeria: wheat farmers struggle for improved seeds as planting begins
All Africa

Nigeria: why our agricultural produce don’t meet world-class standard – LCCI
World Stage

Nigeria: Utomi makes case for sustained food production

Nigeria stakeholders embrace Bt cotton as a solution for revamping the textile industry

Why we are neutral on GMOs in Nigeria
Premium Times


Rwanda making progress in reduction of undernourishment – FAO report
New Times Rwanda

South Africa

South African farmers grow crops and herbs on rooftops
African News

Agricultural Writers SA awards top farmers, new entrants and agriculturists
Agricultural News


Scientists advise farmers to boost soils using organic fertilizer
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Uganda: why mulching is key, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Exciting agri invasion expected when Agribusiness Congress East Africa comes to Uganda next week
Open PR


Zimbabwe to get $20m from agric fund
News Day

Opportunities and resources

Job op: Senior Agriculture and Rural Development Officer, African Development Bank Group

Job op: Breeding Program Management Lead/Specialist, EiB Platform: Africa, Asia, Latin America

Event: 8th International Fusarium Laboratory Workshop,  June 18-22 2018, Bari, Italy. International Society for Mycotoxicology