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July 5th, 2017 / B4FA.org

More positive responses are rolling in for the documentary Food Evolution, which opened in United States cinemas in late June. The film is trying to encourage fact-based public discourse around GM, while discouraging polarized debate and dispelling fear. (See “Documentary ‘Food Evolution’ turns to reason to discuss GMO controversy”, LA Times.) Food Evolution is narrated by trusted scientist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson (get a sneak peek here). According to the ISAAA, the film highlights situations in Hawaii, Uganda, and other countries, and featured scientists Drs. Alison Van Eenennaam, Dennis Gonsalves, Pamela Ronald, and Leena Tripathi, as well as environmentalist Mark Lynas.

Responses include those from scientist and educator Kevin Folta, who said in the Huffington Post, “I’ve seen the film several times, and each time I’ve lost tears. As a scientist, it is painful to relive how safe and effective solutions that can change the lives of people and help our planet—but their use is restricted because of well-financed and coordinated misinformation and fear campaigns.” And the women behind Science Moms – bloggers who are both scientists and parents – gave the film a thumbs-up, too. “This discussion comes at a crucial point,” they write. “Ideology is jeopardizing our regulatory institutions’ evidence-based policies. … No matter what a movie says, or what activists say, we should ask: what do our scientific institutions say? What data and evidence supports them? What policies are they trying to guide? We ask these questions not only as scientists and communicators, but as moms.”

An interesting piece in The Conversation, Africa, discusses how and why demonstration farms have the potential to revolutionize agriculture, as they can be used to teach modern farming practices, crop management, new agricultural technologies, and how to improve and maintain soil health. The piece encourages more demonstration farms in Africa, and lists those already in place on the continent and around the world. In Tanzania, sweet-potato growers learning how to use tissue culture technology to produce higher-yielding clean seeds, rather than using the traditional method of planting pieces of mature roots or diseased seeds. According to Wilfred Mushobozi, CEO of Crop Bioscience Solutions of Arusha, tissue culture technology yields are ten times higher than the normal average when combined with recommended fertilizers and agronomic skills. Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, farmers are still struggling with an increasingly severe armyworm attack, while in Kenya, crops already weakened by armyworm are now suffering from lack of rain.

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Michael Ssali, who writes from Uganda that farmers are being urged to use more fertilisers, and explains the practice of drip irrigation.

As ever, please send questions, comments and story links to [email protected] and visit B4FA.org  for further reading and useful resources. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with daily news and join the conversation.

Global

‘Food Evolution’ movie redefines GM food debate
ISAAA

Documentary ‘Food Evolution’ turns to reason to discuss GMO controversy
Los Angeles Times

Why the documentary ‘Food Evolution’ speaks to science moms
Science Moms

A sneak peek of Food Evolution, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Good Food

How soil dwelling bacteria adapt to richer or poorer conditions
PhysOrg

G20 countries must come together to fight famine and save millions of lives
NDTV

Antioxidant-boosting GMO purple rice could decrease cancer and other health risks
Genetic Literacy Project

Heightened risk in rice? Researchers discover the toxicity of thioarsenates for plants
PhysOrg

Modified maize that kills pests with RNA is given go-ahead in the US
New Scientist

To feed 9 billion, will we need ‘GMO 2.0’?
Green Biz

Report puts China ahead of Asian rivals in ensuring food security
SCMP News

UN projects tackle desertification in the Mid-East, Asia and Africa
IISD

Experts warn vulnerable “chokepoints” could affect the world’s food security
The Atlantic

Chinese scientists develop purple rice using novel gene stacking system
ISAAA

‘Crop of the century’: How GM soybeans unseated ‘king corn’ in the US—with help from China
Genetic Literacy Project

Cassava crisis: the deadly food that doubles as a vital Venezuelan crop
Guardian, UK

Researchers discover molecular ‘samurai sword’ directs plant growth
ISAAA

Pan-Africa

Agriculture ministers urged to address African rural youth unemployment
EIN News

Adesina: I will not rest until Africa breaks out of hunger
This Day Live

Global market rules hamper African development
AfricanIndy

CIAT developing Nutrition Early Warning System, or NEWS – to fight for food and nutrition security
Global Plant Council

Population increase in Africa, but not enough food
Farmers Weekly

Opinion: Ending famines and chronic hunger requires good governance
Devex

Rockefeller Foundation’s legacy of trailblazing helps spur African Green Revolution, agricultural transformation
Biz Com

Welcome to Access Agriculture, an international NGO that showcases agricultural training videos in local languages
Access Agriculture

Harnessing the power of data: data management workshop at the BecA-ILRI Hub
Africa Biosciences

New alliance seeks to fast track crop improvement in Africa
ISAAA

Make data available to aid food security in Africa
SciDevNet

Food Prize Laureate Akinwumi Adesina: Future of African youth lies in agriculture, not Europe
VOA News

Why skills development in agriculture should be seen as an investment
Biz Agriculture

African Growth and Opportunity Act row is wake up call on agriculture
AllAfrica

Angola

Cultivating Angola’s banana crop
BBC

Ethiopia

Armyworm continuing to wreak havoc on maize
AllAfrica

Combating poverty – an overview of the Africa-China Think-Tank Forum in Addis Ababa
AllAfrica

Ghana

Tensions boil as developers take over farmland in Ghana
African Independent

Kenya

Tough times ahead as maize crop wilts for lack of rain
AllAfrica

Kenya’s horticulture sector to undergo major changes as new standard comes into play
BizCom

NASA to collaborate with Kenya to boost food security
Capital News

Jubilee party promises to buy from small farmers in food security plan
Business Daily Africa

Nigeria

IITA: Diseases threatening Nigeria’s $6bn turnover from maize
Development Cable

Innovative cassava peels processing factories launched in Nigeria
ILRI

South Africa

ANC policy conference must prioritise food security
Moneyweb

Tanzania

Experts stress need for better seed storage
AllAfrica

Sweet potato growers hope to boost output
AllAfrica

Uganda

Farmers urged to use more fertilisers
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

What is drip irrigation?
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Zimbabwe

Rural economies key to Africa’s future
Herald

Opportunities and resources

Report: Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

Vacancy: Postdoc research fellow in crop genetics, project linking UK and Ethiopia. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

FAO: Open online discussion forum on sustainable crop production intensification of horticulture crop-based systems.

Call for entries: 2017 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards, closing date July 15