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Scientists set to create banana hybrids to raise yields

March 6th, 2015 / SciDev.net

A five-year project that aims to improve banana farming in Tanzania and Uganda by creating high-yielding and disease-resistant banana hybrids is to begin trials in June. The project, which received US$13.8 million funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in October last year, aims to develop banana varieties for …

Britain’s Former Environmental Secretary Owen Paterson Calls Out Greenpeace and EU Anti-GMO NGOs

March 3rd, 2015

As Britain’s Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs between 2012 and 2014, Owen Paterson was instrumental in negotiating the new EU law on GMO cultivation that broke the near-monolithic ban on GMOs in Europe and will allow individual countries to decide whether or not to grow …

B4FA Week in Review – 3 March 2015

March 3rd, 2015

Where and how can we grow more food for a growing population? IFPRI has published a map of the world’s cropland, showing how intensely the land is farmed, as well as the size of farms. The maps may help develop land sustainably by making farms more efficient, and help avoid …

B4FA Week in Review – 24 February 2015

February 24th, 2015

Speaking at the International Forum on Agriculture and Climate Change in Paris this week, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva called for a ‘paradigm shift’ in addressing food security, asking for a focus on climate smart agriculture and implementing agroecology principles. “Food systems need to be more sustainable, inclusive and …

B4FA Week in Review – 17 February 2015

February 17th, 2015

This week, the genetically altered, non-browning “Arctic” varieties of Grannysmith and Golden Delicious apples have been approved in the United States, according to the New York Times. The first crops will be planted in spring, and could reach stores in 2017. Arctic apples are meeting with some consumer opposition despite the fact …

B4FA Week in Review – 10 February 2015

February 10th, 2015

India took the spotlight this week in response to the recently released ISAAA report Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2014, which stated that developing countries planted more biotech crops than industrialised nations. According to a Hindustan Times article, India’s 11.6 million hectares of GM crops now equals Canada’s and is bigger than China’s, while another story states …

B4FA Week in Review – 3 February 2015

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 …

B4FA Week in Review – 27 January 2015

January 27th, 2015

This week, SciDev offers a big-picture look at what key science issues will impact African development in 2015. High on this list is rethinking the role of higher education – including considering whether theoretical courses should be dropped for applied studies such as agriculture. This emphasis on education echoes the Gates Foundation’s optimistic statement …

B4FA Week in Review – 20 January 2015

January 20th, 2015

Big biotech policy news last week: the European Union passed a law allowing EU member states to decide for themselves whether they want to allow cultivation of genetically modified foods. To offer some perspective on this decision, we include articles by Mark Lynas, “EU GMO cultivation decision – science sidelined, but UK …

B4FA Week in Review – 13 January 2015

January 13th, 2015

We’ve got lots for you to chew on this week, including a fascinating story from Science about what new archaeological findings reveal about the genetic evolution of maize. It turns out that our understanding of how the plant evolved and spread is more complex than had been thought. In biotech news, a recent …