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The genetic revolution could curb world hunger and pesticide use

December 10th, 2015 / Huffington Post

Over the past year or so, researchers around the world have begun using a new gene-editing technique that has the potential to help stop world hunger, end the use of pesticides and improve our health. CRISPR-Cas9 allows scientists to change, delete or replace DNA more easily than ever before. Theoretically, …

Is food security breaking through in Paris climate talks?

December 10th, 2015 / Huffington Post

The latest news from Paris is cautiously optimistic that we will have an agreement by Friday. What does it mean for agriculture and food security? Although the French government has shown great leadership championing agriculture at COP21, it is not yet really on the table for the negotiators. The good …

Stakeholders seek ways to improve agricultural financing in Uganda

December 9th, 2015 / Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Access to finance is critical to agricultural and rural transformation in African countries, but agricultural financing is often termed a “policy orphan” due to how rarely policy framework is dedicated to it, as well as lack of coordination among stakeholders. Now, development partners Making Finance Work for Africa and CAADP …

Uganda: Growing bio-fortified crops for better nutrition

December 9th, 2015 / Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Farmers in Rakai District marked a belated World Food Day on December 1 with particular emphasis on growing bio-fortified food crops to combat malnutrition.
A farmers’ exhibition displayed the biofortified sweet potatoes and beans they produce, products such as cakes and chapatis made from the sweet potato flour – as well …

On World Soil Day, scientists warn of underground extinction risks

December 8th, 2015 / Science

It’s time for ecologists and conservation biologists to better understand the threats facing soil creatures key to healthy ecosystems and our food supply. Some studies have documented local extinctions of earthworms and wood-decomposing fungi because of species invasions or changing environmental conditions. Now, a suite of new tools, including advanced …

Study: Crop biotechnology essential to feeding more people on same arable land

December 8th, 2015 / Genetic Literacy Project

Looking at trends from large sets of data on population, resources and food production shows there are good reasons to be optimistic about our ability to meet the food requirements of the projected 9-10 billion people on our planet by the middle of this century. It also appears we are …

Fighting witchweed in sub-Saharan Africa

December 8th, 2015 / African Farming

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has approved funding of US$1.5mn for research to eradicate a destructive weed in sub-Saharan Africa. Funding from the foundation is going to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which will conduct scientific research towards eradicating the Striga hermonthica weed that affects croplands throughout …

Earth has lost a third of arable land in past 40 years, scientists say

December 7th, 2015 / The Guardian, UK

The world has lost a third of its arable land due to erosion or pollution in the past 40 years, with potentially disastrous consequences as global demand for food soars, scientists have warned. New research has calculated that nearly 33% of the world’s adequate or high-quality food-producing land has been …

Using CRISPR to edit crops ensures no transgenes, undercuts anti-GM ‘foreign gene’ criticism

December 7th, 2015 / Genetic Literacy Project

A team of scientists from the John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory have shown that the very latest gene-editing technology CRISPR can be used to make targeted changes or edits to specific genes in two UK crops – a broccoli-like brassica and barley – and that these edits are …

Extreme weather to foil Sahel knowledge

December 7th, 2015 / SciDev.net

Technology and expertise from outside are needed to support traditional knowledge and help people in Africa’s arid Sahel region cope with climate change, according to researchers. A side event at COP 21, the UN’s climate change summit in Paris, France, heard that those living in the region have …