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Scientists use insects to control an invasive weed

November 2nd, 2016 / Entomology Today, US

Scientists from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service released arundo gall wasps (Tetramesa romana) and arundo scale insects (Rhizaspidiotus donacis) several years ago as part of a biocontrol program to kill a weed called “giant reed” (Arundo donax) along the Rio Grande in Texas. The weed, also known as “carrizo cane” …

GMOs … the debate and the science

November 2nd, 2016 / B4FA

On 29 October, the New York Times published “Doubts about the promised bounty of GM crops” (reproduced below), a critique of GM that has prompted a flurry of responses from the scientific community. These include, thus far, plant scientist Andrew Kniss’s “Strawmen and selective statistics: Did The New York Times …

Improving half the world’s diet

November 1st, 2016 /

The humble rice grain is the staple food for billions of people throughout the developing world, but there is little nutritional value in the grain beyond providing carbohydrates for energy.
Until now.
University of Melbourne researchers are on the cusp of making a real difference by developing a new strain of rice …

No need to fear gene-edited food

November 1st, 2016 / Popular Science, US

The biggest mistake we can make, as a curious and concerned public, is to prematurely vilify CRISPR and the food it makes. We should instead push for ­informed, science-based evaluation. It could help improve the global food supply. The whole reason for a tweaked mushroom is that it resists bruising …

Vitamin A (golden) rice now a reality

November 1st, 2016 / Daily Star, Bangladesh

The first field trial of the Golden Rice in Bangladesh has yielded promising results, triggering prospect of the vitamin A-rich grain’s release as early as 2018.
Two months after harvesting the Bangladeshi version of Golden Rice line, GR2E BRRI dhan29, scientists at Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) found that rice grains …

African initiative calls for focus on land restoration

November 1st, 2016 /, UK

Generating sufficient scientific knowledge to restore degraded land is critical in Africa because the continent largely depends on land and other natural resources for socioeconomic development, experts say.
Most populations, it was noted at the 1st African Forest Landscape Restoration (AFR100) Regional Conference this month (11-12 October) in Ethiopia, depend on …

Study reveals which genes are critical to a plant’s response to drought

November 1st, 2016 / Science Daily, US

Because plants cannot relocate when resources become scarce, they need to efficiently regulate their growth by responding to environmental cues. Drought is the most important cause of reduced plant growth and crop yield, which makes insights into a plant’s drought response highly valuable to agriculture. A new study has provided …

The (shrinking) garden of Earthly delights

October 31st, 2016 / Claudia Canales, B4FA

This periodic blog will discuss food security, with a specific focus on how plant genetic research might contribute to addressing the challenge of feeding a fast-growing global population in increasingly uncertain climatic conditions.
Achieving food security is a complex problem that goes far beyond just producing more food. Its realisation …

Animal scientist recommends intensive method of pig rearing system

October 28th, 2016 /

B4FA Fellow Noah Nash reports: The Director for CSIR-Animals Research Institute, Dr. Franklin Avornyo has recommended an intensive method of pig rearing to pig producers in the northern region. According to him this will help reduce the possibilities of the animals attracting or transmitting diseases. See …

GMOs=Monoculture=Bio-disaster? Time to revise simplistic ideological narrative

October 28th, 2016 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Anti-GMO activists have long claimed that genetic modifications are responsible for the extinction of species and losses of diversity that have been plaguing the planet for some 10,000 years now. They pushed through a critical set of precautionary principle-based claims critical of GMOs at the Cartagena protocol on biosafety to …