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Virus lurking inside banana genome has been destroyed with CRISPR

February 1st, 2019 / New Scientist, UK

Genome editing has been used to destroy a virus that lurks inside many of the bananas grown in Africa. Other teams are trying to use it to make the Cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets worldwide resistant to a disease that threatens to make it impossible to grow this variety commercially …

What is CRISPR? The revolutionary gene-editing tech explained

February 1st, 2019 / Wired, US

Until very recently if you wanted to create, say, a drought-resistant corn plant, your options were extremely limited. You could opt for selective breeding, try bombarding seeds with radiation in the hope of inducing a favourable change, or else opt to insert a snippet of DNA from another organism entirely.

But …

Question of liability: Why researchers are worried about Uganda’s new biotech act

February 1st, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Uganda’s new Genetic Engineering Regulatory Act 2018 passed by Parliament on November 28th 2018, has sent a cold chill down the spines of scientists and researchers who dream of discovering and patenting new biotech crops.

Many critics see GERA as an effort by anti-GMO activists to block foreign multinationals from involvement …

Reap big from mixing farming with forestry

January 31st, 2019 / Sunrise, Uganda

Agroforestry is the practice of growing trees and/or keeping livestock on the same field at the same time.

The trees could be grown purposely for timber production, shed, nutrients or medicine.  Trees could be planted on purely agricultural land or crops could be introduced to forested lands.

There are a number of …

How do organic pesticides compare to conventional pesticides?

January 31st, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Many consumers choose to buy higher-priced organic produce because they believe organic foods are not grown using pesticides and therefore are healthier for humans and for the environment. However, organic farming can include any pesticides derived from natural sources. This distinction does not mean organic pesticides are necessarily less toxic than …

Food security feared as Kenya readies to start growing GMO cotton

January 31st, 2019 / Xinhua, China

At fresh produce markets across Kenya, citizens are shunning buying bigger tomatoes, mangoes, pawpaws or oranges for fear that they may be genetically modified.

The fear is extended to even poultry products where chickens that are too big are classified as genetically modified organisms by consumers and shunned therefore.

The misconception is …

Can we ditch intensive farming – and still feed the world?

January 30th, 2019 / The Guardian, UK

Our reliance on artificial fertiliser and intensive farming techniques did not happen overnight, but took decades. Along the way, these methods revolutionised farming and enabled huge population growth and economic growth. We now have a wealth of scientific evidence that shows that continuing down the same path would risk runaway …

Despite controversy, Nigeria ‘approves’ first genetically modified crop

January 30th, 2019 / Premium Times, Nigeria

The Nigerian government has approved for use its first genetically modified crop: the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea (popularly called beans).

This was after it had been genetically modified to resist the pest – Maruca Vitrata.

The cowpea, by this development, becomes the first genetically modified food crop to be approved in the …

Pesticides and food: It’s not a black or white issue

January 30th, 2019

Information about pesticides is ubiquitous online. Unfortunately, a balanced and nuanced discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of current pesticides is difficult to find. This series discusses the main concerns surrounding pesticides and illuminate the complexity and challenges involved in decision-making regarding current and future pesticide use.This series contains six …

Ssali combines journalism and farming

January 29th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

A profile of B4FA Fellow, farmer and journalist Michael Ssali

Daily Monitor’s long serving journalist, Michael J Ssali, 70, who also writes a weekly column, “Farmers Say” in the newspaper’s Seeds of Gold magazine is actually a practicing farmer.

“My first articles in the Daily Monitor way back in 1992 were mainly …