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New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists

January 17th, 2019

The first science-based diet that tackles both the poor food eaten by billions of people and averts global environmental catastrophe has been devised. It requires huge cuts in red meat-eating in western countries and radical changes across the world.

The “planetary health diet” was created by an international commissionseeking to draw up …

At least 60% of wild coffee species face extinction triggered by climate change and disease

January 17th, 2019 / Independent, UK

Two decades of research have revealed that 60 per cent of the world’s coffeespecies face extinction due to the combined threats of deforestation, disease and climate change.

The wild strain of arabica, the most widely consumed coffee on the planet, is among those now recognised as endangered, raising concerns about its long-term survival.

These results are worrying …

As Nigeria makes final move to commercialise Bt cowpea

January 16th, 2019 / Leadership, Nigeria

After nine years of intensive trials of the Bacillus thuringiences (Bt) cowpea (beans), Nigeria finally begins the final processes towards the commercialisation of the crop with a public presentation to get input from scientists, farmers, policy makers, civil society organisations, experts, faith-based organisations and the media.

The public presentation by …

Fixing the nitrogen problem

January 16th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

In this video by Robert Hazen of the Alliance for Science, scientists from the Engineering Nitrogen Symbiosis for Africa (ENSA) project discuss how they are using genetic engineering to transfer the nitrogen-fixing capabilities of legumes (peas and beans) into cereal crops. Their work could help small-holder farmers in Africa and elsewhere realize higher yields, …

Scientists using CRISPR-based technology to target agricultural pests

January 15th, 2019 / European Scientist

A new paper published on 8 January in Nature Communications describes a ‘precision-guided sterile insect technique’ that can effectively alter insect genes to control female viability and male fertility. The method could potentially be used to suppress increasing pest populations that threaten agricultural crops and to prevent the transmission of deadly diseases. The controllable, …

Young Ugandan biotech advocates push back against scare tactics

January 15th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project

Jonan Twinamatsiko, a recent graduate of biotechnology from Makerere University in Uganda, belongs to a group of young people facing rising unemployment. A Uganda youth survey published by Aga Khan University in 2016 shows 80 percent of Ugandans are under age 35, and 52 percent of that group is unemployed. Jonan had …

Kalro releases disease resistant seed varieties

January 7th, 2019 / Business Daily Africa

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) has released eight maize varieties resistant to maize lethal necrosis disease.

Regional research officer John Karanja said the eight varieties have been developed for different climatic conditions.

“Besides their resistance to this disease, they are also hardy and can withstand inadequate rainfall regimes as well …

Genetically modified ‘shortcut’ boosts plant growth by 40%

January 7th, 2019 / BBC, UK

Scientists in the US have engineered tobacco plants that can grow up to 40% larger than normal in field trials. 

The researchers say they have found a way of overcoming natural restrictions in the process of photosynthesis that limit crop productivity.

They believe the method could be used to significantly boost yields …

Nigeria leads West Africa on biosafety

January 4th, 2019 / Daily Trust, Nigeria

The Director General of National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr Rufus Ebegba, has said that Nigeria has been mandated to lead the West African sub-region on biosafety.

Dr Ebegba, who said this while presenting the agency’s score card to the public in Abuja, said it was gratifying that the agency under President …

Small-scale urban agriculture results in high yields but requires judicious management of inputs to achieve sustainability

January 4th, 2019 / PNAS, US

Growing food in cities for human consumption could be one means of increasing global food supply in the face of rising population growth and global food security concerns. While previous studies have shown that urban agricultural systems are productive, few studies provide yield figures that incorporate data on the inputs …