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CRISPR might be the banana’s only hope against a deadly fungus

September 25th, 2019 / Nature, UK

The race to engineer the next-generation banana is on. The Colombian government confirmed last month that a banana-killing fungus has invaded the Americas — the source of much of the world’s banana supply. The invasion has given new urgency to efforts to create fruit that can withstand the scourge.

Scientists are …

New app diagnoses crop diseases

September 16th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports:

A team of scientists in conjunction with the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) Namulonge has developed a mobile phone application which uses artificial intelligence to accurately identify crop pests and diseases in the field.

The app also delivers the latest advice to manage all major diseases …

GM tech expands with more crops to more countries

September 3rd, 2019 / SciDev.net

Recent developments in genetic modification (GM) technology include a way to prevent the popular Cavendish banana variety from being wiped out by the Fusarium wilt fungus, according to the latest report of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) released last week (29 August) in Manila.The Cavendish …

A CRISPR approach to saving banana

April 23rd, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

CRISPR/Cas9‐based genome editing is offering new hope for protecting a critical food security crop by developing climate-smart banana varieties.

Research to identify the genes associated with stress‐tolerant traits and other uses of gene editing and genetic engineering to help banana varieties adapt to a changing climate is highlighted in an April …

How you can grow bananas successfully

April 9th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes:

Successful banana farming begins with proper choice of the location for growing the crop, according to Constance Itungu, a crop technician at Kamenyamiggo National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) station in Lwengo District. 

Requirements “Bananas grow better in well drained loamy and fertile soil,” she says. “The area should …

Uganda GMO banana research progresses despite legal uncertainty

March 3rd, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afredraru reports:

The Ugandan researchers who have been working since 2005 to breed more nutritious bananas say their progress won’t be hindered by a strict liability clause in the nation’s latest biosafety bill.

The scientists are using genetic engineering to develop bananas rich in such nutrients as vitamin A, …

Kenya farmers lose over Sh150 billion in post-harvest losses

February 27th, 2019 / CropNuts, Kenya

Post harvest losses in Kenya are startling as revealed by recent stats from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS)

In 2017, Sh150 billion worth of food went to waste, tossed out or left to rot, a report that tries to track food waste has said. According to the National Bureau …

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’s wrong with bananas

November 6th, 2018 / Nautilus

Norman C. Ellstrand, distinguished professor of genetics at the University of California, Riverside where he holds the Jane S. Johnson Endowed Chair in Food and Agriculture, writes:
Of the important global crops, the banana is the most genetically uniform. A single cluster of nearly identical genotypes, the Cavendish subgroup, nearly …

Ugandan scientists poised to release vitamin-fortified GMO banana

October 31st, 2018 / Alliance for Science, US

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports:
Ugandan scientists are eying a 2021 release date for genetically modified bananas fortified with vitamin A, provided the nation passes its biosafety law.
In 2005, Ugandan scientists began using the tools of biotechnology to breed bananas fortified with vitamin A. Their goal was to help rural families …