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Zimbabwe and SA lose 1 million chickens to bird flu

August 9th, 2017 / AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe and South Africa have lost over one million chickens to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), it has been learnt.
The disease hit the two countries recently, threatening the livelihood and food security status of millions of families.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) confirmed the development in a statement after a …

When genetic engineering is the environmentally friendly choice

August 7th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Which is more disruptive to a plant: genetic engineering or conventional breeding?
It often surprises people to learn that GE commonly causes less disruption to plants than conventional techniques of breeding. But equally profound is the realization that the latest GE techniques, coupled with a rapidly expanding ability to analyze …

Capitalize on African biodiversity

August 4th, 2017 / Nature, UK

Artemisinin, ginkgolides, quinine, reserpine, scopolamine, paclitaxel. What do these molecules have in common? They are all extracted from plants and transformed into useful drugs, treating conditions including malaria, nausea, cancer and high blood pressure. None of the plants is from Africa.
Almost 60% of commercially available drugs are based on molecules …

Cracking the code of megapests

August 3rd, 2017 / CSIRO

Led by CSIRO, in collaboration with a team of renowned experts, the researchers identified more than 17,000 protein coding genes in the genomes of the Helicoverpa armigera and Helicoverpa zea (commonly known as the Cotton Bollworm and Corn Earworm, respectively).
They also documented how these genetics have changed overtime.
This level of …

Better communication is essential to the future of agriculture…and the planet

July 27th, 2017 / Huffington Post, US

On June 15, I had the honor of presenting the annual AAAS Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. Each year, one person is selected to address scientific thought leaders across all segments of the agriculture and food industry – …

African biosafety regulators embrace biosafety communication

July 27th, 2017 / ISAAA, US

Biosafety regulators from various African countries have embraced and appreciated the importance of biosafety communication in creating public trust with the regulatory process of GMOs. This was during the Agri-biotechnology and Biosafety Communication (ABBC) 2017 Africa Symposium held in Entebbe, Uganda July 18-20, 2017. It attracted over 120 participants from …

17 issues raised, agreed at FAO experts meeting on fall armyworm in Africa

July 21st, 2017 / Joy Online, Ghana

The three-day Experts meeting which started on Tuesday in Accra is to deliberate on the outbreak of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation rapidly spreading across the Africa region.
It also aims at exchanging practical experiences and best practices on how best to manage FAW.
Key bulletins of what transpired at the meeting …

Plant genetics, ecologically based farming and the future of food

July 21st, 2017 / John Wiley, US

For 10,000 years, we have altered the genetic makeup of our crops. Conventional approaches are often quite crude, resulting in new varieties through a combination of trial and error, and without knowledge of the precise function of the genes that are being transferred. Such methods include grafting or forced pollinations …

Are Biotech crops safe to eat?

June 27th, 2017 / Business Mirror, Philippines

ARE biotech crops, which are spliced with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), safe to eat?
Opponents, mostly composed of private individuals, non-governmental organizations and international activists, say they are not. Proponents—who are mostly scientists (including Nobel Prize winners), health officials and United Nations agencies—claim they are!
Now, the International Service for the Acquisition …

Soil pollution comes under scrutiny

June 27th, 2017 / FAO, Italy

Soil pollution, due mostly to human activities that leave excess chemicals in soils used to grow food, took centre stage at the 5th Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Plenary Assembly held at FAO headquarters this week.
Excess nitrogen and trace metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury can impair plant metabolism …