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China, Africa and food security

July 13th, 2015 / International Policy Digest, US

China and Africa together constitute more than a third of the world’s population. China is Africa’s largest trading partner and an important source of investment and aid. As a result, the China-Africa relationship has significant implications for global food security. Neither China, with 1.4 billion people, nor the 54 countries …

Soiless seed germination technology tames disease spread

June 26th, 2015 / Farmbiz Africa

A company in Kenya is pioneering the planting of seeds without using soil by using an organic planting medium made from coconut husk, ridding the seeds off diseases, ensuring transplanting is done with all roots intact and guaranteeing a 90 per cent germination rate. Read …

Wild tobacco may contain key to attaining food security

June 24th, 2015 / Crop Biotech Update, US

Researchers have obtained the RDR1 gene from a wild tobacco plant (Nicotiana benthamiana). RDR1 gene controls the viral response of N. benthamiana strains in different viral infections. This development can be applied to crops such as potato, tomato, capsicum, and eggplant. View …

Ancient perennial wheat relative resists diseases and builds soil

June 23rd, 2015 / Civileats.com

Kernza’s arrival has been a long time coming. The new grain variety from the Land Institute is derived from an ancient form of intermediate wheatgrass, a perennial that is actually a distant relative of wheat. And there’s a widespread team of researchers hoping their work will pave the way for …

Is plant science the answer to improved food security?

June 22nd, 2015 / Earth Island Journal, US

In a world of climate change and growing global population, some researchers believe plants are key to adaptation. Nigel Taylor is attempting to genetically engineer a virus-resistant version of the plant, and is working with researchers in Uganda and Kenya, where cassava is a staple crop. Once created, this plant …

HH Pope Francis’s concerns are for corporate power, not GMOs

June 18th, 2015 / New York Times, US

HH Pope Francis’s encyclical, “Laudato Si’ — On the Care of Our Common Home,” includes a passage on industrial-scale agriculture, including genetically engineered crops. Notably, Francis acknowledges the lack of evidence for human health risks from such technologies. He focuses his criticism on the societal impacts of concentrated monoculture farming, …

Lock and key for potential control of GMOs

June 17th, 2015 / UC Berkeley, US

UC Berkeley researchers have developed an easy way to put bacteria under a molecular lock and key in order to contain its accidental spread. The method involves a series of genetic mutations that render the microbe inactive unless the right molecule is added to enable its viability. “This approach is …

Bringing services to the farmers

June 17th, 2015 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

Like other regions in Uganda, West Nile is endowed with resources to enable successful farming. B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru visited a research institute that is supporting the farmers to boost their productivity. Its programmes, which the scientists are working on, include crop breeding. The focus is on varieties such as …

Solving insect resistance to environmentally friendly farming

June 14th, 2015 / Bioscience Technology, US

After decades of effort, scientists are finally figuring out how insects develop resistance to environmentally friendly farming practices – such as crop rotation – that are designed to kill them. The researchers say their insights will help develop more sustainable agricultural practices.  Read …

Mighty farming microbes: bacteria to give crops a boost

June 13th, 2015 / Interlochen Public Radio

What if farmers, instead of picking up some agricultural chemicals at their local dealer, picked up a load of agricultural microbes instead? It’s something to contemplate, because some big names in the pesticide business — like Bayer and Monsanto — are putting money behind attempts to turn soil microbes into …