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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 …

Nigeria’s sugarcane bio-factory producing disease-free seedlings

June 8th, 2015 / African Farming, UK

Production has begun at Nigeria’s first sugarcane bio-factory in the city of Zaria at Kaduna state. The facility, which will have the capacity to produce one million sugarcane seedlings per annum, was declared open by Nigerian trade minister Olusegun Aganga at Zaria’s Ahmadu Bello University in May 2015, saying …

Cameroon: In vitro plantain project to produce 5 million plantlets this year

June 8th, 2015 / Cameroon Tribune, Cameroon

Essimi Menye, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has praised researchers of the Institute for Agronomic Research For Development (IRAD) in Ekona for their expediency in carrying out the FCFA one billion in vitro plantain plantlets project initiated in April, 2013. The Minister was speaking at IRAD-EKONA last weekend …

Tanzania relaxes law on GMOs

June 8th, 2015 / The EastAfrican, Kenya

B4FA Fellow Isaac Khisa reports: Tanzania has reviewed its law on genetically modified organisms, paving the way for scientists in the country to carry out confined trials on crops such as maize and cassava, and effectively turning the tables on anti-GMO lobby groups. This move to revise its GMO law …