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Evolutionary plant breeding helps farmers develop seeds for local conditions

February 15th, 2019 / Yale Climate Connections, US

A four-minute documentary video on evolutionary plant breeding, a technique that can help farmers develop plant varieties that thrive in local conditions. In the video, Italian plant geneticist Salvatore Ceccarelli explains how the technique could help farmers around the world respond to problems posed by climate change and gain autonomy. Over …

There is no food security without food safety

February 15th, 2019 / AfricaNews

Food security for all is a cornerstone of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, which recognizes that global sustainable development can only be achieved if hunger and all forms of malnutrition are eradicated (Sustainable Development Goal number 2). Nevertheless, the international community must be aware that food security does not only …

Genetically engineered crops help support conservation biological control

February 15th, 2019 / Biological Control, Netherlands

Genetically engineered (GE) crops producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) (mainly Cry proteins) have become a major control tactic for a number of key lepidopteran and coleopteran pests, mainly in maize, cotton, and soybean. As with any management tactic, there is concern that using GE crops might cause adverse effects on …

Seeking the new potato

February 14th, 2019 / Science, US

On a bleak, brown hill here, David Ellis examines a test plot of potato plants and shakes his head. “They’re dead, dead, dead,” he says. Pests and lack of rain have laid waste to all 17 varieties that researchers had planted.

It is a worrying sign for Ellis, the now-retired director …

Egypt poised to again lead Africa in agricultural biotechnology innovation

February 14th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project

When will Egypt again lead Africa in agricultural biotech innovation? That question kept running through my mind when I visited the North African country late last year to participate in the United Nation’s annual biodiversity conference.

Egypt has a rich history and has always led social and technological advancements in the …

GMO cassava can provide iron, zinc to malnourished African children

February 13th, 2019 / American Council on Science and Health

An international team of researchers, including scientists affiliated with the USDA, have genetically modified cassava to contain much higher levels of iron and zinc than the non-transgenic variety. They used two genes from thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a pathetic looking plant that happens to be one of the most studied …

We don’t have to choose between food and biodiversity

February 13th, 2019 / Devex.com

Biodiversity along the food chain helps to maintain the air we breathe and the water we drink. Yet today, the world’s biodiversity is undergoing a crisis not seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs. 

In just the past year, several studies show we are losing insects along the food chain at an alarming …

What is CRISPR? The revolutionary gene-editing tech explained

February 1st, 2019 / Wired, US

Until very recently if you wanted to create, say, a drought-resistant corn plant, your options were extremely limited. You could opt for selective breeding, try bombarding seeds with radiation in the hope of inducing a favourable change, or else opt to insert a snippet of DNA from another organism entirely.

But …

Question of liability: Why researchers are worried about Uganda’s new biotech act

February 1st, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Uganda’s new Genetic Engineering Regulatory Act 2018 passed by Parliament on November 28th 2018, has sent a cold chill down the spines of scientists and researchers who dream of discovering and patenting new biotech crops.

Many critics see GERA as an effort by anti-GMO activists to block foreign multinationals from involvement …

Can we ditch intensive farming – and still feed the world?

January 30th, 2019 / The Guardian, UK

Our reliance on artificial fertiliser and intensive farming techniques did not happen overnight, but took decades. Along the way, these methods revolutionised farming and enabled huge population growth and economic growth. We now have a wealth of scientific evidence that shows that continuing down the same path would risk runaway …