In the news...

Is our type of agriculture really working?

August 21st, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes:
Most of our farmers work on small plots of land and can be described as family farmers, smallholders or just peasants. This kind of farming provides employment to about 70 per cent of our adult population.
Typically a peasant farmer uses a hand hoe and a machete, …

The key to drought-tolerant crops may be in the leaves

August 21st, 2017 / Phys.org

A solution to help farmers to grow crops in dry areas or during stretches of drought may depend on breeding and cultivating plants that protect themselves with a thicker layer of leaf wax, a new study shows.
Sarah Feakins, a scientist at USC who has studied leaf wax in the context …

Enhancing powdery mildew resistance in wheat

August 17th, 2017 / ISAAA, US

Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) suffers significant yield losses due to powdery mildew, a major fungal disease caused by Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici (Bgt). The enhanced disease resistance1 (EDR1) gene plays a negative role in the defense response against powdery mildew in Arabidopsis thaliana, making EDR1 a target for improving …

Why do consumers prefer organic to conventional produce when both use pesticides?

August 11th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

What gets overlooked by [activist] groups are the reports from the USDA itself that show that even organic foods have pesticide residues on them — some are synthetic pesticides and some, like Spinosad, are ones approved for organic uses. Feel comfortable, though, because that same USDA data showed safe levels …

Plants love microbes – and so do farmers

August 10th, 2017 / UQ News, Australia

Increasingly, farmers want to capitalise on beneficial microbes to support their crops, and science can assist the design of effective crop probiotics to make crops healthier, hardier and more productive, by increasing their resilience to pests, diseases and environmental stresses, and improving access to nutrients. Read …

Nigeria looks to ‘white gold’ for economic recovery

August 9th, 2017 / BizCommunity, South Africa

Rising rice production is one of the few positives of Nigeria’s recession, which is the West African country’s worst in 25 years. Today about 5.7 million tonnes of rice are being produced every year – three times as much as a decade ago.
“We are now living a white gold revolution,” …

25 environmental benefits of GMO sugar? Industry launching ‘fresh look’ education campaign

August 9th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

To try to change consumers’ understanding and perception of GMO crops, the nation’s sugar beet industry is preparing a $4 million online campaign that will launch [fall 2017].
The campaign will introduce those consumers to some of the 25 environmental benefits of GMO crops that the sugar beet industry documented and …

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 …

Climate change Is draining protein out of staple crops

August 4th, 2017 / IFL Science

No matter how hard we work at stopping it, some human-driven climate change is inevitable. It’s already happening, and it will continue to happen even if we drawdown carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
This means that there are certain adaptations we need to make in order to make it through the …