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Large-scale approach reveals imperfect actor in plant biotechnology

November 30th, 2017 / Phys.org

A research team led by Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research has harnessed metabolomic technologies to unravel the molecular activities of a key protein that can enable plants to withstand a common herbicide. Their findings reveal how the protein—a kind of catalyst or enzyme, first isolated in bacteria and introduced into …

Like it or not, Africa’s future lies in GM crops

November 28th, 2017 / The Times, UK

Matt Ridley writes
Influenced by European environmentalists, most African countries forbid the growing of genetically modified crops. This is a pity, because unless they change their attitude fast, they will face the prospect of using far more pesticides, which small-scale farmers cannot afford, and which come with environmental and safety risks, …

Education: a key ingredient to realize Africa’s agricultural transformation

November 27th, 2017 / Malabo Montpellier Panel

Right now, 263 million children and young people are out of school around the world, and another 330 million are in school but are estimated not to be learning the fundamental basics. This week, the UK’s International Development Committee published a report, examining the Department for International Development’s work on …

140 new drought-resistant seeds unveiled to address food insecurity

November 27th, 2017 / The Standard, Kenya

The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate (Kephis) has released 140 new drought-resistant and fast-maturing seed varieties into the market. Kephis Managing Director Esther Kimani said the new variety of seeds would help to address food insecurity, especially in arid and semi-arid areas. “These varieties are drought-tolerant and early-maturing, and superior to …

Heat tolerant durum wheat discovery to aid farmers in West Africa

November 27th, 2017 / African Farming, UK

The discovery of heat resilient durum wheat that could potentially boost the income for one million farming families in the extreme heat of famine-affected Senegal, Mauritania and Mali1 2017 and has been awarded the 2017 Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security.
The genome fingerprinting research project, led by Dr Filippo …

Biotechnology for food security: hope over hype

November 27th, 2017 / Down to Earth

The words of Noble Laureate and father of the Green Revolution Norman Borlaug, “You cannot create a peaceful world on empty stomachs,” ring true in the current situation when we are faced with the mammoth task of feeding a growing population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.
Food insecurity is …

Use of CRISPR systems in plant genome editing: toward new opportunities in agriculture

November 21st, 2017 / Emerging Topics in Life Sciences, UK

Initially discovered in bacteria and archaea, CRISPR–Cas9 is an adaptive immune system found in prokaryotes. In 2012, scientists found a way to use it as a genome editing tool. In 2013, its application in plants was successfully achieved. This breakthrough has opened up many new opportunities for researchers, including the …

GM banana shows promise against deadly fungus strain

November 20th, 2017 / Science, US

A field trial in Australia has shown that genetically modified banana trees can resist the deadly fungus that causes Panama disease, which has devastated banana crops in Asia, Africa, and Australia and is a major threat for banana growers in the Americas. The transgenic plants might reach some farmers in …

High-tech tracker to battle ancient wheat plague

November 16th, 2017 / AllAfrica

“People can walk through an infected field, unknowingly pick up a few spores on their clothes, then get on a plane and accidentally take the disease to other countries or continents”
The tracking technology used to halt the deadly Ebola and Zika viruses could now be turned against wheat rust as …

App ‘trained’ to spot crop disease, alert farmers

November 14th, 2017 / SciDev.net

A team of scientists has received US$100,000 grant to refine a mobile application (app) that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose crop diseases, and aims to help millions of African smallholders.
The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas team won the grant during big data conference in Colombia on 21 …