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Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’

February 12th, 2019 / The Guardian, UK

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of …

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 …

How do organic pesticides compare to conventional pesticides?

January 31st, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Many consumers choose to buy higher-priced organic produce because they believe organic foods are not grown using pesticides and therefore are healthier for humans and for the environment. However, organic farming can include any pesticides derived from natural sources. This distinction does not mean organic pesticides are necessarily less toxic than …

Pesticides and food: It’s not a black or white issue

January 30th, 2019

Information about pesticides is ubiquitous online. Unfortunately, a balanced and nuanced discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of current pesticides is difficult to find. This series discusses the main concerns surrounding pesticides and illuminate the complexity and challenges involved in decision-making regarding current and future pesticide use.This series contains six …

Researchers develop disease-resistant climate-smart grains to help eradicate poverty in Africa

January 29th, 2019 / Bakeryandsnacks.com

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) says it foresees rolling roll out new varieties of drought- and disease-resistant grains to African farmers next year to increase food security in the region. Read …

To predict droughts, don’t look at the skies. Look in the soil… from space

January 29th, 2019 / The Conversation

Scientists and governments alike have been looking for ways to measure drought in a way that relates more closely to its impacts. Any farmer or gardener can tell you that you don’t need much rain, but you do need it at the right time. This is where the soil becomes …

GM crops create “halo effect” that benefits organic farmers, says new research

January 28th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

Mark Lynas writes:

Growing genetically modified insect-resistant corn in the United States has dramatically reduced insecticide use and created a “halo effect” that also benefits farmers raising non-GM and organic crops, new research shows.

This finding, published by University of Maryland researchers in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, effectively …

How to achieve high crop yields

January 28th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow, Michael Ssali writes:

The ideas in today’s sharing about how to achieve high crop yields are mainly drawn from the “Think Agronomy” newsletter published by the Kenyan-based Centre of Excellence for Crop Rotation. 

In a simple experiment last year it was possible to produce 11.84 tonnes of barley from one …

New technologies show better details on GM plants

January 23rd, 2019 / ISAAA, US

Researchers from the Salk Institute used the latest DNAsequencing technologies to study exactly what happens at a molecular level when new genes are inserted into plants. Scientists usually rely on Agrobacterium tumefaciens when they want to put a new gene into a plant. Decades ago, scientists discovered that when the bacteria infected a tree, it …

Wild coffee species threatened by climate change and deforestation

January 18th, 2019 / Nature, UK

Most of the world’s wild coffee species have a high chance of going extinct in the next several decades due to more frequent and lengthy droughts, loss of forests and the spread of deadly pests, according to a study1 published on 16 January in Science Advances. 

The findings signal a potential threat to …