In the news...

Vaccines for plants? RNA spray could help protect crops from pests and disease

April 11th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Novel technologies are being sought to replace the traditional pesticides used to protect plants, particularly edible plants such as cereals. A new collaborative project between the University of Helsinki and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) is shedding light on the efficacy of environmentally friendly RNA-based vaccines that …

Agricultural guide on a phone helps increase developing-world farmers’ yields

April 10th, 2018 / FastCompany.com

When Kenyan farmers need to know whether to take their cows to the vet, they can now just ask their phones. Using a popular new service called DigiFarm, they can use their phones to get simple information that will let them determine if their cow is infected with mastitis (a …

Agroecology’s potential to transform food systems for the better

April 10th, 2018 / BizCommunity Africa

According to FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva at the second International Agroecology Symposium, agroecology can contribute to healthier and more sustainable food systems. “We need to promote a transformative change in the way that we produce and consume food. We need to put forward sustainable food systems that offer …

Opposing ‘Golden Rice’ is anti-human

April 10th, 2018 / National Review, US

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if half a million destitute children could be saved each year from blindness and/or death from Vitamin A deficiency? Well, they can be by adding a simple GMO food to their diets known as “golden rice.”
Golden rice is not toxic. It does not genetically engineer, say, …

GMO crops can empower smallholder women farmers in Africa

April 9th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Efforts to get products of modern agricultural technologies, such as GM crops, into the hands of farmers have so far been stymied by the absence of an enabling national policy. Uganda’s National Biosafety Act, passed by Parliament in October 2017, was referred back to lawmakers by President Museveni, who cited …

New genomic tool searches wheat’s wild past to improve crops of the future

April 9th, 2018 / John Innes Centre, UK

A new genetic directory launched today will enable researchers and breeders to scan the genomes of wild relatives of modern wheat to find disease-fighting properties lost to domestication.
The time-travelling trawl is possible following the launch of Open Wild Wheat, a directory which includes the genetic sequences of 150 wild wheats …

Hybrid swarm of ‘mega-pests’ threatens crops worldwide, warn scientists

April 9th, 2018 / The Independent, UK

A pair of major agricultural pests have combined to produce a “mega-pest” that could threaten crops around the world.
Losses from the original pest species, cotton bollworms and corn earworms, already amounts to billions of dollars worth of food.
But a hybrid of the two, shows signs of rapidly developing …

Project using R&D is changing wheat farming in Africa

April 9th, 2018 / SciDev.net, UK

Wheat farmers in 12 African Countries – Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are benefiting from a project aimed at increasing production and reducing demand gap of …

Kenyan maize farmers raise alarm as armyworms resurface

April 9th, 2018 / Xinhua, China

Kenyan maize farmers are set to go through another tough year as the fall armyworm strikes the crop again this season.
The pest, which was first detected in Kenya in March last year, contributed to decline in maize production, from over 40 million bags production a year to 32 million, according …

US gene-editing ruling delights plant scientists

April 9th, 2018 / The Guardian, UK

Researchers in the US have been given the go-ahead to use gene-editing techniques to alter crops and plants. The decision opens the door for scientists to create a new generation of genetically altered crops without serious restriction and paves the way for approvals for similar work in Britain and the …