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A CRISPR approach to saving banana

April 23rd, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

CRISPR/Cas9‐based genome editing is offering new hope for protecting a critical food security crop by developing climate-smart banana varieties.

Research to identify the genes associated with stress‐tolerant traits and other uses of gene editing and genetic engineering to help banana varieties adapt to a changing climate is highlighted in an April …

The world needs smart bananas

April 15th, 2019 / Fresh Plaza

Millions of people depend on bananas. However, their cultivation is very vulnerable to diseases and the effects of climate change. There is a pressing need for a new more resistant banana variety. To this end, on Monday, 8 April the Belgian University, KU Leuven, and Bioversity International signed an agreement. …

International project working to beat wheat rust

March 25th, 2019 / Weekly Times, Australia

A JOINT venture project between the CSIRO and a US foundation has had recent success with a field trial of a wheat variety stacked with five wheat rust resistance genes.

The collaboration between CSIRO and the University of Minnesota known as 2Blades has recently demonstrated strong field resistance to stem rust …

How genetic engineering can help Africa cope with climate change by tweaking crops, animals

March 3rd, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Climate change will have a dramatic impact on agricultural production in Africa.  Over the last century, temperatures across the continent increased by around 0.5 degrees Centigrade. If this trend continues as expected, extreme heat waves and droughts are likely to become more common. Climate estimates suggest that there could be an …

How farmers can control cassava diseases

February 27th, 2019 / AllAfrica.com

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports

Farmers across Africa are engaged in growing cassava which is considered as food security and industrial crop but the plant is vulnerable to a broad range of diseases as well as less known viral strains.

In East Africa the most common are Cassava Brown Streak Virus (CBSV), …

Unlocking agricultural potential to achieve food security and sustainability for 9.7 billion

February 26th, 2019 / Professor Christopher J. Leaver, Emeritus Professor of Plant Science, University of Oxford; Founder member of B4FA

‘He who has bread may have troubles, He who lacks it has only one.’Old Byzantine proverb

Since 1950 the world’s population has almost tripled to 7.7 billion and until recently the relative abundance of food has kept pace, with the poorest benefiting the most. Over the years the so-called Green Revolution, despite …

New crop loss study underscores urgent need for resistant varieties

February 25th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

Plant pests and diseases are significantly reducing yields of five major food crops across the globe, underscoring the critical need to develop new resistant varieties, according to a new study.

Some 137 pathogens and pests cause losses of 10 to 40 percent in the staple crops — wheat, maize (corn), soybeans, …

Fighting against pests

February 18th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali reports:

Farmers always worry about possible loss of their crops due to pests and crop diseases. It is one of the reasons they keep monitoring their fields to ensure all is going on well. Fighting pests and crop diseases increases the farmers’ production costs and often reduces profits.

It …

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 …

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 …