In the news...

Can Oxitec’s genetically engineered insects combat fall armyworm crop damage and famine in Africa?

March 14th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Fall armyworm is a moth larvae that is incredibly destructive. It causes widespread crop losses in the Americas and now has been found in Africa. This pest consumes everything in its path, and can travel many miles on the wind. It is believed that this organism could cause widespread famine …

Distant cousins of domesticated crops harbor traits to feed a hungry planet

March 13th, 2018 / ICRISAT

Recently, scientists found that more frequent flooding caused by storm and rainfall along with erratic temperature are responsible for the resurgence of phytophthora blight, a devastating disease that weakens pigeonpea stems irrespective of soil types and cropping patterns. With climate change, new invasive pests and changes in the farming landscape, …

Uganda’s researchers ready to taste test their GMO vitamin A-enriched banana

March 13th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports:
The East African cooking banana is one of the major food crops eaten by the people living in central Uganda.
In the recent years, the plant has been hit by a number of pests and diseases, including nematodes, black sigatoka and banana bacterial wilt. To combat …

Seed Co introduces new maize variety tolerant to lethal necrosis disease

March 12th, 2018 / Farmbiz Africa

Seed Co, a company that develops and markets certified crop seeds, mainly hybrid maize seed has introduced a new maize variety that is tolerant to the maize lethal necrosis disease (MLND).
“The new maize variety KATEH 01 was developed over a period of three years since 2016 by Seed Co in …

A tiny beetle and its deadly fungus is threatening South Africa’s trees

March 2nd, 2018 / The Conversation

Sandton is Johannesburg’s economic hub – home to numerous companies’ headquarters and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. And now it has a new, unwelcome resident: a tiny beetle that could lay waste to several tree species found in the suburb and potentially the wider Johannesburg area. This is particularly concerning, as …

Study shows how plants use ‘baits’ to trap pathogens

February 28th, 2018 / Earlham Institute, UK

A study published in Genome Biology shows how plants use ‘baits’ to recognize and trap disease-causing pathogens before infection can start.
Ksenia Krasileva and her team from Earlham Institute, together with researchers from The Sainsbury Laboratory, used phylogenetic analyses to identify how these ‘bait’ genes are distributed throughout different wild and …

Why we should genetically modify coffee

February 26th, 2018 / RealClear Science

Remember the Gros Michel banana? If you’re under the age of seventy, you probably don’t. That’s because in the 1950s a fungal disease called Panama disease essentially wiped out commercial production of the Gros Michel. In just a few years, growers were forced to switch from the rich, creamy, and …

Fighting plant pests

February 26th, 2018 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes:
Pests are described as insects, bacteria, viruses, birds, and rodents that destroy crops by eating them or by infecting them with diseases.
They are often a nuisance which results in huge losses for the farmer. They can damage the crop when it is growing in the …

Scientists identify factors which drive the evolution of herbicide resistance

February 19th, 2018 / Science Daily, US

Scientists from the University of Sheffield have identified factors which are driving the evolution of herbicide resistance in crops — something which could also have an impact on medicine as well as agriculture.
Xenobiotic chemicals, such as herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and antibiotics, are used in both agriculture and healthcare to manage …

FAO launches guide to tackle Fall Armyworm in Africa head-on

February 19th, 2018 / Reliefweb

Faced with the infestation of millions of hectares of maize, most in the hands of smallholder farmers, and the relentless spread of Fall Armyworm (FAW) across most of Africa, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched today a comprehensive guide on the integrated pest management of the FAW on …