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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 …

Genetically modified beans safe for consumption, scientists insist

February 26th, 2019 / The Guardian, Nigeria

Following fears and concerns by some civil society orgnisations and farmers over the safety of the newly commercialised Bt Cowpea (beans), scientists have reaffirmed that the pulse is safe for consumption.The president of the National Biotechnology and Bio-safety Consortium (NBBC), Prof. Celestine Agboru, during a news conference in Abuja, debunked …

Why do we need to keep breeding new crop varieties?

February 26th, 2019 / Sustainable, Secure Food Blog

Global warming and changes in the amount – and location – of water, are key factors in the need to continue crop breeding programs. In addition, there are many diseases that affect crop yield and quality. We need to continue breeding new disease resistant crop varieties to ensure a healthy, …

GM maize’s surprising benefit

February 25th, 2019 / Youtube.com

Reporter Joseph Opoku Gakpo tells the story of how African farmers are excited about GMO maize engineered to resist the destructive stem borer pest, which has also shown promising resistance to the devastating fall armyworm pest. Watch the …

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, …

Growing threat to food from decline in biodiversity

February 25th, 2019 / BBC, UK

The plants, animals, and micro-organisms that are the bedrock of food production are in decline, according to a UN study.

If these critical species are lost, the report says, it “places the future of our food system under severe threat”.

The study says that land-use changes, pollution, and climate change are all …

Are genetically engineered crops less safe than classically-bred food?

February 20th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Crops and foods today are not what they used to look like.

Farmers and plant breeders have been modifying plant genes since the earliest human communities were formed and farming took hold in order to develop crops that better resist pests and foods with improved nutrition and taste.

Biotechnology proponents, particularly agro-biotechnology …

FAO sounds alarm on Desert Locust outbreak

February 19th, 2019 / Africa News

Heavy rains and cyclones have triggered a recent surge in Desert Locust populations, causing an outbreak to develop in Sudan and Eritrea that is rapidly spreading along both sides of the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, FAO warned today.

The UN agency called on all the affected countries to …

Crop diversity worldwide is growing, but wheat, maize (corn), soy, and rice cover almost 50% of farmland worldwide

February 19th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Global agriculture is increasingly dominated by just a handful of crops with limited genetic richness, says a group of researchers writing in PLOS One.

The research shows that despite an uptick in the diversity of crops grown across the planet over the last 60 years, the largest share of our crops worldwide is …

Combat striga with push-pull technology

February 19th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports

If you manage to visit farmers growing cereal crops in most parts of East Africa including Uganda, you will notice striga weed infestation is a huge challenge.

Striga also known as witch weed, is a coerce plant parasitic weed which infests roots of the host plant …