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How our plants have turned into thieves to survive

February 20th, 2019 / Phys.org

Scientists have discovered that grasses are able to short cut evolution by taking genes from their neighbours. The findings suggest wild grasses are naturally genetically modifying themselves to gain a competitive advantage.

Understanding how this is happening may also help scientists reduce the risk of genes escaping from GM crops and …

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 …

Grow your money on trees

February 18th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru writes:

Forests and trees are crucial to the lives of many Ugandans, especially the rural communities who rely on them for food, employment and as an income earning initiative.

This is achieved through increased resilience of human made and natural growing of tree species for both wood and …

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 …

Food and Agriculture Organization calls for re-positioning of food systems

February 18th, 2019 / African Daily Voice

Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General José Graziano da Silva has said the world must adopt a new approach that incorporate re-positioning food systems from feeding people to nourishing people.

He was speaking at University of California Law School (UCLA Law School) recently during his lecture titled ‘A Global Perspective on Regulating …

Evolutionary plant breeding helps farmers develop seeds for local conditions

February 15th, 2019 / Yale Climate Connections, US

A four-minute documentary video on evolutionary plant breeding, a technique that can help farmers develop plant varieties that thrive in local conditions. In the video, Italian plant geneticist Salvatore Ceccarelli explains how the technique could help farmers around the world respond to problems posed by climate change and gain autonomy. Over …

Genetically engineered crops help support conservation biological control

February 15th, 2019 / Biological Control, Netherlands

Genetically engineered (GE) crops producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) (mainly Cry proteins) have become a major control tactic for a number of key lepidopteran and coleopteran pests, mainly in maize, cotton, and soybean. As with any management tactic, there is concern that using GE crops might cause adverse effects on …

Egypt poised to again lead Africa in agricultural biotechnology innovation

February 14th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project

When will Egypt again lead Africa in agricultural biotech innovation? That question kept running through my mind when I visited the North African country late last year to participate in the United Nation’s annual biodiversity conference.

Egypt has a rich history and has always led social and technological advancements in the …