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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 …

Using genetic engineering to turn annual crops into perennials could bolster global food production

March 18th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

The last several decades have witnessed a remarkable increase in crop yields — doubling major grain crops since the 1950s. But a significant part of the world still suffers from malnutrition, and these gains in grains and other crops probably won’t be enough to feed a growing global population.

These facts …

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 …

Boosting plants’ uptake of vitamins and minerals

February 26th, 2019 / The Scientist, US

The corn Elsbeth Walker grows looks a bit strange. Its leaves are streaked with yellow, instead of being entirely green. This yellow-streaked corn is a mutant that has trouble taking in iron, making it hard for the plant to create chlorophyll, a green pigment involved in photosynthesis.

Walker, a molecular biologist at 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, …

Gene-edited animal plan to relieve poverty in Africa

February 20th, 2019 / BBC, UK

A researcher in Edinburgh is leading efforts to develop gene-edited farm animals for poor farmers in Africa. 

Prof Appolinaire Djikeng is developing cows, pigs and chickens that are resistant to diseases and more productive.

Among them are cattle that have been gene edited to be heat-resistant.

Details of the project were given at the …

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 …

Virus lurking inside banana genome has been destroyed with CRISPR

February 1st, 2019 / New Scientist, UK

Genome editing has been used to destroy a virus that lurks inside many of the bananas grown in Africa. Other teams are trying to use it to make the Cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets worldwide resistant to a disease that threatens to make it impossible to grow this variety commercially …

What is CRISPR? The revolutionary gene-editing tech explained

February 1st, 2019 / Wired, US

Until very recently if you wanted to create, say, a drought-resistant corn plant, your options were extremely limited. You could opt for selective breeding, try bombarding seeds with radiation in the hope of inducing a favourable change, or else opt to insert a snippet of DNA from another organism entirely.

But …

World Vegetable Center looks into wild relatives of eggplant for food security

January 23rd, 2019 / Nova

At the World Vegetable Center, experts are looking to the wild relatives of domesticated crops—like eggplant—to save the human diet from climate change.

At the World Vegetable Center, experts are studying a wide variety of eggplant relatives for their hardiness and ability to produce appealing, edible fruits—but it isn’t typical, business-as-usual …