In the news...

The world’s top banana is doomed and nobody can find a repllacement

December 20th, 2017 / Wall Street Journal, US

In June, a team of European researchers traveled to Papua New Guinea on a mission of global significance. They came to search for the Giant Banana plant.
The scientists traveled through the jungles of the South Pacific nation, by car and on foot, accompanied by two armed guards. They were tantalized …

How gene editing will boost crop yields

December 19th, 2017 / Successful Farming, US

On the surface, a light switch and gene editing have as much in common as a linebacker does with a ballerina.
Dig a bit deeper, though. “In a very simple way, the main application of gene editing is like flipping a light switch on and off,” says Federico Tripodi, …

Climate change fighting plants

December 7th, 2017 / San Diego Union-Tribune, US

The Salk Institute has enlisted a new ally in the effort to address the anticipated dangers of climate change — plants.
Scientists at the institute propose to breed plants to more efficiently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, sequestering it in the ground for many decades. This could reduce global warming, …

GM plant species numbers set to dramatically increase

December 4th, 2017 / Cosmos, Australia

Genetic modification of food crops is, depending on your point of view, a wondrous technological solution to feed a growing global population or a hubris-soaked scientific monstrosity sowing the seeds of environmental apocalypse.
Yet the war over GM crops, though intense, has so far been restricted to a small number of …

Nigeria pursuing GMO public education campaign

November 29th, 2017 / Alliance for science, US

Nigerian officials are seeing positive results as they engage in a comprehensive outreach strategy to educate citizens about biotechnology as the nation moves to commercialize its first GMO crops next year.
The strategy includes media engagements, interface with professional organizations, courtesy visits to policy makers, one-on-one meetings and other measures, said …

Like it or not, Africa’s future lies in GM crops

November 28th, 2017 / The Times, UK

Matt Ridley writes
Influenced by European environmentalists, most African countries forbid the growing of genetically modified crops. This is a pity, because unless they change their attitude fast, they will face the prospect of using far more pesticides, which small-scale farmers cannot afford, and which come with environmental and safety risks, …

How plant science will change the world

November 28th, 2017 / The biochemist blog

Plant science is a lot more important than you realise. It has often been cast as cell biology’s less exciting sibling. What is the point of studying root growth, flowering or stomatal aperture? There are way more important things to be researching… aren’t there?

Making crops for the future
Global warming …

Use of CRISPR systems in plant genome editing: toward new opportunities in agriculture

November 21st, 2017 / Emerging Topics in Life Sciences, UK

Initially discovered in bacteria and archaea, CRISPR–Cas9 is an adaptive immune system found in prokaryotes. In 2012, scientists found a way to use it as a genome editing tool. In 2013, its application in plants was successfully achieved. This breakthrough has opened up many new opportunities for researchers, including the …

GM banana shows promise against deadly fungus strain

November 20th, 2017 / Science, US

A field trial in Australia has shown that genetically modified banana trees can resist the deadly fungus that causes Panama disease, which has devastated banana crops in Asia, Africa, and Australia and is a major threat for banana growers in the Americas. The transgenic plants might reach some farmers in …

Nigeria stakeholders strategise on Bt cotton release

November 13th, 2017 / Scientific Nigeria

B4FA Fellow Alex Abutu writes:
Following the endorsement of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbe of the Bt Cotton project for Nigeria, stakeholders in the country are strategising for the eventual uptake and release of the Bollgard II cotton to farmers.
The Bollgard II cotton project which was …