In the news...

Securing East Africa’s cassava

August 1st, 2018 / CGIAR

Morag Ferguson is thrilled with the results of a recent genotyping study. It seems that the cassava landraces she has been working on from South, East and Central Africa are pretty unique. The genetic diversity maps show this specific group of landraces branching off clearly in isolation from the cassava …

Seed industry sees plant breeding innovation as key to sustainable agriculture

July 6th, 2018 / AgroNews

“Innovations in plant breeding are enabling us to develop plants that meet the needs of a changing world,” said President of the International Seed Federation (ISF) Jean-Christophe Gouache at the opening ceremony of the ISF World Seed Congress 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. “This is down to the ‘power of genetics,’” …

Searching for biotech solutions to problems plaguing livestock in Africa

June 26th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports:
In Africa, scientific research involving biotechnology innovations in agriculture has largely focused on finding ways to produce better crops. But, increasingly, researchers in animal sciences are exploring the potential of these new technologies in breeding and disease resistance.
Those efforts are bolstered by the institutions such as …

Researchers develop first gene drive targeting worldwide crop pest

April 20th, 2018 / Phys.org

Biologists at the University of California San Diego have developed a method of manipulating the genes of an agricultural pest that has invaded much of the United States and caused millions of dollars in damage to high-value berry and other fruit crops.
Research led by Anna Buchman in the lab of …

I Didn’t Think There Were Many African Women Scientists. Then …

February 12th, 2018 / NPR

Recently, an online survey asked me to name African women scientists I admired. I found myself struggling — even though I’m a Kenyan entomologist, researching sustainable ways to feed our expanding population amid a changing climate. I thought to myself, why are there so few of us?
I was wrong: We …

Why the genome of wheat is so massive

January 30th, 2018 / The Economist, UK

It has over five times as much DNA as the human genome!
THE domestication of wheat and other staple crops in the Levant some 10,000 years ago allowed for persistent settlement above a level of mere subsistence—one possible definition of the beginning of civilisation. Early farmers grew naturally occurring hybrids of …

Improving the genetics of local cattle breeds, ensuring higher milk and beef yields

January 24th, 2018 / This Day, Nigeria

The Sokoto State Cattle Breeding Project, the largest of its kind in the West African sub-region, will be inaugurated in May this year, Commissioner for Animal Health and Fisheries Development, Alhaji Tukur Alkali has said.
Conducting journalists round the project sites in Sokoto and Rabah LGA of the state, Alkali said …

Easing the regulatory process around certain genetic engineering techniques

January 22nd, 2018 / Alliance for Science, US

The European Union and Australia took steps this week toward easing the regulatory process around certain genetic engineering techniques.
In the EU, a legal opinion found that mutagenesis techniques are, in principle, exempt from the rules that govern genetically modified organisms (GMOs), though individual EU states can regulate their use. Meanwhile, …

Gene edited crops should be exempted from GM food laws, says EU lawyer

January 19th, 2018 / The Guardian, UK

Gene editing technologies should be largely exempted from EU laws on GM food, although individual states can regulate them if they choose, the European court’s advocate general has said.
The opinion may have far-reaching consequences for new breeding techniques that can remove specific parts of a plant’s genetic code and foster …

African orphan crops consortium tackles 101 crop genomes

January 19th, 2018 / Genome web, US

Researchers at BGI and other centers are in the process of sequencing — and resequencing — the genomes of 101 plants for the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC), an international effort to improve nutrition in Africa through genome-assisted breeding resources and training.
Howard-Yana Shapiro, chief agricultural officer at Mars Incorporated, who …