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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 …

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 …

GMO cassava can provide iron, zinc to malnourished African children

February 13th, 2019 / American Council on Science and Health

An international team of researchers, including scientists affiliated with the USDA, have genetically modified cassava to contain much higher levels of iron and zinc than the non-transgenic variety. They used two genes from thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a pathetic looking plant that happens to be one of the most studied …

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 …

Question of liability: Why researchers are worried about Uganda’s new biotech act

February 1st, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Uganda’s new Genetic Engineering Regulatory Act 2018 passed by Parliament on November 28th 2018, has sent a cold chill down the spines of scientists and researchers who dream of discovering and patenting new biotech crops.

Many critics see GERA as an effort by anti-GMO activists to block foreign multinationals from involvement …

Food security feared as Kenya readies to start growing GMO cotton

January 31st, 2019 / Xinhua, China

At fresh produce markets across Kenya, citizens are shunning buying bigger tomatoes, mangoes, pawpaws or oranges for fear that they may be genetically modified.

The fear is extended to even poultry products where chickens that are too big are classified as genetically modified organisms by consumers and shunned therefore.

The misconception is …

Can we ditch intensive farming – and still feed the world?

January 30th, 2019 / The Guardian, UK

Our reliance on artificial fertiliser and intensive farming techniques did not happen overnight, but took decades. Along the way, these methods revolutionised farming and enabled huge population growth and economic growth. We now have a wealth of scientific evidence that shows that continuing down the same path would risk runaway …

Despite controversy, Nigeria ‘approves’ first genetically modified crop

January 30th, 2019 / Premium Times, Nigeria

The Nigerian government has approved for use its first genetically modified crop: the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea (popularly called beans).

This was after it had been genetically modified to resist the pest – Maruca Vitrata.

The cowpea, by this development, becomes the first genetically modified food crop to be approved in the …