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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 …

GMOs might feed the world if investors weren’t so scared

December 15th, 2017 / Bloomberg, US

In the basement of Koshland Hall at the University of California at Berkeley is a trove of seeds with the potential to fix some of agriculture’s most vexing problems.
There are wheat seeds—both hypoallergenic, so more people could eat it, and of a variety able to better withstand unpredictable rainfall—a growing …

Researchers develop viral disease resistant variety of cowpea

December 15th, 2017 / Research Matters, India

Pest infestation of agricultural crops have been a long standing challenge faced by our farmers. In a recent study, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology here have developed a genetically modified variety of cowpea that is resistant to the Mungbean Yellow Mosaic India Virus (MYMIV).
In this research, the …

The ecomodernist argument for modern agriculture

December 15th, 2017 / Successful Farming

Mark Lynas writes:
Imagine that we decided to abolish farming across the world. The cities emptied, the combines sat idle, and all 7.5 billion of us scattered out into the countryside in search of nuts, berries, and game to make our livings as modern-day hunter-gatherers. How would that go?
The answer is …

Max Planck researchers engineer key enzyme in photosynthesis

December 13th, 2017 / Max Planck Institute, Germany

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have succeeded in producing functional plant Rubisco in a bacterium, allowing genetic engineering of the enzyme. Rubisco, a critical enzyme in photosynthesis, catalyzes the first step in carbohydrate production in plants, the fixation of CO2 from the atmosphere.
The researchers, led by Dr. …

Can a GM banana solve Uganda’s hunger crisis?

December 13th, 2017 / Guardian, UK

After an afternoon drizzle, Ephraim Muhereza carefully scouts his three-acre banana plantation in Gayaza, Wakiso district, plucking male buds from trees. This will stop his plants from catching the notorious banana bacterial wilt, which has destroyed many farms in Uganda.
“We have been told that to reduce the spread of the …

South African farmer offers ‘living testimony’ to safety of biotech

December 11th, 2017 / Alliance for Science, US

“At first I was resistant due to some of the negative stories about biotechnology that are out there, like hearing that some people develop cancer and stuff,” she said.
After being persuaded to plant biotech seeds on one hectare of land, that resistance quickly faded away.
“Guess what? I saw …

Technology much needed on farming

December 11th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes:
The passing of the Biotechnology and Bio-safety Bill by parliament about two months ago has cast a chill over some people and according to media reports; there is an attempt to institute legal proceedings to block GMO technology adoption in Uganda.
Yet this is the technology …

GMO technology in Uganda

December 8th, 2017 / The Independent, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes:
The recent article in The Independent magazine (October 31 2017) titled “Tears and Cheers over New GMO Law” left me, as a farmer and a science journalist, disappointed. It carried negative and misleading sentiments about agricultural biotechnology.
Uganda’s decision to adapt Agricultural GMO technology and the passing …

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, …