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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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Scientists breeding new disease-resistant soybeans to crack down on parasitic nematode

January 22nd, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) [a common soybean pest] has overcome the main source of genetic resistance – PI 88788 – that accounts for 95% of resistance in SCN-resistant soybean varieties. Research scientists….have been developing new sources of genetic resistance and new SCN resistance management strategies.

Ultimately, the goal is to identify …

Why South Africa and Sudan lead the continent in GMO crops

January 17th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

Why are South Africa and Sudan ahead of every other country on the continent when it comes to biotech? The answer is simple. The nations realized early on that they needed to embrace new technologies to develop faster maturing and better yielding disease-resistant and drought-tolerant crop varieties to counter a …

As Nigeria makes final move to commercialise Bt cowpea

January 16th, 2019 / Leadership, Nigeria

After nine years of intensive trials of the Bacillus thuringiences (Bt) cowpea (beans), Nigeria finally begins the final processes towards the commercialisation of the crop with a public presentation to get input from scientists, farmers, policy makers, civil society organisations, experts, faith-based organisations and the media.

The public presentation by …

Scientists using CRISPR-based technology to target agricultural pests

January 15th, 2019 / European Scientist

A new paper published on 8 January in Nature Communications describes a ‘precision-guided sterile insect technique’ that can effectively alter insect genes to control female viability and male fertility. The method could potentially be used to suppress increasing pest populations that threaten agricultural crops and to prevent the transmission of deadly diseases. The controllable, …

Young Ugandan biotech advocates push back against scare tactics

January 15th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project

Jonan Twinamatsiko, a recent graduate of biotechnology from Makerere University in Uganda, belongs to a group of young people facing rising unemployment. A Uganda youth survey published by Aga Khan University in 2016 shows 80 percent of Ugandans are under age 35, and 52 percent of that group is unemployed. Jonan had …