In the news...

World’s first honey bee vaccine seeks to save dying pollinators

December 12th, 2018 / Bloomberg, US

A growing number of honey bees die each year due to pesticides, vanishing habitats, poor nutrition and climate change, with potentially disastrous consequences for agriculture and natural diversity.
Now, scientists at the University of Helsinki have developed the first edible vaccine against microbial infections, hoping to save at least some of …

Expectations from the genetic Bill

December 11th, 2018 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes
Last week Parliament passed the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill 2018 after a long struggle.
Since 2008 when Uganda got the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy there has been a need to get a law to guide the implementation of that policy.
Finally the law is available and, …

‘Switching off’ genes could speed efforts to breed disease-resistant plants

December 7th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Researchers from [the French Agricultural Research Centre CIRAD] recently showed that inactivating a gene, RECQ4, leads to a three-fold increase in recombination in crops such as rice, pea and tomato …. This discovery, published in the journal Nature Plants could speed up plant breeding and development of varieties better suited …

Apprenticeship will attract young people to agriculture

December 5th, 2018 / Daily Nation, Kenya

Agriculture directly contributes 24 per cent of the annual Kenyan GDP and 27 per cent indirectly.
Apprenticeship would give young people a unique opportunity to earn while as they learn.
Lack of an apprenticeship policy has had adverse impacts on young people interested in agriculture.
The Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship has proposed an …

Global food system is broken, say world’s science academies

November 30th, 2018 / The Guardian, UK

The global food system is broken, leaving billions of people either underfed or overweight and driving the planet towards climate catastrophe, according to 130 national academies of science and medicine across the world.
Providing a healthy, affordable, and environmentally friendly diet for all people will require a radical transformation of the …

New biocontainment strategy controls spread of escaped GMOs

November 30th, 2018 / Phys.org

Hiroshima University (HU) researchers successfully developed a biocontainment strategy for genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Their new method prevents genetically modified cyanobacteria from surviving outside of their test environment, enabling ways to more safely research the effects of GMOs. Their results were published in ACS Synthetic Biology.
The applications of bioengineered …

How radio changes maize farmers’ lives

November 28th, 2018 / The Citizen, Tanzania

Maize production in various areas of Tanga has more than doubled during the past year as farmers adopt modern farming practices, thanks to joint promotional initiatives by the government and other stakeholders.
One of such stakeholders is Farm Radio International (FRI), a non-profit organisation that works to deliver effective programmes to …

Fight crop diseases for food security

November 27th, 2018 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes:
Fertiliser use, irrigation, mechanisation, and better agronomic practices will continue to play a big role in transforming agriculture, but farmers should be helped to grow pest resistant crops, herbicide resistant crops, and drought tolerant crops developed through modern biotechnology. Read …

Gene silencing could ‘fool’ plants into surviving harsh environments

November 21st, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

By temporarily silencing the expression of a critical gene, researchers fooled soybean plants into sensing they were under siege, encountering a wide range of stresses. Then, after selectively cross breeding those plants with the original stock, the progeny “remember” the stress-induced responses to become more vigorous, resilient and productive plants, …

Tech fall armyworm solutions winners recognised

November 21st, 2018 / The East African, Kenya

Two companies from the region have been rewarded for formulating digital solutions to the invasive fall armyworm.
Farm.ink, a Nairobi-based start-up, took the top prize of $150,000 for the most viable way to combat the pest, which has had devastating effects on maize farms in Africa. Farm.ink integrated a Fall Armyworm …