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Use of CRISPR systems in plant genome editing: toward new opportunities in agriculture

November 30th, 2017 / Emerging Topics in Life Sciences, UK

Initially discovered in bacteria and archaea, CRISPR–Cas9 is an adaptive immune system found in prokaryotes. In 2012, scientists found a way to use it as a genome editing tool. In 2013, its application in plants was successfully achieved. This breakthrough has opened up many new opportunities for researchers, including the …

How do we fight the Fall armyworm, the new wound of African agriculture

November 28th, 2017 / Agri-buzz

To solve the future food needs in sub-Saharan Africa, entomologists must be a critical part of the puzzle. From Nigeria to Ethiopia, South Africa to Chad, African smallholder farmers often face severe crop losses from damaging bugs from locusts to cassava’s whiteflies, cowpea pod borers or maize and sorghum stem …

Kenyan scientists find new striga resistance genes in wild sorghum

November 9th, 2017 / ISAAA, US

Wild sorghum will soon provide a reservoir for resistance genes against Striga. A research team lead by Dr. Steven Runo of the Plant Transformation Laboratory (PTL) at Kenyatta University and Professor Michael Timko of University of Virginia has identified three wild sorghum accessions resistant to Striga hermonthica (witchweed), a parasitic …

Tanzania, UN ink $2 million pacts to fight armyworms

September 30th, 2017 / AllAfrica.com

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has entered into two agreements worth $2million with the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries to boost surveillance of Fall Armyworm (FAW) across the country.
A fall armyworm outbreak has been causing considerable crop damage in some countries including in Tanzania. The pest …

Agric agencies need more resources to fight Armyworm – Scientists

August 29th, 2017 / Joy Online, South Africa

The government has been urged to better resource agencies under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) if it is serious about avoiding another widespread destruction by the Fall Armyworm.
Dr. Audrey Vanderpuye of the School of Agriculture at the University of Cape Coast says the Plant Protection and Regulatory …

Modified maize that kills with RNA is given go-ahead in the US

June 30th, 2017 / New Scientist, UK

For the first time, a crop that produces an RNAi-based pesticide has got the green light.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved a genetically modified corn known as SmartStax Pro. In addition to producing two Bt toxins to kill any western corn rootworm larvae that try to eat it, the …

A quick and coordinated regional response to fall armyworm required

June 5th, 2017 / CGIAR/CIMMYT

The recent appearance of the fall armyworm, an insect-pest, which causes damage to more than 80 crop species in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, poses a serious challenge and significant risk to the region’s food security.
In a recent interview, Dr B.M. Prasanna, director of the Global Maize Program, CIMMYT and …

Video: Pest-resistant GE cowpeas could reduce pesticide use, increase yields of African staple

June 4th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Dr. TJ Higgins discusses a global effort to genetically engineer a pest-resistant variety of cowpea (black-eyed peas) that will help small-holder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa reduce pesticide use and enjoy higher yields of a crop that is an important source of protein for more than 200 million people. View …

Fighting fall armyworm in Africa

May 30th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali reports:
A FAO news release titled “Multi-pronged approach key for effectively defeating fall armyworm in Africa” has indicated that solutions to the problem include development of pest-resistant, drought tolerant and disease resistant hybrid crops that are more resilient to the fall armyworm, the use of bio-pesticides, pheromone …

Pests and pathogens could cost agriculture billions

May 25th, 2017 / Reuters

The spread of pests and pathogens that damage plant life could cost global agriculture $540 billion a year, according to a report published on Thursday.
The report, released by the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) at Kew in London, said that an increase in international trade and travel had left flora facing …