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Researchers develop first gene drive targeting worldwide crop pest

April 20th, 2018 / Phys.org

Biologists at the University of California San Diego have developed a method of manipulating the genes of an agricultural pest that has invaded much of the United States and caused millions of dollars in damage to high-value berry and other fruit crops.
Research led by Anna Buchman in the lab of …

Scientists want to replace pesticides with bacteria

April 19th, 2018 / Bloomberg, US

Fresh snow coats the sidewalks outside Indigo Ag Inc.’s Boston offices, but inside the temperature is calibrated to mimic spring in the Midwest. Hundreds of almost identical soy seedlings sit beneath high-intensity arc lamps, basking in the artificially sunny 60F weather.
The plants aren’t destined to stay identical for long. “We …

Can genetic maize rescue our farmers from Fall Armyworm?

April 16th, 2018 / The Star, Kenya

Genetically modified maize, Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) could be Kenya’s silver bullet in the fight against Fall Armyworm which has so far destroyed more than 200,000 acres of maize farms since 2016.
The biologically modified seed is incorporated with specific protein content that chocks the worm which continues to wreak havoc across …

Tanzania: food shortage looms as pests invade 50% of farms – report

April 13th, 2018 / AllAfrica.com

Crop pests have invaded nearly a half of Mainland Tanzania farms, a new report has revealed.
To combat the menace, the government has deployed a team of agriculturalists to train farmers on how to control the situation.
Moreover, pesticides worth $132,439 have been distributed to fight armyworms, rodents and crop diseases, but …

Tanzania: new maize seeds impress farmers as yields improve

April 12th, 2018 / AllAfrica.com

The Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) in cooperation with Ilonga Agricultural Research Institute have produced water-efficient maize seeds under the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (Wema) project.
Trials have been made and Isamilo villagers at Kamwanga Ward in Geita District are happy with results.
Their Muungano Group was given Wema 2109 …

Vaccines for plants? RNA spray could help protect crops from pests and disease

April 11th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Novel technologies are being sought to replace the traditional pesticides used to protect plants, particularly edible plants such as cereals. A new collaborative project between the University of Helsinki and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) is shedding light on the efficacy of environmentally friendly RNA-based vaccines that …

Potential of GMOs to combat crop diseases converting skeptical Ugandan politicians

April 11th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Ugandan banana breeders at Kawanda have improved local banana varieties to resist the devastating banana bacterial wilt.
Potato breeders at Kachwekano in partnership with International Centre for Potato have improved the locally grown Victoria Potato variety to resist late blight disease so that potato farmers will not have to buy fungicides.
Cassava …

Hybrid swarm of ‘mega-pests’ threatens crops worldwide, warn scientists

April 9th, 2018 / The Independent, UK

A pair of major agricultural pests have combined to produce a “mega-pest” that could threaten crops around the world.
Losses from the original pest species, cotton bollworms and corn earworms, already amounts to billions of dollars worth of food.
But a hybrid of the two, shows signs of rapidly developing …

GMO maize could halt devastating fall army worm invasion in Uganda—if it gets approved

April 4th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports:
Mary Yangi trekked a long journey from South Sudan to Uganda’s West Nile region to settle as a refugee and, a few months later, into farming. Unlike others, who were reliant upon food rations from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the 59-year-old widow saw …

Why African farmers should balance pesticides with other control methods

March 23rd, 2018 / The Conversation

Insect pests cause almost half of the crop losses in Africa. If the continent is to feed its growing population, farmers must find ways to control them. Pests account for high losses in other developing regions too.
For smallholder farmers in particular, pest management needs to be affordable, safe and sustainable. …