In the news...

Uganda GMO banana research progresses despite legal uncertainty

March 3rd, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afredraru reports:

The Ugandan researchers who have been working since 2005 to breed more nutritious bananas say their progress won’t be hindered by a strict liability clause in the nation’s latest biosafety bill.

The scientists are using genetic engineering to develop bananas rich in such nutrients as vitamin A, …

How genetic engineering can help Africa cope with climate change by tweaking crops, animals

March 3rd, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Climate change will have a dramatic impact on agricultural production in Africa.  Over the last century, temperatures across the continent increased by around 0.5 degrees Centigrade. If this trend continues as expected, extreme heat waves and droughts are likely to become more common. Climate estimates suggest that there could be an …

How farmers can control cassava diseases

February 27th, 2019 / AllAfrica.com

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports

Farmers across Africa are engaged in growing cassava which is considered as food security and industrial crop but the plant is vulnerable to a broad range of diseases as well as less known viral strains.

In East Africa the most common are Cassava Brown Streak Virus (CBSV), …

Unlocking agricultural potential to achieve food security and sustainability for 9.7 billion

February 26th, 2019 / Professor Christopher J. Leaver, Emeritus Professor of Plant Science, University of Oxford; Founder member of B4FA

‘He who has bread may have troubles, He who lacks it has only one.’Old Byzantine proverb

Since 1950 the world’s population has almost tripled to 7.7 billion and until recently the relative abundance of food has kept pace, with the poorest benefiting the most. Over the years the so-called Green Revolution, despite …

Genetically modified beans safe for consumption, scientists insist

February 26th, 2019 / The Guardian, Nigeria

Following fears and concerns by some civil society orgnisations and farmers over the safety of the newly commercialised Bt Cowpea (beans), scientists have reaffirmed that the pulse is safe for consumption.The president of the National Biotechnology and Bio-safety Consortium (NBBC), Prof. Celestine Agboru, during a news conference in Abuja, debunked …

Why do we need to keep breeding new crop varieties?

February 26th, 2019 / Sustainable, Secure Food Blog

Global warming and changes in the amount – and location – of water, are key factors in the need to continue crop breeding programs. In addition, there are many diseases that affect crop yield and quality. We need to continue breeding new disease resistant crop varieties to ensure a healthy, …

New crop loss study underscores urgent need for resistant varieties

February 25th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

Plant pests and diseases are significantly reducing yields of five major food crops across the globe, underscoring the critical need to develop new resistant varieties, according to a new study.

Some 137 pathogens and pests cause losses of 10 to 40 percent in the staple crops — wheat, maize (corn), soybeans, …

How our plants have turned into thieves to survive

February 20th, 2019 / Phys.org

Scientists have discovered that grasses are able to short cut evolution by taking genes from their neighbours. The findings suggest wild grasses are naturally genetically modifying themselves to gain a competitive advantage.

Understanding how this is happening may also help scientists reduce the risk of genes escaping from GM crops and …

Seeking the new potato

February 14th, 2019 / Science, US

On a bleak, brown hill here, David Ellis examines a test plot of potato plants and shakes his head. “They’re dead, dead, dead,” he says. Pests and lack of rain have laid waste to all 17 varieties that researchers had planted.

It is a worrying sign for Ellis, the now-retired director …

Virus lurking inside banana genome has been destroyed with CRISPR

February 1st, 2019 / New Scientist, UK

Genome editing has been used to destroy a virus that lurks inside many of the bananas grown in Africa. Other teams are trying to use it to make the Cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets worldwide resistant to a disease that threatens to make it impossible to grow this variety commercially …