In the news...

The world’s top banana is doomed and nobody can find a repllacement

December 20th, 2017 / Wall Street Journal, US

In June, a team of European researchers traveled to Papua New Guinea on a mission of global significance. They came to search for the Giant Banana plant.
The scientists traveled through the jungles of the South Pacific nation, by car and on foot, accompanied by two armed guards. They were tantalized …

Taking agricultural innovations to scale: RTB scaling fund awards first grants

December 20th, 2017 / CGIAR: Roots and tubers

Researchers who develop new technologies often face challenges in translating them into adapted innovations that people and enterprises will use. The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) consequently created a flagship project dedicated to improving livelihoods at scale (Flagship 5), which is facilitating the design and implementation …

How gene editing will boost crop yields

December 19th, 2017 / Successful Farming, US

On the surface, a light switch and gene editing have as much in common as a linebacker does with a ballerina.
Dig a bit deeper, though. “In a very simple way, the main application of gene editing is like flipping a light switch on and off,” says Federico Tripodi, …

GMOs might feed the world if investors weren’t so scared

December 15th, 2017 / Bloomberg, US

In the basement of Koshland Hall at the University of California at Berkeley is a trove of seeds with the potential to fix some of agriculture’s most vexing problems.
There are wheat seeds—both hypoallergenic, so more people could eat it, and of a variety able to better withstand unpredictable rainfall—a growing …

Researchers develop viral disease resistant variety of cowpea

December 15th, 2017 / Research Matters, India

Pest infestation of agricultural crops have been a long standing challenge faced by our farmers. In a recent study, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology here have developed a genetically modified variety of cowpea that is resistant to the Mungbean Yellow Mosaic India Virus (MYMIV).
In this research, the …

Can a GM banana solve Uganda’s hunger crisis?

December 13th, 2017 / Guardian, UK

After an afternoon drizzle, Ephraim Muhereza carefully scouts his three-acre banana plantation in Gayaza, Wakiso district, plucking male buds from trees. This will stop his plants from catching the notorious banana bacterial wilt, which has destroyed many farms in Uganda.
“We have been told that to reduce the spread of the …

New technique to help plant breeders develop drought resistant varieties faster

December 13th, 2017 / ISAAA, US

Scientists from the Canadian Light Source (CLS) have teamed up with researchers from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) to develop a new technique to examine drought tolerance in wheat. Led by Chithra Karunakaran and Karen Tanino, the team developed a simple non-destructive method to screen hundreds of wheat …

Scientists see role for insects and ‘orphan crops’ in human diet

December 8th, 2017 / Financial Times, UK

Remarkably few plant and animal species dominate global agriculture and food production. Cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry make up most of the livestock sector, while wheat, maize, rice and soya account for 60 per cent of the world’s total crop output. Fewer than 30 species account for more than 95 …

GMO technology in Uganda

December 8th, 2017 / The Independent, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes:
The recent article in The Independent magazine (October 31 2017) titled “Tears and Cheers over New GMO Law” left me, as a farmer and a science journalist, disappointed. It carried negative and misleading sentiments about agricultural biotechnology.
Uganda’s decision to adapt Agricultural GMO technology and the passing …

Climate change fighting plants

December 7th, 2017 / San Diego Union-Tribune, US

The Salk Institute has enlisted a new ally in the effort to address the anticipated dangers of climate change — plants.
Scientists at the institute propose to breed plants to more efficiently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, sequestering it in the ground for many decades. This could reduce global warming, …