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Biotech update: What is CRISPR and how does it works

August 8th, 2018 / ISAAA, US

Researchers have found that the CRISPR – Cas9 system can be applied to nearly every organism. Early studies using CRISPR – Cas9 for gene editing have focused on crops important for agriculture. It was realized early on that the system could be used in crops to improve traits, such as …

Ethiopia releases new, perennial sorghum variety

August 2nd, 2018 / SciDev.net

Ethiopian scientists have developed a new sorghum variety that could lead to multiple yields annually.
According to the National Statistics Agency in Ethiopia, the country has almost two million hectares of sorghum fields, and harvests about four million tonnes of sorghum grains every year.
The new sorghum variety is expected to produce …

How changing the world’s food systems can help to protect the planet

August 1st, 2018 / The Conversation

By Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Executive Director, CGIAR System Organization
Going into debt with nature is a dangerous thing. When our stocks of water, land and clean air are spent – we don’t have a second planet to borrow from. But that’s exactly the way that Earth is heading. 1 August 2018 marks …

Securing East Africa’s cassava

August 1st, 2018 / CGIAR

Morag Ferguson is thrilled with the results of a recent genotyping study. It seems that the cassava landraces she has been working on from South, East and Central Africa are pretty unique. The genetic diversity maps show this specific group of landraces branching off clearly in isolation from the cassava …

Biotech adoption gathers pace in Tanzania

July 31st, 2018 / The Citizen, Tanzania

The rate of biotech adoption has risen globally as Tanzania makes progress in research of
genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
A new report which indicates the global status of the commercialised GM crops indicate that planting of the biotech crops increased by three per cent to 189.8 million hectares in 2017.
It is also …

GM crop ruling shows why the EU’s laws are wholly inadequate

July 30th, 2018 / The Conversation

We should assess new crop varieties on the traits they are supposed to deliver, not on how those traits were introduced. The system needs to be proportional and risk-based. This should of course include consideration of the unintended effects of whatever genetic improvement process was used. Instead we spend years …

Building research capacity for sustainable water and food security in drylands of sub-Saharan Africa

July 30th, 2018 / ReliefWeb

BRECcIA is an ambitious programme that aims to develop research capacity in institutions in three sub-Saharan countries.
Climate variability is a key feature of dryland ecosystems across sub-Saharan Africa, where rain-fed agriculture and pastoralism characterises local subsistence and is the mainstay of national economies. Demand for water and food from growing …

How to grow sweet potatoes for cash

July 30th, 2018 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru writes:
Sweet potato is one of the most important starchy crops. It is an herbaceous, perennial creeper cultivated as an annual crop.
In Africa, Uganda is the biggest producer of sweet potatoes and third in the world after China and India.
The orange flesh variety is preferred because it …

CRISPR plants now subject to tough GM laws in European Union

July 27th, 2018 / Nature, UK

Gene-edited crops should be subject to the same stringent regulations as conventional genetically modified (GM) organisms, Europe’s highest court ruled on 25 July.
The decision, handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) in Luxembourg, is a major setback for proponents of gene-edited crops, including many scientists. …

Africa’s collaborative biotech research bears fruit

July 27th, 2018 / Alliance for Science, US

Dr. Priver Namanya adjusted her view in the microscope, trying to get a better image of the banana cells. Then a smile lit her face. After spending the day trying to ascertain that she had incorporated a vitamin A gene into the banana cells, she had achieved success.
Namanya, a plant …