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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 …

The ecomodernist argument for modern agriculture

December 15th, 2017 / Successful Farming

Mark Lynas writes:
Imagine that we decided to abolish farming across the world. The cities emptied, the combines sat idle, and all 7.5 billion of us scattered out into the countryside in search of nuts, berries, and game to make our livings as modern-day hunter-gatherers. How would that go?
The answer is …

Max Planck researchers engineer key enzyme in photosynthesis

December 13th, 2017 / Max Planck Institute, Germany

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have succeeded in producing functional plant Rubisco in a bacterium, allowing genetic engineering of the enzyme. Rubisco, a critical enzyme in photosynthesis, catalyzes the first step in carbohydrate production in plants, the fixation of CO2 from the atmosphere.
The researchers, led by Dr. …

South African farmer offers ‘living testimony’ to safety of biotech

December 11th, 2017 / Alliance for Science, US

“At first I was resistant due to some of the negative stories about biotechnology that are out there, like hearing that some people develop cancer and stuff,” she said.
After being persuaded to plant biotech seeds on one hectare of land, that resistance quickly faded away.
“Guess what? I saw …

Technology much needed on farming

December 11th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes:
The passing of the Biotechnology and Bio-safety Bill by parliament about two months ago has cast a chill over some people and according to media reports; there is an attempt to institute legal proceedings to block GMO technology adoption in Uganda.
Yet this is the technology …

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, …

Genes found in drought-resistant plants could accelerate evolution of water-use efficient crops

December 6th, 2017 / Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have identified a common set of genes that enable different drought-resistant plants to survive in semi-arid conditions, which could play a significant role in bioengineering and creating energy crops that are tolerant to water deficits.
Plants thrive in drylands by keeping …

GM plant species numbers set to dramatically increase

December 4th, 2017 / Cosmos, Australia

Genetic modification of food crops is, depending on your point of view, a wondrous technological solution to feed a growing global population or a hubris-soaked scientific monstrosity sowing the seeds of environmental apocalypse.
Yet the war over GM crops, though intense, has so far been restricted to a small number of …

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 …