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Boosting plants’ uptake of vitamins and minerals

February 26th, 2019 / The Scientist, US

The corn Elsbeth Walker grows looks a bit strange. Its leaves are streaked with yellow, instead of being entirely green. This yellow-streaked corn is a mutant that has trouble taking in iron, making it hard for the plant to create chlorophyll, a green pigment involved in photosynthesis.

Walker, a molecular biologist at the …

GM maize’s surprising benefit

February 25th, 2019 / Youtube.com

Reporter Joseph Opoku Gakpo tells the story of how African farmers are excited about GMO maize engineered to resist the destructive stem borer pest, which has also shown promising resistance to the devastating fall armyworm pest. Watch the …

Growing threat to food from decline in biodiversity

February 25th, 2019 / BBC, UK

The plants, animals, and micro-organisms that are the bedrock of food production are in decline, according to a UN study.

If these critical species are lost, the report says, it “places the future of our food system under severe threat”.

The study says that land-use changes, pollution, and climate change are all …

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 …

Crop diversity worldwide is growing, but wheat, maize (corn), soy, and rice cover almost 50% of farmland worldwide

February 19th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Global agriculture is increasingly dominated by just a handful of crops with limited genetic richness, says a group of researchers writing in PLOS One.

The research shows that despite an uptick in the diversity of crops grown across the planet over the last 60 years, the largest share of our crops worldwide is …

Fighting against pests

February 18th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali reports:

Farmers always worry about possible loss of their crops due to pests and crop diseases. It is one of the reasons they keep monitoring their fields to ensure all is going on well. Fighting pests and crop diseases increases the farmers’ production costs and often reduces profits.

It …

Evolutionary plant breeding helps farmers develop seeds for local conditions

February 15th, 2019 / Yale Climate Connections, US

A four-minute documentary video on evolutionary plant breeding, a technique that can help farmers develop plant varieties that thrive in local conditions. In the video, Italian plant geneticist Salvatore Ceccarelli explains how the technique could help farmers around the world respond to problems posed by climate change and gain autonomy. Over …

There is no food security without food safety

February 15th, 2019 / AfricaNews

Food security for all is a cornerstone of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, which recognizes that global sustainable development can only be achieved if hunger and all forms of malnutrition are eradicated (Sustainable Development Goal number 2). Nevertheless, the international community must be aware that food security does not only …

Genetically engineered crops help support conservation biological control

February 15th, 2019 / Biological Control, Netherlands

Genetically engineered (GE) crops producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) (mainly Cry proteins) have become a major control tactic for a number of key lepidopteran and coleopteran pests, mainly in maize, cotton, and soybean. As with any management tactic, there is concern that using GE crops might cause adverse effects on …

Reduce food wastage to enhance food security

February 12th, 2019 / New Times, Rwanda

Climatic change has made issue of food insecurity more critical and serious in developing countries. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations about 815 million people out of the 7.6 billion people in the world were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2016. Most of these people belonged …