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A year in review: 2017 food and agriculture news

December 21st, 2017 / The Food Tank

As 2017 comes to a close, Food Tank has collected news highlights from the food and agriculture world to share with you. We witnessed a monumental shift in global politics, a series of natural disasters, and indications of growing malnutrition and obesity. And yet, the signs of a growing movement …

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 …

Why technology should be at the heart of farming

December 19th, 2017 / Daily Nation, Kenya

Nickson Muturi is the project manager for Business Development at Syngenta, and he is leading agricultural data projects across Africa, specifically focusing on mobile technology. He spoke to Leopold Obi.
To what extent is access to agricultural information through the mobile phone of benefit to smallholder farmers?
Farmers in the region …

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 …

Biocontrol tech slashes aflatoxin levels in Tanzania

December 15th, 2017 / SciDev.net, UK

A biocontrol technology called AflasafeTZ could help control the deadly aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnuts in Tanzania, scientists say.
After a two-year field trial conducted in several sites across Tanzania, AflasafeTZ reduced contamination of food crops with the poisonous fungus by over 85 per cent, according to the results of …

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. …