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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 …

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. …

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 …

The contribution of glyphosate to agriculture and potential impact of restrictions on use at the global level

December 12th, 2017 / GM Crops and Food

This study assesses the potential economic and environmental impacts that would arise if restrictions on glyphosate use resulted in the world no longer planting genetically modified herbicide tolerant (GM HT) crops.
‘First round’ impacts are the loss of farm level and aggregate impacts associated with the widespread use of GM HT …

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 …

Weeding out striga from African drylands

December 8th, 2017 / Thomson Reuters

Striga experts from Europe, USA, Africa and Asia gathered for two days 28-29 November 2017 at the Biosciences Hub for Eastern and Central Africa (BecA) in Nairobi to discuss viable options for tackling this weed that has plagued sub Saharan African agriculture for decades.
Despite its striking purple flowers …