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The cereals imperative of future food systems

October 16th, 2019

Pioneering research on our three most important cereal grains — maize, rice, and wheat — has contributed enormously to global food security over the last half century, chiefly by boosting the yields of these crops and by making them more resilient in the face of drought, flood, pests and diseases. …

CRISPR pigs can survive deadly disease, but regulatory uncertainty slows development

October 15th, 2019

Cutting-edge gene-editing techniques such as Crispr-Cas9 will enable scientists to make precise genetic changes to pig physiology, they say, leading to animals impervious to common maladies such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, a virus that costs the U.S. pork industry hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

“It has the …

Can the gene editing technology known as CRISPR help reduce biodiversity loss worldwide?

October 11th, 2019

It’s been an alarming year for the world’s outlook on biodiversity. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) put the world on notice that around 1 million species are facing extinction. A study published in August concluded that it would take New Zealand 50 million years to recover the diversity …

‘Synthetic biology doesn’t have to be scary’: It could offer us new medicines, biofuels and everything in between

October 10th, 2019

Though hacking organisms and rearranging genomes may sound scary, there is definitely a Light Side to this narrative (a balance, if you will). From medicines to biofuels and everything in between, there is incredible potential for cleverly redesigned biology to help us take on some of our world’s most pressing …

Synthetic fertilizer pollution threatens our ecosystems. Are nitrogen-fixing microbes the answer?

October 10th, 2019

PODCAST.

Farmers need nitrogen fertilizer to maximize crop yields. Without it, our food supply would be nowhere near as abundant as it is today, and natural sources of usable nitrogen are quite limited. Fortunately, researchers devised a method known as the Haber-Bosch process, in the early 1900s to “fix” nitrogen into …

Study shows bees on the farm may be more valuable than pesticides

October 10th, 2019

For European rapeseed farmers, honey bees buzzing around fields may outweigh the benefits of using pesticides to fight insect damage, French researchers said.

A four-year survey in France found higher yields and profits for rapeseed fields where there’s an abundance of pollinating insects, according to a study by agricultural researcher INRA and the …

The key to food security in Africa lies in the treasure trove of global crop biodiversity

October 7th, 2019

Global plant diversity could be a lifeline for food security in sub-Saharan Africa, finds a new study. 

The analysis reveals that replacing some at-risk African food crops with more resilient crops from other parts of the world, as well as tapping the huge genetic diversity of crop wild relatives, could help shore up …

New perennial legume destined for poor soils

October 1st, 2019

A new perennial legume with the potential to revolutionise grazing in sandy infertile pastoral areas will be available to Australian and South African farmers next year. Read more … …

With CRISPR and machine learning, startups fast-track crops to consume less, produce more

September 27th, 2019 / Nature, UK

Inari, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, plans to use the total $144 million it has raised so far to develop crops that are more productive and consume less water and fertilizer than those currently produced by seed conglomerates. The company will focus on major crops such as corn, soybean, wheat and …

Drought resistant farming breakthrough: GMO corn survives nearly two months without water thanks to tomato genes

September 27th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

The intense desert to the south of the Coquimbo Region in Chile makes molecular biologist Simón Ruiz think about how to take advantage of the more than two million hectares of arid and semi-arid lands that Chile has.

“Many plant species cannot survive salinity, drought and constant temperature changes. We [are …