In the news...

Engineered molecule could protect key food crops from intensifying droughts as climate changes

October 29th, 2019

An engineered small molecule called opabactin that targets the receptor for the hormone abscisic acid (ABA), which plants release in stressful conditions, limited water loss in Arabidopsis, tomato, and wheat, and improved wheat’s tolerance of drought-like conditions in the lab, according to a study published today (October 24) in Science. It …

Fighting Africa’s fall armyworm invasion with radio shows and phone apps

October 29th, 2019

The invasive fall armyworm is native to the Americas and was first found in Africa in early 2016. It has since spread to nearly all of sub-Saharan Africa.Fall armyworm is a voracious pest of over 80 plant species including maize, millet, rice, and sorghum and has been causing food insecurity …

How to start fish farming on a small-scale

October 29th, 2019

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru writes:

The atmosphere at the 16th edition of Seeds of Gold Farm Clinic at the National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI) in Kituuza, Mukono District was expressed by farmers being attentive to learn best methods applicable in the farm enterprises exhibited.

One such an enterprise was where scientists took …

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 …