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‘Sexy plants’ on track to replace harmful pesticides to protect crops

June 8th, 2018 / The Guardian, UK

“Sexy plants” are on the way to replacing many harmful pesticides, scientists say, by producing the sex pheromones of insects which then frustrate pests’ attempts to mate.
Scientists have already genetically engineered a plant to produce the sex pheromones of moths and are now optimising that, as well as working on …

Breeding a better cowpea

June 8th, 2018 / AgriLinks

Q&A with Timothy Close, Director of the Feed the Future Climate-Resilient Cowpea Innovation Lab. Based at University of California, Riverside, the Feed the Future Climate-Resilient Cowpea Innovation Lab develops and applies advanced genomic tools to cowpea breeding to increase yield, drought tolerance and fungal resistance in cowpea (commonly known as …

Bill Gates to support 12 African countries in the battle against cassava disease

June 7th, 2018 / Pulse, Nigeria

American billionaire, Bill Gates, has lent support to 12 countries in Africa in battling Cassava Brown Streak Virus Disease, a disease that causes $100 million loss annually across the continent.
Gates, according to a report by The Guardian, is supporting the cause through his foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Delegates …

12 African countries meet in Cotonou on impending cassava diseases

June 6th, 2018 / Guardian, Nigeria

welve African countries will be meeting in Cotonou, Benin Republic from Thursday, June 7 to Saturday, June 9, 2018, to discuss joint actions towards responding to the threat of Cassava Viral Diseases (CVD), ravaging the continent.
The high-level meeting, convened by government of Benin Republic in partnership with the West African …

Why not genetically engineered organic foods?

June 6th, 2018 / Washington Examiner, US

USDA’s arbitrary rules about what is permitted for the “organic” designation prohibit important advances in agriculture and food production, and they unnecessarily restrict consumer choice. That could be remedied by expanding what is permitted under the federal National Organic Standards, and this would be an opportune time.
The Organic Foods Production …

Africa needs another million PhD scientists to develop homegrown solutions

June 4th, 2018 / Quartz Africa

It’s been a recurring refrain: Africa still lags woefully behind the rest of the world in generating new scientific knowledge.
As figures collated by the World Bank in 2014 show, the continent—home to around 16% of the world’s population—produces less than 1% of the world’s research output. These are painful admissions …

Minimising further insect pests invasions in Africa

June 4th, 2018 / SciDev.net

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) recently offered prize money for the best and digital tools that can be used to help combat the fall armyworm (FAW), an invasive pest that has spread across Africa. The winners will be announced in the coming months.
Identified in over 35 African countries …

African countries need to push climate smart agriculture

May 30th, 2018 / AllAfrica.com

The World Bank recently launched one of its largest climate smart agriculture initiatives in India. Through this $420 million initiative, the bank expects to reach over 25 million smallholder farmers working on 3.5 million hectares of land. The project will support climate-smart agricultural practices including crop diversification and planting of …

Candidate gene for drought tolerance found in wheat

May 30th, 2018 / ISAAA, US

The calcineurin B-like protein (CBL)-interacting protein kinase (CIPK) signaling pathway responds to various abiotic stresses in plants. The research team of Xiao-Yu Cui and Yong-Tao Du from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences studied the CIPK23 gene from wheat (Triticum aestivum). Read more and for more detailed …

CRISPR-edited rice plants produce major boost in grain yield

May 29th, 2018 / Purdue Agricultural News

A team of scientists from Purdue University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has used CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to develop a variety of rice that produces 25-31 percent more grain and would have been virtually impossible to create through traditional breeding methods.
The team, led by Jian-Kang Zhu, a distinguished professor …