In the news...

We don’t have to choose between food and biodiversity

February 13th, 2019 / Devex.com

Biodiversity along the food chain helps to maintain the air we breathe and the water we drink. Yet today, the world’s biodiversity is undergoing a crisis not seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs. 

In just the past year, several studies show we are losing insects along the food chain at an alarming …

Reduce food wastage to enhance food security

February 12th, 2019 / New Times, Rwanda

Climatic change has made issue of food insecurity more critical and serious in developing countries. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations about 815 million people out of the 7.6 billion people in the world were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2016. Most of these people belonged …

Environment in multiple crises – report

February 12th, 2019 / BBC, UK

Politicians and policymakers have failed to grasp the gravity of the environmental crisis facing the Earth, a report claims.

The think-tank IPPR says human impacts have reached a critical stage and threaten to destabilise society and the global economy.

Scientists warn of a potentially deadly combination of factors.

These include climate change, mass …

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’

February 12th, 2019 / The Guardian, UK

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of …

What is CRISPR? The revolutionary gene-editing tech explained

February 1st, 2019 / Wired, US

Until very recently if you wanted to create, say, a drought-resistant corn plant, your options were extremely limited. You could opt for selective breeding, try bombarding seeds with radiation in the hope of inducing a favourable change, or else opt to insert a snippet of DNA from another organism entirely.

But …

Reap big from mixing farming with forestry

January 31st, 2019 / Sunrise, Uganda

Agroforestry is the practice of growing trees and/or keeping livestock on the same field at the same time.

The trees could be grown purposely for timber production, shed, nutrients or medicine.  Trees could be planted on purely agricultural land or crops could be introduced to forested lands.

There are a number of …

How do organic pesticides compare to conventional pesticides?

January 31st, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Many consumers choose to buy higher-priced organic produce because they believe organic foods are not grown using pesticides and therefore are healthier for humans and for the environment. However, organic farming can include any pesticides derived from natural sources. This distinction does not mean organic pesticides are necessarily less toxic than …

Can we ditch intensive farming – and still feed the world?

January 30th, 2019 / The Guardian, UK

Our reliance on artificial fertiliser and intensive farming techniques did not happen overnight, but took decades. Along the way, these methods revolutionised farming and enabled huge population growth and economic growth. We now have a wealth of scientific evidence that shows that continuing down the same path would risk runaway …

To predict droughts, don’t look at the skies. Look in the soil… from space

January 29th, 2019 / The Conversation

Scientists and governments alike have been looking for ways to measure drought in a way that relates more closely to its impacts. Any farmer or gardener can tell you that you don’t need much rain, but you do need it at the right time. This is where the soil becomes …

GM crops create “halo effect” that benefits organic farmers, says new research

January 28th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

Mark Lynas writes:

Growing genetically modified insect-resistant corn in the United States has dramatically reduced insecticide use and created a “halo effect” that also benefits farmers raising non-GM and organic crops, new research shows.

This finding, published by University of Maryland researchers in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, effectively …