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East African scientists turn to gene sequencing against Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD)

July 13th, 2017 / African Marketplace, CNN

Cassava has no defense against a tiny insect that is decimating crops across East Africa, with dire economic and humanitarian consequences.
The whitefly carries two viruses that together destroy over $1 billion worth of cassava in Sub-Saharan Africa each year. Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) is the more established threat and does …

Scientists biofortify wheat to produce flour with more iron

July 13th, 2017 / ISAAA, US

Researchers from the John Innes Centre (JIC) have developed a variety of wheat that has high levels of iron. This new biofortified variety could help decrease the number of people with iron deficiency around the world.
Wheat contains iron in parts that are removed before milling. With the use of the …

Soil nutrient depletion, major cause of food shortage in Africa

July 11th, 2017 / Xinhuanet, China

Experts at the three-day West Africa Fertilizer and Agri-Business Conference which began here on Monday identified depletion of soil nutrients as one of the key challenges to food security on the African continent.
Eugine Rurangwa, Land and Water Officer at the UN-Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) African Regional Office noted there …

Vinegar: A cheap and simple way to help plants fight drought

July 11th, 2017 / Phys.org

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) have discovered a new, yet simple, way to increase drought tolerance in a wide range of plants. Published in Nature Plants, the study reports a newly discovered biological pathway that is activated in times of drought. By working out the …

Modified maize that kills with RNA is given go-ahead in the US

June 30th, 2017 / New Scientist, UK

For the first time, a crop that produces an RNAi-based pesticide has got the green light.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved a genetically modified corn known as SmartStax Pro. In addition to producing two Bt toxins to kill any western corn rootworm larvae that try to eat it, the …

How soil dwelling bacteria adapt to richer or poorer conditions

June 30th, 2017 / Phys.org

Scientists have identified a unique mechanism that the soil dwelling bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens uses to effectively exploit nutrients in the root environment.
The breakthrough offers multiple new applications, according to the team of John Innes Centre scientists behind the discovery: for the study of human pathogens, for synthetic biology, and for …

To feed 9 billion, will we need ‘GMO 2.0’?

June 30th, 2017 / Greenbiz.com

Amidst all the conflict and confusion around food safety and nutrition, how do we make the best decisions about how to feed ourselves? What choices do we need to make when it comes to feeding a planet that will, by 2050, more than 9 billion hungry people?
These questions — …

New alliance seeks to fast track crop improvement in Africa

June 29th, 2017 / ISAAA, US

An international alliance was formed to speed up crop improvement in sub-Saharan Africa, which was launched at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK on June 16, 2017.
The Alliance to Accelerate Crop Improvements in Africa (ACACIA) aims to support African scientists in their efforts to find ways to address food security …

Demonstration farms can help revolutionise African agriculture

June 28th, 2017 / The Conversation, Africa

Farms that are used to teach agricultural techniques and technologies – known as demonstration farms – are a smart investment that can help accelerate the adoption of game-changing innovations. Farmers can learn new ways of doing things without having to do it on their farms.
Demonstration farms are used to teach …

World Food Prize laureate: future of African youth lies in agriculture, not Europe

June 28th, 2017 / VoA.com

Making agriculture profitable and “cool” for young people in Africa is key to lifting millions out of poverty and stemming migration to Europe, said the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Akinwumi Adesina was named the winner of this year’s World Food Prize on Monday for his decades-long work to …