In the news...

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 …

World Vegetable Center looks into wild relatives of eggplant for food security

January 23rd, 2019 / Nova

At the World Vegetable Center, experts are looking to the wild relatives of domesticated crops—like eggplant—to save the human diet from climate change.

At the World Vegetable Center, experts are studying a wide variety of eggplant relatives for their hardiness and ability to produce appealing, edible fruits—but it isn’t typical, business-as-usual …

New technologies show better details on GM plants

January 23rd, 2019 / ISAAA, US

Researchers from the Salk Institute used the latest DNAsequencing technologies to study exactly what happens at a molecular level when new genes are inserted into plants. Scientists usually rely on Agrobacterium tumefaciens when they want to put a new gene into a plant. Decades ago, scientists discovered that when the bacteria infected a tree, it …

Scientists breeding new disease-resistant soybeans to crack down on parasitic nematode

January 22nd, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) [a common soybean pest] has overcome the main source of genetic resistance – PI 88788 – that accounts for 95% of resistance in SCN-resistant soybean varieties. Research scientists….have been developing new sources of genetic resistance and new SCN resistance management strategies.

Ultimately, the goal is to identify …

Speed up seed policies harmonisation

January 21st, 2019 / SciDev.net

Delayed harmonisation of policies for encouraging the transfer of seeds across East and Southern Africa is hampering trade and increased agricultural growth, experts say.

The goal to harmonise seed trade resulted from having different policies across countries, thus impeding transfer technology to promote agriculture in the region. Harmonised seed policies ensure that countries with similar agricultural production …

Wild coffee species threatened by climate change and deforestation

January 18th, 2019 / Nature, UK

Most of the world’s wild coffee species have a high chance of going extinct in the next several decades due to more frequent and lengthy droughts, loss of forests and the spread of deadly pests, according to a study1 published on 16 January in Science Advances. 

The findings signal a potential threat to …

Why South Africa and Sudan lead the continent in GMO crops

January 17th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

Why are South Africa and Sudan ahead of every other country on the continent when it comes to biotech? The answer is simple. The nations realized early on that they needed to embrace new technologies to develop faster maturing and better yielding disease-resistant and drought-tolerant crop varieties to counter a …

At least 60% of wild coffee species face extinction triggered by climate change and disease

January 17th, 2019 / Independent, UK

Two decades of research have revealed that 60 per cent of the world’s coffeespecies face extinction due to the combined threats of deforestation, disease and climate change.

The wild strain of arabica, the most widely consumed coffee on the planet, is among those now recognised as endangered, raising concerns about its long-term survival.

These results are worrying …

Blueprint for plant’s immune response has been found

January 16th, 2019 / ISAAA, US

Researchers from Washington State University have discovered the way plants respond to disease-causing organisms, and how they protect themselves. Results published in the journal Plant Physiology show how adenosine 5-triphospate (ATP), a part of DNA and energy production in cells, becomes a signal for injury or infection. That signal triggers defense responses in plants. 

David …