In the news...

African biotech students remain hopeful, despite obstacles

November 15th, 2018 / Alliance for Science, US

B4FA Fellow Christopher Bendana writes:
Though most African nations have been slow to commercialize genetically modified crops, students across the continent remain committed to earning advanced degrees in biotechnology.
Ironically, Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, has become a hub for such students, though the country has yet to pass its own biosafety …

Researchers discover how to engineer plants with enhanced drought resistance without affecting growth

November 15th, 2018 / ISAAA, US

Drought is one of the effects of climate change that needs serious attention. This year’s decreased rainfall and abnormally hotter temperatures in northern and eastern Europe caused large losses in cereals and potato crops and in other horticultural species.
Experts have long believed that that to ensure food security, it is …

Can we separate science from agriculture?

November 14th, 2018 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes:
It is a big paradox that our leaders are talking passionately about training scientists and raising science teachers’ salaries and at the same time being slow to accept new scientific ideas even when they are meant to boost the country’s agricultural output, the economy, and food …

DNA project to decode ‘all complex life’ on Earth

November 14th, 2018 / BBC, UK

A mission to sequence the genome of every known animal, plant, fungus and protozoan – a group of single-celled organisms – is underway.
The Earth BioGenome Project (EBP) has been described as a “moonshot for biology”. A key aim is to use the information in efforts to conserve threatened species. Scientists …

Small genetic differences turn plants into better teams

November 13th, 2018 / Science Daily

The ongoing worldwide loss of biological diversity is one of the most pressing challenges humankind currently faces. Biodiversity is vital to humans not least because it supports ecosystem services such as the provision of clean water and the production of biomass and food. Many experiments have shown that diverse communities …

Are GMO critics more open to gene editing that targets plant and human diseases?

November 12th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

The early generations of transgenic plants focused primarily on increasing productivity, either by reducing pest damage or increasing yields by minimizing the impact of weeds. These have met with fierce opposition from anti-GMO groups and some government quarters (such as Green Party members in European parliaments).
But transgenics and other modifications …

Scientists use potato wild relatives to produce climate-resilient varieties

November 12th, 2018 / International Potato Center

As millions of small-scale farmers struggle with the effects of climate change, scientists at the International Potato Center (CIP) are using wild potatoes to develop climate-resilient varieties. The resulting potatoes combine heat and drought tolerance with resistance to the most important diseases affecting potato crops, late blight and bacterial wilt, …

Safeguarding food security with plant health

November 9th, 2018 / International Potato Centre

By the year 2050, the global population is estimated to exceed 9 billion. We will need to feed more people with fewer resources while addressing the challenges posed by climate change. An expected side-effect of rising temperatures is a population boom of the insects and diseases that threaten agricultural productivity. …

Tanzania: Use of fertilisers to revitalise cassava production

November 9th, 2018 / AllAfrica

WITH modern methods of cassava farming in the country, farmers are set to increase their crop production from the ordinary 10 tonnes per hectare to 60 tonnes.
In a recent tour to cassava farmers in Kisarawe District organised by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), experts expressed their optimism of reaching …

Researchers shine a light into the mechanisms of potato late blight infection

November 8th, 2018 / James Hutton Institute, UK

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute, in collaboration with colleagues of the University of Dundee, Huazhong Agricultural University, Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences (both China) and Wageningen University (Netherlands), have shed further light into the mechanisms through which the potato blight pathogen interacts with plant cells to promote disease.
Late blight …