In the news...

Wheat gene map to help ‘feed the world’

August 17th, 2018 / BBC

The starting pistol has been fired in a race to develop “climate change resistant” wheat with the publication of a map of the crop’s genes.
An international team of scientists has identified the location of more than 100,000 wheat genes.
The researchers say the map will accelerate the development of new strains …

USDA unveils new gene-stacking tool to prevent plant diseases

August 16th, 2018 / The Scientist

If climate change is the new normal, farmers in some regions of the world will have to get used to fighting mold and mildew. For wheat growers in particular, fungal blights are already a big problem—and only expected to worsen as weather patterns change. Fungal pathogens are advancing northwards at …

Trait-based regulation of GM plants is on the horizon – at last!

August 16th, 2018 / Agri-Pulse

Evan Pugh Professor Emerita and Penn State University Senior Science Advisor Nina Fedoroff writes:
We are now able to modify plants with exquisite precision to make use of the enormous fund of molecular and physiological knowledge about them accumulated over the past century. Taking apart the regulatory thicket will make …

How soil scientists can do a better job of making their research useful

August 15th, 2018 / The Conversation

Soil is a vital part of the natural environment. It supports the growth of plants, is a habitat for many different organisms and is at the heart of nearly all agricultural production. It also plays an integral role in countless other ecosystem services like water and climate regulation.
Despite this, soil …

African universities urged to focus on farming technology

August 15th, 2018 / Business Day, South Africa

The African Development Bank has urged academic institutions to adapt their curriculum to enable technology-driven farming, saying there is no reason why Africa should be spending $35bn a year importing food.
According to the bank’s president, Akinwumi Adesina, the rapid pace of growth in the use of drones, automated tractors, artificial …

What are the ramifications for agriculture if glyphosate is restricted?

August 14th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

The story we will be hearing a great deal of in the coming days and weeks:
Now that a jury in San Francisco has decided that exposure to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) was responsible for California groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson’s cancer, the movement to restrict the herbicide has been re-energized.
Carey Gillam, director …

Eleven case studies exemplify strategies to scale up climate-smart agriculture

August 13th, 2018 / ReliefWeb

Many agricultural technologies and practices, including those qualifying as climate-smart, are not achieving their full potential impact because of low levels of adoption by farmers in developing countries. Despite successful pilot projects, uptake of new and innovative agricultural technologies and practices has often been poor, and we have still not …

Which vision of farming is better for the planet?

August 13th, 2018 / The Salt

Farmers face a growing dilemma. Specifically, a food-growing dilemma.
How do you feed an increasing number of people without harming the environment?
As it turns out, growing as much food as possible in a small area may be our best bet for sustainably feeding the world’s population, according to new research.
It all …

The new buzz in elephant conservation: a bee-scented repellent

August 13th, 2018 / UN Environment

Potential to help prevent human-elephant conflict and the damage they inflict on crops when they encroach on human settlements.
Elephants hate bees. This finding has prompted scientists to devise an experiment that could help reduce human-elephant conflict.
As the saying goes, “elephants never forget”. They certainly don’t forget how painful it is …

Biotech update: What is CRISPR and how does it works

August 8th, 2018 / ISAAA, US

Researchers have found that the CRISPR – Cas9 system can be applied to nearly every organism. Early studies using CRISPR – Cas9 for gene editing have focused on crops important for agriculture. It was realized early on that the system could be used in crops to improve traits, such as …