In the news...

April 5th, 2018 / B4FA.org

This week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officially announced that it had no plans to regulate crops modified using genetic editing technology, including CRISPR, saying that removing genes or adding genes endemic to the species is an accelerated form of selective breeding, which saves time on traditional plant-breeding methods. Transgenic crops will continue to be monitored, however.

According to a statement made by US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, as reported by Cornell University’s Alliance for Science blog: “I want to be clear to consumers that we will not be stepping away from our regulatory responsibilities. While these crops do not require regulatory oversight, we do have an important role to play in protecting plant health by evaluating products developed using modern biotechnology.” According to an article about the announcement published in Quartz, the US Food and Drug Administration “may establish its own guidelines regarding the human health risk of genetically modified crops.”

This news comes as scientists who published a report that CRISPR could result in unintended mutations reversed their position. The report, published here on 26 March, is titled Whole genome sequencing of multiple CRISPR-edited mouse lines suggests no excess mutations. Download the report here. The European Court of Justice also ruled earlier this year that gene editing by techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9 might not need to be regulated by the EU rules for genetically-modified organisms.

From Uganda, B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports on the latest news as legislators continue the process of approving its biosafety bill, offering an overview of the situation in the Daily Monitor. An article in Alliance for Science meanwhile reports that the mood is “optimistic,” stating that concerns President Museveni have been addressed. “We’re ready to report back [to Parliament],” says Kafeero Sekitoleko, chairman of Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee, in the article. “I want to leave Uganda with a biosafety law by end of my term in May [2018].” Lominda also writes on the subject in the Genetic Literacy Project, “GMO maize could halt devastating fall army worm invasion in Uganda—if it gets approved.”

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Headlines

The USDA says CRISPR-edited foods don’t need any special regulation
Quartz

USDA reconfirms it has no plans to impose new or additional regulation on crops developed through new breeding techniques, such as CRISPR
Cornell Alliance for Science

Report suggesting CRISPR could result in unintended mutations reversed
bioRxiv

MPs want speedy passing of the Biosafety Bill, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru
AllAfrica, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Optimism high as Uganda’s biotech bill gets “second chance”
Alliance for Science

AgBio news

USDA will not regulate CRISPR-edited crops
The Scientist

Opposition to GMOs in Uganda fueled by “threat to organic’s profits”
New Vision

Kenya’s plants agency now stops GMO maize trials
Business Daily

Nigeria: More farm households adopt improved cassava varieties, finds the Cassava Monitoring Survey
Guardian, Nigeria

Best practices

Guarding against post harvest losses
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Biodiversity

Building the next generation of genebank managers
CGIAR

Climate change

Scientists examine threats to food security — even if we meet the Paris climate targets
Guardian, UK

How climate change could impact food shortage
The Week, India

Italian scientist brings “pasta power” climate adaptation solution to West Africa
African Brain

Half a degree of warming makes a big difference to global food security, study finds
EcoWatch

Development

Africa’s big new free-trade agreement, explained
Washington Post

Africa’s food, agricultural market to hit $1 trillion by 2030, says AFDB President
Sahara Reporters

Gender gaps in sub-Saharan African agriculture explored via social media
SciDevNet

AfDB urges Africa to process cocoa, produce chocolate
NAN

Switzerland recognises the AfDB’s role and appreciates its commitment to Africa’s development
Devdiscourse

Gender disparities and the science of women in organizations and teams
Medium

SciDevNet launches Script training course to increase the number of articles written about science
Next Einstein Forum

Empowering youth to engage in the agricultural sector is key to stimulate economic growth in Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
African Brains

Africa’s future rests on her scientists and innovators – Paul Kagame
IT Edge News

Unleash the power of young Africans: Supporting the farmers of tomorrow
Compact 2025

Energy and innovation

Quality data is the single most important building block toward establishing a smart agricultural sector for Africa
Biz Community

Plantwise trials image recognition app Plantix in India
CABI

Technology integration is the way forward for agriculture, say experts
The Times of India

Food security

Why Kenya should not be food insecure
Business Daily

Project improves food security in six African nations
SciDevNet

Pests and diseases

GMO maize could halt devastating fall army worm invasion in Uganda—if it gets approved
Genetic Literacy Project, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Agrilinks releases food safety hazard factsheets
Agrilinks

Video: How fungi recognize (and infect) plants
TED

Policy

Secretary Perdue issues USDA a statement on plant breeding innovation
USDA

The GM debate

CRISPR-created foods are different from GMOs; it is wrong for anti-GMO activists to pretend they’re not
American Council on Science and Health

Seeds of Science: Mark Lynas’ journey from anti-GMO activist to biotech advocate
Genetic Literacy Project

Talking Biotech: How USAID uses GMO crops to improve food security around the world
Genetic Literacy Project

The future of organic farming and gene editing
Alliance for Science

Opportunities

Webinar: Women in agriculture: Four myths. April 11, 2018
IFPRI

Fall Armyworm Tech Prize launched to stop devastating Fall Armyworm, seeks digital solutions to help stop its spread across Africa, awarding up to $400,000

Breakout Labs raises its maximum available grant for deep-technology startups to $500,000
Breakout Labs

Calling young PhD or a postdoc researchers working projects to improve the sustainability of the food system. Apply now to BCFN Yes and win €20k!
Barilla Center

Registration for Africa Launch Conference of CONNECTED network now open. Skyz Hotel, Kampala, Uganda, 7-9 May 2018
CONNECTED

Resources

Agricultural diversification as an important strategy for achieving food security in Africa
Wiley Online Library