In the news...

February 24th, 2015

Speaking at the International Forum on Agriculture and Climate Change in Paris this week, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva called for a ‘paradigm shift’ in addressing food security, asking for a focus on climate smart agriculture and implementing agroecology principles. “Food systems need to be more sustainable, inclusive and resilient,” he said. Meanwhile, former UK environment secretary Owen Paterson has lambasted Greenpeace and other groups for casting fear about the potentially life-saving Vitamin A fortified Golden Rice, accusing them of putting ideology before humanity.

A new study recently identified a gene that can make fruit trees that normally cross-pollinate into self-pollinators – a trait that would prevent pollen from reaching other plants and would mitigate fears about GM cross-contamination. In South Korea, researchers are developing genetically modified sweet potatoes that, in trials, are capable of growing in China’s Kubuchi Desert and Kazakhstan. They hope that growing food crops in arid areas will not only promote food security but help alleviate desertification. Meanwhile, a report about conserving, restoring, and enhancing Africa’s soils by the Montpellier Panel provides an interesting overview of the state of soils in Africa and what might be done to improve them.

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Jimoh Babatunde, who writes about Nigeria’s need for biosafety laws in order to boost cotton production, citing Burkina Faso’s higher harvest rates as a result of growing Bt cotton. Lominda Afedraru reports on the potential for rice crops to flourish in Africa, while Michael Ssali asks, “If we trust science, why doubt biotechnology?

Thank you for joining us, and please send your questions, comments, and story links at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you.

Biosciences & plant genetics around the world

Today’s agricultural production unsuitable for the new food security challenges of the 21st century” – da Silva
FAO

Owen Paterson: “The Green Blob” is threatening lives in Africa
Telegraph

Genetic modification may mitigate environmental worries about genetic modification
Science 2.0

Korean researchers trial GM sweet potatoes that can grow in arid regions, hoping to alleviate desertification
Business Korea

Rice is key to Indonesia’s food security, officials say
IRRI

Confession of liberal, organic-food consumer & scientist: “I support GMOs
Genetic Literacy Project

What do off-patent GM soybeans say about possibilities of open source biotech?
Genetic Literacy Project

Indian farmers say GM cotton reduces pesticide use, improves yields
Genetic Literacy Project

Agricultural researchers rattled by demands for documents from group opposed to GM foods
Science

Modi bets on GM crops for India’s second green revolution
Reuters

Pan-Africa

No ordinary matter: conserving, restoring, and enhancing Africa’s soils
Agriculture for Impact

Report: Maize and cassava innovation platforms in West and Central Africa
Eldis

Food security situation improves in Eastern Africa: UN
Global Post

Africa uses open data to protect crops and fight Ebola
African Farming

Why agriculture and agribusiness can change Africa’s story
AllAfrica

Rural women farmers in Africa can do better when given access to technology
Truth About Trade

Towards gender: just food and nutrition security
AllAfrica

Engaging African rural farmers via mobile surveys
Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Kenya: Wheat farmers choke under deadly stem rust
FarmBiz Africa
Ghana

IFAD hails Ghana as farming success story
AllAfrica

GMOs: Whose interests does Prof. Alhassan represent?
AllAfrica

Nigeria

Boosting cotton production: Why Nigeria needs biosafety law
Vanguard News, by B4FA Fellow Jimoh Babatunde

Tanzania

New drive to fast track food crop production
AllAfrica

Uganda

If we trust science, why doubt biotechnology?
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Rice: Potential for a success story in Africa
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow  Lominda Afedraru

Progress made in banana research but slowed by lack of biotech law
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Will Ugandan farmers get to plant GM banana?
Genetic Literacy Project

Featured image: Woman farmer in Ghana. Photo: B4FA Fellow Geoffrey Buta