Cassava breeds that are resistant to two major viruses could soon be available to farmers in Africa.
Cassava mosaic disease and brown streak disease stunt the growth and rot the roots of crops, respectively.
Mosaic disease alone destroys an estimated 35 million tonnes of African cassava a year — the difference between needing to import food into Africa and achieving food independence, according to researchers at the US-based Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
The team has shown in the laboratory tests that genetically engineered (GE) tobacco plants resist brown streak disease. Their results will appear in Molecular Plant Pathology next month (August), Claude Fauquet, lead author of the study and director of cassava research at the centre, told SciDev.Net. Continue reading
The African Union has set up a school to educate and train future regulators in genetically modified (GM) crop biosafety. The African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) was officially launched in April in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, with a five-year, $10.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Continue reading
This year, midway through Argentina’s 2005–2015 Strategic Plan for Biotechnology, a long-stalled update of the Seed Law circulating in Buenos Aires may finally reach the legislative floor. The current law, which facilitated the rapid boom of transgenic crops in Argentina in the 1990s—60% of Argentina’s soy crop was genetically modified for herbicide resistance within three years of the introduction of Roundup Ready soy—is a source of conflict over intellectual property rights, as it permits farmers to retain seeds without paying royalties.
However, the meteoric rise in GM crop production was not solely the function of the seed law. Compatible agricultural practices in the early 1990s and a welcoming government contributed. Critics and fans alike say it’s a model from which other developing countries can learn important lessons. Continue reading
Almost as soon as the earthquake hit Haiti on 12 January, urban planners and scientists dusted off plans to relocate some of Port-Au-Prince’s infrastructure away from the crowded city centre, which is dangerously close to the Enriquillo fault.
In discussions with the Haitian government last month, geophysicists advocated relocating critical city infrastructure to the north (See: Haiti earthquake may have primed nearby faults for failure, Nature News). Now, at a United Nations donors’ meeting today, Haitian officials are due to present their Action Plan for National Recovery and Development, which incorporates recommendations to rebuild some of Port-au-Prince’s infrastructure in provincial towns further from the fault (New York Times).
At the same time, some Haitians have begun returning to their homes, or at least the lots where their homes once stood, encouraged by relief agencies keen to avoid flooded refugee camps during the upcoming rainy season (Associated Press).
Read the rest of this blog post on The Great Beyond: [html] and see my previous article on the Haiti earthquake: [html]