This week in biotech news, Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School Calestous Juma writes about the pest-resistant maize variety that Kenya is about to introduce. “It is estimated that the spotted stem borer and the African stem borer reduce Kenya’s maize crop by 13 per cent or 400,000 tonnes annually,” writes Juma. “Controlling the pest using biotechnology will not only reduce Kenya’s food imports, it will also equip the country with new techniques that can be redeployed for other sectors such as drug and vaccine development.”
Juma asserts that this development, led by a team of local scientists, means Kenya is on the cusp of becoming a regional leader in crop biotech. The approval process for environmental release of Bt maize is underway, and Kenya’s National Biosafety Authority has received public comments as it examines the application. A decision is thus expected in October 2015.
Food security has also been a recurring theme, including an op-ed asserting that African food security relies on upgrading capacity to process and store food, and that US companies can and should help. An article in Environmental Leader points out that in contrast to the MDGs, which posited food security as a developing world problem, SDGs recast the issue as a global one – and that we must tackle as a global community such problems as food waste, improved nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and so on. A piece in CropLife International lists top five tools for fighting food insecurity, an FAO Sweden report looks at water’s role in food security and human dignity, and an analysis coming out of South Africa reflects on our shifting view of the term “food security” in Africa – that it’s an issue that’s more than just about severe hunger.
From the B4FA Fellows, Michael Ssali reflects on the controversy surrounding Uganda’s Namulonge land saga, in which part of the land on which the Namulonge agricultural research institute is located has been leased by the government to a businessman for commercial farming. The research centre is dedicated to investigating high-yielding and disease-resistant crop seed production as well as genetic research, particularly on cassava. Lominda Afedraru writes about adding value to African indigenous vegetables: a number of organizations are working with women to help strengthen cultivation of such indigenous vegetables as amaranthus, African eggplant, Jute mallow, cowpea and pumpkin for their nutritional value as well as an important source of income. And from Ghana, Noah Nash sends in a video reporting on women enrolling in a Climate Resilience Agriculture and Food Systems project.
Thank you as always for joining us. We’d love to hear from you – please send news items, questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biosciences & plant genetics around the world
The genetic innovation that kept the world from starving (no, it’s not GMOs)
Genetic Literacy Project
Ban bad capitalists, not GM crops
Rothamsted, GENeS, and science communication
Science-deniers must be denied
Using FOIA to read scientists’ emails
Pest-resistant maize variety opens way for technological advancement
Nation, by Calestous Juma
African food security relies on upgrading capacity to process and store food; US companies can and should help
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
South Africa: Rural pupils join science community
An African plant breeder’s opinion on GMOs
Kenya gets new online grain trading platform
Video: Women enrolled onto Climate Resilience Agriculture and Food Systems project
by B4FA Fellow Noah Nash
As drought hits maize, Tanzania cooks up a sweet potato fix
Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tanzania gets mobile phone-based agricultural service\
The truth about cotton in Tanzania
Reflecting on the controversy around Namulonge land saga
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali
Adding value to African indigenous vegetables
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru
Progress in fight against fake seeds
Strengthen Uganda’s agriculture institutes
Uganda’s niche in organic agriculture