A new report from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) offers a primer on the science of genome editing, along with potential applications and challenges.
From super crops to better medicines, biotechnology from plants could make a big difference in our lives. Here’s how.
As the world’s population continue to grow at an alarming pace, from an estimated 9.7 billion in 2050 to 11.2 billion by 2100, so does the need to ensure food security especially for developing countries. Researchers now turn to biotechnology to address these concerns.
Researchers from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) announced that the Antarctic greenhouse, EDEN ISS, is now fully operational, prompting ideas for growing crops on Mars and the moon as well as climatically demanding regions on Earth such as deserts.
Responding to attacks from the anti-GMO movement,” an exasperated geneticist once said to me, “is like trying to stuff a squiggly octopus into a small box; whenever you think you’ve got it contained, you realize there is a tentacle dangling out somewhere.”
That was certainly the case in 2012. For the first time in years, the public debate over genetically engineered (GE) crops had begun to shift in the favor of science and an embrace of the safety of “GMOs” (a term coined by the anti-biotechnology movement to demonize genetic innovation; after all, who would want to eat a ‘modified organism’?!).
A team of scientists from Purdue University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has used CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to develop a variety of rice that produces 25-31 percent more grain and would have been virtually impossible to create through traditional breeding methods.
Banana trees that fit in a test tube. Burgers made without a cow in sight. Fish farmed in the desert. Robots picking fruit.
Welcome to the brave new world of food, where scientists are battling a global time-bomb of climate change, water scarcity, population growth and soaring obesity rates to find new ways to feed the future.
Genetic engineering is a powerful tool for developing future crops but before it is used for food, questions on its safety should be addressed and settled at the earliest, a high-powered official panel has recommended.
When European researchers recently announced a new technique that could potentially replace chemical pesticides with a natural “vaccine” for crops, it sounded too good to be true. Too good partly because agriculture is complicated, and novel technologies that sound brilliant in the laboratory often fail to deliver in the field. And too good because agriculture’s “Green Revolution” faith in fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, and other agribusiness inputs has proved largely unshakable up to now, regardless of the effects on public health or the environment.
We in the rich societies of the world don’t hear a lot about aflatoxin. It is probably one of the single largest causes of cancer in the developing world – particularly in Africa. Around a half a billion people are at risk from this toxin in their diet. At high doses it can cause acute poisoning and death. It also causes cognitive stunting in children exposed to it. Aflatoxin is a natural chemical that is made by a fungus called Aspergillus that can infect crops like corn, peanuts and tree nuts particularly when there is damage by insects and/or stress from drought. People like Americans are well protected from this threat by farmers who exercise control measures for the insects and disease, by an advanced food system that monitors for the issue in the harvested crops, uses proper storage conditions, and excludes it from what is sold to us. For instance the EU standard for maize is that it must have less than five parts per billion of aflatoxin. Unfortunately only 20% of the normal maize supply in Kenya meets that standard.
A “LANDMARK opinion” from the European Court of Justice on the definition of genetically modified organisms could pave the way for a revival of crop biotechnology in Europe. Read more
University of Minnesota researchers are working with a team of experts from the U.S., Indonesia and Bangladesh to make a genetically-modified potato. Read more
PLANT BIOLOGY A newly discovered gene in rice confers flood tolerance, drought tolerance and disease resistance, and the discovery of the gene is a major step forward on the quest to produce climate smart crops. Read more
A decade ago, a thick layer of ice covered the Collins Glacier on Antarctica’s King George Island.
Now, the rocky landscape is visible to the naked eye, in a region that is both a victim of and a laboratory for climate change. Read more
Bill Gates has a message for those advocating against genetically modified organisms: I’m disappointed. Read more
The cultivation of genetically engineered (GMO) crops hit record levels in 2016, with 18 million farmers planting 185.1 million hectares of biotech crops globally, according to a new report.
In 2016, the global area of biotech crops reached 185.1 million hectares, according to a research paper authored by Drs. Rhodora Aldemita and Randy Hautea of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). The results of their study are published on February 2, 2018 in GM Crops and Food. Read more
When most of us think about the threats posed by climate change, events like floods, droughts, intense storms and hotter temperatures come to mind. These are all, according to the vast majority of scientists, exactly what we can expect to see more and more of. However, what is often overlooked are the sociopolitical consequences of these climatic changes. In other words, we tend to view these natural disasters in a vacuum without recognizing the myriad ways in which climate change is both directly and indirectly shaping economies, cultures and governments. Read more
Professor Calestous Juma: June 9, 1953 – Dec. 15, 2017
To outsiders, Calestous Juma’s rise from humble origins in a remote Kenyan village to an internationally recognized Harvard scholar, science writer and public intellectual, might have seemed improbable. But as Juma himself liked to tell the story, he learned innovation from his parents, whose poverty meant that they constantly had to change to survive.