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6TH MARCH 2018
Welcome to Issue 2 of the DrumBeat!

In the last month, three key things worth highlighting have taken place in the region:

- During the just concluded Third Africa Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) Forum, Ministers and Heads of delegations renewed their commitments to ST&I. Download the MINISTERIAL DECLARATION of THE THIRD AFRICA SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION FORUM CAIRO, EGYPT, 10-12 FEBRUARY 2018 for details.

- The African Union Commission, with support of the European Union, launched the 2018 Open Call for Proposals of the 2nd Phase of the African Union Research Grant on February 23, 2018. The call supports research on: Food, Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA) with particular attention on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition.

- Meanwhile, the search is on for winner of 2018 Africa Food Prize – a preeminent award that recognizes outstanding individuals or institutions that are leading efforts to change the reality of farming in Africa from a struggle to survive, to a business that thrives. Deadline for nominations is Tuesday 15 May 2018.

In our last issue, we announced that Uganda Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (UBBC) will be holding its Biotech Awards on February 15, 2018. Due to unavoidable circumstances, this event has been postponed indefinitely. DrumBeat will keep you updated on the new date.

Lastly, ISAAA is running a Science and She campaign. The campaign, which kicked-off in February 2018, serves as a platform for female scientists and science communicators to share their views and experiences to help bridge the gap between science and the public. Follow the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using #ScienceAndShe


On the regulatory front, in February 2018, Malaysia and Australia granted approvals for commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) potato, cotton and canola for food and feed use. In late January 2018, Canada approved commercial cultivation of GM canola and apple for both food and feed.

In February 2018, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code was amended to include food derived from provitamin A rice line GR2E (Golden Rice), a beta-carotene biofortified GM rice under development at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Tribute to a 'Bright Son of Africa' Prof Calestous Juma
Story of the month
What will it take to trust Scientists on GMOs?

Following the publication of yet another study endorsing the safety of GM crops, Dr. Murenga Mwimali, a Principal Scientist/Maize Breeder, and Co-ordinator of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Kenya project, questions what it will take to trust scientists. Dr.Mwimali unpacks the study, where researchers analyzed over 6000 peer-reviewed articles between 1996–2016, and asks why African leaders are reluctant to adopt modern biotechnology, long after safety concerns about the technology have been put to bed. He concludes by asking "what is the scientist supposed to do beyond providing evidence that the technology works?".

Enhancing smallholder farmers' awareness of GM maize technology, management practices and compliance to stewardship requirements in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa: the role of public extension and advisory services

This study investigates the awareness and compliance to GM maize technology stewardship requirements and how this can enhance farmer compliance and promote adoption of improved management practices.

Rationalizing governance of genetically modified products in developing countries

This letter to the editor of Nature Correspondence highlights a number of reasons hindering uptake of genetically modified (GM) crops in developing countries.

Genome-wide association mapping and genomic prediction for CBSD resistance in Cassava

Cassava is an important security crop that faces severe yield loses due to cassava brown streak disease (CBSD). The findings of this study provide an insight into the genetics of CBSD resistance to guide CBSD marker-assisted breeding and highlight the potential of genomic selection to improve cassava breeding.