Not displaying correctly? View in your browser
Follow us on facebook Follow us on twitter
14TH MARCH 2019
Welcome to issue 14 of the DrumBeat!

The DrumBeat's unparalleled coverage of bioscience stories and trends from around Africa is getting more resonate and exciting! In this month’s issue, we take you on an experienced-packed journey into Bt cotton research in Malawi. Prof. James Bokosi, the Principal Investigator in Bt cotton research in the country, relives his experience in research and development of the biotech crop in the south-eastern African nation offering African agri-biotech researchers some invaluable lessons.

In the Story of the Month, Dr. Margaret Karembu of ISAAA AfriCenter, dissects the history of resistance to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Drawing parallels between GMO wars and coffee, Margaret argues that GMO hostilities are akin to ancient smear campaigns against coffee, a beverage that was demonized to an extent of labelling it 'Satan's drink'.

The Video of the Month features an innovative technique on value addition of mangoes, bananas and vegetables in central Kenya. The innovation, rolled out by the University of Nairobi in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation, seeks to drastically reduce farmers' post-harvest losses by providing cutting-edge crop storage and processing technologies.

And in the research section, we feature a recent study reporting complete field resistance to potato late blight from stacking three resistance genes. In another study, Dr. Bett Bosibori, a member of African Women for Biosciences (AWfB), presents an improved cowpea transformation system for use in genetic improvement. Outside Africa, a recent toxicity and carcinogenicity study funded by the European Commission shows that glyphosate-resistant NK603 maize has no adverse effects in rats. These findings debunk the infamous study of Gilles-Eric Seralini published and later retracted in 2012.

Enjoy your reading!

Country Crop Modified trait Date of approval
Argentina Cotton Herbicide Tolerance (Isoxaflutole and mesotrione, and glyphosate tolerance) February 6, 2019

Post Harvest Management: From Lab to Land

Subscribe to AfriCenter Youtube Channel
Biosafety Symposium 2019
SEED South Africa Symposium 2019
Story of the month
GMO Wars and Coffee: Is History Repeating Itself?

A cloud of resistance hangs over the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Kenya. Varied views have emerged as the country moves closer to commercialising GM cotton, considered a big enabler to the Big Four Agenda, the government's national economic development plan. Under the plan, the government projects that revitalising cotton sub-sector, through commercialisation of high performing Bt cotton, will create 680,000 direct jobs in cotton farming, about 210 ginning opportunities, 6,000 at integrated mills and 25,000 at garments manufacturing.

Stacking three late blight resistance genes from wild species directly into African highland potato varieties confers complete field resistance to local blight races

This study report that transfer of three resistance (R) genes from wild relatives into potato provided complete resistance in the field over several seasons. The authors observed that the stacking of the three R genes produced a high frequency of transgenic events with resistance to late blight. Late blight resistant potato varieties, which are the farmers’ preferred varieties, could be rapidly adopted and bring significant income to smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

African cassava whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, cassava colonization preferences and control implications

This study assessed experimentally whether the age and variety of cassava affected the density of Bemisia tabaci. The authors conclude that managing cassava source fields to reduce B. tabaci abundance will be more effective than manipulating nearby varieties. They suggest that planting a “whitefly sink” variety is unlikely to reduce B. tabaci SSA1 populations unless fields are managed to reduce B. tabaci densities using other integrative approaches.

An Improved Transformation System for Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp) via Sonication and a Kanamycin-Geneticin Selection Regime

This study describes an improved cowpea transformation method utilizing Agrobacterium-mediated gene delivery to explants derived from the cotyledonary nodes of imbibed cowpea seed. The method was reproducible and led to the recovery of independent fertile transgenic plants in the greenhouse at a level of about one per cent of starting explants.

The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture
Africa’s path to 2063: Choice in the Face of Great Transformation