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30TH SEPT 2019
Welcome to issue 20 of the DrumBeat!

This issue focuses on the just concluded Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication (ABBC) Symposium, which took place on 29th and 30th August 2019, in Pretoria, South Africa. ABBC 2019 brought together close to 100 participants from 17 countries to interrogate various regulatory options and best-bet communication practices that will facilitate informed decision making on genome editing in Africa. The Symposium's theme "Getting it Right: Communicating about Genome Editing" was informed by the need to promote public awareness of new breeding techniques given conversations on how to govern genome editing are starting to gain momentum in the region.

In our Opinion Piece, Dr. Margaret Karembu, ISAAA AfriCenter's Director and Co-convenor of ABBC 2019 highlights key messages from the two-day deliberations and outlines why the Symposium's resolutions could expedite adoption of genome editing in the region. In the Story of the Month section, Mr. Gameli Adzaho, leader of Ghana's Global Lab Network and ABBC 2019's Social Media Influencer, reflects on his experience, shares his take home messages, as well as his thoughts on the role of genome editing and bioinnovation in Africa.

Our Video of the Month gives you snippets of the Symposium's outcomes from an array of speakers and delegates. The Publication section features a booklet titled "Genome Editing: Join the Conversation" that presents a collection of thoughts and quotes on the technology from scientists, regulators, policy makers and science communicators in Africa and beyond. Please share the video and booklet among your networks to propel a positive dialogue, and join the conversation on social media using #GetCRISPRight.

Lastly, the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology, Kenya Chapter, hosted a gala dinner on the 26th September 2019, to celebrate journalists who have excelled in reporting on innovative biotechnologies for national development. Congratulations to #OFABMediaAwardsKe 2019 winners!

Enjoy your read!

Country Crop Modified trait Date of approval
United States Soy Bean Drought stress tolerant August 7th 2019
United States Canola Modified oil/fatty acid , Imazamox herbicide tolerance August 7th 2019

Getting CRISPR Right: Africa Taking Lead

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AGRO 2019 Conference and Exhibition
African Plant Breeders Association (APBA) Conference
Story of the month
Could Genome Editing Help to Unleash a New Wave of Bioinnovation in Africa?

Crowned as ABBC 2019's social media influencer, Gameli Adzaho from the Global Lab Network reflects on his experience during the Symposium. He outlines key sections of the program that stood out for him, as well as his take-home messages. Gameli concludes that genome editing could offer African researchers and entrepreneurs a pathway into the new era of bioinnovation and calls for effective public engagement in order to #GetCRISPRight

Towards Managing and Controlling Aflatoxin Producers Within Aspergillus Species in Infested Rice Grains Collected from Local Markets in Kenya

Rice grains can be attacked by Aspergillus species, causing the accumulation of aflatoxins and representing a serious threat to the consumers. This study analyzed the prevalence of aflatoxin-producing Aspergillus spp. in rice grains currently sold in Kenyan local markets. All tested samples were contaminated. The work provides a baseline for future studies on the occurrence of mycotoxigenic fungal species in rice grains being sold in local markets and strategies to control these aflatoxigenic strains at pre- and post-harvest levels.

Association genetics of bunch weight and its component traits in East African highland banana (Musa spp. AAA group)

This report presents for the first time some genomic loci associated with bunch weight and its component traits in banana. Bunch weight increase is one of the major objectives of banana improvement programs, but little is known about the loci controlling bunch weight and its component traits. The results will stimulate further research in banana-breeding populations and diversity panels to underpin causal mutations that underlie the variations in bunch weight and its components in addition to other traits.

Role of fixing nitrogen in common bean growth under water deficit conditions

In common bean, limited information is available if potential of nodulation and symbiotic nitrogen fixation is associated with the expression of traits that confer better adaptation to drought conditions. In this study, adaptive traits were measured in N‐fixing bean lines and in non-nodulating lines. The results demonstrated an important association between the capability of maintaining atmospheric N‐fixation and expression of traits conferring better adaptation to drought conditions with any change in nitrogen fixation affecting these traits.

ISAAA Brief 54: Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops in 2018
ISAAA Brief 54-2018: Infographics
GENOME EDITING: Join the conversation