Not displaying correctly? View in your browser
Follow us on facebook Follow us on twitter
29th June 2021
Welcome to issue 41 of the DrumBeat!

In this issue we celebrate Kenya's decision to approve genetically modified cassava for environmental release, the final step of testing new varieties after which they will be registered and released to farmers. It is the first time genetically modified cassava is being approved anywhere in the world with resistance to one of the crop's most devastating disease – Cassava Brown Streak. This decision by Kenya's National Biosafety Authority entrenches a new perception shift towards genetically modified crops in the continent. For a long time, African scientists have had to contend with many regulatory bottlenecks occasioned by policies that stifle bio-innovations from life sciences. However, this is changing as more African policy makers get sensitized about safety and potential of agricultural biotechnology tools. Owing to the precise and effective methods of delivering crop traits through genetic modification, African scientists are employing these tools to solve elusive perennial agricultural challenges affecting both crop production and animal husbandry.

The Video of the Month features Prof. Douglas Miano, Kenyan lead scientist for the newly approved genetically modified cassava. He talks about the journey to achieving the Cassava Brown Streak Disease resistant line, what the approval means to Kenyan farmers and the next steps in availing the improved cassava to end users.

The Story of the Month highlights ongoing efforts to develop bird flu resistant chicken by an African scientist through genome editing. Dr. Alewo Idoko-Akoh, a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, is using CRISPR-Cas9 to find a global solution for preventing avian influenza in chickens. Bird flu is not a disease restricted by any geographical boundaries; it is a global problem associated with poor poultry welfare, human health concerns and also economic losses, something Dr. Alewo is keen to change.

In our publications corner, don't miss the opportunity to participate and publicize your research during the launch of Africa Coalition on Genome Editing and 2nd Edition of Genome Editing in African Agriculture during ABBC2021. Register your project here

Finally, two announcements; a reminder to all Kenyan journalists who have been reporting on agricultural biotechnology and biosafety to submit their entries for OFAB Kenya Media Awards 2021, see poster below for details; Join us on Thursday July 1, 2021 from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM EAT (Nairobi), we are pleased to invite you to a webinar on Covid-19, Nutrition and Wellness titled Strengthening Journalists' Capacity to Fact-check and Communicate Health Sciences in Africa. For details and free registration click here.

Enjoy your reading!


Kenya Approves GM Cassava for Environmental Release

Subscribe to AfriCenter Youtube Channel
Dr. Alewo Idoko Akoh

Dr. Alewo Idoko Akoh

Inside Research Project Developing Genome Edited Chickens Resistant to Bird Flu

The use of genome editing in animal research is fast gaining traction in Africa. A number of countries on the continent are now positioning themselves to embrace this technology. Indeed genome editing has demonstrated potential to develop homegrown solutions to food insecurity and climate change. Dr. Alewo Idoko-Akoh, a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, is working on a project that uses genome editing tools to develop bird flu resistant chicken.

Country / Region Crop Modified Trait Date of approval
Kenya Cassava Disease resistant June 15, 2021
Canada Soybean Stacked Herbicide Tolerance June 1, 2021
Private sector has a crucial role to play in ensuring healthy diets for all

Private sector has a crucial role to play in ensuring healthy diets for all

The private sector can be a crucial ally in global efforts to make agri-food systems more resilient, sustainable, efficient and inclusive to ensure healthy diets for all. This was a key takeaway from the B20-G20-FAO Dialogue on Sustainable Food System. The dialogue called on businesses to effect transformative change. Read more here.

CGIAR Scientist Wins 2021 World Food Prize

CGIAR Scientist Wins 2021 World Food Prize

Dr. Shakuntala Thilsted, a CGIAR scientist and nutrition expert from WorldFish, is the laureate of the 2021 World Food Prize for her achievements in pioneering fish-based food systems that improve nutrition, health, and livelihoods for millions around the world. The World Food Prize is the most prominent global award recognizing an individual who has enhanced human development and confronted global hunger by improving the quality, quantity, and availability of food for all. Read more here.

ALSK webinar
OFAB Kenya Media Awards 2021 Call
Genome Editing in Africa's Agriculture 2021