Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 5240 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM INTERNATIONAL NEWS GLOBAL SEED WATCH SPEAKING UP ABOUT THE SEED NEEDS OF AFRICA AND EXPLORING CONSUMER PERCEPTIONS OF GMO LABELLING. STATUS AFRICA The Alliance for Commodity Trade in East and Southern Africa (ACTESA), a specialised agency of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), says the region needs more than two million tonnes of various seed, with 70 per cent being maize, annually, to effectively produce good crops. Currently, the region is producing less than 500,000 tonnes annually, which has nega- tively affected the productivity of farmers. John Mukuka, ACTESA seed develop- ment officer, said yields in COMESA coun- tries are very low at about 1.5 tonnes per hectare compared with Asia, America and Europe, which are at more than five tonnes. When he led a delegation of farmers from East Africa on a visit to the Seed Control and Certification Institute in Chilanga, Mukuka said the difference in yields has affected food security in the region, which has a population of about 620 million people, and, of this, 130 million people face challenges of access to food, and are hungry. ‘The whole region produces less than half a million tonnes of various seeds, but COMESA needs over two million tonnes, which comprise rice, maize, wheat, ground- nuts, beans and soya beans, among others, to be food secure’, he said. Mukuka also said the seed development department has embarked on a programme of translating farming bro- chures into local languages in all COMESA member states to allow farmers to have more information which distinguishes fake seed from genuine ones. He said if farmers are able to distinguish between fake and genu- ine seed, it will help boost the productivity of farmers. ACTESA’s objective is to integrate smallholder farmers into national, regional and international markets under COMESA. Source: ACTESA STATUS BANGLADESH Teams of scientists are turning to the com- bined knowledge of the global scientific community to address an emerging threat to Asian agriculture. The target is the fear- some fungal disease wheat blast. The patho- gen was spotted in Bangladesh in February this year—its first report in Asia. Wheat is the second major food source in Bangladesh, after rice. The blast disease has, so far, caused up to 90 per cent yield losses in more than 15,000 hectares. Scientists fear that the pathogen could spread further to other wheat growing areas in South Asia. The UK and Bangladeshi teams are making raw genetic data for the wheat blast pathogen available on a new website—http://—and inviting others to do the same. Sophien Kamoun, of the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, England, who is leading the project, said a wide cul- tural change is needed for scientists to opti- mally address new threats to food security. ‘I have a beef with the way that research is typically done. We need a fundamentally new approach to sharing genetic data for emerging plant diseases’, he said. ‘We need to generate and make data public more rapidly, and seek input from a larger crowd because, collec- tively, we are better able to answer questions’. Kamou n, w ith col leagues at the Genome Analysis Centre and John Innes Centre in Norwich, in addition to Tofazzal Islam’s team at Bangabndhu Sheikh Mujubur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU) in Bangladesh, are hoping the wheat blast website, together with an accompanying Facebook page, will be a hub of information, collaboration and comment. They are basing the site on their successful Open Ash Dieback website, which brought scientists together in the fight against ash dieback disease. The blast fungus normally infects rice and more than 50 types of grasses. Occasionally, a blast fungus strain would jump from one host to another, resulting in a new disease. Such a ‘host jump’ to wheat happened in Brazil in the 1980s. The wheat blast pathogen is now rife in South America, where it has infected up to 3 million hec- tares, causing serious crop losses. The teams of Kamoun and Islam hope the genetic data will help determine whether the Bangladeshi wheat-infecting strain has evolved inde- pendently from local grass-infecting fungi, or was somehow introduced into the country. Source: STATUS UNITED STATES A revolutionary new agricultural robotics system has been installed on 1.5 acres of cultivated land at the University of Arizona’s Maricopa Agricultural Center, as part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (or TERRA) pro- gramme. The ARPA-E TERRA programme is facilitating the improvement of advanced bio- fuel crops, specifically energy sorghum. The scanalyzer to be demonstrated is the largest field crop analytics robot in the world, incor- porating cameras and sensors that measure and record crop growth and development with unprecedented resolution. The U of A’s role is to generate and channel extremely large data sets that capture the dynamics of plant growth and response to ambient con- ditions in the low desert under their natural environment. While consumers are aware of geneti- cally modified crops and food, their knowl- edge is limited and often at odds with the facts, according to a newly published study by a University of Florida researcher. Last year, Brandon McFadden, an assistant professor of food and resource economics at the U of F’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, published a study that showed scientific facts scarcely change consumers’ impres- sions of genetically modified food and other