b'INTERNATIONAL NEWSGLOBAL SEED WATCHISF WARNING EU CITIZENS ABOUT RECIEVING SUSPICIOUS SEED PACKAGES, CANADA TEAMING UP WITH AMERICAN UNIVERSITY ON GENOME EDITING TECHNOLOGY, AND HIGH YIELDING CHICKPEA OFFICIALLY RELEASED IN MALAWI.STATUS EU opment of crops that produce higher yields, are more nutritious or yield higher quality grain.The International Seed Federation (ISF) advices the public toOur project will use the capabilities of CRISPR-Cas refer to their national agricultural officials in the event that they(referring to use of the technology with an associated protein) receive unsolicited seed packages. to empower traditional breeding strategies, Akhunov said. This follows reports received by ISF that some individuals inIntegrating this tool into modern breeding practices can sub-different countries (e.g. North America, New Zealand, Australia,stantially speed up the rate of genetic gain by accelerating the Japan and Europe) have received unsolicited seed packages ofidentification of agronomic genes, broadening genetic diversity, unknown origin. and reducing the time required for traits introgression (transfer) National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) are cur- into the adapted germplasm.rently working on identifying these seeds and evaluating theCurtis Pozniak, director of the Crop Development Centre risk that they pose to the environment. Therefore, if you receiveat the University of Saskatchewan leads his universitys work. seed packages via mail that you have not ordered, please refer toTogether, the research groups will use CRISPR to introduce your national agricultural official as soon as possible. You shoulddomesticated traits into wild wheat relatives. These efforts may only plant and use seeds from known and trusted sources, saidpave new ways for broadening the genetic diversity of modern Michael Keller, secretary general of ISF. bread wheat by creating newly domesticated varieties of wild Seeds undergo routine testing by seed companies beforecrops, Akhunov said.they are commercially distributed to prevent or control plant pests that may affect seed quality, seed movement, and their introduction into new territories. However, seeds of unknownSTATUS MALAWIorigin carry no guarantee of having undergone these important testing procedures and could lead to the introduction of differentHigh-yielding chickpea and finger millet varieties with yield types of plant pests and invasive species to the environment. potential of up to 3 tons per hectare had their first-ever official Seed health is a very important topic for the seed indus- release in Malawi. The release aligns well with the governments try. Quality seed is an expectation from growers. To meet thesecrop diversification agenda for food and income security and the expectations, company seed health programs focus on the pre- funding agency Irish Aids goal of increasing the resilience of vention, detection, and eradication of pathogens, said Keller. poor households to economic, social and environmental shocks.The three chickpea and three finger millet varieties are the culmination of five years of on-station and on-farm evaluations STATUS CANADA for adaptability, yield, nutrition, climate resilience and utilization facilitated by the Malawi Seed Industry Development Project Kansas State University officials say a $650,000 grant from the(MSIDP). These varieties bred by the ICRISAT breeding program USDAs National Institute of Food and Agriculture has spurred ain Kenya were tested for adaptability in Malawi.partnership with a Canadian university to improve wheat usingSmallholder farmers who have been growing low-yield-genome editing technology. ing landrace varieties for food and income have welcomed the Eduard Akhunov, a wheat geneticist who will lead K-Statesnew varieties that have the potential to invigorate chickpea work on this project in collaboration with colleague Haroldand finger millet production in Malawi, said Dr Patrick Okori, Tricks research team, said the university will join with research- ICRISAT Country Representative for Malawi. The farmer par-ers at the University of Saskatchewan in using genome editingticipatory research process, including food testing trials, have technology to improve productivity and nutrition in the worldsseen farming communities expressing interest in the new finger wheat lines. millet varieties as they are popular in traditional recipes such as Genome editing, he said, relies on a technology called clus- sweet beer and porridge. The varieties will strengthen the com-tered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeatsbettermunity complementary feeding and learning programs being known by its abbreviation, CRISPR. implemented by the nutrition program of the MSIDP. Similarly, CRISPR is a powerful and extremely precise molecular toolchickpea remains key in the diets of many rural households in capable of making targeted changes in genetic code, Akhunovsouthern Malawi, where it is also an income-generating crop, said. It allows us to produce novel variants of genes that haveowing to the increasing market demand, regionally.improved properties and create a positive impact on the traitsThe MSIDP project aims to strengthen legume and cereal of interest. seed systems and their complementary agricultural innovations, Using genome editing to target genes that are linked to valu- in order to improve productivity and consequently food, nutrition able agronomic traits allows researchers to accelerate the devel- and income security of smallholder farmers. 56IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'