State of severe food insecurity in Africa

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On the 7 July the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) announced that an appeal to help more that 10 million people in east Africa, suffering from their worst drought in over half a century, would be broadcast on ITV, BBC, Sky, Channel 4 and Channel 5. 
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Animal and Human Pathogens Can Cross from Manure into Food Crops

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Following the recent outbreak of E. coli food poisoning in Germany that claimed at least 39 lives as of 16 June 2011 and still counting, numerous articles have been written, but many fundamental questions still remain unanswered. As you will remember, contaminated Spanish cucumbers were initially blamed for the outbreak of E. coli infection, which…
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Call for support for sustainable smallholder agriculture

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Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), last week called for a dramatic increase in support for sustainable agriculture, including smallholder farmers, as a way to drive green growth and reduce poverty. This is…
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Rising food prices could press the poor into hunger, warns Oxfam

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 This year, hardly a week seems to have gone by without the release of another report on global food systems and food security. Each has a different focus: in May there was an FAO report highlighting the problem of food waste, while earlier in the year I posted articles on the ‘Hand Picked’ CABI blog…
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CABI publishes third working paper

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CABI’s own, Matthew Cock, covers strategic entry points for funding taxonomic support to agriculture in developing countries in the third working paper published by CABI. The importance of taxonomy to agriculture is discussed, with emphasis on how to address the need for taxonomic support in developing countries. One of the subjects explored by this paper…
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Climate change and the fight against plant diseases

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Earlier this month, Dr Adrian Newton from the James Hutton Institute spoke about the implications of climate change for pathogen defence in plants, at the Society for General Microbiology Spring Conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK. He explained, “The communities of microbes on plants are complex and include harmless and beneficial organisms as well as…
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Introduction of remote microscopy (RM) into ASEAN Regional Diagnostic Network (ARDN)

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The lack of taxonomists is very much a global issue, hence the establishment of the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI) and the BioNET International and its LOOPs. In ASEAN countries, the shortage of in-country taxonomic expertise to identify plant pests and diseases is often compounded by difficulties in access to taxonomic expertise abroad. Thus, ASEANET and…
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Aid donors join forces to fight wheat rust

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 Emerging strains of stem rust disease of wheat, such as Ug99, are spreading out of East Africa and threatening the world’s wheat supply. But the fight against this disease received a boost this week from a collaboration between the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The organisations have…
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Does rust-free rice hold the secret?

All cereals, except rice, are susceptible to rust. Wheat, maize, barley, millet, triticale, and oats all get rust. The spores of rust fungi land on a host plant, germinate, and grow toward a stomatal pore on the leaf surface to initiate infection. Rust infections produce red or yellow pustulating spores that give infected plants a…
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Hessian fly heading for the sack

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Wheat crops suffer millions of dollars’ worth of damage each year due to the hessian fly, Mayetiola destructor. The most effective control method is genetic resistance, when wheat resistance genes cause death of the attacking larvae by activating a defense response against avirulent hessian flies. Unfortunately this has led to flies that can overcome resistant…
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