Brainfood: Breeding edition

Nibbles: Eating to Extinction, Livestock Conservancy, Pastoral diversification, Donkeys, ICARDA, USDA, Native Seeds/SEARCH, Duragna, Baked bean bread, Kenosha Potato Project, Landrace marketing, Gene editing

  1. All the videos from the recent Eating to Extinction event in London celebrating food diversity.
  2. If you want to eat rare breeds or their products, the Livestock Conservancy has a website for you.
  3. ILRI policy brief on how pastoral systems can usefully diversify.
  4. The BBC rounds up the history of the domestication of the donkey without, alas, mentioning the Livestock Conservancy or pastoral diversification. Spoiler alert: ancient Roman donkeys were really big.
  5. NPR interviews the manager of the ICARDA genebank in Lebanon.
  6. Local Oregon paper visits the USDA genebank in Pullman.
  7. It’s the turn of the Native Seed/SEARCH genebank to feature in the news.
  8. Want to know what “duragna” is? This press release from Cornell will explain all. I think we included the original paper in a recent Brainfood, but I can’t be bothered checking. Anyway, trust me, it’s interesting. Spoiler alert: it has to do with cereal diversity.
  9. Brits told to grow more faba beans and use them to make bread. Census takers not available for comment.
  10. Fascinating project on the history of saffron cultivation in eastern England. Now that would spice up all that faba bean bread.
  11. The Kenosha Potato Project deconstructed to within an inch of its life by Modern Farmer. We’ve blogged about this innovative breeding project here before, have a look. Ah no, I just have, and in fact we haven’t, though we have blogged about William Whitson, an independent tuber breeder, who is however a long-time member of KPP.
  12. Meanwhile, in Peru, local potato landraces are finding a new market via chips/crisps. Pretty sure we’ve blogged about this too. We are so on the ball.
  13. Gene editing for conservation? Yes, why not? But nothing on crop and livestock species in this succinct explainer, alas.

Brainfood: Sustainable diets, Resilient food system, IK in food systems double, Herbarium double, Ag research priorities, Fruits & vegetables, Cryopreservation, Diverse diets, Gene editing orphan crops, Ag revolution 4.0, Diversification, Monoculture, Agroecology, Regenerative ag, Plant health, Svalbard, Seed banking theory, Comms double

Brainfood: Coconut in vitro, Clean cryo, Chickpea & lentil collections, Genebank data history, Eurisco update, Mining genebank data, TIK, Sampling strategy, Drones, GIS, Mexican CWR, Post-2020 biodiversity framework

So are soybeans sorted or not?

Readers may have seen press coverage of a paper in Science suggesting that a biotech tweak to photosynthesis has led to significant yield boosts in soybeans. The tweak involves getting leaves to respond more nimbly to changes in light intensity, including due to shading by other leaves. It has successfully increased biomass production in tobacco in the past: would it also increase seed yield in a food crop under field conditions?

Yes, by up to a third, said the headlines. Not so fast, said Merritt Khaipho-Burch on Twitter: we’re going to need many more and much better field trials before we’re convinced.

That got some push-back, basically saying those kinds of trials are too expensive to be a precondition of publication. But now one of the authors of the original study, Steven Burgess, has weighed in, also on Twitter, saying the criticism is valid, it’s all very complicated, and the paper is just a proof of principle at this stage.

Now to get the press to explain all that.