Nibbles: Iron beans, Tree projects, Lablab genome, Tree collection management, Italian cooking, Replacing ugali, Gene-edited teff, Communicating plant breeding, Plant diseases, Sustainable intensification, Transforming African ag, Ag research investment, Saving seeds, Ukraine genebank

  1. Jeremy continues to dig deep into biofortification, and is not happy with what he finds out about iron-rich beans.
  2. Maybe he’ll donate to one of CIFOR-ICRAF’s nutrition-flavoured tree projects instead.
  3. Don’t worry, maybe lablab can be biofortified now that we have its genome.
  4. Speaking of trees, if you want to plant one in a particular botanic garden or arboretum, is it likely to thrive, now and in the future? Find out using the BGCI Climate Assessment Tool.
  5. Speaking of botanic gardens and arboreta, here are some resources on how they manage their tree collections.
  6. Prof. Alberto Grandi debunks the many myths of Italian cuisine.
  7. Christine Gatwiri doesn’t think maize can be replaced in Kenyan cuisine. I just hope it can be replaced in Italian cuisine.
  8. Will gene-edited teff finds its way into Ethiopian cuisine? And would it be a bad thing if it did? It depends on being open about it I guess…
  9. … so let’s remind ourselves of some ways plant breeding can usefully engage with the public, shall we?
  10. And let’s also remind ourselves that plant breeding is necessary, for example to protect our food supply against diseases. The Guardian has receipts.
  11. Prof. Glenn Denning doubles down on the whole better-maize-seeds-plus-fertilizer thing in Africa, but adds some greenery. In more senses than one. So yes, trees are allowed. And maybe even lablab and teff for all I know. Incidentally, the above gene-edited teff is shorter than “normal”, which could mean it might respond to more fertilizer in the same way as those Green Revolution wheats and rices once did.
  12. Ah yes, the “transformation” and “revolution” tropes are definitely all over the discourse on African agriculture these days. According to this article, what transformation and revolution will require are consistent planning, political backing, a fit-for-purpose lead organization and that perennial favourite, result-oriented implementation. No word here on greenery specifically, but at least it’s not ruled out.
  13. And to back all that up, CGIAR gets The Economist Impact to say that more funding is needed for agricultural research and innovation. Results-oriented, naturally.
  14. Meanwhile, in Suriname, Bangladesh and Guinea-Bissau, local people are saving their traditional seeds and agricultural practices. The revolution will eat its own (seeds).
  15. Phew, the Ukrainian seed collection is squared away. Now for Suriname, Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau…

Brainfood: Domestication syndrome, Plasticity & domestication, Founder package, Rice domestication, Aussie wild rice, European beans, Old wine, Bronze Age drugs

Brainfood: Pollinator evolution, Pollinator diversity, Livestock, Yak milk consumption, Poultry in situ conservation, Soil stress, Self-domestication, Natural history collections

How Native Americans got their horses

You know how you read in history textbooks that the Native Americans of the Great Plains got hold of horses from retreating Spanish colonists after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680? And you know how Native Americans have been saying that’s not what they think happened? That they in fact got their horses long before that? You know how rare it is that a scientific paper involving museum specimens and DNA includes Indigenous authors? And that said paper overturns a mainstream historical narrative and is then splashed all over the mainstream media? Very rare, that’s how rare.

Nibbles: Robert Chambers, Zero Hunger, China genebank, Spanish bacteria, Harnessing diversity

  1. There’s a celebration of the thinking of Robert Chambers over at IDS Bulletin. He’s been advocating for participation in development and the importance of Indigenous knowledge, among other things, for 50 years.
  2. The Center on Global Food and Agriculture has a report out called “Defining the Path to Zero Hunger in an Equitable World” which basically tries to add humanitarian assistance to the old food-climate-biodiversity nexus. Crop diversity is nowhere to be found among the “catalyzing ideas,” but one of those is investing in “force multipliers,” and that includes agricultural research and development. Participatory agricultural research and development, presumably?
  3. Meanwhile, China has collected 124,000 crop diversity samples.
  4. And a Spanish microbiologist has collected 3,600 bacteria.
  5. The PNAS Special feature: Harnessing crop diversity, organized by Susan McCouch, Loren Rieseberg and Pamela Ronald, got a nice write-up in the latest Plant Science Research Weekly. But what would Robert Chambers say? Anyway, should I do a special Brainfood on it? Let me know in the comments, as the cool kids say.