The International Sorghum and Millet Collaborative Research Support Program (INTSORMIL) based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln “works to improve nutrition and natural resource management and to increase income in developing countries, while developing new technologies to improve sorghum and pearl millet production and its use worldwide.” CropBiotech Update recently announced that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has given INTSORMIL a grant of US$9 M to continue enabling “plant breeders from U.S. land-grant universities to work with researchers in host countries through education, mentoring and collaborative research.” Sounds very worthy, but I must admit I hadn’t heard of this outfit before.
A mammoth metadata study of 111 different papers concludes that “biodiversity matters”. Well, duh. But it is good to have data. The study is published in Nature (press release here) for 25 October. To demonstrate the value of biodiversity, the study’s author Bradley Cardinale chose a paper that shows that the presence of three aphid predators has a greater impact on pests than one would expect from each of the three alone. In a single state — Wisconsin — this pesticidal service was worth millions of dollars, Cardinale said. Not to dismiss all the other services that biodiversity performs, but it seems that one way to get decision makers to understand its importance is to turn those nebulous “services” into something they do understand: cold hard cash.
The London Times reports a new effort to preserve British livestock breeds. Sperm and egg banks will be created to preserve roughly 100 of Britain’s 130 or so rare breeds of cattle, sheep, horses, goats, poultry and pigs. A database will record the location of rare breeds so that in the event of a disease outbreak, like the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001 in which four threatened sheep lost more than a third of their numbers each, steps can be taken to preserve rare breeds.
“The move is not only about the historic importance of keeping traditional breeds with their genetic diversity, but also because of the enormous contribution these animals make to the national economy,” says the article.
A little feature in an Indian web site goes through a list of flowers and their curative properties within the Siddha system. Maybe some peg-legged biopirate would like to check ’em all out.