Latest articles

Extraterrestrial potato production studied

Researchers from Peru’s potato centres and NASA are trying to 
grow spuds in conditions that mimic Mars

In a move that mirrors the Matt Damon blockbuster “The Martian,” researchers are trying to prove potatoes can grow on Mars. The International Potato Center (CIP) recently launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars atmospheric conditions. CIP’s proof of concept experiment to grow potatoes in simulated Martian conditions began […] Read more

Planned mutations can increase crop options

The most common food crops benefited from natural mutations and modern technology could aid this process

There are more than 300,000 plant species in existence, but just three — rice, wheat and corn — account for almost all of the plant matter consumed by humans. In no small part that’s because natural mutations arose making these crops the easiest to harvest. But with gene editing technology like CRISPR, researchers suggest we […] Read more

Food demand predictions could be inaccurate

Lots of people say food demand will double by 2050 — but some researchers say the numbers don’t add up

The widely held view that food production needs to double by 2050 to feed a growing world population may be inaccurate. In a study published in the journal Bioscience, researchers from Penn State’s agriculture college have challenged that view, saying the required increase may be as high as 70 per cent — or as low […] Read more

Gluten-free diet may increase risk of toxic metal exposure

A new study finds wheat substitutes can bioaccumulate things 
like arsenic and mercury

Turns out those gluten-free eaters may be chowing down some unintended consequences. A new study from the University of Illinois has found consuming a gluten-free diet may increase exposure to arsenic and mercury — toxic metals that can lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurological effects, according to a report in the journal Epidemiology. Gluten-free […] Read more

Extended lactation could make better cheese

Danish researchers show that despite fears the practice could harm milk quality it may actually be better

Extending dairy cow lactation periods by up to six months not only can lower the environmental impact of the industry — it just might make better cheese too. That’s according to some recent research by Danish scientists who decided to put long-standing concerns over the practice to an empirical test. They found an expected decrease […] Read more

TB-resistant cattle are a reality

A new technique has produced live animals with 
increased resistance to this dangerous disease

Researchers say they’ve found a high-tech way to produce cattle with genetic resistance to bovine tuberculosis. Writing in the open-access journal Genome Biology, Chinese researchers from the Northwest A&F University in Shaanxi, China say CRISPR gene-editing technology allowed the breakthrough. Read more: TB in the spotlight again with Alberta outbreak Dr. Yong Zhang, lead author […] Read more

NDSU scientists study distillers grains as fertilizer

Wet distillers grains and condensed distillers solubles 
increased corn and spring wheat yields

Distillers grains could be a source of fertilizer for some crops, according to research at North Dakota State University’s Carrington Research Extension Center. Wet distillers grains and condensed distillers solubles (sometimes referred to as “syrup”) are organic byproducts of ethanol production from corn. Scientists at the Carrington centre have been testing whether wet distillers grains […] Read more

Climate change is poised to hit U.S. harvests

The latest models suggest many key crops could suffer 
significant yield losses in the coming decades

Dutch researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change have published a paper in the journal Nature that says U.S. crop yields could be hard hit as the world warms. To better assess how climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions will likely impact wheat, corn and soybean, an international team of scientists ran […] Read more

‘Gene-silencing’ technique is a crop protection game changer

This spray uses RNA to trick a plant into shutting genes off, thus evading diseases

Most crop protection products act by attacking and killing a pest. But a new technique targets the crops themselves, giving them an added ability to ward off pests and diseases by targeting their genes. Researchers at the U.K.’s University of Surrey and Australia’s University of Queensland, have developed a non-toxic, degradable spray which is capable […] Read more

Prion diseases like BSE have a telltale sign

The discovery suggests the disease may not be 
as unstoppable as previously thought

Medical researchers at the University of Alberta have found fatal prion diseases, like BSE, have a hidden signature. Findings published this month in the peer-reviewed journal, Public Library of Science (PLoS) Pathogens, show that up to seven months before an animal shows physical signs of infection, a particular prion protein in the brain, known as […] Read more