Back from the brink: how biocontrol saved St Helena’s national tree from extinction

Gumwoods of St Helena
The gumwoods of St Helena are flourishing again after facing extinction

By Wayne Coles

At first sight the humble scale insect, Orthezia insignis doesn’t seem like it could pack much of a punch in a ‘fight’ against a range of native flora – but to make such an assumption would be very dangerous indeed.

In fact Orthezia insignis is a genuine invasive menace which in Hawaii, East Africa and South and Central America has, at times, wreaked havoc on numerous ornamental plants including citrus, coffee, olive, Jacaranda and Lantana.

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Navigating the Nagoya Protocol – CABI’s commitment to Access and Benefit Sharing of genetic resources

locust metarhizium2
Locust metarhizium

CABI scientists have penned an important paper published in the journal Biocontrol Science and Technology which pulls no punches when it boldly states ‘the future of humankind and the rest of Earth’s biodiversity depend upon our research efforts generating solutions to the global challenges.’

Now this stark realisation has grabbed your attention, what does the body of work entitled ‘Biological control and the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing – a case of effective due diligence’ actually mean for the future of CABI’s endeavours in agricultural science and its mission to help farmers lose less of their crops to a range of pests and diseases and develop solutions to increase yields and feed more?

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Climate change and its implication on Biological Control: Case studies from Latin America

Climate changeDr Yelitza Colmenarez, CABI Brazil Centre Director & Plantwise Regional Coordinator – Latin America and Caribbean, recently presented at the First International Congress of Biological Control in Beijing, China, on the fascinating issue of climate change and the impact on the Biological Control of agricultural pests and diseases in Latin America.

Here we present Dr Colmenarez’s expert insight (including link to her full PowerPoint presentation) into what pests and diseases need to prioritized and why Climate Smart Agriculture could be the key to fighting these risks to crops exacerbated by changing climatic conditions in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

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A conversation on ‘Communicating Evidence for Sustainable Development’

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Last month two CABI employees, Solveig Danielsen and Paul Day, attended a conference at Wageningen University on Communicating Evidence for Sustainable Development. Sol works in the Monitoring and Evaluation team (M&E) and Paul is a communicator. The conference led to a lively conversation which we captured here.

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Showcasing smart agriculture in comic exhibition

Comic Connections poster

Comics have long played a role in entertaining young people, and even adults, going right back to the Golden Age of Comic books in the 1930s. One only has to think of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and many more.

But you would be forgiven for being surprised at knowing that comics can also have a very important role to play in educating teenagers and young adults about the value science and technology holds in helping farmers grow more and lose less.

Now, an exhibition of the comic book Shujaaz (which means ‘hero’) – presented by Karamel at Collage Arts, is revealing how animation and narrative knits together to tell the story of how smart agriculture, as well as issues including unemployment, corruption, youth, cost of living and infrastructure, can be raised with Kenyan and Tanzanian 15-24 year olds.

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Earth Day 2018 – The campaign to eliminate plastic pollution

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[Image credit: Pixabay – hhach]

This blog post was written by our new Content Editor – Ellen Baker, ahead of Earth Day on Sunday 22nd April.

This year the annual environmental issues awareness event ‘Earth day’ is focussing on the topic of plastic pollution; the problems generated by our high usage of single use plastics have been a campaign point for numerous environmental groups for many years but the topic of plastic pollution has recently been brought to the forefront of public discussion by the hugely popular BBC documentary Blue Planet II. Prompted by the poignant last episode of the series which featured this topic heavily, the nationwide programme narrated by Sir David Attenborough has appeared to catalyse a change in public opinion on plastic waste, what some have subsequently dubbed this the ‘Blue planet effect’.

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How Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) Enter the Food Chain in non-GMO Producing Countries

The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in livestock and crops, as well as trade and consumption of GMOs are highly controversial topics.

Proponents of genetic engineering argue that GMOs represent the only viable solution to food shortages in an ever-growing global population. They claim that the use of GMOs in agriculture and their consumption have caused no harm to livestock or humans so far. Heated debate also persists over GMO food labelling, with food manufacturers in the USA arguing that mandatory GMO labelling hinders the development of agricultural biotechnology, and may also “exacerbate the misconception” that GMOs endanger human health. Continue reading