Monday, 30 September 2013

MALARIA: Weekly Update from Malaria Nexus; Sept 30 2013

Latest News
Promising results for the malaria PfSPZ Vaccine: Interview with Dr Stephen Hoffman
Posted on 26 September 2013
Promising results for the malaria PfSPZ Vaccine: Interview with Dr Stephen Hoffman
In this podcast interview, Dr Hoffman discusses the outcome of a study recently published in Science which shows that at high dosage the PfSPZ Vaccine results in 100% protection against malaria.
Postdoctoral position in chrono-immunology at Charité – Univeristätsmedizin in Berlin, Germany
Posted on 26 September 2013
Postdoctoral position in chrono-immunology at Charité – Univeristätsmedizin in Berlin, Germany
A postdoctoral position to study circadian aspects and underlying mechanisms in the immune response against malaria is available at Charité – Univeristätsmedizin in Berlin, Germany.
Feature Articles
Posted on 26 September 2013
Socioeconomic development to fight malaria, and beyond
The Lancet , Volume 382, Issue 9896, 14–20 September 2013, Pages 920-922
Jürg Utzinger, Marcel Tanner
Posted on 26 September 2013
Cryptic organelle homology in apicomplexan parasites: insights from evolutionary cell biology
Current Opinion in Microbiology, Volume 16, Issue 4, August 2013, Pages 424-431
Christen M Klinger, R Ellen Nisbet, Dinkorma T Ouologuem, David S Roos, Joel B Dacks
Posted on 26 September 2013
Immunisation against a serine protease inhibitor reduces intensity of Plasmodium berghei infection in mosquitoes
International Journal for Parasitology, Volume 43, Issue 11, October 2013, Pages 869-874
Andrew R. Williams, Sara E. Zakutansky, Kazutoyo Miura, Matthew D.J. Dicks, Thomas S. Churcher, Kerry E. Jewell, Aisling M. Vaughan, Alison V. Turner, Melissa C. Kapulu, Kristin Michel, Carole A. Long, Robert E. Sinden, et al.
Posted on 26 September 2013
Gut microbes influence fitness and malaria transmission potential of Asian malaria vector Anopheles stephensi
Acta Tropica, Volume 128, Issue 1, October 2013, Pages 41-47
Anil Sharma, Devender Dhayal, O.P. Singh, T. Adak, Raj K. Bhatnagar

MALNUTRITION: Zambia - Removing subsidies

JOHANNESBURG, 30 September 2013 (IRIN) - The Zambian government has removed subsidies for farmers and millers because the expenditure is perceived as draining the country’s resources. Fuel subsidies have also been removed, and the combined loss of assistance is pushing up the price of maize meal, a staple foodstuff in the Zambian diet. 

Removal of the subsidy is just one in a series of similar moves by Zambian President Michael Sata, who is known for taking a tough stance on issues ranging from Chinese investors, whom he has threatened to deport, to fuel subsidies, which have been removed on the ground that their US$200 million annual cost would be better spent on health and education. 

The loss of subsidies for farmers has angered the Zambian National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU), which said the move was “ill-timed”. Inadequate rains, an attack of army worms that forced many farmers to replant, and the late delivery of subsidized fertilizers have already affected the 2011/12 harvest. ZNFU warned that any reduction in support for beleaguered Zambian farmers could threaten maize production and national food security. 

“Government has reduced the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) subsidy,” the media officer for ZNFU, Kakoma C Kaleyi, said in an email to IRIN. “Previously, government would pay 75 percent while the farmer would pay 25 percent for 50kg bag of fertilizer, but now the cost-sharing is 50%-50% for government and farmers respectively. A bag of fertilizer costs ZMW200 [about US$37], [with] farmers paying ZMW100 [almost $19] and government covering the remaining ZMW100, though farmers are still receiving a 10kg bag of seed for free.” 

About 900,000 small-scale farmers covered by FISP have been affected. Kaleyi noted that in the past some of them had failed to raise enough money to cover even their 25 percent share of the fertilizer cost, so it remained to be seen how they would cope now. 

Enormous costs 

The FISP accounted for roughly 39 percent of the more than $231 million allocated to the agriculture sector in Zambia’s 2011budget, yet rural poverty rates remain stubbornly high. A study by agricultural experts Thom Jayne and Auckland Kuteya, of the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute, in Zambia,found that the support programme was benefiting wealthier land owners more than poorer ones, and that around 80 percent of rural people were still categorized as poor, despite many years of inputs and consumer subsidies.  

"The question one has to ask, is: were the funds spent instead on research, extension, better rural roads, and perhaps - because it's difficult - some intervention to kick-start rural financial services, would this do more to increase production than subsidizing inputs?"
“Unbalanced agriculture policies have caused an over-production of maize and hampered the development of other segments of the agriculture sector,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted in its 2012 country report on Zambia. 

The government has said that in 2013 it will continue to buy maize for the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), paying a set higher price to farmers, but will not sell it at a subsidized rate to millers, as was usually done in the past.  

Zambia’s Agriculture and Livestock Minister, Bob Sichinga,told a media briefing in May 2013 that the FRA had been buying maize at the current rate of ZMW 65 (roughly US$12.27) per 50kg bag, and selling it to millers at ZMW60 ($11.43), amounting to a loss of ZMW100 ($19) per tonne.  

In 2011, for instance, the FRA bought maize from farmers at $270 per metric tonne and sold it to millers at $180 per metric tonne, resulting in a “50 percent loss” to the government, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS-NET) noted.  

The programme - which spent US$258 million on maize purchases alone in 2012 - was meant to help farmers, while keeping food prices low for consumers, but Jayne and Kuteya found that virtually none of the subsidy to maize millers was passed on to consumers. 

Consumers pay more 
The removal of subsidies to millers has already begun to impact consumers. Kaleyi told IRIN the price of a 25kg bag of maize meal has jumped from ZMW55 ($10.38) to ZMW65 ($12.27) since the beginning of 2013. According to the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), a faith-based NGO that calculates the monthly cost of a basket of essentials for a household, prices have been rising since the removal of the subsidies. 

Daniel Mutale, the social conditions programme manager at JCTR, said the price of maize meal had already reached ZMW 59.28 ($11.19) in June 2013. “The effects of removal of subsidies on basic food items are deepening,’’ he noted in a statement, and called for an urgent response to address rising food costs. 

“[In] the absence of alternative programmes for small-scale farmers to access finance,” ZNFU said, they expected to “see many more [rural] households slide into the social security safety net category… [which will] ultimately increase expenditures on [the government’s] social welfare schemes.” 

FEWS-NET reported that maize prices have begun to rise because private traders, who now hold most of the stocks of maize, are paying more for it. "Maize prices across the country are generally higher than the same period last season, and the five-year average," the organization noted. 

A higher demand for maize in southern Africa - combined with the poor harvests reported in parts of Zambia and the region, such as in neighbouring Zimbabwe - is also pushing up prices. 

FEWS-NET noted that farm-level information on the impact of the reduced FISP has been limited, but expects less access to inputs, which could affect timely planting and yields. “We’ll need to reassess early next year, once the quality of the 2014 harvest becomes apparent… it’s a victory for a more sustainable policy environment, one that is likely to attract increased private investment and competition into food value chains as long as this environment continues,” Jayne said. 

Should other countries follow suit? 
Zambia’s experience may contain a broader message about agricultural subsidies, especially for neighbouring Malawi, which has been spending enormous amounts of its donor-funded budget on subsidizing inputs. It spent more than a $100 million in 2009/10, and more than $250 million in 2008/09.  

Jayne has been drafting a review of the arguments for and against agricultural subsidies, based on evidence from southern Africa, said Steve Wiggins, an agricultural policy expert with the Overseas Development Institute, a UK-based think-tank. 

“There is lingering doubt about the effectiveness of fertilizer applied to soils low in soil carbon, low in nutrients, and with poor structure. The agronomic argument for such soils is that fertilizer will only boost yields to the potential of the nutrients when the soils have been improved… None of the experts are opposed to supporting farmers, but they insist the circumstances must be right.” 

Wiggins told IRIN in an email that subsidized inputs work where there are few local agricultural supplies dealers, who stock small quantities, so seeds, fertilizers etc, are therefore more expensive, or when the farmer does not have enough cash at the beginning of a new crop season and lacks access to credit to buy inputs. 

“These issues become acute in countries such as Malawi, where maize yields are lower than they could be, and farmers are seemingly trapped into producing low yields by their poverty and the various failures of rural markets for inputs and credit.” 

Subsidies are expensive to maintain, and are not very sustainable in the long run, especially for poor countries. “The question one has to ask, is: were the funds spent instead on research, extension, better rural roads, and perhaps - because it's difficult - some intervention to kick-start rural financial services, would this do more to increase production than subsidizing inputs?” Wiggins asks. 

Kuteya says the timing was right for the removal of subsidies in Zambia, as elections are only expected in 2016. 


Sunday, 29 September 2013

POVERTY: Nepal's slave girls

Can the young girls forced to work in middle class homes across the country break the bonds of slavery?

 Last Modified: 28 Sep 2013 14:34
Slavery is banned in Nepal. But hidden behind the walls of city homes, some still keep young girls as slaves called kamlaris.
The girls are from the Tharu community, an indigenous group that was stripped of its land and forced into bonded labour after Nepal's first social order was introduced 160 years ago. Tharus farm the land of their landlord and, in return, give back half of what they produce. Often, they trade away their daughters as well.
Connect With 101 East

In June 2013, kamlaris from all over the country protested in a bid to bring an end to slavery once and for all. They want to be free from servitude and have their basic rights guaranteed. The demonstrations were triggered by the mysterious death of Srijana, a 12-year-old kamlari girl who burnt to death in her owner's house. The police alleged it was suicide but the kamlaris were not convinced.
The police retaliated against the demonstrators with violence. Political organisations and rights groups were conspicuously absent from their demonstrations.
101 East travels to western Nepal, home of the Tharus, where Srijana's mother, Draupati Chaudhary, is still in shock. Draupati had handed over her daughter in exchange for the right to till the land and the promise that Srijana would receive an education. Two years on, Srijana was dead.
In a nearby village, another kamlari, Sharda Chaudhary, talks about how she was abused. She slept in the bathroom and was raped by the landlord's son. When she dared to complain, she was beaten up. Sharda worked for only three months. When she was sent back, her mother did not believe that she would survive.
While the government declared the practice illegal more than 10 years ago, many kamlaris continue to live lives of hardship and suffering. In the last five years, five kamlaris have died under mysterious circumstances while 27 are missing from the homes they worked in.
We speak to the official spokesperson of the ministry for women and children and ask what the government is doing regarding these grave abuses.
We also meet some who are working to change the fate of kamlari girls. Man Bahadur Chettri and his organisation, Indentured Daughter's Programme, have rescued more than 12,000 kamlaris. For many of the girls, trauma and emotional baggage makes it hard for them to return home and reintegrate into society, so they end up at a hostel. Here, they receive education, food and shelter until they are able to support themselves.
Other former kamlaris have joined forces with NGOs to create awareness among parents who might otherwise send their daughters away. They also take on the more active role of rescuers, in a bid to end the kamlari system by freeing one girl at a time.
During our filming, we see young girls working behind the high walls of many city homes and ask one man why he continues to keep a kamlari. He tells us that he provides her with education, food and a good place to stay, treating her like his own daughter.
We follow a mother on her journey to free her daughter. In the process, we realise that there are many grey areas when it comes to kamlaris and that what is good for most, is not necessarily good for all.
Can Nepal's slave girls be free? Share your thoughts with us @AJ101East  #NepalSlavery
Filmmaker's view: Born to Work

By Subina Shrestha
Almost every home in Tharu villages gave away a daughter to serve as a kamlari [Bishnu Kalpit]
A few years ago, I was having lunch with a friend in my home city of Kathmandu in Nepal. Between mouthfuls he suddenly said: "I know my cousins occasionally rape Tharu girls." I remember not being sure whether to swallow my food or to throw up.
My friend wanted to get the information off his chest, but I also knew that he would never confront his cousins - let alone work on prosecuting them.

And that is just the problem with much of the South Asian middle class. We build glass walls around ourselves and hope that the other half - who live in poverty and exploitation every day - will just sort themselves out.

Tharus are just one of the indigenous groups that are exploited regularly. Many become bonded labourers, known as kamlaris. When they demonstrated in Kathmandu last June, it was not surprising that most activists or political groups ignored them. They were beaten brutally by the police. But these girls persisted until the government was forced to listen to them.

The kamlaris were demanding that the government look into the death of a 12-year-old kamlari girl who was burnt alive in her owner’s home. The police said it was suicide but many felt the facts did not add up. And even if it was suicide, no one asked why a 12-year-old would choose to pour kerosene over herself and light it in flames rather than carry on living; no one reflected on how desperate she must have been.

The isolation of these kamlaris who live and work as maids in Nepalese homes intrigued me, and their determination fascinated me. There was a desperation in that protest, as the girls were beaten back by the police, that is rarely seen in Kathmandu’s constant round of petty rallies and fake outrage. I felt that I had to find out more.
The first task was to find a kamlari working in Kathmandu. We knew hundreds were hidden away behind the high walls of middle class homes across the city but we found that no one wanted to talk about them. I called a journalist from western Nepal, where most of the kamlaris hail from. He told me: "Everyone in power has a kamlari." When I asked him for names, he said: "I am not going to name names. Frankly, I have political ambitions."
Many former kamlaris have dedicated their lives to ending bonded labour and freeing girls still trapped in the system [Bishnu Kalpit]
We decided to look for the girls ourselves. Armed with hidden cameras, our team set out - and after just a day of searching, we found eight kamlaris. One was even locked inside the house of a local police officer.

Fortunately, there are NGOs in Nepal working to free the kamlaris and we did not need to knock on every door. Former kamlaris have also organised themselves, and have a common voice.

Talking to the kamlaris, I heard plenty of horror stories of abuse, violence and rape. But more common were the stories of petty behaviour aimed at humiliating them.
One young girl told me that she had to feed her owner’s dog cornflakes in the morning while she herself only got stale food. Another talked of being fed rotten rice. The owners could have afforded to provide better food but it was a way of keeping the kamlaris in their place. It was inconceivable that these girls could be seen as an equal in any way. For the owners, the girls were born to be used and abused.

Hearing their stories, it struck me once again how ugly human cruelty can be. What makes people exploit young children? And how is exploitation so easily accepted – especially by the educated middle class?

The families of the young kamlaris were equally culpable. Man Bahadur Chhetri, a man who has dedicated almost a decade to helping kamlaris, told me how the parents of these girls do not value their daughters. Like the rest of Nepal where people prefer sons to daughters, Srijana’s parents had seven girls and then a son. They would never have sent their son to work at someone else’s house. But Srijana was dispensable. When Chhetri’s NGO started working with Tharu families, they could convince parents to keep their daughters at home with the reward of a pig or goat.

Another inspiring NGO worker we met is Krishna Chaudhary, a man who was almost killed during Nepal’s decade-long insurgency trying to save the lives of kamlaris. He showed me a large gash on his leg from when the then Maoist rebels beat him up. He refused to let the rebels take the girls to join the war. Meeting people like Krishna and Man Bahadur Chhetri can restore one’s faith in humanity.

But even after years of activism, exploitation of the Tharus still persists. The kamlari system has been outlawed but we went to some villages and found that Tharu tenant farmers still have to do extra work in the homes of their landlords in exchange for the right to till land. Wives of farmers go to the landlord’s house and complete all the domestic work for free. The only difference was that it was not little girls who worked there and the farmer’s wives could return home to their children.

But we found that there are exceptions and not all kamlaris are abused. One girl who was rescued by a local NGO did not want to return home to her family. It appeared that the owner of the house where she worked in Kathmandu treated her well, sending her to a private school along with his own daughter, something her own family could never afford.

At the end of filming, it was the kamlaris themselves that left me most inspired. They are some of the bravest girls I have ever met. Rising from childhoods of neglect and abuse, many have forgiven their landlords and are now dedicated to bringing about change.
Perhaps if middle class Nepalis would apply more introspection in their lives, they would realise that these girls are not their equal. Many rise far above them.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

POVERTY: Rakhine: More WASH interventions needed

YANGON, 26 September 2013 (IRIN) - Aid workers are calling for stronger interventions to expand access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in western Rakhine State, where sectarian violence more than a year ago has left close to 200,000 people in need.

“WASH activities need to be scaled up and dramatically improved by all aid agencies and government partners working in Rakhine,” Vickie Hawkins, deputy country director for the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Myanmar, told IRIN, describing current standards and coverage as “very uneven”. 

“WASH is a critical issue for Rakhine because of the health implications it can have for the whole community,” said Bertrand Bainvel, country representative for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the cluster lead for WASH. “We’ve made progress, but sustaining and expanding it requires a lot of work.” 

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 176,000 people are in need following two bouts of inter-communal violence between Buddhist ethnic Rakhine residents and Muslim Rohingyas in June and October 2012, which left 167 people dead and more than 10,000 homes and buildings destroyed. 

Of these, 140,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), mostly Rohingya Muslims, are living in more than 70 camps and camp-like settings, with another 36,000 vulnerable people living in 113 isolated and remote host communities in Minbya, Myebon, Pauktaw, Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw and Sittwe in Rakhine State. 

Poor sanitation exacerbates the health situation, and in the rainy season (from mid-May to the end of October) results in high levels of diarrhoeal disease and skin infections amongst the camp population, Hawkins noted. In 2012, MSF reported a diarrhoea outbreak at the Kyein Nyi Pyin camp in Pauktaw Township where 446 people - around 10 percent of the camp’s population - were affected. 

Mixed progress 

Since the conflict in June 2012, UNICEF, WASH partners, and Myanmar’s Department of Rural Development have established some 3,700 latrines and more than 800 water points, and so far more than 20,000 hygiene kits have been distributed in 2013, but much remains to be done. 

About 7 percent of IDPs in the camps have insufficient access to water, 28 percent are using treated water, and around 40 percent are accessing water from ponds, WASH data from June revealed; numbers that will likely worsen when the dry season begins in November. 

“As we change seasons towards hotter temperatures, the problem of drinking water shortages could begin to rear its head, which brings with it increased risks of water-borne diseases, as people resort to untreated water,” Hawkins warned. 

At the same time, access to latrines continues to prove a challenge, compounded by the usually limited space in the camps, and high water tables and flooding in some of the camps. 

In the initial months after the conflict, emergency latrines were erected in most camps, but as the situation becomes more protracted and people move into long houses, activities will need to refocus on maintenance as well as the provision of semi-permanent latrines and other sanitation services, aid workers say. 

Today only a quarter of the camps have enough latrines (at least 1 latrine for every 20 people) to conform to Sphere standards. Nearly half the camps have a ratio of 1:20 to 1:50, while 5 percent the IDPs don’t have access to a latrine at all. 

Hygiene promotion needed 

But even if Sphere standards - which set out best practices in the delivery of humanitarian aid - are met, this won’t necessarily equate to usage. 

“Even if you have the required number [of latrines], it doesn’t mean they are used,” UNICEF’s Bainvel confirmed, citing the ongoing issue of open defecation. “This is where we need to reinforce health promotion interventions for the population to understand the benefits of using them." 

According to a Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Study on WASH in 24 Townships of Myanmar, published in 2011 by the Burmese Government and UNICEF, more than 75 percent of respondents in Rakhine State practice open defecation. 

“Hygiene practices were already low before the displacement and, especially during the current rainy season, poor practices leave people vulnerable and at risk,” Catherine Dennis, humanitarian programme coordinator for Oxfam in Myanmar, confirmed. 

At the same time, many women have expressed fears of using latrines at night due to their location or the lack of door locks. Solid waste management systems are also lacking outside the Sittwe area (including collections systems, refuse containers or pits, incinerators and dumping sites), and there is a limited capacity for proper drainage, particularly in the rainy season. 

Moreover, preparedness for a potential disease outbreak is low among WASH partners due to a lack of funding for stockpiling critical supplies in the event of floods, epidemic outbreaks or new unrest. 

The Humanitarian Country Team's US$109 million revised interagency Rakhine Response Plan, indicates another $1.7 million is needed for WASH interventions through the end of 2013. 


MALARIA: vaccines: past, present and future

Arch Dis Child doi:10.1136/archdischild-2013-304173
  • Global child health

Malaria vaccines: past, present and future

  1. Philip Bejon2
  • Published Online First 23 September 2013


The currently available malaria control tools have allowed malaria elimination in many regions but there remain many regions where malaria control has made little progress. A safe and protective malaria vaccine would be a huge asset for malaria control. Despite the many challenges, efforts continue to design and evaluate malaria vaccine candidates. These candidates target different stages in the life cycle of Plasmodia. The most advanced vaccine candidates target the pre-erythrocytic stages in the life cycle of the parasite and include RTS,S/AS01, which has progressed through clinical development to the stage that it may be licensed in 2015. Attenuated whole-parasite vaccine candidates are highly protective, but there are challenges to manufacture and to administration. Cellular immunity is targeted by the prime–boost approach. Because the inoculation of naked DNA triggers little immune response, the inoculation of DNA is followed with a recombinant viral vector to provide a heterologous boost. This theoretically intriguing approach has yet to translate into clinical efficacy. Candidates that target the blood stages of the parasite have to result in an immune response that is more effective than the response to an infection to abort or control the infection of merozoites and hence disease. Finally, the sexual stages of the parasite offer another target for vaccine development, which would prevent the transmission of malaria. Today it seems unlikely that any candidate targeting a single antigen will provide complete protection against an organism of the complexity of Plasmodium. A systematic search for vaccine targets and combinations of antigens may be a more promising approach.

MALNUTRITION: Zimbabwe: Cloning food security

HARARE, 25 September 2013 (IRIN) - Cloning healthy sweet potato plants by means of tissue culture is helping to alleviate food insecurity in Zimbabwe, and while new production data is hard to come by, some studies show plantings are increasing.  

"You will see people selling sweet potatoes by the roadside [in Harare, the capital] - a sight we never used to see. That is all attributable to the impact of tissue culture,” said Barnabas Mawire, Zimbabwe Country Director for Environment Africa. “Surely, in a country plagued by cereal deficits that should be a welcome development, as it means through this technique many farmers are able to put food on the table for their families." 

Sweet potatoes - not officially recognized as a staple food but grown by most rural households - are a good source of starch and a substitute for maize, the most popular staple foodstuff. People have been resorting to sweet potatoes because the cost of processed starch foods like bread has been escalating.  

Sweet potatoes can be processed into chips or pounded into flour, while the leaves can also be eaten as a vegetable. But the plants are vulnerable to pests and diseases, especially the sweet potato virus complex (SPVD), which tissue culture can help inhibit. 

Tissue culture - a biotechnology incorporating several techniques - is used to grow improved seedlings that could then produce better fruit or flowers, and be more disease-resistant. Tissue culture technology was introduced in Zimbabwe in the late 1990s but has been around for more than 30 years. The cultured plants are grown from small pieces of plant tissue in test-tubes under sterile conditions. 

Leading agricultural scientist Petr Kosina, of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), says the technology is used in cases where plants do not produce seed, or not enough seeds, such as bananas and pineapples. "Or [where] it is difficult to control cross-pollination, meaning seeds wouldn't have the same characteristics as the parent plants (e.g. date palms), or reproduction via seeds is… more expensive." 

More plentiful food 

food security survey by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) put an estimated 1.5 million people of almost 13 million in need of assistance between October and December 2013, and this figure is expected to rise to 2.2 million between January and March 2014.  

A muddled land reform programme in 2000, coupled with successive poor harvests after inconsistent rains, has seen a dramatic drop in agricultural production, leaving millions susceptible to malnutrition and in dire need of food assistance. 

According to an official with the NGO, CARE International Zimbabwe, which has been promoting sweet potato plants generated by tissue culture, farmers reported yields ranging from 16 to 20 tonnes per hectare. The NGO has helped 2,700 farmers in six districts of the Masvingo province in southeastern Zimbabwe. 

The national average yield of the crop is 6 tonnes per hectare, rising to 25 tonnes per hectare when grown under irrigation. According to studies, this compares well with Africa's yield average of 6 tonnes per hectare. 

About 50 percent of Zimbabwe's land mass consists of communal farming areas, where 70 percent of the population reside and small-scale farmers work average plot sizes of about two hectares. 

Jonathan Mufandaedza, chief executive of the National Biotechnology Authority of Zimbabwe (NBAZ) said government-led tissue culture projects had been affected by the "harsh economic conditions… [and] tissue culture has advantages, [but] scientists are still to develop techniques for producing planting material for… [all our] crop[s]." NBAZ is educating the public about the technology to popularize it. 

So is this the way to go? 

The University of Zimbabwe's Crop Science Department and private companies like Agri-Biotech have been supplying healthy plants and expertise to farmers since 2006. But scientists say farmers require a consistent supply of fresh planting material every few years, as the virus elimination process does not last. 

The technology is improving rapidly but is still more expensive than propagating by seed. NGOs sell a tissue-culture plant for 8 to 10 US cents, ordinary plants cost 5 US cents each, and a 25kg bag of seeds costs around $30. 


MALNUTRITION: Crop Biotech Update Sept 25 2013


In This Issue

September 25, 2013


• A Decade of Research Says GM Crops are Safe, Yet Debate Remains Intense 
• Global Scientific Community Stands Up for Golden Rice 

• Public Should be Made Aware of GM Application and Benefits, says Kenyan Governor 
• Field Trials of Biotech Cowpea Begin in Ghana 
• AGRA Unveils a Report on Status of Agriculture in Africa 
• Climate Change and Abiotic Stress Workshop Held in Egypt 

• Biologists Reveal Role of a Protein in Crop Traits Modification 
• Grocery Manufacturers Association Launches Website on GM Food 
• USDA Requests for Public Input on Agricultural Coexistence 
• Biochemists Crack Nitrogen Fixation Code 

Asia and the Pacific 
• NAST Philippines' Statement on the Golden Rice Multiloc Trial Destruction 
• US and Pakistan Partners in Disease Resistant Wheat Project 

• Scientists Discover Mechanism Regulating Direction of Plant Cell Growth 
• New Charity to Develop Under-Utilized Crops to Tackle Global Food Security 

• Scientists Study Effects of Bt Brinjal on Rhizospheric Bacterial Community Structure 
• Binding Characterization of Cry Proteins to the Brush Border Membrane Vesicles of Insect Pests 

Beyond Crop Biotech 
• Scientists Explain the Genetics of Smell 
• Study Reveals Key Genes of Sandalwood 

• IHC 2014 - ISHS/ProMusa Symposium 
• 5th International Conference on Food Engineering and Biotechnology 

Document Reminders 
• UNCTAD Trade and Environment Review 2013 
• Biotech Trait Annual Updates 

Latest Communication Products

Biotech Traits Annual Updates 
A summary of traits deployed in biotech crops which includes short discussions about the trends in biotech traits adoption and benefits of biotech crops with such traits.
Pocket K 45: Biotechnology for Sugarcane 
This PK covers short discussions about the many uses of sugarcane aside from being a sugar crop; how genetic manipulation can boost its yield and enhance its productivity; how cellulosic biofuel is made; niche products; and the key challenges.
Beyond Promises: Top 10 Facts about Biotech/GM Crops in 2012 
A visual presentation of the 10 important highlights about biotech crops in 2012, taken from the ISAAA Brief 44 Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2012
Biotech sQuizBox (Not Just For Kids) 
The activity booklet on biotechnology is designed to inform the public on biotech through trivia and puzzles in cartoons
Biotech Crop Annual Updates 
The series include five short documents on biotech crops namely, soybeanmaizecottoncanola, and alfalfa. Information included in the series includes data on adoption, adopting countries, traits, and the benefits of each biotech crop