Listening to the fizmer

by Luigi Guarino on March 30, 2015

A couple of weeks ago we Nibbled an article by the writer Robert Macfarlane on his decade-long effort to rescue local words for features of the British landscape from oblivion. Macfarlane also has a piece on this obsession of his in the latest alumni magazine of the University of Cambridge — he’s Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature there, after all. This includes evocative photographs of some of the terms he’s collected. Worth a look (p. 35).

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Crowdsourcing oca improvement

by Luigi Guarino on March 17, 2015

As any breeder will tell you at least once during any conversation you may have with them, crop improvement is a numbers game. Which makes it a very hard game for the so-called minor crops. Not enough money and not enough people limit the sheer number of crosses that can be made and new plants that can be evaluated, so progress is slow. Enter the internet: “Thanks to social media and the internet, amateur breeders can swap huge amounts of information.” That’s Owen, a breeder of ocas and other things tuberous down in Cornwall, as featured a couple of days ago in the gardening section of The Guardian. If you’d like to help the world develop day-length neutral oca varieties, you can follow Owen on Facebook and Twitter and join his Guild of Oca Breeders.


Brainfood: Camelina improvement, School garden impact, Biodiversity rice, Seed networks, Indian wheat geography, Protected areas, Late blight resistance, Peanut biotech

16 March 2015

Camelina as a sustainable oilseed crop: Contributions of plant breeding and genetic engineering. It will help that it’s close to Arabidopsis. Sustenance and sustainability: maximizing the impact of school gardens on health outcomes. You need proper experimental design if you’re going to say that such an impact exists. But such an impact probably exists, sometimes. […]

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Prioritizing FAO’s food composition work

15 March 2015

Via the International Network of Food Data Systems (INFOODS) discussion list we hear from FAO’s Ruth Charrondiere that: …FAO’s “Medium Term Plan 2014-17 (reviewed) and Programme of Work and Budget 2016-17″ … states on p.21: “Nutrition: in realigning and strengthening work on nutrition in follow-up to ICN2,1 reduce work on nutrition education curricular development and […]

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International Year of Quinoa officially over

10 March 2015

FAO has just published a very glossy volume, somewhat unnecessarily prosaically entitled “State of the art report on quinoa around the world in 2013.” I guess it signals the official end of the International Year of Quinoa. There are chapters on all the things you’d expect, including genetic resources, that one authored by some old […]

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Brainfood: Biodiversity and health, Medieval cattle, African livestock sustainability, Filipino rice, Coffee breeding, Land-sparing conundrum, Scrapie resistant goats, Ass-like equid evolution, GS in livestock breeding, Eucalypt diversity & drought, Ecosystem services of organic ag

9 March 2015

Relationships between agrobiodiversity, dietary diversity and nutritional status in Tanzania. It’s really complicated. Microsatellite genotyping of medieval cattle from central Italy suggests an old origin of Chianina and Romagnola cattle. DNA from a couple of cattle breeds from central Italy shows remarkable similarities with that from thousand-old bones from an archaeological site in the same […]

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The cost-benefit of Australian genebanks

6 March 2015

We’ve now received a copy of the 2007 report to the Steering Committee of Australia’s National Genetic Resource Centre entitled “Benefit-cost analysis of the proposed National Genetic Resources Centre,” as trailed in an earlier post. That’s the one that was said to posit a return on investment of 119:1 for the Australian pastures genebank. It […]

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Genetic Resources in Crop Breeding course in the offing

5 March 2015

A course on genetic resources for plant breeding is being organized at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Alnarp, Sweden. The person responsible is Prof. Rodomiro Ortíz, who has a huge amount of experience in the field, with a wide variety of crops. It’ll be in August, and the deadline for applications is April […]

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