IPBO launches a new fact series: Maize in Africa
Maize is the most-produced cereal worldwide. In Africa alone, more than 300 million people depend on maize as their main food crop. In addition, maize is also very important as feed for farm animals. Currently, approximately 1 billion tons of maize are grown in more than 170 countries on about 180 million hectares of land. 90% of the world’s production is yellow maize, but in Africa, 90% of the total maize production is white maize. In Africa, maize production is continuously and severely affected by a number of threats, such as weeds, insects, bacteria, viruses, nematodes, fungi, low quality seed, low levels of mechanization, suboptimal post-harvest management, drought and climate change. Therefore, the maize production in Africa is very low: while the average yield worldwide is approximately 5.5 tons/hectare/year, production in Africa stagnates at around 2 tons/hectare/year. To continue to guarantee maize food and feed security in Africa, good agricultural practices, intercropping, new hybrids obtained by conventional and marker-assisted breeding, and genetically modified (GM) plants are valuable tools to develop varieties with increased yield and resistance to pests, weeds, diseases and drought. Several breeding programs also develop new maize varieties with enhanced nutritional value.
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IIBN book release: “Innovative farming and forestry across the emerging world: the role of Genetically Modified (GM) crops and trees”

The book published by IIBN highlights the importance of biotechnological innovations for sustainable development of agriculture and industry illustrated by means of case studies from growth economies and developing countries.The book focuses on (near) commercial applications of transgenic technologies in agriculture and forestry and provides a comprehensive overview of the current status of commercial farming using transgenic breeding across the emerging/developing world with case studies from Africa, Latin America, and also Asia.









                Marc van Montagu and Philippe Scholtes

Key innovations in plant biotechnology and applications in agriculture, industrial processes and healthare

                Sylvie De Buck, Dulce de Oliveira and Marc Van Montagu

Biotechnology and GM crops in Brazil

                Maria Fatima Grossi-de-Sa and Patricia Messenberg Guimarães

Genetically modified crops in Argentina

                Eugenio J.Cap and Euduardo J. Trigo

Genetic modification (GM) technology for sustainable agriculture in Central America

                Jorge A. Huete-Perez & Richard J. Roberts

Genetically modified crops in South Africa

                Jennifer Thompson

The success story of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso: a role model for sustainable cotton production in other cotton growing countries

                Ine Pertry, Edouard I.R. Sanou, Stijn Speelman, Ivan Ingelbrecht

Genetically mofified crops in South Asia

                Bhagirath Choudhary, Kadambini Gaur and Godelieve Gheysen

Greening the supply chain: the potentia for a forest biomass-based bio-economy

                Mike May, Stanley Hirsch, and Eugenio Cesar Ulian

Concluding remarks

                Marc Heijde and Yvonne Lokko


The book can be downloaded for free through the following link:

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IPBO releases a new fact series on cotton in Africa
Cotton is predominantly a smallholder crop and represents a crucial source of income for millions of farmers and their families in more than 20 countries across all regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite its economic potential, the cotton industry is subject to a number of risks, such as price fluctuations of both inputs and cotton on the world market, changing weather conditions, and damages by an extraordinarily wide range of insect pests, which cause significant losses to cotton production and fiber quality. All these risk factors threaten the sustainability of cotton production in Africa. Due to strong insects’ pressure, cotton is heavily sprayed with chemical pesticides. This poses significant health hazards for many farmers and generates extensive environmental pollution. In 2016, a total of 8 African countries either planted, actively evaluated field trials or moved towards grant approvals for the general release of insect-resistant Bt cotton. In South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan, Bt varieties spread rapidly because they provided a significant reduction of insecticide use and bollworm damage, an increased yield and higher farmer profits. They also allowed conservation of beneficial natural enemies. However, in 2016, the government of Burkina Faso temporarily suspended the growing of Bt cotton to address a concern about fiber length observed in the varieties farmers have successfully grown over the last eight years.
The Facts Series “Cotton in Africa” reviews the impact of Bt cotton on African agricultural systems. It highlights the importance for donors and governments that invest heavily in the hope that GM crops will bring significant improvements to the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers to first paying attention to the fundamental institutions that support broader agricultural development and technology generation (with or without GM crops).
You can download the publication here


IPBO launches new VIB fact series: Bananas, the green gold of the South

There are few people in the world who are not familiar with bananas. With an annual production of 145 million metric tons in over 130 countries and an economic value of 44.1 billion dollars, bananas are the fourth most important food crop in the world. Given that bananas serve as a basic food source for 20 million people in East Africa and for 70 million people in West and Central Africa, Africa is highly dependent on banana cultivation for food, income, and job security. To continue to guarantee food security in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as the worldwide export of bananas in the future, there is an urgent need for improved banana varieties with an increased yield and nutritional value, which are resistant to all pests and diseases.

These Facts Series elaborate on processes to produce new and improved banana varieties that contribute to susatainable, envoronmentally friendly, and economically viable agriculture.

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East African Scientists and Regulators attended an advanced biosafety course

On November 4-13 2015, a 10-day course, organized by IPBO in collaboration with UGent and CIP (International Potato Center), took place in Entebbe, Uganda.

With the potato and resistance to late blight as a case study, the course covered in a first part the scientific and biotechnological aspects to obtain improved varieties. The course also treated the regulatory and biosafety issues of agricultural biotechnology in the east-African region and finally dedicated a section on the art and tricks of science and risk communication.

The 20 workshop participants came from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania or Rwanda and were representing a broad spectrum of professionals, working in the field of biotechnology, as scientists or as regulators at governmental or nonprofit organizations within the east-African region.

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Publication: Fatal attraction: the intuitive appeal of GMO opposition

This paper wants to explain the discrepancy between public opinion and the scientific evidence about GMO crops. This paper argues that intuitive expectations about the world render the human mind vulnerable to particular misinterpretations of GMOs and discuss the implications for science education, science communication, and the environmental movement.


Blancke et al., 2015. Trends in Plant Science

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Prof. Marc van Montagu appointed as UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador for Agribusiness

Marc Van Montagu, Founder and Chairman of IPBO, has been appointed “Goodwill Ambassador for Agribusiness” by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

LI Yong (General Director of UNIDO): “We want to recognize a remarkable carreer that has brought such dramatic improvements to the lives of the rural poor around the world. By bestowing this recognition on Professor Van Montagu, we want to highlight, from the perspective of UNIDO, the impact of biotechnology on the food and agribusiness industries of the 21th century and beyond” .

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SOCBIOAfri project launched

SOCBIOAfri: Addressing Societal Challenges of Biotechnology in Africa. Towards Balanced Innovation.


SOCBIOAfri aims to contribute to research on privately and publicly financed biotechnology innovations in Africa,relating these to requirements for elaborating effective policy frameworks for biotechnology in Africa. It also aims to contribute to capacity-building in the analysis of biotechnology and in policy development.

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New Master program in Plant Breeding

In response to strong demand from private and public institutions involved in plant breeding and in the food sector, a new “Master in Plant Breeding”, was jointly established by the Polytechnic Institute of LaSalle Beauvais, France and Ghent University, Belgium.


The ‘Master in Plant Breeding’ is a 2-year international Master program intended to form expert plant breeders with strong cross-curricular competence in biotechnology, including molecular and bioinformatics tools and their applications in plant breeding. Its modular structure will offer additional flexibility to students who wish to focus on specific courses or topics.

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IIBN Launched at UNIDO

The International Industrial Biotechnology Network was officially launched during a symposium on biotechnologies for sustainable industrial development hosted at UNIDO's Headquarters on 29 March 2010.

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