Agriculture

Hope for the humble cabbage - biological pest management programs (diamond back moth)

Deidre Charleston Plants, herbivores and carnivores are connected through an intricate array of chemical linkages. The plant kingdom is by far the most efficient producer of chemical compounds, synthesising many products that are used in defence against herbivore attack. Extracts prepared from plants have a variety of properties including insecticidal, such as toxicity to nematodes, mites and other agricultural pests. They also have antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties against pathogens. Many farmers in developing countries do not have the resources to purchase and apply...

GM - why the frenzy? Interview with Val Giddings

Janice Limson It all began with determining the structure of DNA in the 1960s. Since then our knowledge of DNA and understanding of genetics has provided scientists with a powerful tool to address world needs in a way that was never possible before. While advances in the pharmaceutical biotech industry receive worthy attention it is the area of food or agricultural biotechnology which has enraged and impassioned and been debated like no other scientific advance before. "Why" we asked Dr Val Giddings, Vice President for Food and Agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in...

Agave - Gems in the Karoo

by Garth Cambray The science behind making alcohol is an interesting one. Science is what has allowed us to make alcohol from some of the most bizarre and unusual life forms on our planet. As one drives through the dry but beautiful Karoo near Graaf-Reinet in South Africa you will see stands of a dark blue-grey leafed plant, which farmers often call the American aloe, and which are all members of the Agave family. It is hard to imagine looking at this plant that it could be used to produce alcohol, but that is precisely what the owners of Agave Distillers are doing.

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