New book: ‘With Our Own Hands’ Celebrating food and life in the Pamir Mountains

“This beautiful book highlights the critical role of the people of the Pamirs as custodians of their food, seeds and traditions. In a supremely challenging landscape, they guard the origins and diversity of many of the foods that are now found on fields and dinner tables around the world. We are introduced to an inspiring but fragile example of the interdependence between people and their environment, and the beauty and dignity that can arise from it,” says Carl Folke, Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

The book is written in three languages in parallel – English as well as Dari and Tajik, the forms of Persian spoken in Afghanistan and Tajikistan respectively. 1800 copies of the book will return to the Pamirs, to be distributed to every village, school and common kitchen.

The book is officially released in June 2015, but can be pre-ordered here.

With our own hands

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A busy month for Nutrition: major conferences and inaugural report

This month has seen a flurry of activity focusing on human nutrition.  IFPRI has recently released the 2014 Global Nutrition Report, and two major conferences are scheduled.

IFPRI’s 2014 Global Nutrition Report provides a comprehensive narrative and analysis on the state of the world’s nutrition.

The Global Nutrition Report will convene existing processes, highlight progress in combating malnutrition and identify gaps and propose ways to fill them. Through this, the Report will help to guide action, build accountability and spark increased commitment for further progress towards reducing malnutrition much faster.  This inaugural Global Nutrition Report is to be launched officially on November 20th, 2014 at the The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in Rome – which will be held this week, from the 19-21st November at the FAO Headquarters.

The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) is an inclusive inter-governmental meeting on jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The two main outcome documents of the conference are the Rome Declaration on Nutrition: a political commitment document, and the Framework for Action: a technical guide for implementation.
Always in Rome, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement is holding it’s Annual Global Gathering (SUNGG), from the 16th-18th November.  More than 300 participants from 54 SUN Countries and SUN Networks will come together for this annual meet up. The event will take place in advance of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) to maximise interactions between the two meetings. The SUN Movement Annual Progress Report (2014) will be launched at the event.

The programme includes three plenaries, parallel group discussion sessions and a market-place for countries to showcase their achievements. The agenda and further details of the SUNGG are now available online here.

Photo by Daniel Parkes. []

Photo by Daniel Parkes. []

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NUS species in the spotlight

Next week in Accra, Ghana, The 3rd International Conference on: Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS): for a Food-Secure Africa will be held from the 25-27 September.

The programme will be of great interest to researchers working in this field, and consists of three main themes with related sub-themes:
Theme 1: Resilience of agricultural and livelihood systems.
a) Diversification for food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.
b) NUS for nutrition and health.
Theme 2: Upgrading value chains of neglected and underutilized species.
Theme 3: Creating an enabling policy environment.
a) Policy frameworks.
b) Capacity development and institutions.
c) Partnership, projects, platforms.

A newly published strategic analysis of NUS entitled “Fighting Poverty, Hunger and Malnutrition with Neglected and Underutilized Species – Needs, Challenges and the Way Forward” will be launched at the conference; and participants will have the chance to view the travelling exhibition on quinoa,  one of the crops considered part of the NUS family.

Learn more from the main conference website.

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Bioversity International annual report 2012

We are pleased to launch the Bioversity International 2012 Annual Report, available as an interactive digital publication and as a downloadable PDF. In the report, you will find highlights of our work in 2012 showing how research on agricultural and forest biodiversity can help achieve a sustainable future. Continue reading

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PNAS OA article: Comparative transcriptomics reveals patterns of selection in domesticated and wild tomato

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

9 July 2013; Vol. 110, No. 28

Comparative transcriptomics reveals patterns of selection in domesticated and wild tomato  OPEN ACCESS ARTICLE

 One of the most important technological advances by humans is the domestication of plant species for the production of food. We have used high-throughput sequencing to identify changes in DNA sequence and gene expression that differentiate cultivated tomato and its wild relatives. We also identify hundreds of candidate genes that have evolved new protein sequences or have changed expression levels in response to natural selection in wild tomato relatives. Taken together, our analyses provide a snapshot of genome evolution under artificial and natural conditions


Although applied over extremely short timescales, artificial selection has dramatically altered the form, physiology, and life history of cultivated plants. We have used RNAseq to define both gene sequence and expression divergence between cultivated tomato and five related wild species. Based on sequence differences, we detect footprints of positive selection in over 50 genes. We also document thousands of shifts in gene-expression level, many of which resulted from changes in selection pressure. These rapidly evolving genes are commonly associated with environmental response and stress tolerance. The importance of environmental inputs during evolution of gene expression is further highlighted by large-scale alteration of the light response coexpression network between wild and cultivated accessions. Human manipulation of the genome has heavily impacted the tomato transcriptome through directed admixture and by indirectly favoring nonsynonymous over synonymous substitutions. Taken together, our results shed light on the pervasive effects artificial and natural selection have had on the transcriptomes of tomato and its wild relatives.

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Science’s article: Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture: Premises and Policies

Science 5 July 2013:
Vol. 341 no. 6141 pp. 33-34
DOI: 10.1126/science.1234485

Policy Forum

Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture: Premises and Policies

  1.      T. Garnett1 et al.


Food security is high on the global policy agenda. Demand for food is increasing as populations grow and gain wealth to purchase more varied and resource-intensive diets. There is increased competition for land, water, energy, and other inputs into food production. Climate change poses challenges to agriculture, particularly in developing countries (1), and many current farming practices damage the environment and are a major source of greenhouse gases (GHG). In an increasingly globalized world, food insecurity in one region can have widespread political and economic ramifications (2).

The access to the full text to this journal article is restricted to the journal subscribers.

Read the Full Text

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Nature’s comment: Agriculture: Feeding the future

Agriculture: Feeding the future

Susan McCouch et al.

Nature: 499, Pages:23–24 Date published:(04 July 2013) DOI:doi:10.1038/499023a

We must mine the biodiversity in seed banks to help to overcome food shortages, urge Susan McCouch and colleagues



Posted in Biodiversity, Genetic resources | Leave a comment