Microbes ‘cheaper, fairer’ for boosting yields than GM.

Speed read

  • Microbes may offer a more equitable choice for smallholder farmers
  • Improvements in technology must continue to get them from the lab to the field
  • Melon yields in Honduras have already benefited from microbes.

Adapting microbes that dramatically increase crop yields while reducing demand for fertilisers and pesticides through selective breeding or genetic engineering could be cheaper and more flexible than genetically modifying plants themselves, says an author of a report.
Microbes, such as beneficial bacteria, fungi and viruses, could be produced locally for smallholder 
farmers to significantly improve food security and incomes in developing regions, believes Ann Reid, director of the American Academy of Microbiology and co-author of a report published by the organisation last month (27 August).
“Genetic modification of crop plants, which has seen a huge investment, is closed to all but the biggest agricultural companies,” she tells SciDev.Net.
“Optimisation of microbes could be done at the level of the local community college and is much more obtainable for a smallholder farmer.”
Her comments echo the findings of the report — the product of an expert meeting in 2012 — which underscored the significant impact microbes could have on food production by increasing crops’ absorption of nutrients, resistance to disease and environmental stresses, and even improving flavour.

“Optimisation of microbes could be done at the level of the local community college and is much more obtainable for a smallholder farmer.”

Ann Reid, American Academy of Microbiology

As well as to accentuate naturally occurring traits such as the secretion of pest-killing toxins or nitrogen-fixation, the modification of microbes is often needed to allow them to be grown in large numbers out of their natural environment.
For example, researchers in Colombia could only produce large quantities of a fungus that improves the nutrient absorption of cassava once they bred a strain of that fungus that was capable of growing on carrot roots.
Recent technological developments in rapid DNA sequencing, imaging and computer modelling can help provide further solutions, as well as building a greater understanding of the complex environment that microbes themselves need to flourish, the report says.
These advances raise the possibility that, within two decades, microbes could increase food production by a fifth and reduce fertiliser demands by the same proportion, it finds.
But to achieve this ambitious goal, the research community must engage in curiosity-driven basic research, develop even cheaper sequencing techniques, and establish a process to move discoveries from the lab to the field, it says.
Reid adds that, unlike genetic modification, which requires farmers to regularly buy improved seeds, microbes may be able to stay in the soil indefinitely.
But larger universities are still needed to drive more-complex areas of investigation, which inevitably requires funding, she says. “We wanted to get the word out that this could be a big-bang-for-your- buck area for funding agencies.”
Matteo Lorito, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Naples, Italy, agrees that sophisticated research centres must be involved in identifying and selecting suitable microbes and techniques.
But once this groundwork has been done, growing microbes will require as little as a fermenting tank, he says.
The impact of this approach is already being seen in areas such as Honduras, where melon yields have been improved by 15 per cent by applying a fungus that boosts the plants’ defence mechanisms.
Other crops such as maize, tomatoes and wheat could see rises in production of more than 50 per cent from such techniques, he believes.
But Ken Giller, professor of plant production systems at the Netherland’s Wageningen University, says that much more work needs to be done, particularly on how to get the microbes into the soil, before farmers will benefit, he says.
“Molecular biology has been incredibly important in understanding biology in general, which has helped when thinking about solutions [for food production],” he tells SciDev.Net.
“But in terms of the manipulation of these processes to make an impact in the field, we have yet to make any great inroads

5 Ways to Make a Meaningful Difference in the World.

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. ~Mother Teresa

One question we should all try to have answered before we go to sleep is “What have I done to move humanity forward today?” Opportunities present, even in the most subtle or miniscule manner, whereby we can take an action that makes this world a little better place to live. We have a moral and ethical obligation not only to advance humanity, but to also understand our role in preserving the delicate balance of the natural world that is integral part of us.


That is the beauty of our capacity as Human Beings, the realization that there is no limit to what we can accomplish if we really want an end result.  When we take an action, not for selfish recognition, but for the Purity of doing the act simply because it is the “right” thing, the doors that are then magically opened revealing rewards not for individuals, but for all living beings in our Universe.

Start the process by taking 5 steps to get outside of the Self and looking at how to enhance the world around you..

1. Accept who you are and your unlimited capacity

Many of us are confused in what we can offer because we do not recognize who we are and what gifts lie within. The process of making the decision to look outside yourself is a part of your spiritual journey. The realization that there is more than the Ego, the Me, and what I can gain out of this life is a huge step for many of us. We are encouraged to take those actions that enhance the Me, without really considering the Us. Our minds are molded from birth by many forms of media and even our families to think about the self. Under the guise of increasing our self-esteem from the outside, we have forgotten the much bigger picture.

Step outside your comfort zone and use the intuitive side to escape this box and begin to think of others. There is no doubt that you will encounter uncomfortable situations that test your mettle and challenge you to the core of the belief systems which have taken decades to develop. Going to Honduras with a religious group whose form of worship was foreign to me changed the course of my life when I realized how petty my “problems” were compared to people who were trying to just survive. Once you realize that when you look outside of yourself all that happens is growth as a person, you will begin the never ending process which catapults you to achieve your fullest potential.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ~Buddha

2. Be an agent of change

By saying to the world I am an Agent of change, you have now altered the mindset that has restricted your actions and belief in yourself. By saying I Matter, you recognize your intrinsic worth and translate that to the myriad of interactions with the world as you recognize the value in all that are connected to you.

3. Determine your intention

Major movements in recent human history seem like seismic shifts, but their germination occurred years before and the final action is the culminations of many intertwined circumstances. There is not one act of kindness that is too small, so long as the intention is present. Combining our minds and hearts leads to action. With the right frame of mind, we innately know what to offer in order to better other people’s lives. This may be as simple as smiling at or wishing a total stranger to have a nice day to helping a neighbor with a plumbing issue.

4. Use your talents

Each of us is born with gifts that are unique to us. People can play an instrument that has the same six strings, but how that tool transforms is up to our own innate ability. Share what you have for the simple sake of sharing. Asking nothing in return you will gain everything.

5. Look for places to volunteer

Look at your community and see where your talents are needed. Even if places don’t advertise for help, make the offer. If you are volunteering somewhere outside the norm, cherish the lessons you will learn from the uncomfortable situations you are placed.  By volunteering at a school, the impact on a child’s life by act of kindness is immeasurable. By becoming a part of a community clean up, your labor to enhances and preserves the natural world around you.

We value and are selfish with our time. Thinking outside of the Me and sharing what you have to offer with those around you will change your life and how you look at everything in the world around you. We are all connected to each other and we have to accept that the Universe has weaved a very delicate tapestry that is always in danger of slowly being unraveled. When we finally start to reflect on what is happening, we sometimes doubt our own power and wonder what can one individual do about the human condition.

To quote my partner when others were lukewarm as to what she was trying to accomplish by a humanitarian project, “no one seems excited about things, but it just takes one, and I’m excited.”

Get excited, make a difference!

Source: Purpose Fairy


A Different Approach to Happiness.

Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself. ~Alice Walker

We have been programmed in many ways to feel that our ability to lead a happy life is dependent on outside influences. Validation of self through others, the accumulation of stuff, conformity to the norm, are just several of the ways in which we anchor what should arise from the inner core and be a part of the fabric of our being to the physical world.


It is not as if we have not been bombarded by these concepts from the time we are able to comprehend the concept of cause and effect. Through our families, media, advertising, friends, or any other human interaction in which some type of worldly worth is placed on whatever circumstance we are facing, we become conditioned to placing a value on things. We have to have so much money, this type of job, these amounts of savings, this sort of build, a certain look, to a point where the senses are overloaded and we accept this as the way it has to be.

Many of us stay content walking or running in place until a jarring event or circumstance forces us to face and at times question whether we are truly content with our lot in life. Once we are forced off the treadmill, the Universe either nudges or pushes us to seek our own individual path and we then start to become more aware that our happiness can never be of the outside plane, but resides within our individual souls. As a concept itself, happiness has a circular definition completely relative to where you are in your life in a given moment.

When I was furiously arguing with a driver in Honduras on the cusp of a pitch black field to return to a safe place after he indicated we would be picking up a friend of his for the ride,  I was not happy. Once the windshield lit up from the refraction of the red beam attached to a rifle scope which danced between my forehead and that of the driver as it streamed from the “empty” field, I was happy when the car backed up and we sped down the road.

1. Depend only on yourself for happiness

We have to listen to ourselves and we will be guided to do what we need to do. We cannot base any part of our happiness on another person. It is unfair and no one should be placed in that position and have that type of responsibility hoisted on them nor should we want to be with someone who craves this to be their role. We can wish someone happiness, but happiness cannot be forced, manipulated, or faked. We take actions that are thoughtful and mindful because we want to and not out of a sense of obligation.
Only when we have inner peace and a healthy respect and relationship with ourselves, can weattain a sense of happiness that is in balance.

2. Live in the Present Moment

When we spend the energy to reflect on the past, we sometimes get caught up in scenarios which we play out in our heads that are not true or exaggerated truth. If things were really so great, we would still be in situations that were weighing us down and at times sucking the life out of our souls.

A set of unique events brought us each to this exact moment of time and where we are in our lives. We had to undergo constant change and movement in our lives to be the people we are this instant. If you were to change one decision in the past, the present would be completely different That is why if we are unhappy this instant, we have an incredible power to change the course of our lives so that what occurs now impacts the what happens in an hour or tomorrow. If you feel happy in this moment, decisions will be made this instant that either enhance this state of bliss or take you on a different path.

Regardless of where we are, living in the Now and allowing all things and people to just Be, opens the door for the Universe to work her magic for the good of all. The minute we try to force or control the Universe, is when we go out of balance and start spiraling into a state of chaos in our lives. Just Be.
The minute we try to control, we lose control.

3. Embrace Change as an integral part to Happiness

What is exciting about the notion of impermanence is discovering what the change will be and what the now just became. We and everyone in our lives is blessed with the ability to change, to grow to blossom and to live out our bliss. We should embrace our potential and bravely accept the challenges we face which become the vehicles that carry us to who we are to become.

The tip of the iceberg, but a least we see the iceberg…

Source: http://www.purposefairy.com