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Major heretofore intractable biotic constraints to African food security that may be amenable to novel biotechnological solutions

This research article assesses the potential for biotechnological approaches to overcome major pests, diseases and weeds undermining food security in Africa. The eight authors review three major constraints — parasitic weeds and herbicide-resistant grasses, insect pests, including those carrying plant diseases, and mycotoxins that damage stored grains.

They note that biotechnological solutions to some of these are already being explored, such as insect resistance in maize, but they say that others, like the control of parasitic weeds, will require longer-term study. The authors argue that these should be prioritised in public research programmes and supported by the private sector through donations of useful genes and technologies.

Their methodical discussion helps identify key priority areas for crop biotech research in Africa. This article will be useful to policy analysts, decision makers and research managers working in the field.