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A WORLD OF NEW IDEAS

Amanda Hardman believes the amount of plastic packaging used in the produce aisles of her local grocery store is unsustainable. As a solution, the second-year sustainable agriculture student at the University of Alberta developed a prototype clamshell package made of sugarcane fibre and intended to transport lettuce. Initially a 4-H Canada Science Fair project, it earned her a spot at the Bayer Youth Ag Summit 2021. “People are looking for packaging options other than plastics as it has either been banned in some places or discouraged in others,” said Hardman.

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HOMELAND SECURITY

Cybersecurity breaches continue to plague major companies around the world, and for good reason: the nefarious “actors” behind the attacks stand to make substantial sums of money if they are able to pinch the right company at the right time in just the right place. 

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SCIENTISTS SEEK BETTER BREAD

Using high-tech chemical analysis tools, Canadian Grain Commission researchers are examining wheat at the molecular level to better understand how gluten proteins vary from one variety to the next. Their aim is to reveal how these previously hidden variations affect dough and baking qualities.

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BIOTECH BREAKTHROUGH

With the use of new biotechnology processes known as gene editing, a revolution in plant breeding technology is now underway. Methods such as CRISPR/Cas9, the best-known gene editing process, can carry out targeted changes within crop and livestock genes. Naturally, there is fear within the farm and agri-food sectors that foods produced via this technology will face public resistance as GMO crops once did.

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A DEGREE OF OPPORTUNITY

Students at Lethbridge College now have the ability to turn a two-year agriculture diploma into a full undergraduate degree with the institution’s brand-new bachelor of agriculture science program, which began this fall.

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THE BIG C

At first glance, the farmer’s role in helping Canada reach its ambitious goal of net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 appears simple: lower emissions and adopt technology and alternative management practices that boost soil carbon sequestration. Many believe addressing the carbon equation offers economic advantages, too. Farmers who cut back on inputs subject to the carbon tax save money, and those who adopt so-called regenerative practices may participate in the growing carbon economy by collecting and selling carbon credits. While this sounds straightforward, it is anything but.

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FIGHT AGAINST PLANT DISEASE EXPANDS

Bacterial leaf streak (BLS) is a subtle intruder, but given the right conditions, it can cause significant yield loss and affect future crops in wheat and barley. Most commonly transmitted through contaminated seed, the disease has the cereal industry pushing on all fronts to break the chain of transmission, starting with the development of an effective seed test to help farmers manage the risk and prevent it from spreading.

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FORWARD MOMENTUM REQUIRES COMPETITIVE CROPS

Undoubtedly, one of the most prominent success stories is the advancements of plant breeding innovation within our very own, world-leading research sector. It is truly an amazing time to observe plant breeders safely and relatively quickly create new crop varieties that meet the health, safety and functional needs of end-users but are also adapted to specific geographical environments.

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INDONESIAN INROADS

The announcement this June of the launch of free trade negotiations between Canada and Indonesia has put a spotlight on the Asian market. For Canadian wheat farmers and exporters, the prospect of greater trade with Indonesia is worth close attention.

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