Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Dieoff by crop failure

Many limits to growth doomers think that we have no way in hell of increasing the food supplies enough to feed future populations.

The best estimate by the world health organization is that crop yields need to increase fifty per cent over the next century to feed the estimated 9 billion people (highest case) that will then be resident on our planet.

The crop with the biggest potential would be rice, since half the world's population depends on rice.

Unfortunately, the growth in rice yields has stagnated for the last thirty years or more. In the 1970s the green revolution doubled yields but since then there have been no more breakthroughs of that magnitude although small gains have been made.

Recently however, that changed, with the discovery of a new gene variant that produces a 10 per cent increase in yields in the field.

Two different and independent teams of crop geneticists at Nagoya university in Japan and the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing, identified the gene variant and tested them in the field in modified rice crops.

The Japanese team was able to increase yields up to 52 per cent but did not conduct a field trial. The Chinese team conducted a field trial and increased yields by 10 per cent.


Not yet.

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