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Question

If produce can be modifiedengineered, why should we believe that it cannot be done in the case of climate engineering? What are the ties of weather with food production?

Submitted by: Steve


Answer

Expert response from Dr. L. Curtis Hannah

Professor, University of Florida

Wednesday, 15/07/2015 16:26

Your question addresses an active area of present research in plant improvement. As you alluded to, climate change places additional constraints on plant growth and productivity.  Accordingly, many public and private groups around the world are now screening diverse genetic resources or creating genetic variation via biotechnology that will mitigate some of these adverse environmental effects due to climate change.

 

For example, I am involved in a group that is identifying biochemical steps in corn that become limiting under high temperatures.  We then clone the genes affecting these steps and engineer them so that the biochemical step is less temperature sensitive.  We now have transgenes that increase cereal (corn, wheat and rice) grain yield when the plants are grown under high temperatures. Increases as high as 63% have been measured.  Unfortunately all of the anti-GMO miss information now rampant on the internet coupled to the very high costs of getting these genes through all the regulatory loops has negated the use of these genes in commerce. I continue to hope though that the day will come when we can use these genes to help feed a growing world-wide human population in the face of climate change without increasing the acreage used for agriculture.   

Answer

Expert response from Dr. L. Curtis Hannah

Professor, University of Florida

Wednesday, 15/07/2015 16:26

Your question addresses an active area of present research in plant improvement. As you alluded to, climate change places additional constraints on plant growth and productivity.  Accordingly, many public and private groups around the world are now screening diverse genetic resources or creating genetic variation via biotechnology that will mitigate some of these adverse environmental effects due to climate change.

 

For example, I am involved in a group that is identifying biochemical steps in corn that become limiting under high temperatures.  We then clone the genes affecting these steps and engineer them so that the biochemical step is less temperature sensitive.  We now have transgenes that increase cereal (corn, wheat and rice) grain yield when the plants are grown under high temperatures. Increases as high as 63% have been measured.  Unfortunately all of the anti-GMO miss information now rampant on the internet coupled to the very high costs of getting these genes through all the regulatory loops has negated the use of these genes in commerce. I continue to hope though that the day will come when we can use these genes to help feed a growing world-wide human population in the face of climate change without increasing the acreage used for agriculture.