Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Drought-resistant crops...

An article that has received far less attention than I believe it should have is this one regarding the development of drought resistant crops.

"In research to be published in leading international journal Nature, the scientists from the Australian National University report that they have identified a gene which regulates water efficiency in plants.
It is the first time such a gene has been isolated and scientists say it will allow them improve the drought resistance of most crop species and could have major implications for crops grown in dry areas."

Obviously Australia has major problems with the supply of fresh water for agricultural purposes. Australia has suffered increasingly severe droughts that are getting more frequent. As climate change is set to contunue these droughts are forecast to increase in frequency. However, it is not just Australia that has to deal with this issue.

Climate change is likely to lead to much dryer conditions in large parts of Southern Europe and bring further droughts to North America, Africa and the Indian sub-continent. In short, water shortages will be a major issue and indeed are already an issue in some parts. All over the world water tables are falling as we are depleting resources of fresh water in some cases millions of years old.

In the early seventies it was predicted by some that the world would not be able to sustain the population size of the earth as it stands today. The green revolution made sure today more people have access to food & water than ever before. However, this is being achieved in a non-sustainable way.

The use of GM crops could provide a solution by the further development of these drought resistant crops. However, there is a great resistance against GM crops in some parts of the world, especially Europe with fears that GM crops will contaminate the ecosystem.

So, what to do? I would say that the potential benefit of these drought resistant crops outweighs the potential or perceived issues with GM crops...


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