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Crop Biotech Update

Geneticist Urges Mining the World's Seed Banks to Feed Tomorrow's Population

July 10, 2013

"People need to tap unused plants to feed the world in the near future," says Cornell University plant geneticist Susan McCouch in a commentary article in the July 4 issue of the journal Nature. According to McCouch, the biodiversity stored in plant gene banks coupled with advances in genetics and plant breeding may be the key to meet the demands for more food in the face of climate change, soil degradation, and water and land shortages.

"Gene banks hold hundreds of thousands of seeds and tissue culture materials collected from farmers' fields and from wild, ancestral populations, providing the raw material that plant breeders need to create crops of the future," said McCouch. Though seeds are readily accessible in 1,700 gene banks around the world, they are not used to their full potential in plant breeding, she added.

The Nature Comment feature is available at: https://cornell.box.com/mccouch/1/991593455/9048399771/1. Read the Cornell Chronicle's news article about this paper is at: http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/07/mine-seed-banks-feed-tomorrow-s-world.