Biotech Updates

Study: Food Security Needs More from GM Crops

October 11, 2017

A group of agricultural scientists who reviewed how biotechnology developments over the past 35 years have shaped the efficiency of crop production have concluded that genetic modification of plants will be essential to avert future food shortages.

The team, from Rothamsted Research in the UK and from Syngenta Crop Science and Symmetry Bioanalytics in the U.S. said that genetically modified (GM) crops that repel insect pests or resist herbicides have transformed the farming of soybean, cotton, maize, and canola. These technologies have reduced costs and increased productivity in farming, however, lack of knowledge hinders further improvements in yield, particularly in testing climatic conditions.

"Our knowledge of the genes that limit yield in field conditions needs to be developed," says Matthew Paul, plant biochemist at Rothamsted and leader of the review team. He said that at the moment, there are research results that show promise in the lab, but do not work in the field. Paul said that the potential of GM, genome editing, and emerging chemical technologies need more research so that scientists would know about the many processes and genes that determine yields.

More details are available at Rothamsted Research News.