Biotech Updates

Biotech and Breeding Can Improve Future Food Security, Experts Say

July 16, 2010

Agricultural production could be one of the most affected sector by climate change. Thus, scientists continue to find ways to improve food security through biotechnology and traditional breeding techniques. Mark Howden, an expert in climate change and agriculture at the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation believes that scientists need creativity to combat hunger. He said that "to be able to feed this growing population, one thing we will need is an improvement in the study of genetics." He stressed this in his speech during the climate change and adaptation conference in Australia.

On the other hand, Sureshkumar Balasubramanian, a lecturer at the University of Queensland, said that there is nothing to fear about genetic modification. He supported his claim by discussing the results of his study wherein he discovered a new gene type that could possibly help farmers plant more crops in less time.

Another expert, Anna Burns from Monash University, has discovered that cyanide levels in cassava increased during drought which is hazardous for consumers. "I think genetic modification is only one option, and it would take a long time to implement in developing countries, where food security issues are most urgent," Burns said. "Traditional breeding programmes are more viable and can select for varieties with low-cyanogenic concentration. Both agricultural and social factors need to be considered in adaptation to climate change. And prevention is better than a cure," Burns said.

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