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Scientists Are Engineering Crops to Be Drought-Resistant: The Pros and Cons of That

| 4/17/2018 10:06:00 AM


Droughts can increase food scarcity issues and compromise farmers’ profitability. Also, it’s likely to happen more often than usual due to climate change. A study of 571 European cities found most of them would experience more river flooding and drought conditions than usual because of environmental changes.

However, scientists recently made significant progress in engineering drought-resistant crops. They achieved that with tobacco by altering the expression of a gene found in all plants, causing them to close the pores in leaves that usually let water escape.

The researchers’ work resulted in 25 percent better water usage in the crops and did not affect yields. They believe that in drought conditions, these modified crops will grow faster and yield more than those not modified for resilience against the lack of water.

The Technology Could Influence International Development

While aiming for future prosperity in the global marketplace, several countries — including India, the Philippines and Kenya — have viewed biotechnology as a tool for international development. They’ve signed international biosafety treaties, and some have enacted national laws. As such, drought-resistant crops could be an essential resource for helping disadvantaged countries achieve sustainability and global prominence.

Some People Steer Clear of Genetically Modified Foods

A study of more than 1,700 adults found there are numerous uncertainties about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). For example, 40 percent of those polled reported avoiding buying GMO foods, and 71 percent of those did so due to worries about adverse impacts on their health. However, only 52 percent knew what GMOs were.

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