GM is the Wave of the Future
News Jul 17, 2009
GM is the Wave of the Future - Editorial,The Times of India, July 16, 2009 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com The government plans to introduce genetically modified (GM) foods, particularly tomatoes, brinjals and cauliflower, to help meet food production targets in three years' time. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Department of Biotechnology has approved the three transgenic crops that are in various stages of tests and development in institutes across the country. This decision is bound to be controversial, as this is the first time that India will experiment with GM crops in food. To date, India has only allowed the use of GM cotton, a non-food crop. For the past few years global food consumption has outstripped production, causing world food prices to spike last year. The global recession has seen many people, particularly in developing countries, fall below the poverty line once again. The Food and Agricultural Organisation says there are now a billion people who do not have enough to eat (defined as less than 1,800 calories per day), 100 million more than last year. During the food crisis last year, there were food riots in many countries. In Haiti it even led to a coup. Is that the future we want? India faces a mammoth task in feeding its billion-strong population. Biotechnology offers the best promise of producing enough food for everybody. Are we going to let the fear of hypothetical risks shut down an area of science that promises to solve this problem and save millions from hunger? India cannot, in good conscience, abandon yield-boosting modern technology. The food crisis is real and more immediate than we might like. With climate change, and dwindling water resources, it is imperative that this country explores all available options to increase food production. GM food items can and should be labelled as such so that consumers have a choice. But we must remember that while GM foods have not killed anybody, starvation is another matter.
In a new study in cells, University of Illinois researchers have adapted CRISPR gene-editing technology to cause the cell’s internal machinery to skip over a small portion of a gene when transcribing it into a template for protein building. This gives researchers a way not only to eliminate a mutated gene sequence, but to influence how the gene is expressed and regulated.
Researchers published today a detailed description of the complete genome of bread wheat, the world's most widely-cultivated crop. This work will pave the way for the production of wheat varieties better adapted to climate challenges, with higher yields, enhanced nutritional quality and improved sustainability.