With an Eye on Hunger, Scientists See Promise in Genetic Tinkering of Plants Molly Nodiff

Article: With an Eye on Hunger, Scientists See Promise in Genetic Tinkering of Plants

Author: Justin Gillis

Summary of Article: A decade ago, agricultural scientists at the University of Illinois suggested an interesting approach to improve our food supply: tinker with photosynthesis, the chemical reaction giving power to almost everything on Earth. Many were skeptical especially in the scientific circles and were ignored by funding agencies. Hoping this research might help alleviate poverty, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation eventually paid attention to this idea. Scientists are now reporting remarkable results after being worked on for several years. As an example, they increased the productivity of a test plant – tobacco – by as much as 20%. With conventional approaches plant breeders struggle to make gains of 1 or 2 percent. Dr. Long is convinced that genetic engineering could ultimately lead us into a “Second Green Revolution”, producing huge gains in food production. Photosynthesis is sometimes called “the equation that powers the world.”

In the initial work, the researchers transferred genes from a common laboratory plant, known as mouse-ear cress into strains of tobacco. The effect was to increase the level of certain proteins that already existed in tobacco. The genetic changes the researchers introduced to help the plant turn off the mechanism that helps them shed heat faster. The growth of the overall plant was surprisingly large. These increased production methods are planned to be tested in important dietary staples in Africa, like cowpeas, rice etc. This work is in part of an effort to secure the food supply against the possible effects of future climate change. If rising global temperatures cut the production of food, human society could become unstable but with this production of food we can prevent that.

Analysis of Article: This article is noteworthy because of the recent election and our President-elect not believing in Climate Change thinking that it is a hoax. If Trump does not believe in Climate Change, when something revolving around Climate Change hurts our food supply it may be hard for him to think about what to do with the issue. It is important for the Earth to have a stable food supply just incase Climate Change cuts it. God for bid we no longer have a steady supply for food; we will need to figure out another way to produce food. Presented in this article is away to make food faster and preventing us from becoming an Earth with no food. The further steps that need to be taken would be for people to become more invested in this idea. They need further funding to perfect this method. This would benefit places like Africa, making sure that they have a food supply. This could potentially offer enormous help to the world’s poorest people, many of them farmers working small plots of land in the developing world.

Big Take Away: I chose this article because I truly never thought about genetically producing food. I don’t know if I would eat the food, I too would be a little skeptical with the process as I am sure many others would be too. If this truly would benefit places with a scarce food supply, then I believe that it should be implemented. Things that will benefit countries in need I feel are extremely important. I would love to follow this to understand more about this topic and see if they put it into action. I think that they should first put this in the countries that need it the most then come to countries that currently have a steady food supply. This was an interesting article that I never thought would be so impact full on people around the world.

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