Conventional plant breeding outpaces GM technology for drought tolerance

goodcorn

Old-fashioned breeding techniques seem to be leading genetic modification in a race to develop crops that can withstand drought and poor soils.

The need for tougher crops is especially acute in Africa, where drought can reduce maize (corn) yields by up to 25 percent. The Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa project, which launched in 2006 with U.S. $33 million, has developed 153 new varieties to improve yields in 13 countries. In field trials, these varieties match or exceed the yields from commercial seeds under good rainfall conditions, and yield up to 30 percent more under drought conditions.

An analysis published earlier this year reported that by the project’s end in 2016, the extra yields from drought-tolerant maize could help to reduce the number of people living in poverty in the 13 countries by up to 9 percent (R. La Rovere et al. J. Dev. Areas 48(1), 199–225; 2014). In Zimbabwe alone, that effect would reach more than half a million people.

Breeders from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan, Nigeria, searched the collection for maize varieties that thrive in water-scarce regions. The researchers cross-bred these var­ieties and then mated the most drought-tolerant of their offspring.

Drought tolerance is a complex trait that involves multiple genes. Transgenic techniques, which target one gene at a time, have not been as quick to manipulate it. But CIMMYT and six other research organizations are also developing genetically modified (GM) varieties of drought-resistant maize, in collaboration with agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto in St Louis, Missouri. Coordinated by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation in Nairobi, the Water Efficient Maize for Africa project aims to have a transgenic variety ready for African farmers by 2016 at the earliest.

Read the full, original article: Cross-bred crops get fit faster

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend