Do GMOs boost yields? ‘Superwheat’ set for field trials boosts harvests by 20%

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Genetically modified crops could help us grow more food on less land in a world struggling to cope with climate change, say biologists.

A team of researchers announced .. that they have genetically modified wheat to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis. When the plants are grown in glasshouses, the change boosts yields by 15 to 20 per cent. Now they are applying to the UK government for permission to carry out field trials [beginning in 2017].

What’s more, the modification helps plants takes advantage of the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. “In higher levels of CO2, this works even better,” Hawkesford says.

The team say they have made other genetic alterations that also boost yields in greenhouse tests, though they are not yet ready to divulge details. Several of these yield-boosting modifications could be “stacked” together in a single strain to create superplants.

The only way the world is going to be able to limit warming to 2 °C is by sucking vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, using technology that does not yet exist. What is clear is that it will require vast amounts of land – so we desperately need ways to grow more food on less land. GM superwheat would certainly help.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Trials planned for GM superwheat that boosts harvest by 20%

  • Bill Pilacinski

    The original article quotes anti-GE critics who say that there is plenty of food in the world. No need to produce more by GE, they say, just distribute what we have, better. This is equivalent to saying there should be no poverty because there is plenty of money in the world; we just need to distribute it better. So while people die or suffer from hunger and poverty, we wait for our food and money distribution systems to work better. GE products like Bt eggplant in Bangladesh have proven their value and they, along with the rest of developing world, and developed world with the land to grow and distribute them, would greatly benefit from GE products engineered to increase “inherent” yield (which is what NSF was talking about) as well as protecting “inherent” yield (which is what current GE products do so well).

    • williplantsman

      You make a good point. Money should be distributed more equitably as well.