Biotech could help Mexico’s bean farmers cope with climate change

black pinto canary mexican beans
Image Credit: Mexican Please

Beans are the most important grain legume in human diets …. Indeed, bean production is central to the food security of Mexico, Latin America, and Africa ….

Climate-modelling predicts that higher temperatures will soon limit crop production in Mexico and beyond …. Despite an annual growth rate of 13% in Mexican bean production …. human population increases have resulted in greater demand and domestic consumption of Mexico’s beans [and] a 60% increase in Mexican bean prices.

Mexico’s President …. has stated that his government will not permit GMO technologies in Mexican agriculture. This means that we must seek alternative non-transgenic methods to develop drought and heat tolerant crops to combat the effects of climate change.

Our Newton Prize project, a collaboration involving molecular biologist Prof Julie Gray (Sheffield), legume nitrogen fixation expert Prof Georgina Hernández (CCG UNAM), and bioinformatics expert Dr Alejandro Sánchez (UUSMB, UNAM), aims to do just that.

Related article:  EU review of strict CRISPR crop rules dominated by biotech industry, anti-GMO groups allege

How Can Plant Biotechnology Help?

[Researchers] will identify novel mutations and traits involved in plant gas exchange, water use, and nitrogen use …. then ‘climate-test’ key bean lines in the University of Sheffield’s Sir David Read Controlled Environment CO2 Facilities.

The best gene candidates can then be used to develop new drought resistant bean varieties, either through marker assisted breeding, or non-transgenic gene editing technologies. In this way, we hope that we can rapidly produce high yielding bean crops to withstand the coming heat waves and droughts ….

Read full, original article: Newton Prize Award for Biotech Drought-Tolerant Beans

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