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2-Plants: GE crops will fight hunger (6) - UK



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TITLE:  GM Short Cut To Help Starving Third World
SOURCE: The Express, UK, by John Ingham
DATE:   July 16, 1999

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GM Short Cut To Help Starving Third World

British scientists have claimed that a breakthrough in plant
genetics could help tackle Third-World hunger. They say the new
shorter plants that result are better able to withstand storms
and could be crucial in increasing local food production. The
technique - which inserts one plant gene into another plant - is
different to that used for many GM crops currently on the market.
Many of those have been given new properties - like resistance to
pesticide or insects - through the insertion of genes from
species, such as bacteria, with which they could not breed in
nature. However, critics of the GM revolution warned that the
new, shorter, crops still posed a threat because no one can be
sure of the long-term consequences.

The latest breakthrough was achieved at the John Innes Centre in
Norwich, which has isolated the key gene in wheat and believes it
could be used in maize and rice. "We know that dwarf rice and
wheat plants, produced by conventional breeding, are higher
yielding than taller varieties," said Dr Nick Harberd. "Isolating
a single gene that controls plant height means that we can now
convert any locally adapted, low-yielding variety into a dwarf
form and potentially increase its yield." His team told Nature
magazine that the breakthrough could be used in virtually any
crop plant.



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