[genet-news] SCIENCE & POLICY: Dream GM rice yields 50% more harvest even with less fertilizer and water use -
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TITLE: GM RICE YIELDS 50% MORE HARVEST EVEN WITH LESS FERTILIZER AND WATER USE
SOURCE: Manila Bulletin, Philippines
AUTHOR: Melody M. Aguiba
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GM RICE YIELDS 50% MORE HARVEST EVEN WITH LESS FERTILIZER AND WATER USE
A genetically modified (GM) rice that can give 50 percent more harvest while requiring less fertilizer and water is seen as a long term solution to low yield in resource-scarce, poverty-stricken farms threatened by climate change.
The GM rice will have more efficient carbon dioxide capture with its enhanced capacity for photosynthesis, the process of using solar energy to capture carbon dioxide and converting it into growth-inducing carbohydrate in plants.
Some rice plants have inefficient means for photosynthesis, known as C3. However, Dr. John Sheehy, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) project leader for the GM rice, said that using C4 photosynthesis, rice plant?s capacity to convert solar energy in producing a richer grain can be enhanced particularly in tropical climates.
?Converting the photosynthesis of rice to C4 would increase yields by 50 percent, and that C4 would also use water twice as efficiently. The benefits of this breakthrough would be immense in developing countries where billions of poor people rely on rice as staple,? said Sheehy.
A total of $11 million has been allocated for this study.
In a related development, IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler said IRRI needs $150 million over 10 years or $15 million yearly for the Rice Action Plan (RAP) that would speed up development of high yielding rice varieties.
The plan aims to develop new high yielding rice inbreds and hybrids out of thousands of rice varieties that are stored at IRRI?s gene banks and tap into these germ-plasms? yet unexplored genetic resources.
Aside from the development on the genetic side of rice, the program will increase the delivery of postharvest facilities in rice-producing areas in order to cut the losses that can amount to as much 20 percent of harvest. Its aim is also to train more rice breeders that are working on research and development projects funded by both the private sector and the government.
The RAP was approved by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry in October last year.
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
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