Plants will soon thrive in less than ideal conditions

Throughout many discussions of climate change, there have been questions about the survival of our staple crops in the face the temperature changes and extremes.

A Norwich-based research company, the John Innes Centre – member of Britain’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research council – believes that within the next 10-15 years science will develop plants that can fruit at any temperature.  The research team at the Norwich-based facility was able to isolate a “thermometer” gene that helps plants sense temperature.  They found this gene while subjecting grain plants to stress such as drought.  They then isolated the gene from the plants that survived.  Since this gene already exists in plants, further breeding can be done conventionally.  This will be very beneficial for third world countries that are reluctant to accept biotechnology crops.

This is an interesting development for biotechnology and a prospect that might extend the life of some crop varieties.  However, if I could play devil’s advocate here, should we be consistently changing our crops and food sources? Or, should we be more focused on changing our actions, which are causing global warming to be exacerbated, putting further stress on our crops?  Without a doubt, we are creating great advantages for countries that don’t have the resources that the developed world has, but on a broader scale, governments, environmental and agricultural organizations are still choosing adaptation to climate change over mitigation and prevention.

This photo shows corn suffering from drought stress
This photo shows strawberries damaged by frost injury.

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