Fighting hunger with flood-tolerant rice?

29Jan09

Rice Field in Bangla Desh - from WikipediaFrom CNN. com: About half the world’s population eats rice as a staple. Two-thirds of the diet of subsistence farmers in India and Bangladesh is made up entirely of rice. If rice crops suffer, it can mean starvation for millions. … Normal rice dies after three days of complete flooding. Researchers know of at least one rice variety that can tolerate flooding for longer periods, but conventional breeding failed to create a strain that was acceptable to farmers. … Using precision breeding, scientists introduced the Sub1 gene three years ago into test fields in Bangladesh and India. The subsequent rice harvests were a resounding success. “The results were really terrific,” said Ronald. “The farmers found three- to five-fold increases in yield due to flood tolerance. They can plant the normal way. They can harvest the normal way and it tastes the same. Farmers had more food for their families and they also had additional rice they could sell to bring a little bit of money into the household.” “The potential for impact is huge,” agreed Mackill in a statement on the IRRI Web site. “In Bangladesh, for example, 20 percent of the rice land is flood prone and the country typically suffers several major floods each year. Submergence-tolerant varieties could make major inroads into Bangladesh’s annual rice shortfall.” The researchers anticipate that the flood-tolerant rice plants will be available to farmers in Bangladesh and India within two years. Because the plants are the product of precision breeding, rather than genetic modification, they are not subject to the same regulatory testing that can delay release of genetically modified crops. [ Read full article ]



7 Responses to “Fighting hunger with flood-tolerant rice?”

  1. 1 Jim Landes

    I’m sure all the left wing liberals will make sure no benefits come of this, after all, the new rice won’t be considered “organic”, and was genetically engineered. Even if they do try to distribute it to areas of the world that need it, I’m sure the Europeans will convince them to burn it instead of using it, after all the “evil” USA genetically engineered it….

  2. 2 confused

    I’m confused by this article. I was in the Peace Corps in the early 90s as a rice volunteer and our work was introducing drought resistant rice in some areas and flood resistant rice in others. We worked with a rice known there locally as “rock 5”–I don’t remember the “real” name any more. Rock 5 did wonderfully when submerged for weeks on end. I planted it and harvested it myself, as did many locals and many other volunteers…This article makes it sound like this is a brand new thing?!

    One other thing I’d like to point out is that rice has almost no nutritional value. The longer I worked on rice projects, the more opposed I became. How about working on projects with grains which actually have nutritional value like millet or barley? You say 2/3 of their diet is white rice, what is the other 1/3? If it’s something more nutritious than rice, maybe that should be the focus.

  3. well, it certainly sounds like an incredible new thing, this “flood-tolerant rice”…and it’s surely interesting to note that rice has little nutritional value but it’s largely the staple of choice in half of the world, or maybe more: how can this happen? why?

    in any case, this rice is NOT genetically engineered, so it’s no good to make it appear bad in that sense, liberals or whatever – i think we all had enough with conspiration theories, no?

  4. 4 john

    I’m pretty confident the method described in the article still means this rice was genetically modified and would still fall under the category of a gm food. But this article is great showing the benefits of science and how important funding is when it comes to research. Hopefully with Bush out of office, Obama can provide more funding for education and R&D projects so we can reestablish ourselves at the forefront of new technological breakthroughs.

  5. 5 Aaron

    The main problem with genetic engineering is that it means a loss of genetic diversity in good crops, diminishing the ability for even a portion of a farmer’s crop to survive unforeseen environmental challenges. Monoclonal crops of any kind, genetically engineered or otherwise, are more susceptible to pests as well–a clear example is the high levels of fungicide necessary for banana cultivation.

    It is somewhat insidious that CNN chooses to simply parrot the researchers’ new jargon– “precision breeding”–rather than clearly stating that the new rice is a GMO. At the same time, it is worth noting that the rice, while genetically modified, is not *transgenic*–i.e. it does not contain genes from other species.

  6. 6 Aaron

    above should read “food crops” not “good crops”

  7. 7 Jim Landes

    Yeah, you just can’t make up your minds can you?……you whine and complain that Bush thwarted science, but if science comes up with a breakthrough that can save millions you’re still complaining that it’s not “natural” enough…..So which do you support, science and its solutions to the world’s problems, or “throwback agriculture” from the 19th century where everything’s got to be “organic”?…


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