Friday, October 17, 2014

Drought-tolerance: Conventional plant breeding is far better

Corporate boasting, move aside.  GMO crops are far, far outdistanced by conventional breeding in drought tolerance.

And here in water-starved California, with a climate-changed future staring down at us, drought tolerance in food crops is a huge issue. Let's face it, genetically altered crops get a big "FAIL!

A recent article in the scientific journal Nature highlighted the efforts of plant breeders from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico City and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan, Nigeria.  These plant breeders are studying both conventional and transgenic methods in efforts to develop drought-tolerant maize.

"There are already about 153 varieties of conventionally-bred corn currently in trials for drought tolerance," writes blog Civil Eats.

"Researchers say that they are at least 10 years from developing a comparable GM variety," reports Nature.

Drought tolerance is a complex trait that involves multiple genes. Transgenic techniques, which target one gene at a time, have not been as quick to manipulate it.

Traditional plant breeders have been developing drought-tolerant varieties for generations:  See selection of varieties from the desert Southwest, available for purchase at Native Seed.  With a GMO-Free Zone, we can help preserve them, to feed humanity in a drought-challenged future.

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