I’m a strong believer that we need to be innovative. I’m a GM sceptic but all the same welcome this posting on support of researching new crop varieties.
Elisabeth Braw at the Guardian tells us about the search for sustainable crops. She says that we in the rich world focus too much on a tiny number of staple food species. But ‘at one time during the past 10,000 years, [people] used some 30,000 plants.’
Now some scientists are taking a good look at neglected (orphan) crops. For example, many people grow and eat pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) but outside the topics, we ignore those crops too often. There’s growing interest in more nutritious (biofortified) varieties of them. Varieties such as the selectively bred Iron-Rich Pearl Millet and the genetically modified (GM, genetically engineered, GE) African Biofortified Sorgum. Ms Braw doesn’t seem very impressed by GM. But that GM sorghum reminds us that biotech is still being used to develop crop varieties.
I’m grateful to my fellow blogger at
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2 thoughts on “Seeking sustainable crops”
Thanks for reblogging. Why are you a GM sceptic?
What do you think of Marker Assisted Selection (MAS)? I’m quite excited about MAS http://argylesock.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/are-gm-crops-out-of-date/ esp now that I’m getting to know a scientist who does it. Phe points out that MAS is a broader-brush method than GM, adjusting genomes without picking an individual gene. In fact, it’s a relatively quick way to do selective breeding.
Thanks for the comment. I am a rare case in that I am pro GM research but still very much follow the precautionary principle apropos use of GM in the field. Pollination lies at the centre of my concerns – how are organic farmers meant to prevent GM contamination (and the consequent law suit from the firm that owns the patent for the seed) if their neighbours are using GM derived seed?
I must admit that I had not come across MAS before reading your article just now – what an exciting concept! I will keep up to date with news regarding it. I fear however that the politicians (including our very own Mr Paterson!) have already made their minds up and GM in Europe is just around the corner.