The Race to Breed Better Rice

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The Race to Breed Better Rice The Race to Breed Better Rice
Lifestyle

The Race to Breed Better Rice

by Ann Marie Gardner

January 24, 2011

Many of us in the West don't understand the science behind growing rice. But international research journal, Rice Science sponsored by China National Rice Research Institute is dedicated to rice research and carries articles on things like dynamic changes in japonica rice and research findings on rice under water-deficit stress. 

Water deficit as it turns out is ruining rice crops across the world. According to an article today by John Berthelsen in The Asia Sentinel

Water deficiency – drought – has been the single biggest limit in rain-fed rice fields, with drought at the early stages of growth causing delayed transplant or delayed germination. Drought at the reproductive stage also slows growth, according to a variety of papers made available by Dr Jauhar Ali, a senior scientist and regional project coordinator for the Development of Green Super Rice at IRRI in Los Banos, south of Manila, resulting in low and unstable rice productivity. Also, IR8 (semi-dwarf variety) yields have dropped by about 15 percent as hotter nights produced by climate change impede growth, according to Dr Shaobing Peng, an International Rice Research Institute research scientist. 

 YaleGlobal summarized the Sentinel Article:

New research from Asia has produced strains of rice that can withstand a range of disease, soil and weather conditions. Developed over 12 years, the process “holds out the hope of a scientific method of increasing yields of other crops, making them hardier and more resistant to disease and insects and cutting the use of fertilizers and pesticides without resorting to genetic modification,”

Food security is becoming a major political issue around the world and this new research and the creation of a Green Super Rice could challenge genetic-modification methods as well as hike rice yields.

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