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Solution to World Hunger? Scientists Sequence Genome of African Rice

Solution to World Hunger? Scientists Sequence Genome of African Rice thumbnail

An international team of researchers have sequenced the complete genome of African rice, enabling the development of new rice varieties that are better able to cope with increasing environmental stresses to help solve global hunger issues.

The genetic information will also enhance understanding of the growing patterns of African rice.

The effort to sequence the African rice genome was led by Rod Wing, director of the Genomics Institute at the University of Arizona.

“Rice feeds half the world, making it the most important food crop,” Wing said, as reported in Science Daily.

“Rice will play a key role in helping to solve what we call the nine billion people question,” he added, referring to predictions of what the world’s population will increase to – many of whom are likely to be living in areas where food is scarce – by 2050.

The question lies in how to grow enough food to feed the world’s population and prevent the health, economic and social problems associated with hunger and malnutrition.

The research allows scientists and agriculturalists to search for ways to cross Asian and African species to develop new varieties of rice with the high-yield traits of Asian rice and the hardiness of African rice.

“African rice is once more at the forefront of cultivation strategies that aim to confront climate change and food availability challenges,” said co-author Judith Carney, a professor of geography at at the University of California.

The African rice genome is important because many of the genes code for traits that make African rice resistant to environmental stress, such as long periods of drought, high salinity in the soils and flooding.

“The idea is to create a super-rice that will be higher yielding but will have less of an environmental impact — such as varieties that require less water, fertiliser and pesticides,” said Wing.

Hardy, high-yield crops will become increasingly vital for human survival as the world faces the environmental effects of climate change and an ever-growing global population.

In analysing the 33,000 genes that make up the African rice genome, the researchers discovered that during the process of domestication, Africans and Asians independently selected for many of the same genetic traits in the two species, such as higher nutrition.

“By understanding the entire genus at a genome level, we have a whole new pool of genetic variation that can be used to combat pests and plant pathogens,” said Wing.

“After decades of promoting high-yielding Asian varieties, the emphasis now is on developing types that combine the former’s higher yields with Oryza glaberrima’s (African rice) tolerance of environmental stress,” Carney told Science 2.0.

The research was published online in Nature Genetics.

15 Comments on "Solution to World Hunger? Scientists Sequence Genome of African Rice"

  1. MSN Fanboy on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 2:33 pm 

    Or we could stop eating meat/increasing population.

    But hell, why fix a problem when you can make it worse. Bigger cliffs mean Bigger falls.

  2. John D on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 4:07 pm 

    I have to think that if we figured out a way to solve the ‘9 billion person question’, we would then be faced with the ’11 billion person question’.

  3. Davy on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 4:29 pm 

    There are two effective ways to overcome food insecurity, hunger, and famine. Population will have to drop by at least half in a half generation. The other way is simplicity. The complexity we see in our food system from production, processing, distribution and final preparation is far too complex, energy intensive, and wasteful. If any of you can show how more energy intensity and more complexity can do better than my recommendations than I am all ears. I did not say it was pretty but it will work. We have endless articles on how we are going to solve the hunger problems by the same forces that got us into trouble. Solving the hunger problem by attempting to create more food will just raise the population or maintain our already dangerously overextended population. If you want continued talk follow the complexity talk. If you want effective results we need less with less simplicity. There is no other option but ugly.

  4. steam_cannon on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 4:47 pm 

    MSN Fanboy, those suggestions of yours are controlling and just shallow.

    Giving the world technology so they are not dependent on us is a very kind thing for use to do.

    “We could stop… increasing population”
    The United States is not an overpopulated country and we have no obligation to feed the world or to be childless. You’ve read about other countries with too many people but you seem to have not figured out that we’re not overpopulated.

    “We could stop… eating meat”
    That is a very controlling suggestion and it’s a bad way to help other countries. So instead of giving away technology so others aren’t dependent on us, instead you suggest that we don’t produce meat, so we can grow more crops and then give away our crops. Where does that end exactly? That’s not healthy. Then what, next you will demand we/I eat krill instead of vegan land crops because you have now decided we must do more and that vegan land crops are too intensive for us to have and more resources are again needed by people somewhere else? How about no.

    People in other countries are adults too. They make choices and they have free will too. We should give them opportunities to produce their own food because it’s a kind way to treat the rest of humanity, but we have no obligation to give them the food off of our own plate. That’s just fostering dependence.

  5. MSN Fanboy on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 5:12 pm 

    steam cannon, dont worry im not picking and choosing lol

    America or Sudan – I dont care

    Christian or Muslim – I dont care

    Republican or Democrat – I dont care

    My definition of over-populated is when a species (us) begins to become such a burdan on our enviroment (earth) we destroy the natural capital, in a sense pushing the system from equilibrium, taking down multiple species and eventually destroying ourselves.

    But this is of little consequence no?

    The idea of over-population doesnt exist does it: yet resourse consumption does. ( I actually believe we could reach 20 billion done sustainably,guess im an idealist )

    Its just a word nobody understands, yet used frequently out of its context.

    Like me 🙂

    As for eating meating or any other of my suggestions, its to little to late.

    So i will not bother, it may be controlling, however it is apparant left to self-organise in our “free” democracy we make a complete mess.

    Humans need controling, its all very well personal choice etc… but look at wealth inequality, famine etc…

    We are each and all of us a bunch of greedy children in a playground with no masters, think lord of the flies.

    We crave control in a world where there is none, just arrogantly believing we a free lol

    And as for giving the rest of the world anything, Fuck Them, i dont believe America should give a single cent of aid to other places.

    The best way to deal with Famine is let it role out, see the beauty with such events (plague, war, famine) is that they destroy themselves.

    i.e. 100 people, famine 20 people left, no more famine.

    That why i said bigger cliffs bigger falls lol

    Would you rather (for example) eat five days a week and miss two or all week however and have two months of no food?

    This is what tech allows us to do, bring future returns to the now. By destroying the returns we get in the future 🙂

    Finally, i dont care what you eat, see ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, we are on the good ship titanic, the iceberg hit in 2008 and im in the bar getting drunk, 😀

  6. JuanP on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 6:33 pm 

    “Solution to World Hunger? Scientists Sequence Genome of African Rice”
    What a delusionally simplistic perspective of things one must have to believe something like that possible.
    We produce today more food than ever before, more than enough to feed all humanity and then some, yet more than 2 billion are hungry and 1 billion suffers from cronic, acute malnutrition. That is more people are hungry and starving in the world than ever before in spite of record food production, but more GM rice will erradicate world hunger?
    Please, it would just allow the population to increase further.

  7. Kenz300 on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 7:00 pm 

    Solution to world hunger —- Quit adding 80 million more mouths to feed every year to the planets population.

    If you can not provide for yourself — do not have a child that you can not provide for………..

    Wrap it up……………


    Birth Control Permanent Methods: Learn About Effectiveness

  8. noobtube on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 7:47 pm 

    When did the United States or Europe EVER (in human history) do anything good for Africa or Africans?

    Africa gives and gives and gives and gets either peanuts (at best), nothing, or outright misery and hell from the United States or Europe for all they take.

    But, it looks like the Earth is getting ready to reset the balance.

  9. Makati1 on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 9:35 pm 

    nootube, the West has been bleeding the rest of the world for at least 500 years. That is how they got so powerful today. Europe without her colonies would be beggars in the street by now. All resources gone and imports keeping them alive.

    Wait! Isn’t that a current description of Europe? And the European spin-off, America? Both cannot live on their own, and are jealous/covetous of Russia, and any other country, that still can.

    I’m sure Monsanto is already drooling over the billions to be made off of this rice discovery. Putin was smart to totally ban GMOs from Russia. What happens when war breaks out and Monsanto cannot sell their GMO seed? What country will survive? Answer: The smart ones who resisted the spread of corporate farming the most.

  10. farmlad on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 10:35 pm 

    Looks to me like this article is talking about hybridizing; and not about genetically modifying rice.

  11. Northwest Resident on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 10:59 pm 

    Whether we continue producing the same amount of food we do today or we manage to trick mother nature (for a while) with genetic science, it is of no consequence. The whole operation is entirely dependent on fossil fuel, and lots of it — massive quantities are required to feed seven billion people. Energy shortfalls are on the way. Lack of sufficient oil to meet today’s world demand will equate directly to starvation, conflict and death. Chaos is coming.

  12. Richard Ralph Roehl on Wed, 30th Jul 2014 1:39 am 

    The ultimate solution for world hunger will be population control. Sooner or later… one way or another… THAT will be the solution.

  13. forbin on Wed, 30th Jul 2014 4:53 am 

    ecophagy – the alternative solution to world hunger

    a scenario involving molecular nanotechnology gone awry. In this situation (called the grey goo scenario) out-of-control self-replicating nanorobots consume entire ecosystems, resulting in global ecophagy.

    kool huh ?

  14. Makati1 on Wed, 30th Jul 2014 5:14 am 

    farmlad, they may be talking hybridizing, but Monsanto can make one change and claim rights to the patent and control the use of the seeds. I hope that they fail but, they seem to be spreading their poison across the world these days.

  15. Kenz300 on Wed, 30th Jul 2014 9:11 am 

    The solution to the worlds growing food shortages, and water shortages and declining fish stocks crisis and the unemployment crisis and the over population crisis is BIRTH CONTROL.

    Birth Control Pictures: Types, Side Effects & Effectiveness

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