From Superfoods to Superplants
Plants turn sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into food - that’s photosynthesis.
With food demand expected to grow by 70 percent by midcentury on a planet that's rapidly warming, researchers have been looking for ways to improve photosynthesis as a way to squeeze more productivity out of each plant.
"We're kind of forced to push our crops to the limit," crop scientist Matthew Reynolds, at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, told VOAnews.
Long's group targeted a system that protects plants from excessive sunlight, as reported in the trade journal Science. When a plant is soaking up more light than it can handle, it gets rid of the energy as heat. As clouds or leaves shade it, that system stays on for minutes or hours, slowing down the plant's growth. So Long and his team used genetic engineering to add genes to plants that shortened that recovery time, and the modified plants grew up to 20 percent more.
Perhaps it's time to embrace biotechnology, for the sake of our global welfare.