Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC)

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YOGYAKARTA - Biotechnology research on genetic engineering of food crops is needed to increase world food production in order to combat world poverty and hunger by year 2050. Therefore, the development of biotech crops is expected to increase yield and global farm income, and reduce carbon emissions and the use of pesticides.

This was highlighted by Dr. Julian Adams, the Asia Coordinator of Biosafety Program and Biological Sciences and a faculty member of the University of Michigan, United States, in a public lecture entitled,Genetic Engineering of Crops, held at the Graduate School of Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) on 6 December 2011. Dr. Adams said that in the future, genetic engineering of crops is needed to increase food production amid the threat of drought due to climate change and global warming. "Due to drought, the average annual loss in crop yields in tropical regions is 17%," he said.

Crop varieties that have resistance to heat and transgenic varieties with tolerance to changes in ozone (O3) and high CO2 levels are needed in the future. From the research, it is known that rice yields are now influenced by global warming. For instance, a 1o C increase in the night temperature can already cause a of 105 in yield.

Dr. Adams mentioned that it is urgent to conduct genetic engineering in sugar cane, corn, wheat, rice, cotton, and other crops which are drought, salt, and flood tolerant. He said these plants are needed by all countries in the world.

Moreover, with global warming comes the threat of polar ice melting that can cause a rise in sea level, which in turn could threaten the existence of 4000 islands in Indonesia, aside from the increase in salinity in coastal areas, added Dr. Adams.

Source: UGM News report | 12 Dec 2011

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