Finding plant genes key to overcoming food shortage: CSIRO CEO

Chief executive of the CSIRO, Megan Clark says more research needs to be completed to find the links between plant genes to improve health standards.

Just like the “invaluable” research undertaken on genes and diseases in humans, finding similar information on plant life would provide answers to ensure plants are safe and sustainable.

“We recognise that the modification of genes in plants causes concern in sections of the community.

"However, we also know that many people will be comfortable with genetic modification in food products if they can be assured they are beneficial for human health and safe for the environment,” Clark writes.

“There is a gap between the concerns of the community and the knowledge of our scientists around genetic research.

“That gap requires scientists and food producers to understand community views and share their knowledge of the science in order to earn community trust.
“We must bridge this gap if scientific developments in plant genetics are to improve health and support global food supply.”

Clark said plants are more complex than most people realise and can even have more genes than humans.

“By studying and understanding the genes of plants, we can use this information to bring better food to market for improved health outcomes,” she writes.
With the global food demand set to increase dramatically in the next four decades, the safety and nutrition of food will face increasing pressure.

“To meet that food demand we need to increase our agricultural yields and increase the efficiency of how plants take up nutrients,” according to Clark.

“It means growing plants that use less water to produce the same output and improving resistance to disease and pests.”

Clark assured that the world is “not turning its back on GM technology,” and believes Australian farmers are the “unsung heroes in Australia’s history.”

Read the full version of Clark’s article here.

Image: Tree Hugger

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