A group of agricultural scientists who reviewed how biotechnology
developments over the past 35 years have shaped the efficiency of crop
production have concluded that genetic modifiecation of plants will be
essential to avert future food shortages.
The team, from Rothamsted Research in the UK and from Syngenta Crop Science
and Symmetry Bioanalytics in the U.S. said that genetically modified crops
that repel insect pests or resist herbicides have transformed the farming of
soybean, cotton, maize, and canola. These technologies have reduced costs
and increased productivity in farming, however, lack of knowledge hinders
further improvements in yield, particularly in testing climatic conditions.
"Our knowledge of the genes that limit yield in field conditions needs to be
developed," says Matthew Paul, plant biochemist at Rothamsted and leader of
the review team. He said that at the moment, there are research results that
show promise in the lab, but do not work in the field. Paul said that the
potential of GM, genome editing, and emerging chemical technologies need
more research so that scientists would know about the many processes and
genes that determine yields.