By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao

Researchers in the US engineered tobacco plants that can grow 40% larger than normal in field trials. It was through a process found by the researchers as a way of overcoming natural selections in the process of photosynthesis that limit crop productivity.

Because of the growing population during a time of serious climate change, researchers are greatly concerned about the ability of the world to feed the people because it is expected that the global agricultural demand will increase by 60% to 120% by mid-century as compared to 2005.

While using fertilizers, pesticides, and mechanization methods have boosted yields over the past decades, it only meets a limited potential when it comes to future growth.

To solve the problem, scientists are looking to improve the process of photosynthesis as a means of increasing food productivity.They believe the method could significantly boost yields from important crops including rice and wheat.

Researchers chose tobacco plants because the crops are easy and quick to modify. It was also chosen in hopes to use the findings in order to boost the yields of soybean, rice, potato, and tomato plants.

Unfortunately, the authors of the study recognized that the use of genetic modification is controversial in many parts of the world. But they believe that through a lengthy review process that ensures the safety crops developed by this technology, the method will then be accepted by farmers and consumers alike.

The study is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the UK’s Department for International Development.

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