Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Seed companies develop drought-resistant corn

This summer's ravaging drought destroyed corn crops across the Midwest and Great Plains, creating a slew of problems for farmers, consumers and livestock producers. Agriculture biotechnology companies have been pouring millions into drought-resistant genetically modified corn seeds that can withstand an extended dry period. (Los Angeles Times photo by Ricardo Lopez: Researcher examines drought-resistant corn)

Monsanto recently got approval for its DroughtGard seed corn, and other seed makers, including Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. and Syngenta, have  begun selling drought-tolerant but conventionally bred corn varieties. Companies are also trying to develop drought-resistant soybean, cotton and wheat strains that can "thrive in a world that's getting hotter and drier," reports Richard Lopez of the Los Angeles Times.

The majority of seed corn is already genetically modified to repel pests and create higher yields, and there are public concerns arising about the "unforeseen consequences of this genetic tinkering," Lopez reports. But researchers say creating drought-tolerant or resistant seeds is a priority, especially in the wake of this year's oppressive and costly drought. "We don't need to stigmatize these approaches," Kent Bradford, head of the Seed Biotechnology Center at the University of California, Davis.  (Read more)

No comments: