I know, I know — Paul Ehrlich said the Green Revolution was a failure in
the late 1960s and that settles it, but a diverse group of scientists recently
told the European Commission that they can continue to improve crops to increase
yields and reduce the environmental impacts of human agriculture.
A July 10 Reuters Information Service report noted that 130 laboratories which
took part in a European Commission project in 1993 reported on their diverse
efforts to improve crops through genetic engineering.
Brian Forde of the Institute of Arable Crop Research used his grant to create
plants that need less fertilizer. Forde says his team has isolated a gene that
controls the important process of nitrate uptakes from soil. Fordes goal
is to make the plant even more efficient at nitrate uptake.
Michel Cobech and others at Frances National Institute for Agricultural
Research are conducting similar research on aspergillus, a common fungus.
Others reported success in finding genes that help plants live in saltier conditions
or in the presence of drought conditions.
Imagine that — crops which produce more, use less fertilizer and more resistant
to inclement environmental conditions. Dont get your hopes up too high,
though, because remember — Ehrlich said it was impossible in the 1960s and
that settles it.