Why Global Food Security is Important
The global heat wave across the globe is just another sign of the Climate Crisis and one of the direct casualties is the farming produce. Droughts, floods, diseases and pest attacks continue to be the major cause of crop failure across the globe. It becomes more important with every passing day, to search for viable strategies for farming with the use of modern technology, to be able to reverse the trend of lowering crop yields.
Innovations in Farming Processes
Here are some examples of recent research carried out for developing new crop varieties.
Crop Genetic Transformations:
Genetically engineered crops are now a common phenomenon. Sequenced plant genomes, functional genomics, novel gene cloning and tissue culture methods are used for the acceleration of crop improvement and trait development.
Biofortification is used to enrich the nutritional quality of food crops with the use of modern biotechnological techniques. The change in nutritional content can also bring about a change in the shape, colour, size and texture of the produce.
Nanotechnology is being used to introduce new-age methods of pesticides and fertilizers that are more effective than their common-use counterparts. Various nano-chemical compounds of Zinc, Magnesium, and Copper are used to fortify the natural pest and infection resistance qualities of the crop, while also serving as insecticides.
Stress Tolerance Resistance Studies
Crop stress can occur in two forms; biotic and abiotic. Research is carried out to study various factors that can influence either of these forms of stress, to select a superior strain of crop, which is tolerant to stress. Scientists have found miRNA-mediated methods for generating stress-tolerant crops. Also, the role of various carbohydrates, glucosinolates, mineral deficiencies and trace elements is studied to select stress-tolerant crop plants.
Construction and Transfer of Expression Cassettes
These are methods used in bio-pharmaceutical research for the development of vaccines, antibodies and medicines via molecular pharming technologies. These systems introduce medicinal or vaccinal properties in the host crop plant and provide an alternative means to the direct extraction of proteins from inappropriate sources. They offer the possibility to overcome problems related to product safety and source availability.
Examples of New Crop Varieties
Here are some examples of New Crop varieties that have been produced in the recent past
- Golden rice is a biofortified version of rice that contains genes of a common soil bacterium and maize, which can address Vitamin A deficiency.
- Romaine Lettuces with reduced browning discoloration have been developed, for increased use in fresh-cut processing.
- Superior Wheat varieties resistant to Pre-Harvest Sprouting have been identified to solve the problem of crop wastage because of undesired premature sprouting
- Various varieties of Fruit Fly Resistant Blueberries with natural pest resistant properties have been identified that can lead to better produce output.
- Tomato and Soybean yields increased via plant mutation breeding
A Viable Solution, But Not The Only
While the advancements in new crop varieties continue to provide solutions to the global food crisis, this will work best when used in combination with addressing the root cause of the problems that crop plants face today. While a viable solution, it works best with the implementation of local and global policies that help keep the natural food cycle in balance and limit rapid human activities that pose a threat to the environment to restore the balance of ecosystems.