A relatively small cluster of genetic information, some of it dating to 60 million years ago, endows the staple fruit of summer with its taste and texture. The secrets of the tomato, star of summer gardens, salads and gazpacho, is now laid out for plant breeders and horticulturists in exacting detail.
During the siege of Leningrad, 12 scientists starved to death rather than eat the grains stored at Pavlosk Agricultural Station, the world’s first seed bank. According to an AP story, their efforts to save the seeds for future generations may now be in vain after a Russian court approved plans to raze the station’s fields of plants so a developer can build luxury homes.
Readers with a sweet tooth had better start stockpiling candy -- first Choc Finger started hoarding all the world's chocolate, and now it seems the U.S. sugar supply may be in jeopardy. Farmers cannot plant new genetically modified sugar beets until the U.S. Department of Agriculture finishes a study about their environmental impact, a federal judge said Friday. That could take a couple years, which means sugar beet farmers and sugar processors might have trouble meeting demand after this year's harvest.
The challenge of growing twice as much food by 2050 to feed nine billion people—with less and less land—is everyone’s problem. But scientists are hard at work fomenting a second green revolution.
By Hilary RosnerPosted 08.07.2009 at 11:45 am 53 Comments
Today's crops crisscross the globe: Mexico's tomatoes end up on your plate, our wheat heads to Africa. As a result, the challenge of growing twice as much food by 2050 to feed nine billion people—with less and less land—is everyone's problem. But scientists are hard at work fomenting a second green revolution. Here's how nitrogen-spewing microbes, underground soil sensors and fruit-picking robots will help keep food on our tables.
What do you do when you're under attack? Call for help, naturally. Unfortunately, if you're an ear of corn, and you're being attacked by parasitic beetle larvae, you have nothing to call for help with. Until now.
Scientists at the University of Missouri have genetically modified corn to release a chemical distress signal when under attack from beetle larvae. The chemical 911 call attracts droves of parastitic roundworms that naturally attack the larvae. Within three days of receiving the distress signal, the worms had killed them all.
Food-borne illness frequently grabs headlines: tomatoes, peanut butter and, most recently, pistachios have all made people sick from salmonella and caused headaches for grocers across the United States.
Now, another food illness of sorts is popping up on the international radar screen -- only this one makes the food itself ill. Well, one of the plants that turns into much of our food, in any case. Scientists from 40 countries on six continents are fighting a virulent form of an old wheat disease that some fear could threaten 90 percent of the world's wheat crop. They aim to fight the fungus on the genetic level, hoping to prevent it from spreading to North America by replacing much of the world's wheat varieties with tougher plants.
Around the world, scientists are risking their lives to retrieve seeds destined for a massive vault near the North Pole. Their work just might save mankind
By Hillary RosnerPosted 01.04.2008 at 2:00 am 2 Comments
Ken Street gathering wheat in Armenia
To visit the Shola market, a teeming maze of stalls in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, you'd never know that the human race's food supply was in jeopardy. Massive sacks stuffed with dried chili peppers overflow onto piles of vegetables-potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, tomatoes. Enticing smells waft from the spice sellers' stalls, crowded with colorful mounds of cumin, turmeric and ginger.