Rice Touch - Syngenta Sequence the Rice Genome

07 April 2002
Posted by Chris Smith.

Rice provides over 50% of the world population with more than 80% of their dietary needs, especially in the developing world and these numbers are likely to rise since doctors are suggesting that to tackle the obesity epidemic in the west we should switch to a more eastern - rice based - diet. This means that a breakthrough as radical as sequencing the genetic code of rice, which was announced recently, should be greeted with optimism. Indeed, knowledge of the DNA sequence of rice permits genetic modification of the plant to produce varieties capable of producing bigger yields, resisting pests and tolerating harsh environments including poor soils and bad weather. Unfortunately, when the genetic blueprint of the world's largest food source is owned by a commercial company, as has happened in this instance, people tend to be wary…but what's all the fuss about ? Here's Dr. Mark Tester from Cambridge University Plant Sciences to talk about it… (The genetic sequence of rice - its genome - contains about 440 million DNA 'letters' which make up between 32,000 and 56,000 genes. In comparison, the human genome probably has about the same number of genes, despite being 7 times larger.) Article by Mark Tester about plant genetic modification and the safety of GM crops. Radio show featuring and interview with GM crop scientist Ruth Welters about UK GM crop field trials. Radio show featuring GM plant expert Professor Roger Leigh

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