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Go Go GMOs
Math Trumps Malthus

Scientists are using computer models to comb through vast “genebanks”—repositories of genetic material—to identify traits that could help make crops more resilient to the myriad effects of climate change. The BBC reports:

Experts say there is a critical need for a new generation of crops that have improved tolerance to heat and drought in order to meet the food security needs in the future. […] Globally, there are 1,700 major agricultural genebanks that house in excess of seven million samples – a vast resource that researchers say makes the task of locating the sought-after traits a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.

[Abdallah Bari, a senior scientist at Syria-based International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (Icarda)] said that developing mathematical models would help focus the search by “targeting the [samples] with a high probability of finding those traits and reducing the time it takes”.

He explained that the Icarda team were developing a technique that used a “learning algorithm” to harvest the necessary data that would allow plant breeders to “zone in on the desired traits, such as tolerance to pests, diseases, drought and heat”.

Climate change poses many threats to humanity’s ability to feed itself, but thanks to genetic modification technology, we can breed crops more resistant to pestilence, drought, and heat. This is one of the great ironies of the modern environmental movement: Greens will scream their lungs out decrying the dark future that lies ahead for our warming world, but will dismiss out of hand one of our best options for adapting to changing conditions.

Greens are all too fond of highlighting the rapacious qualities of humankind, but have no problem ignoring our ability to innovate and solve problems. As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, that blind spot is going to grow, and as it does, environmentalists are going to become increasingly out of touch. Genetically modified crops have been shown time and time again to be safe, and they should be being championed by a movement supposedly so concerned with living in a future ravaged by climate change.

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  • louis_wheeler

    Amusing. It’s said that the Generals always fight the last war; it seems that environmentalists do as well.

    Stories on the internet says that the northern hemisphere is experiencing the coldest August in since 1919. This fact, as well as new theory, is bringing Anthropogenic Global Warming into doubt. Satellites have shown no evidence of warming since 1998.

    Satellites have shown a greening of the earth. 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere is near historic lows; below half that figure photosynthesis stops working. More CO2 in the atmosphere means that plants don’t have to open their pores as wide, so they lose less water vapor. That allows them to survive in drought ridden territories.

    Even so, the above genetic search is necessary. Anything we do to improve yields means that more marginal land can be returned to nature. If farmers in Africa used modern seeds and farming methods, half of the land could lay fallow even at a higher standard of living.The Greens will fight this, because prosperity destroys their voter base. You can’t have a revolution unless the masses are disaffected.

    I keep reminding my Green friends to google the words “Holocene Optimum.” This was a period 7 to 8 thousand years ago when the Earth was 2.5 degrees Celsius warmer than now. It is where we got the idea of Eden. The rain forests were half again larger than now. The oceans were six feet higher, but we lost no farming regions since the upper latitudes of North America and Asia had long growing seasons. The Sahara was a grassland. But, the Greens would not want that; how could they use that to gain power?

    • Andrew Allison

      “Don’t confuse us with facts, we KNOW that AGW is what’s happening and that the results will be catastrophic.”

      • louis_wheeler


        But, every Environmentalist’s cause has been promoted as catastrophic. Yet, calamity fails to materialize.

        Aren’t you mad at the Earth for failing to kill most of us? Don’t you want 9/10ths of humanity to die? If you don’t, what kind of Environmentalist are you? A wimp?

    • Dan

      Let’s hope the computer models they use for this are better than the ones they use for modeling AGW

      • louis_wheeler

        Those computer models are part of the reason I oppose Public Schooling. The models don’t have to conform to reality. In fact, the more absurd, the better. Those scientists need to go into honest work. I hear that Ringling Brothers needs some clowns. LOL

  • Peripatetic

    “Abdallah Bari, a senior scientist at Syria-based International Center for Agricultural Research…” And here I thought my work-place environment was difficult!

    • B-Sabre

      The workplace is nice and the colleagues congenial, but the commute….oy.

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