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.