Could genetic tinkering with plant photosynthesis increase global food supply?

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Scientists at the University of Illinois used tobacco because it is a particularly fast and easy plant to use when trying new genetic alterations. They hope food crops will also be successful. via NY Times

A decade ago, agricultural scientists at the University of Illinois suggested a bold approach to improve the food supply: tinker with photosynthesis…

The idea was greeted skeptically in scientific circles…[but] after several years of work funded by the [Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,] the scientists are reporting a remarkable result.

Using genetic engineering techniques to alter photosynthesis, they increased the productivity of a test plant — tobacco — by as much as 20 percent, they said [Nov. 17] in a study published by the journal Science.

…their plan is to try the same alterations in food crops, and one of the leaders of the work believes production gains of 50 percent or more may ultimately be achievable.

Two outside experts not involved in the research…emphasized that the researchers had not yet proved that the food supply could be increased.

The work is, in part, an effort to secure the food supply against the possible effects of future climate change…more efficient crop plants could potentially make the food system more resilient, Dr. Long said…

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: With an Eye on Hunger, Scientists See Promise in Genetic Tinkering of Plants