Modifying Crops to Survive the Climate Crisis


Presently crop failures are increasing around the world and this will only get worse unless we act. Large teams of scientists researching crops are examining ways to help them survive our warming planet. They’re looking at less commonly known plants which can survive in harsh climates to help modify our crops.

It’s an urgent mission. A food crisis is looming, says the International Panel for Climate Change, with floods and droughts linked to climate change already affecting the supply and price of food. A recent report warns that the amount of crops produced globally is set to drop by as much as 30 percent in the next 30 years. Water shortages add stress to the system, threatening supplies of wheat, maize, and rice—which are included in about half of all the calories we consume.

The idea is to help crops become stronger and more adaptable through a breeding process that tweaks domesticated varieties with genes borrowed from those untamed cousins that survive drought, salinity, or disease.

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