Genetically Induced Drought-Resistant Corn Could Feed Our Future

Photo: JLantzy

Photo: JLantzy

Could genetic modification be the only way to save our food during the drought-full future? The Scientific American reports:

Climate change has yet to diminish crop yields in the U.S. corn belt but scientists expect drought to become more common due to global warming in coming years. That could impact everything from the price of food to the price of fuel planet-wide. As a result, for the last several years agribusiness giants like Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta have been pursuing genetic modification to enable the corn plant to thrive even without enough rain. And now the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering approving a new corn hybrid genetically engineered to thrive on less water—the first time such a corn strain would be available.

“Working on something like drought is more complex than introducing a trait like insect resistance,” says plant breeder Bob Reiter, vice president of biotechnology at Monsanto, the company seeking approval for the new strain. “We have screened through thousands of genes in the past several years, more than in the entire history for the herbicide-resistant or insect protection.”

Monsanto researchers, working with German chemical giant BASF Corp., settled on a gene called “cold shock protein B” that is native to the microbe known as Bacillus subtilis, a soil bacteria whose special skill is to shut down, for years if need be, when environmental conditions such as drought would otherwise kill it. The new gene won’t confer that capability to corn but rather will help to maintain normal growth even when the crop is provided with less water than normal.

[Continues at Scientific American]

66 Comments on "Genetically Induced Drought-Resistant Corn Could Feed Our Future"

  1. Anonymous | May 20, 2011 at 7:42 pm |

    GM means that an entire gene is stuck into the mix.  Each gross genetic modification puts thousands of new chemicals and eventual derivative chemicals into the corn, chems that would be bred out of the corn in millions of generations, and the corn’s predators would also breed out sensitivity to the chems in millions of generations.  We don’t have millions of generations right now, and a small percentage of us humans will get medically unhealthy eating this new corn, which looks exactly like the good old corn. 

  2. PaulKlinkman | May 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm |

    GM means that an entire gene is stuck into the mix.  Each gross genetic modification puts thousands of new chemicals and eventual derivative chemicals into the corn, chems that would be bred out of the corn in millions of generations, and the corn’s predators would also breed out sensitivity to the chems in millions of generations.  We don’t have millions of generations right now, and a small percentage of us humans will get medically unhealthy eating this new corn, which looks exactly like the good old corn. 

  3. what a crock. This corn is no more drought resistant than any other varieties studies show. GMO is NOT safe or sustainable. It’s just a way for Monsanto to make a buck with their seed and their poison Round Up

  4. what a crock. This corn is no more drought resistant than any other varieties studies show. GMO is NOT safe or sustainable. It’s just a way for Monsanto to make a buck with their seed and their poison Round Up

  5. I’m reminded of an old videogame where one of the characters was a sentient walking onion born in a farm growing biologically modified produce.

  6. I’m reminded of an old videogame where one of the characters was a sentient walking onion born in a farm growing biologically modified produce.

    • HighonFailure | May 20, 2011 at 11:19 pm |

       Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

      Monsanto’s end game in this is to own all the crops in the world. You can’t grow monsanto plants without their permission, that includes every new season because it’s illegal to reap the seeds from Monsanto plants. Their plants spread throughout both Monsanto and nonMonsanto fields turning them all into Monsanto fields. They`ll own agricultural by the time we die.

    • Madhierophant | May 21, 2011 at 12:27 am |

       You may be thinking of Peco from  Breath of Fire III. 

      http://bof.wikia.com/wiki/Peco

  7. Oh look the hippies are once again scared of Science and the progression of the human conditon to better tomorrows, just like the fundies. Funny how both groups align against Science, in fear of how it may benefit mankind.

  8. Oh look the hippies are once again scared of Science and the progression of the human conditon to better tomorrows, just like the fundies. Funny how both groups align against Science, in fear of how it may benefit mankind.

    • Fuck_Monsanto | May 20, 2011 at 8:43 pm |

      Re: “Freddy”
      Actually, it’s not the “hippies” scared of science, it’s the corporate shills and corrupt politicians pushing Monsanto’s GMOs.
      Anyone who looks into the data on long term environmental and health effects of GMOs from researchers not paid off from Monsanto know that GMOs are not safe and not needed because better results are produced from traditional methods. Corporate shills have more in common with fundies for their blind devotion to money over science, reason, and the health of people and the planet.

      • Hey Look! It is Freddy! | May 21, 2011 at 1:28 am |

         Says the hippie spouting the gospel of fear.””And the lord said unto the flock, fear change and fear the corporation, fear the scientist who wishes understand and better mankind, for they work for the corporation and only care for money. It is better to let billions starve then risk my perfect world.” But really if you understand the science behind how these crops are made you would notice that this has the potential to help humanity at a scale undreamed of before. And if you looked around its not just your boogeyman Monsanto doing research, but many other organizations and good people doing research to help humanity. This method represents new methods and ways to help people, instead of spending a decade trying to breed and cross traits, we can now zero in on what we want to look at and breed, allowing for quicker understanding and production of crops that can save the life of a starving person.

        • The argument of GM, beyond the health effects whether they exist or don’t (i need to do more research…) boils down to the much needed dispute of sustainable crops vs. “enough” crops. “enough” meaning: as much as we can so we can feed everyone. GM foods is another aspect of the techno-fix culture we live in. It is an attempt to push the boundaries of natural farming to maximize product, and profit. This throws away the importance of healthy people, healthy soil, and healthy land.

          My gut reaction on the health effects is that they are probably bad, but the only evidence I know of is the prospect of more poisons being thrown on food to be consumed by the populace. The actual effects of the modified plants, I’m not sure of… but like I said, i need to do more research. Again, beyond this though, is the business tactics that monsanto uses, which are just blatantly evil. Destroying the competition through technicalities in their “right” to patent life.

        • jackedu317 | May 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm |

          monsanto’s not trying to save anyone. they’re killing us slowly. GMO’s are garbage. you can’t altar nature and expect anything good to come of it. you can’t save a starving person when the food has no nutrition. and GMO’s are deficient in nutrition. why don’t you go on a diet of strictly gm corn and see how you feel after a year. dumbass……………..

          • And once again the fundies bring up only monsanto. And humanity has been altering nature for thousands of years, you know like with domestication, seletive breeding. Humanity alters natural all the time, the new technology now and undersanding allows more direct and quicker creation of new crops.  Stop being a fundie, and get rid of you hardon of hate for Monsanto, there are other organization using this knowledge to help humanity, not just corperations. Sounds like most of the beef with crops alted by using the likes of restriction enzymes and what not is not as much to do with the plants but the big corps behind some of them. So in other words, stop being a fundi.

          • Selective breeding and domestication are aspects of controlled evolution. Modifying the genetics of something directly is an entirely different animal.

          • Hey Look! It is Freddy! | May 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm |

             Its selecting for certain qualities, which I was using as an example of how humanity has played with the genetics of plants and animals for years. But yes you are right they are different, but are used to satisfy roughly the same goals, using restriction sites and Agrobacterium  instead of years of crossbreeding. And it can do things that pure selective breeding can not.

          • superfluous | May 22, 2011 at 4:55 am |

            plants gen-engineered to withstand more pesticides, for instance, effectively means more persticides in food products. that’s not so much an issue concerning the dna-sequence of the plant, but rather the effects of it.
            question: why would a company that sells both plant seeds and pesticide genetically engineer a plant to withstand more pesticide?
            answer: to save the world.

          • jackedu317 | May 24, 2011 at 5:39 am |

            $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

          • jackedu317 | May 24, 2011 at 5:38 am |

            go cover your gmo cornflakes with aspartame if you like monsanto so much… enjoy the tumors…

    • superfluous | May 21, 2011 at 4:29 am |

      yes, monsanto actually means “Science itself” in several indoeuropean languages..

      given monsantos track record/policies and the fact that a lot of this seems to be “forward-looking statements”, there’s every reason to remain somewhat sceptical.

      the article doesn’t seem to say anything about “better tomorrows”.

    • Dharmensengers | May 22, 2011 at 2:19 am |

      freddy you are not the smarrtest one. get some real info on this subject or else shutup and go eat hotdog and watch football 

  9. Fuck_Monsanto | May 21, 2011 at 12:43 am |

    Re: “Freddy”
    Actually, it’s not the “hippies” scared of science, it’s the corporate shills and corrupt politicians pushing Monsanto’s GMOs.
    Anyone who looks into the data on long term environmental and health effects of GMOs from researchers not paid off from Monsanto know that GMOs are not safe and not needed because better results are produced from traditional methods. Corporate shills have more in common with fundies for their blind devotion to money over science, reason, and the health of people and the planet.

  10. HighonFailure | May 21, 2011 at 3:19 am |

     Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

    Monsanto’s end game in this is to own all the crops in the world. You can’t grow monsanto plants without their permission, that includes every new season because it’s illegal to reap the seeds from Monsanto plants. Their plants spread throughout both Monsanto and nonMonsanto fields turning them all into Monsanto fields. They`ll own agricultural by the time we die.

  11. Madhierophant | May 21, 2011 at 4:27 am |

     You may be thinking of Peco from  Breath of Fire III. 

    http://bof.wikia.com/wiki/Peco

  12. Hey Look! It is Freddy! | May 21, 2011 at 5:28 am |

     Says the hippie spouting the gospel of fear.””And the lord said unto the flock, fear change and fear the corporation, fear the scientist who wishes understand and better mankind, for they work for the corporation and only care for money. It is better to let billions starve then risk my perfect world.” But really if you understand the science behind how these crops are made you would notice that this has the potential to help humanity at a scale undreamed of before. And if you looked around its not just your boogeyman Monsanto doing research, but many other organizations and good people doing research to help humanity. This method represents new methods and ways to help people, instead of spending a decade trying to breed and cross traits, we can now zero in on what we want to look at and breed, allowing for quicker understanding and production of crops that can save the life of a starving person.

  13. Haha yeah i knew all that, was just curious if anyone else did.

    You win 50 internets

  14. The argument of GM, beyond the health effects whether they exist or don’t (i need to do more research…) boils down to the much needed dispute of sustainable crops vs. “enough” crops. “enough” meaning: as much as we can so we can feed everyone. GM foods is another aspect of the techno-fix culture we live in. It is an attempt to push the boundaries of natural farming to maximize product, and profit. This throws away the importance of healthy people, healthy soil, and healthy land.

    My gut reaction on the health effects is that they are probably bad, but the only evidence I know of is the prospect of more poisons being thrown on food to be consumed by the populace. The actual effects of the modified plants, I’m not sure of… but like I said, i need to do more research. Again, beyond this though, is the business tactics that monsanto uses, which are just blatantly evil. Destroying the competition through technicalities in their “right” to patent life.

  15. superfluous | May 21, 2011 at 8:29 am |

    yes, monsanto actually means “Science itself” in several indoeuropean languages..

    given monsantos track record/policies and the fact that a lot of this seems to be “forward-looking statements”, there’s every reason to remain somewhat sceptical.

    the article doesn’t seem to say anything about “better tomorrows”.

  16. superfluous | May 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm |

    “the fact that a lot of this seems”… ay, caramba! 

  17. Why is it always corn?

  18. Why is it always corn?

  19. Why is it always corn?

  20. GMO"S cause cancer | May 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm |

    WHEN YOU MODIFY THE GENES OF ANYTHING, IT CEASES TO BE THAT THING. IT BECOMES SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT. GM FOOD IS NOT FOOD. IT’S POISON…THANKS FOR THE CANCER, MONSANTO!!!!!  (for decades now they have known that gm grains cause stomach and colon cancers. note these have been steadily on the rise over the last 20 years. also infertility, brain damage, and who knows what else.)

  21. GMO"S cause cancer | May 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm |

    WHEN YOU MODIFY THE GENES OF ANYTHING, IT CEASES TO BE THAT THING. IT BECOMES SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT. GM FOOD IS NOT FOOD. IT’S POISON…THANKS FOR THE CANCER, MONSANTO!!!!!  (for decades now they have known that gm grains cause stomach and colon cancers. note these have been steadily on the rise over the last 20 years. also infertility, brain damage, and who knows what else.)

  22. jackedu317 | May 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm |

    monsanto’s not trying to save anyone. they’re killing us slowly. GMO’s are garbage. you can’t altar nature and expect anything good to come of it. you can’t save a starving person when the food has no nutrition. and GMO’s are deficient in nutrition. why don’t you go on a diet of strictly gm corn and see how you feel after a year. dumbass……………..

  23. Drought resistant crops are a good beginning–but only a beginning.

    Right now I’m soliciting funding for research in an ambulant strain of corn that can not only physically pull up roots and walk out of the way of approaching dangers (e.g., tidal flood waters, etc.) but also thrives on the blood of Christian babies, sort of a two-birds-with-one-stone approach to the problem of food security in an overpopulated environment.

  24. Drought resistant crops are a good beginning–but only a beginning.

    Right now I’m soliciting funding for research in an ambulant strain of corn that can not only physically pull up roots and walk out of the way of approaching dangers (e.g., tidal flood waters, etc.) but also thrives on the blood of Christian babies, sort of a two-birds-with-one-stone approach to the problem of food security in an overpopulated environment.

    • jackedu317 | May 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

      overpopulation is a fraudulent claim… cities are overpopulated… the earth is not…

  25. jackedu317 | May 21, 2011 at 6:34 pm |

    overpopulation is a fraudulent claim… cities are overpopulated… the earth is not…

  26. jackedu317 | May 21, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    NEW MONSANTO SLOGAN: FED TODAY, DEAD TOMORROW…

  27. jackedu317 | May 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm |

    NEW MONSANTO SLOGAN: FED TODAY, DEAD TOMORROW…

  28. And once again the fundies bring up only monsanto. And humanity has been altering nature for thousands of years, you know like with domestication, seletive breeding. Humanity alters natural all the time, the new technology now and undersanding allows more direct and quicker creation of new crops.  Stop being a fundie, and get rid of you hardon of hate for Monsanto, there are other organization using this knowledge to help humanity, not just corperations. Sounds like most of the beef with crops alted by using the likes of restriction enzymes and what not is not as much to do with the plants but the big corps behind some of them. So in other words, stop being a fundi.

  29. Selective breeding and domestication are aspects of controlled evolution. Modifying the genetics of something directly is an entirely different animal.

  30. Dharmensengers | May 22, 2011 at 6:19 am |

    freddy you are not the smarrtest one. get some real info on this subject or else shutup and go eat hotdog and watch football 

  31. superfluous | May 22, 2011 at 8:55 am |

    plants gen-engineered to withstand more pesticides, for instance, effectively means more persticides in food products. that’s not so much an issue concerning the dna-sequence of the plant, but rather the effects of it.
    question: why would a company that sells both plant seeds and pesticide genetically engineer a plant to withstand more pesticide?
    answer: to save the world.

  32. superfluous | May 22, 2011 at 8:55 am |

    plants gen-engineered to withstand more pesticides, for instance, effectively means more persticides in food products. that’s not so much an issue concerning the dna-sequence of the plant, but rather the effects of it.
    question: why would a company that sells both plant seeds and pesticide genetically engineer a plant to withstand more pesticide?
    answer: to save the world.

  33. superfluous | May 22, 2011 at 9:00 am |

    the problem isn’t food production. the problem is food distribution.

    i tend to think that obesity and starvation, properly treated, would cancel each other.  

  34. superfluous | May 22, 2011 at 9:00 am |

    the problem isn’t food production. the problem is food distribution.

    i tend to think that obesity and starvation, properly treated, would cancel each other.  

  35. superfluous | May 22, 2011 at 5:00 am |

    the problem isn’t food production. the problem is food distribution.

    i tend to think that obesity and starvation, properly treated, would cancel each other.  

    • starvin marvin | May 22, 2011 at 5:37 am |

       do you have any idea how much food is purposely destroyed every month to keep prices high? we could feed the world (if we really wanted to)……….

      • superfluous | May 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm |

        indeed we could.

        ( the global food market is a part of the distribution system.. along with cash-crops, fast food etc..)

  36. jackedu317 | May 22, 2011 at 9:35 am |

    cause we feed corn to everything……

  37. starvin marvin | May 22, 2011 at 9:37 am |

     do you have any idea how much food is purposely destroyed every month to keep prices high? we could feed the world (if we really wanted to)……….

  38. superfluous | May 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |

    indeed we could.

    ( the global food market is a part of the distribution system.. along with cash-crops, fast food etc..)

  39. Hey Look! It is Freddy! | May 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |

     Its selecting for certain qualities, which I was using as an example of how humanity has played with the genetics of plants and animals for years. But yes you are right they are different, but are used to satisfy roughly the same goals, using restriction sites and Agrobacterium  instead of years of crossbreeding. And it can do things that pure selective breeding can not.

  40. jackedu317 | May 24, 2011 at 9:38 am |

    go cover your gmo cornflakes with aspartame if you like monsanto so much… enjoy the tumors…

  41. jackedu317 | May 24, 2011 at 9:39 am |

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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