Science

Genetically modified wheat boasts 11-percent higher yield

Genetically modified wheat boa...
The best-performing line of the transgenic wheat produced grains that were an average of 12.3 percent heavier than those of regular wheat (pictured here), resulting in an 11.3-percent higher total yield
The best-performing line of the transgenic wheat produced grains that were an average of 12.3 percent heavier than those of regular wheat (pictured here), resulting in an 11.3-percent higher total yield
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The best-performing line of the transgenic wheat produced grains that were an average of 12.3 percent heavier than those of regular wheat (pictured here), resulting in an 11.3-percent higher total yield
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The best-performing line of the transgenic wheat produced grains that were an average of 12.3 percent heavier than those of regular wheat (pictured here), resulting in an 11.3-percent higher total yield

Wheat is one of the planet's most widely grown crops, so any increases in its grain yield could go a long way towards reducing world hunger. That's where a new variety of the plant comes in, as its yield is reportedly up to 11 percent higher than that of regular wheat.

One commonly used approach to boosting grain yield involves genetically modifying wheat plants, so that each one produces a greater number of grains. While this has worked in the past, the technology has somewhat plateaued in recent years – according to Britain's University of York, the annual rate of yield increase currently sits at less than 1 percent.

Another approach involves causing the grains to grow larger and heavier. Unfortunately, though, plants that have been altered to produce bigger grains usually also grow fewer of them. As a result, the actual amount of food that can be obtained from each plant remains the same.

Led by Prof. Simon McQueen-Mason, York scientists set out to address the latter problem.

In their new genetically modified wheat, levels of a growth-rate-determining protein known as expansin are increased in the young plants. When those plants mature, they produce grains that are up to 12.3 percent heavier than those of their conventional counterparts, but which are also no fewer in number. The increased growth rate is limited to the grains, with the rest of each plant remaining normal.

Colleagues at the Universidad Austral de Chile successfully grew the new wheat in field trials conducted under regular agricultural conditions. Once the plants had been harvested, the final grain yield of the best-performing transgenic line was 11.3 percent higher than that of a control crop of traditional wheat.

The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal New Phytologist.

Source: University of York

8 comments
8 comments
Joneseyboy
Please keep that GMO shite out of Canada. Dollars to donuts it's lower in protein and/or bad for your health. At the very least it'll be a boondoggle like Roundup-ready canola.
Gizreader
As long as they keep these Frankenstein grains out of Europe.
Mike stephens
Don’t want to burst the bubble but the scientific literature is full of reports of GM plants with yield increases that end up not being real. This is because you need a lot of data to show a true yield increase for a crop. Usually data from 50 test sites or more. Academics just don’t have the resources to do this type of testing. The end up doing a trial at 1-2 locations or even just a greenhouse and report the data.

Second - GM wheat has not been accepted by the consumer or other end user. Until it is no company will develop it into a product. Unless you add an attribute to it that consumers want - like flour which will lower your cholesterol! No one will make available to farmers. It costs about $100m to bring a GM gene to market.

Third- you will have keep this wheat separate from non GM wheat - that is an expense that most grain producers will not want to have. So a farmer may make a higher profit by growing the wheat but then get less fir the grain when he sells it.

Fourth - since a farmer can plant back the grain as seed a company that specialises de the money to get government approval will not be able to charge make more fir the seed as once the farmer buys the first that will be last he/she needs to buy.
Username
The wheat we presently eat has nothing to do with wild wheat that was growing 5000 years ago. Everything we eat has been modified. Physically splicing different plants together to produce a new strand is genetic modification. If one does not want to eat any GMO one will have to stop eating.
Tom Lee Mullins
I consider genetically modified products is cross breeding of plants but on a genetic level. this has been going on for a very long time but somehow is bad since it is done on a genetic level. I think there is good and bad genetic modified products and one should condemn them all.

There was a corn that was GM of corn and could have fed millions but it was vilified because it was GM even though there was no proof it was bad. I believe it was -IIRC - called golden corn.

I think this is a good thing and could feed more people.
Eric Blenheim
There is no genuine need at all for this GMO wheat, the use of basalt rock dust, nature's principal original soil source, when added to soils at 1 to 2 kilos per square metre every year or two as required, boosts volume of crop production by 200% to 800% and makes nutritional content optimal, fully replete with all desirable levels of minerals, microminerals and vitamins according to evidence from quite a number of field trials around the world.

It is just a matter of competing technology that wants to make a fast buck. We were not designed to eat GMO crops, we evolved to go along with what is already here. GMO crops contain vastly lower proportions of vital nutrients, and have been demonstrated to leave active GMO RNA in the gut that is dysfunctional that then alters our own RNA, influencing our DNA in a way that negatively affects organ functions. Goats fed GMO soy have smaller kids, and they have to have 50% more spent on them in veterinary fees, great to make a quick buck for the soulless companies behind it, but absolutely no good at all for actual human beings. And the GMO soy is actually more expensive for the farmers to buy to feed their stock, and around 98% of all soy is now GMO, making non-GMO soy very difficult to obtain, making things very difficult for farmers and their now suffering stock.
Nobody
Considering the problems that increasing gluten over the years is causing for many people, this is not a good thing. Now that medical science is recognizing the dietary effects on gut bacteria and many autoimmune diseases, this GMO stuff may well be pure poison to many people. Worse yet we may never be able to go back once the gene pool is totally polluted.
ljaques
1) There is no food shortage in the world. It is a distribution problem due to the politics of WARLORDS.
2) Please tell scientists to stop making GMO products. They could end the world quicker than overpopulation could.
3) Please put CRISPR back into Pandora's Box before it kills us.