Scientists claim that a new strain of genetically-modified (GM) rice, which could boost yields by up to 35 per cent may solve the world's impending food crisis, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper. The GM rice, which has already been tested in China, Korea and Chile, was announced by researchers at an international conference in the Philippines last week.
The new rice strain, jointly developed by teams in the US and Japan, is able to produce more sugar and has increased grain yields. But the researchers urge caution, saying they need to do more field tests, and carry out further modifications to improve the rice. A rice expert at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK, says the work could represent 'a very significant opportunity', considering that almost half the world's population depends on rice.
GM campaigner Pete Riley, of Friends of the Earth, stressed that the nutritional advantages, if any, and potential risks of new strains of rice need to be carefully assessed. He also claimed that yields can be increased by far more than 35 per cent by using better farming methods.