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Monthly Archives: December 2018

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming –
                Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

LOS BANOS, Philippines — Flora De Guzman pops the seal on a vault door, and a blast of dry, frigid air hisses through the gap. Behind the airlock is a room kept at minus 20C, packed with shelf upon shelf of sealed aluminum cans holding one of the world’s most undervalued resources — preserved samples of more than 130,000 varieties of rice.

For the past 40 years, De Guzman has worked here at the gene bank at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos. Some of the samples have been here even longer. “We’ve learned the value of time,” she said.

The IRRI, a couple of hours’ drive south of Manila, is a uniquely comprehensive library of the genetic diversity of a crop that sustains more than 3 billion people worldwide. Seeds from different strains of rice are collected from all over the world, sorted — in some cases by hand — to ensure their purity, and stored in vaults, where they can survive for 50 years or more.

Researchers from the public or private sectors can request samples for a nominal fee, allowing them to crossbreed the institute’s varieties with their own. But the vault’s mission has taken on a new urgency in the last few years as the changing climate generates more erratic and extreme weather, leaving farmers in dire need of rice varieties that can resist droughts, floods and pests. The genes that correspond to these vital traits are contained within the samples held in the vaults.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to food security. The main problem is that the climate change is faster than plants are able to adapt,” said Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a Germany-based nonprofit organization that works to preserve crop diversity. “In order for us to feed the world in the time ahead, we need to adapt the main plants that feed us to new circumstances,” Haga said. “The diversity of crops in gene banks is the raw material we need to breed plants that can deal with an extreme climate.”


Grains of rice are sorted and examined by hand before they go for storage. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The global scientific consensus is that Earth is now locked in to temperature rises of at least 1.5C above preindustrial levels, unless urgent action is taken. In 2016, governments agreed to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent further temperature rises above that level, but progress has been slow, and current projections suggest that without dramatic action the world is likely to overshoot the target.

Temperature rises on this scale could have severe implications for the world’s staple crops, whose vulnerability stems in part from their homogeneity. These monocultures, as they are known, are the legacy of a so-called “Green Revolution” in the 1960s and 1970s, which was underpinned by the development of varieties of cereal crops that produced high yields and responded well to the application of nitrogen fertilizers.


Flora De Guzman, who has worked at the facility for 40 years, oversees its day-to-day operations. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The green revolution varieties were extremely successful, rapidly displacing traditional strains of the same crops. A huge increase in crop production headed off an evolving food crisis across the developing world, and built the foundations of today’s agricultural economies in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. However, the success of the new varieties created new fragilities within the global food system. The crops were well tailored to the conditions they were planted in, but are not well adapted when those conditions change.

Monocultures are also vulnerable to the emergence of new pests, which can spread rapidly through populations that are genetically homogeneous. Nearly 50% of bananas grown worldwide are of the Cavendish variety — clones of a plant grown in the U.K. in the 19th century. This crop is now under imminent threat from an emergent strain of Panama disease, a fungus that practically wiped out another banana variety, the Gros Michel, in the 1950s.


Research plots at the International Rice Research Institute (Photo by Peter Guest)

The impact of climate change is already being felt in important rice-growing regions. In Laos, where much of the rice crop is rain-fed, severe droughts have reduced production in recent years. In Bangladesh, heavy flooding washed away huge areas of rice farms in 2017, while coastal regions have suffered from the encroachment of saltwater, which damages crops. In the Mekong Delta, which supports more than half of Vietnam’s rice production, yields have been hit by a combination of floods, droughts and saltwater intrusion at various points on the river’s length.

Rice breeders have for years tried to create varieties that are resistant to these “abiotic” stresses, such as extreme heat or high salinity. However, ensuring that farmers have the right stress-tolerant varieties at the right moment has become far more difficult because weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable.


Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head of the genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“While in earlier days we have tried to improve varieties to a single stress — so we had a drought-tolerant variety or a flood tolerant variety — now we’re trying to put several tolerances in one variety, because we realize that one stress doesn’t come alone,” said Bjoern Ole Sander, a Vietnam-based climate change specialist at the IRRI.

Contained within the samples cooling in the Los Banos rice vault are the traits that will be needed to adapt rice crops to these new conditions, and to make them resilient against future challenges. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, the evolutionary biologist in charge of the gene bank, said climate change is an immediate threat, but the gene bank has to think in terms of decades and even centuries. “It’s what economists call option value,” Hamilton said.

The worth of that option has become easier to measure in recent years. Gene sequencing techniques have become faster and cheaper, changing the economics of research. The first rice genome sequence cost around $1 billion to compile. Today, a “reasonably good sequence” can cost around $1,000, Hamilton said. “The [fall in the] cost of sequencing has been greater than Moore’s Law (the dictum in computer science that every two years, the power of computer processors doubles, while the cost halves).”

This means that researchers have a much greater ability to match genes with specific traits. The gene bank has already sequenced the genomes of 3,000 of its samples, which are referred to as “accessions.” If the cost of sequencing falls even more, it may do the same for the entire collection.


Short-term storage at the institute’s genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“Before, it was an almost random decision on what accessions to try and evaluate and see if they had any value, and that was a very difficult process. Now with the 3,000 sequenced genomes it’s very easy to collect the data on agronomic value and line that up with the sequence data,” Hamilton said

The advent of gene editing, which uses enzymes to modify or insert DNA into a genome, promises to make the process even more efficient, allowing researchers to “prototype” varieties more rapidly to prove that an individual gene corresponds with a particular trait.

“Rather than years and years of different approaches, we come down to a very short period of proving the function of the gene. That’s been an impossible thing in the past without huge investment,” Hamilton said.

With the harmful effects of climate change already becoming manifest around the world, and with several major economies unwilling to limit the carbon emissions that are driving global warming, the option value of the gene bank has become greater and more obvious. In October, the vault was granted $1.4 million a year funding in perpetuity from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, securing its samples for the foreseeable future and beyond.

“I think it’s fair to say that crop diversity is probably one of the most important natural resources, and [yet] it is the least recognized. We’ve got to do something about that,” said Haga.

“We have lost so much genetic material in the last 100 years, so now we cannot afford to lose more. Because for each variety of crop we lose, we lose options for the future.”

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming –
                Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

LOS BANOS, Philippines — Flora De Guzman pops the seal on a vault door, and a blast of dry, frigid air hisses through the gap. Behind the airlock is a room kept at minus 20C, packed with shelf upon shelf of sealed aluminum cans holding one of the world’s most undervalued resources — preserved samples of more than 130,000 varieties of rice.

For the past 40 years, De Guzman has worked here at the gene bank at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos. Some of the samples have been here even longer. “We’ve learned the value of time,” she said.

The IRRI, a couple of hours’ drive south of Manila, is a uniquely comprehensive library of the genetic diversity of a crop that sustains more than 3 billion people worldwide. Seeds from different strains of rice are collected from all over the world, sorted — in some cases by hand — to ensure their purity, and stored in vaults, where they can survive for 50 years or more.

Researchers from the public or private sectors can request samples for a nominal fee, allowing them to crossbreed the institute’s varieties with their own. But the vault’s mission has taken on a new urgency in the last few years as the changing climate generates more erratic and extreme weather, leaving farmers in dire need of rice varieties that can resist droughts, floods and pests. The genes that correspond to these vital traits are contained within the samples held in the vaults.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to food security. The main problem is that the climate change is faster than plants are able to adapt,” said Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a Germany-based nonprofit organization that works to preserve crop diversity. “In order for us to feed the world in the time ahead, we need to adapt the main plants that feed us to new circumstances,” Haga said. “The diversity of crops in gene banks is the raw material we need to breed plants that can deal with an extreme climate.”


Grains of rice are sorted and examined by hand before they go for storage. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The global scientific consensus is that Earth is now locked in to temperature rises of at least 1.5C above preindustrial levels, unless urgent action is taken. In 2016, governments agreed to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent further temperature rises above that level, but progress has been slow, and current projections suggest that without dramatic action the world is likely to overshoot the target.

Temperature rises on this scale could have severe implications for the world’s staple crops, whose vulnerability stems in part from their homogeneity. These monocultures, as they are known, are the legacy of a so-called “Green Revolution” in the 1960s and 1970s, which was underpinned by the development of varieties of cereal crops that produced high yields and responded well to the application of nitrogen fertilizers.


Flora De Guzman, who has worked at the facility for 40 years, oversees its day-to-day operations. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The green revolution varieties were extremely successful, rapidly displacing traditional strains of the same crops. A huge increase in crop production headed off an evolving food crisis across the developing world, and built the foundations of today’s agricultural economies in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. However, the success of the new varieties created new fragilities within the global food system. The crops were well tailored to the conditions they were planted in, but are not well adapted when those conditions change.

Monocultures are also vulnerable to the emergence of new pests, which can spread rapidly through populations that are genetically homogeneous. Nearly 50% of bananas grown worldwide are of the Cavendish variety — clones of a plant grown in the U.K. in the 19th century. This crop is now under imminent threat from an emergent strain of Panama disease, a fungus that practically wiped out another banana variety, the Gros Michel, in the 1950s.


Research plots at the International Rice Research Institute (Photo by Peter Guest)

The impact of climate change is already being felt in important rice-growing regions. In Laos, where much of the rice crop is rain-fed, severe droughts have reduced production in recent years. In Bangladesh, heavy flooding washed away huge areas of rice farms in 2017, while coastal regions have suffered from the encroachment of saltwater, which damages crops. In the Mekong Delta, which supports more than half of Vietnam’s rice production, yields have been hit by a combination of floods, droughts and saltwater intrusion at various points on the river’s length.

Rice breeders have for years tried to create varieties that are resistant to these “abiotic” stresses, such as extreme heat or high salinity. However, ensuring that farmers have the right stress-tolerant varieties at the right moment has become far more difficult because weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable.


Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head of the genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“While in earlier days we have tried to improve varieties to a single stress — so we had a drought-tolerant variety or a flood tolerant variety — now we’re trying to put several tolerances in one variety, because we realize that one stress doesn’t come alone,” said Bjoern Ole Sander, a Vietnam-based climate change specialist at the IRRI.

Contained within the samples cooling in the Los Banos rice vault are the traits that will be needed to adapt rice crops to these new conditions, and to make them resilient against future challenges. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, the evolutionary biologist in charge of the gene bank, said climate change is an immediate threat, but the gene bank has to think in terms of decades and even centuries. “It’s what economists call option value,” Hamilton said.

The worth of that option has become easier to measure in recent years. Gene sequencing techniques have become faster and cheaper, changing the economics of research. The first rice genome sequence cost around $1 billion to compile. Today, a “reasonably good sequence” can cost around $1,000, Hamilton said. “The [fall in the] cost of sequencing has been greater than Moore’s Law (the dictum in computer science that every two years, the power of computer processors doubles, while the cost halves).”

This means that researchers have a much greater ability to match genes with specific traits. The gene bank has already sequenced the genomes of 3,000 of its samples, which are referred to as “accessions.” If the cost of sequencing falls even more, it may do the same for the entire collection.


Short-term storage at the institute’s genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“Before, it was an almost random decision on what accessions to try and evaluate and see if they had any value, and that was a very difficult process. Now with the 3,000 sequenced genomes it’s very easy to collect the data on agronomic value and line that up with the sequence data,” Hamilton said

The advent of gene editing, which uses enzymes to modify or insert DNA into a genome, promises to make the process even more efficient, allowing researchers to “prototype” varieties more rapidly to prove that an individual gene corresponds with a particular trait.

“Rather than years and years of different approaches, we come down to a very short period of proving the function of the gene. That’s been an impossible thing in the past without huge investment,” Hamilton said.

With the harmful effects of climate change already becoming manifest around the world, and with several major economies unwilling to limit the carbon emissions that are driving global warming, the option value of the gene bank has become greater and more obvious. In October, the vault was granted $1.4 million a year funding in perpetuity from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, securing its samples for the foreseeable future and beyond.

“I think it’s fair to say that crop diversity is probably one of the most important natural resources, and [yet] it is the least recognized. We’ve got to do something about that,” said Haga.

“We have lost so much genetic material in the last 100 years, so now we cannot afford to lose more. Because for each variety of crop we lose, we lose options for the future.”

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Is the Buddhist diet worth promoting? – Food Security and Food Justice

  Vegetarianism and vegan diets have become familiar in recent years for many of the benefits that have been confirmed to be beneficial to individuals and society, here are  a lot of people choose these meat-free diets for health ,moral, environmental and religious reasons.Animal-friendly Buddhism takes ‘ as a very important precept, they advocate people to protect every living creatures in the world.For all above the reasons,  some characters choose to become supporters of Buddhist vegetarianism, which is one of the earliest vegetarianism and some branches of it are very close to vegan.

The Chinese Buddhist cuisine includes ‘Su’ and ‘Zhai’ diet, In the Buddhist concept, ‘Su’ diet is very close to vegan. However,  Eating ‘Zhai’ not only means people cannot eat meat or other food by killing animals, they can not even eating Onions, garlic, leeks, and other pungent seasoning. Moreover, people who eat ‘Zhai’ could not eat  food between each day’s noon and next dawn. It’s worth noticing that with vegetarian diet, most Buddhist have  optimistic nutritional status  of iron, folate, and vitamin b-12, those nutrients above could be easily obtained in meats but it’s hard to gain them in vegetables.

After ensuring this diet is healthy, people  began  to focus on whether the Buddhist diet was delicious.This is related to whether beginners can get started as well as happily stick to it.  It’s well-known that Temple food is almost entirely plant-based, while the various restrictions of the diet do not prevent Buddhist cuisine performing well in flavors, with a variety of dishes developed using meat substitutes such as tofu or wheat gluten .  Because temple food emphasizes the raw taste and flavor of the main ingredients, so according to the feedback of taster, Buddhist food often tastes light and delicious. For example,From the Song Dynasty (tenth to thirteenth centuries)in China, a complex vegetarian cuisine called ‘mock meat’ has developed, catering not least for lay Buddhist pilgrims and other worshippers at Buddhist temples. This dishes both capture the flavour and texture of meats with the use of substitutes such as wheat gluten, soybeans and mushrooms.

If food generally means to sustain life and health, then temple cuisine differs from general concept is that it must also help nurture and train consumers. Buddhism teaches people to cultivate themselves morally or religiously even when making and eating food. As temple cuisine is widely appreciated as food that is good for both physical and mental health as well as tastes delicious.This belief means that temple cuisine is a competitive and alternative healthy food choice for Tourists from all over the world who chasing for relief, food, health and love.

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Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming –
                Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

LOS BANOS, Philippines — Flora De Guzman pops the seal on a vault door, and a blast of dry, frigid air hisses through the gap. Behind the airlock is a room kept at minus 20C, packed with shelf upon shelf of sealed aluminum cans holding one of the world’s most undervalued resources — preserved samples of more than 130,000 varieties of rice.

For the past 40 years, De Guzman has worked here at the gene bank at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos. Some of the samples have been here even longer. “We’ve learned the value of time,” she said.

The IRRI, a couple of hours’ drive south of Manila, is a uniquely comprehensive library of the genetic diversity of a crop that sustains more than 3 billion people worldwide. Seeds from different strains of rice are collected from all over the world, sorted — in some cases by hand — to ensure their purity, and stored in vaults, where they can survive for 50 years or more.

Researchers from the public or private sectors can request samples for a nominal fee, allowing them to crossbreed the institute’s varieties with their own. But the vault’s mission has taken on a new urgency in the last few years as the changing climate generates more erratic and extreme weather, leaving farmers in dire need of rice varieties that can resist droughts, floods and pests. The genes that correspond to these vital traits are contained within the samples held in the vaults.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to food security. The main problem is that the climate change is faster than plants are able to adapt,” said Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a Germany-based nonprofit organization that works to preserve crop diversity. “In order for us to feed the world in the time ahead, we need to adapt the main plants that feed us to new circumstances,” Haga said. “The diversity of crops in gene banks is the raw material we need to breed plants that can deal with an extreme climate.”


Grains of rice are sorted and examined by hand before they go for storage. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The global scientific consensus is that Earth is now locked in to temperature rises of at least 1.5C above preindustrial levels, unless urgent action is taken. In 2016, governments agreed to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent further temperature rises above that level, but progress has been slow, and current projections suggest that without dramatic action the world is likely to overshoot the target.

Temperature rises on this scale could have severe implications for the world’s staple crops, whose vulnerability stems in part from their homogeneity. These monocultures, as they are known, are the legacy of a so-called “Green Revolution” in the 1960s and 1970s, which was underpinned by the development of varieties of cereal crops that produced high yields and responded well to the application of nitrogen fertilizers.


Flora De Guzman, who has worked at the facility for 40 years, oversees its day-to-day operations. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The green revolution varieties were extremely successful, rapidly displacing traditional strains of the same crops. A huge increase in crop production headed off an evolving food crisis across the developing world, and built the foundations of today’s agricultural economies in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. However, the success of the new varieties created new fragilities within the global food system. The crops were well tailored to the conditions they were planted in, but are not well adapted when those conditions change.

Monocultures are also vulnerable to the emergence of new pests, which can spread rapidly through populations that are genetically homogeneous. Nearly 50% of bananas grown worldwide are of the Cavendish variety — clones of a plant grown in the U.K. in the 19th century. This crop is now under imminent threat from an emergent strain of Panama disease, a fungus that practically wiped out another banana variety, the Gros Michel, in the 1950s.


Research plots at the International Rice Research Institute (Photo by Peter Guest)

The impact of climate change is already being felt in important rice-growing regions. In Laos, where much of the rice crop is rain-fed, severe droughts have reduced production in recent years. In Bangladesh, heavy flooding washed away huge areas of rice farms in 2017, while coastal regions have suffered from the encroachment of saltwater, which damages crops. In the Mekong Delta, which supports more than half of Vietnam’s rice production, yields have been hit by a combination of floods, droughts and saltwater intrusion at various points on the river’s length.

Rice breeders have for years tried to create varieties that are resistant to these “abiotic” stresses, such as extreme heat or high salinity. However, ensuring that farmers have the right stress-tolerant varieties at the right moment has become far more difficult because weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable.


Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head of the genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“While in earlier days we have tried to improve varieties to a single stress — so we had a drought-tolerant variety or a flood tolerant variety — now we’re trying to put several tolerances in one variety, because we realize that one stress doesn’t come alone,” said Bjoern Ole Sander, a Vietnam-based climate change specialist at the IRRI.

Contained within the samples cooling in the Los Banos rice vault are the traits that will be needed to adapt rice crops to these new conditions, and to make them resilient against future challenges. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, the evolutionary biologist in charge of the gene bank, said climate change is an immediate threat, but the gene bank has to think in terms of decades and even centuries. “It’s what economists call option value,” Hamilton said.

The worth of that option has become easier to measure in recent years. Gene sequencing techniques have become faster and cheaper, changing the economics of research. The first rice genome sequence cost around $1 billion to compile. Today, a “reasonably good sequence” can cost around $1,000, Hamilton said. “The [fall in the] cost of sequencing has been greater than Moore’s Law (the dictum in computer science that every two years, the power of computer processors doubles, while the cost halves).”

This means that researchers have a much greater ability to match genes with specific traits. The gene bank has already sequenced the genomes of 3,000 of its samples, which are referred to as “accessions.” If the cost of sequencing falls even more, it may do the same for the entire collection.


Short-term storage at the institute’s genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“Before, it was an almost random decision on what accessions to try and evaluate and see if they had any value, and that was a very difficult process. Now with the 3,000 sequenced genomes it’s very easy to collect the data on agronomic value and line that up with the sequence data,” Hamilton said

The advent of gene editing, which uses enzymes to modify or insert DNA into a genome, promises to make the process even more efficient, allowing researchers to “prototype” varieties more rapidly to prove that an individual gene corresponds with a particular trait.

“Rather than years and years of different approaches, we come down to a very short period of proving the function of the gene. That’s been an impossible thing in the past without huge investment,” Hamilton said.

With the harmful effects of climate change already becoming manifest around the world, and with several major economies unwilling to limit the carbon emissions that are driving global warming, the option value of the gene bank has become greater and more obvious. In October, the vault was granted $1.4 million a year funding in perpetuity from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, securing its samples for the foreseeable future and beyond.

“I think it’s fair to say that crop diversity is probably one of the most important natural resources, and [yet] it is the least recognized. We’ve got to do something about that,” said Haga.

“We have lost so much genetic material in the last 100 years, so now we cannot afford to lose more. Because for each variety of crop we lose, we lose options for the future.”

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming –
                Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

LOS BANOS, Philippines — Flora De Guzman pops the seal on a vault door, and a blast of dry, frigid air hisses through the gap. Behind the airlock is a room kept at minus 20C, packed with shelf upon shelf of sealed aluminum cans holding one of the world’s most undervalued resources — preserved samples of more than 130,000 varieties of rice.

For the past 40 years, De Guzman has worked here at the gene bank at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos. Some of the samples have been here even longer. “We’ve learned the value of time,” she said.

The IRRI, a couple of hours’ drive south of Manila, is a uniquely comprehensive library of the genetic diversity of a crop that sustains more than 3 billion people worldwide. Seeds from different strains of rice are collected from all over the world, sorted — in some cases by hand — to ensure their purity, and stored in vaults, where they can survive for 50 years or more.

Researchers from the public or private sectors can request samples for a nominal fee, allowing them to crossbreed the institute’s varieties with their own. But the vault’s mission has taken on a new urgency in the last few years as the changing climate generates more erratic and extreme weather, leaving farmers in dire need of rice varieties that can resist droughts, floods and pests. The genes that correspond to these vital traits are contained within the samples held in the vaults.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to food security. The main problem is that the climate change is faster than plants are able to adapt,” said Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a Germany-based nonprofit organization that works to preserve crop diversity. “In order for us to feed the world in the time ahead, we need to adapt the main plants that feed us to new circumstances,” Haga said. “The diversity of crops in gene banks is the raw material we need to breed plants that can deal with an extreme climate.”


Grains of rice are sorted and examined by hand before they go for storage. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The global scientific consensus is that Earth is now locked in to temperature rises of at least 1.5C above preindustrial levels, unless urgent action is taken. In 2016, governments agreed to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent further temperature rises above that level, but progress has been slow, and current projections suggest that without dramatic action the world is likely to overshoot the target.

Temperature rises on this scale could have severe implications for the world’s staple crops, whose vulnerability stems in part from their homogeneity. These monocultures, as they are known, are the legacy of a so-called “Green Revolution” in the 1960s and 1970s, which was underpinned by the development of varieties of cereal crops that produced high yields and responded well to the application of nitrogen fertilizers.


Flora De Guzman, who has worked at the facility for 40 years, oversees its day-to-day operations. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The green revolution varieties were extremely successful, rapidly displacing traditional strains of the same crops. A huge increase in crop production headed off an evolving food crisis across the developing world, and built the foundations of today’s agricultural economies in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. However, the success of the new varieties created new fragilities within the global food system. The crops were well tailored to the conditions they were planted in, but are not well adapted when those conditions change.

Monocultures are also vulnerable to the emergence of new pests, which can spread rapidly through populations that are genetically homogeneous. Nearly 50% of bananas grown worldwide are of the Cavendish variety — clones of a plant grown in the U.K. in the 19th century. This crop is now under imminent threat from an emergent strain of Panama disease, a fungus that practically wiped out another banana variety, the Gros Michel, in the 1950s.


Research plots at the International Rice Research Institute (Photo by Peter Guest)

The impact of climate change is already being felt in important rice-growing regions. In Laos, where much of the rice crop is rain-fed, severe droughts have reduced production in recent years. In Bangladesh, heavy flooding washed away huge areas of rice farms in 2017, while coastal regions have suffered from the encroachment of saltwater, which damages crops. In the Mekong Delta, which supports more than half of Vietnam’s rice production, yields have been hit by a combination of floods, droughts and saltwater intrusion at various points on the river’s length.

Rice breeders have for years tried to create varieties that are resistant to these “abiotic” stresses, such as extreme heat or high salinity. However, ensuring that farmers have the right stress-tolerant varieties at the right moment has become far more difficult because weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable.


Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head of the genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“While in earlier days we have tried to improve varieties to a single stress — so we had a drought-tolerant variety or a flood tolerant variety — now we’re trying to put several tolerances in one variety, because we realize that one stress doesn’t come alone,” said Bjoern Ole Sander, a Vietnam-based climate change specialist at the IRRI.

Contained within the samples cooling in the Los Banos rice vault are the traits that will be needed to adapt rice crops to these new conditions, and to make them resilient against future challenges. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, the evolutionary biologist in charge of the gene bank, said climate change is an immediate threat, but the gene bank has to think in terms of decades and even centuries. “It’s what economists call option value,” Hamilton said.

The worth of that option has become easier to measure in recent years. Gene sequencing techniques have become faster and cheaper, changing the economics of research. The first rice genome sequence cost around $1 billion to compile. Today, a “reasonably good sequence” can cost around $1,000, Hamilton said. “The [fall in the] cost of sequencing has been greater than Moore’s Law (the dictum in computer science that every two years, the power of computer processors doubles, while the cost halves).”

This means that researchers have a much greater ability to match genes with specific traits. The gene bank has already sequenced the genomes of 3,000 of its samples, which are referred to as “accessions.” If the cost of sequencing falls even more, it may do the same for the entire collection.


Short-term storage at the institute’s genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“Before, it was an almost random decision on what accessions to try and evaluate and see if they had any value, and that was a very difficult process. Now with the 3,000 sequenced genomes it’s very easy to collect the data on agronomic value and line that up with the sequence data,” Hamilton said

The advent of gene editing, which uses enzymes to modify or insert DNA into a genome, promises to make the process even more efficient, allowing researchers to “prototype” varieties more rapidly to prove that an individual gene corresponds with a particular trait.

“Rather than years and years of different approaches, we come down to a very short period of proving the function of the gene. That’s been an impossible thing in the past without huge investment,” Hamilton said.

With the harmful effects of climate change already becoming manifest around the world, and with several major economies unwilling to limit the carbon emissions that are driving global warming, the option value of the gene bank has become greater and more obvious. In October, the vault was granted $1.4 million a year funding in perpetuity from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, securing its samples for the foreseeable future and beyond.

“I think it’s fair to say that crop diversity is probably one of the most important natural resources, and [yet] it is the least recognized. We’ve got to do something about that,” said Haga.

“We have lost so much genetic material in the last 100 years, so now we cannot afford to lose more. Because for each variety of crop we lose, we lose options for the future.”

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming –
                Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

LOS BANOS, Philippines — Flora De Guzman pops the seal on a vault door, and a blast of dry, frigid air hisses through the gap. Behind the airlock is a room kept at minus 20C, packed with shelf upon shelf of sealed aluminum cans holding one of the world’s most undervalued resources — preserved samples of more than 130,000 varieties of rice.

For the past 40 years, De Guzman has worked here at the gene bank at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos. Some of the samples have been here even longer. “We’ve learned the value of time,” she said.

The IRRI, a couple of hours’ drive south of Manila, is a uniquely comprehensive library of the genetic diversity of a crop that sustains more than 3 billion people worldwide. Seeds from different strains of rice are collected from all over the world, sorted — in some cases by hand — to ensure their purity, and stored in vaults, where they can survive for 50 years or more.

Researchers from the public or private sectors can request samples for a nominal fee, allowing them to crossbreed the institute’s varieties with their own. But the vault’s mission has taken on a new urgency in the last few years as the changing climate generates more erratic and extreme weather, leaving farmers in dire need of rice varieties that can resist droughts, floods and pests. The genes that correspond to these vital traits are contained within the samples held in the vaults.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to food security. The main problem is that the climate change is faster than plants are able to adapt,” said Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a Germany-based nonprofit organization that works to preserve crop diversity. “In order for us to feed the world in the time ahead, we need to adapt the main plants that feed us to new circumstances,” Haga said. “The diversity of crops in gene banks is the raw material we need to breed plants that can deal with an extreme climate.”


Grains of rice are sorted and examined by hand before they go for storage. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The global scientific consensus is that Earth is now locked in to temperature rises of at least 1.5C above preindustrial levels, unless urgent action is taken. In 2016, governments agreed to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent further temperature rises above that level, but progress has been slow, and current projections suggest that without dramatic action the world is likely to overshoot the target.

Temperature rises on this scale could have severe implications for the world’s staple crops, whose vulnerability stems in part from their homogeneity. These monocultures, as they are known, are the legacy of a so-called “Green Revolution” in the 1960s and 1970s, which was underpinned by the development of varieties of cereal crops that produced high yields and responded well to the application of nitrogen fertilizers.


Flora De Guzman, who has worked at the facility for 40 years, oversees its day-to-day operations. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The green revolution varieties were extremely successful, rapidly displacing traditional strains of the same crops. A huge increase in crop production headed off an evolving food crisis across the developing world, and built the foundations of today’s agricultural economies in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. However, the success of the new varieties created new fragilities within the global food system. The crops were well tailored to the conditions they were planted in, but are not well adapted when those conditions change.

Monocultures are also vulnerable to the emergence of new pests, which can spread rapidly through populations that are genetically homogeneous. Nearly 50% of bananas grown worldwide are of the Cavendish variety — clones of a plant grown in the U.K. in the 19th century. This crop is now under imminent threat from an emergent strain of Panama disease, a fungus that practically wiped out another banana variety, the Gros Michel, in the 1950s.


Research plots at the International Rice Research Institute (Photo by Peter Guest)

The impact of climate change is already being felt in important rice-growing regions. In Laos, where much of the rice crop is rain-fed, severe droughts have reduced production in recent years. In Bangladesh, heavy flooding washed away huge areas of rice farms in 2017, while coastal regions have suffered from the encroachment of saltwater, which damages crops. In the Mekong Delta, which supports more than half of Vietnam’s rice production, yields have been hit by a combination of floods, droughts and saltwater intrusion at various points on the river’s length.

Rice breeders have for years tried to create varieties that are resistant to these “abiotic” stresses, such as extreme heat or high salinity. However, ensuring that farmers have the right stress-tolerant varieties at the right moment has become far more difficult because weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable.


Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head of the genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“While in earlier days we have tried to improve varieties to a single stress — so we had a drought-tolerant variety or a flood tolerant variety — now we’re trying to put several tolerances in one variety, because we realize that one stress doesn’t come alone,” said Bjoern Ole Sander, a Vietnam-based climate change specialist at the IRRI.

Contained within the samples cooling in the Los Banos rice vault are the traits that will be needed to adapt rice crops to these new conditions, and to make them resilient against future challenges. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, the evolutionary biologist in charge of the gene bank, said climate change is an immediate threat, but the gene bank has to think in terms of decades and even centuries. “It’s what economists call option value,” Hamilton said.

The worth of that option has become easier to measure in recent years. Gene sequencing techniques have become faster and cheaper, changing the economics of research. The first rice genome sequence cost around $1 billion to compile. Today, a “reasonably good sequence” can cost around $1,000, Hamilton said. “The [fall in the] cost of sequencing has been greater than Moore’s Law (the dictum in computer science that every two years, the power of computer processors doubles, while the cost halves).”

This means that researchers have a much greater ability to match genes with specific traits. The gene bank has already sequenced the genomes of 3,000 of its samples, which are referred to as “accessions.” If the cost of sequencing falls even more, it may do the same for the entire collection.


Short-term storage at the institute’s genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“Before, it was an almost random decision on what accessions to try and evaluate and see if they had any value, and that was a very difficult process. Now with the 3,000 sequenced genomes it’s very easy to collect the data on agronomic value and line that up with the sequence data,” Hamilton said

The advent of gene editing, which uses enzymes to modify or insert DNA into a genome, promises to make the process even more efficient, allowing researchers to “prototype” varieties more rapidly to prove that an individual gene corresponds with a particular trait.

“Rather than years and years of different approaches, we come down to a very short period of proving the function of the gene. That’s been an impossible thing in the past without huge investment,” Hamilton said.

With the harmful effects of climate change already becoming manifest around the world, and with several major economies unwilling to limit the carbon emissions that are driving global warming, the option value of the gene bank has become greater and more obvious. In October, the vault was granted $1.4 million a year funding in perpetuity from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, securing its samples for the foreseeable future and beyond.

“I think it’s fair to say that crop diversity is probably one of the most important natural resources, and [yet] it is the least recognized. We’ve got to do something about that,” said Haga.

“We have lost so much genetic material in the last 100 years, so now we cannot afford to lose more. Because for each variety of crop we lose, we lose options for the future.”

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming –
                Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

LOS BANOS, Philippines — Flora De Guzman pops the seal on a vault door, and a blast of dry, frigid air hisses through the gap. Behind the airlock is a room kept at minus 20C, packed with shelf upon shelf of sealed aluminum cans holding one of the world’s most undervalued resources — preserved samples of more than 130,000 varieties of rice.

For the past 40 years, De Guzman has worked here at the gene bank at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos. Some of the samples have been here even longer. “We’ve learned the value of time,” she said.

The IRRI, a couple of hours’ drive south of Manila, is a uniquely comprehensive library of the genetic diversity of a crop that sustains more than 3 billion people worldwide. Seeds from different strains of rice are collected from all over the world, sorted — in some cases by hand — to ensure their purity, and stored in vaults, where they can survive for 50 years or more.

Researchers from the public or private sectors can request samples for a nominal fee, allowing them to crossbreed the institute’s varieties with their own. But the vault’s mission has taken on a new urgency in the last few years as the changing climate generates more erratic and extreme weather, leaving farmers in dire need of rice varieties that can resist droughts, floods and pests. The genes that correspond to these vital traits are contained within the samples held in the vaults.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to food security. The main problem is that the climate change is faster than plants are able to adapt,” said Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a Germany-based nonprofit organization that works to preserve crop diversity. “In order for us to feed the world in the time ahead, we need to adapt the main plants that feed us to new circumstances,” Haga said. “The diversity of crops in gene banks is the raw material we need to breed plants that can deal with an extreme climate.”


Grains of rice are sorted and examined by hand before they go for storage. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The global scientific consensus is that Earth is now locked in to temperature rises of at least 1.5C above preindustrial levels, unless urgent action is taken. In 2016, governments agreed to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent further temperature rises above that level, but progress has been slow, and current projections suggest that without dramatic action the world is likely to overshoot the target.

Temperature rises on this scale could have severe implications for the world’s staple crops, whose vulnerability stems in part from their homogeneity. These monocultures, as they are known, are the legacy of a so-called “Green Revolution” in the 1960s and 1970s, which was underpinned by the development of varieties of cereal crops that produced high yields and responded well to the application of nitrogen fertilizers.


Flora De Guzman, who has worked at the facility for 40 years, oversees its day-to-day operations. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The green revolution varieties were extremely successful, rapidly displacing traditional strains of the same crops. A huge increase in crop production headed off an evolving food crisis across the developing world, and built the foundations of today’s agricultural economies in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. However, the success of the new varieties created new fragilities within the global food system. The crops were well tailored to the conditions they were planted in, but are not well adapted when those conditions change.

Monocultures are also vulnerable to the emergence of new pests, which can spread rapidly through populations that are genetically homogeneous. Nearly 50% of bananas grown worldwide are of the Cavendish variety — clones of a plant grown in the U.K. in the 19th century. This crop is now under imminent threat from an emergent strain of Panama disease, a fungus that practically wiped out another banana variety, the Gros Michel, in the 1950s.


Research plots at the International Rice Research Institute (Photo by Peter Guest)

The impact of climate change is already being felt in important rice-growing regions. In Laos, where much of the rice crop is rain-fed, severe droughts have reduced production in recent years. In Bangladesh, heavy flooding washed away huge areas of rice farms in 2017, while coastal regions have suffered from the encroachment of saltwater, which damages crops. In the Mekong Delta, which supports more than half of Vietnam’s rice production, yields have been hit by a combination of floods, droughts and saltwater intrusion at various points on the river’s length.

Rice breeders have for years tried to create varieties that are resistant to these “abiotic” stresses, such as extreme heat or high salinity. However, ensuring that farmers have the right stress-tolerant varieties at the right moment has become far more difficult because weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable.


Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head of the genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“While in earlier days we have tried to improve varieties to a single stress — so we had a drought-tolerant variety or a flood tolerant variety — now we’re trying to put several tolerances in one variety, because we realize that one stress doesn’t come alone,” said Bjoern Ole Sander, a Vietnam-based climate change specialist at the IRRI.

Contained within the samples cooling in the Los Banos rice vault are the traits that will be needed to adapt rice crops to these new conditions, and to make them resilient against future challenges. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, the evolutionary biologist in charge of the gene bank, said climate change is an immediate threat, but the gene bank has to think in terms of decades and even centuries. “It’s what economists call option value,” Hamilton said.

The worth of that option has become easier to measure in recent years. Gene sequencing techniques have become faster and cheaper, changing the economics of research. The first rice genome sequence cost around $1 billion to compile. Today, a “reasonably good sequence” can cost around $1,000, Hamilton said. “The [fall in the] cost of sequencing has been greater than Moore’s Law (the dictum in computer science that every two years, the power of computer processors doubles, while the cost halves).”

This means that researchers have a much greater ability to match genes with specific traits. The gene bank has already sequenced the genomes of 3,000 of its samples, which are referred to as “accessions.” If the cost of sequencing falls even more, it may do the same for the entire collection.


Short-term storage at the institute’s genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“Before, it was an almost random decision on what accessions to try and evaluate and see if they had any value, and that was a very difficult process. Now with the 3,000 sequenced genomes it’s very easy to collect the data on agronomic value and line that up with the sequence data,” Hamilton said

The advent of gene editing, which uses enzymes to modify or insert DNA into a genome, promises to make the process even more efficient, allowing researchers to “prototype” varieties more rapidly to prove that an individual gene corresponds with a particular trait.

“Rather than years and years of different approaches, we come down to a very short period of proving the function of the gene. That’s been an impossible thing in the past without huge investment,” Hamilton said.

With the harmful effects of climate change already becoming manifest around the world, and with several major economies unwilling to limit the carbon emissions that are driving global warming, the option value of the gene bank has become greater and more obvious. In October, the vault was granted $1.4 million a year funding in perpetuity from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, securing its samples for the foreseeable future and beyond.

“I think it’s fair to say that crop diversity is probably one of the most important natural resources, and [yet] it is the least recognized. We’ve got to do something about that,” said Haga.

“We have lost so much genetic material in the last 100 years, so now we cannot afford to lose more. Because for each variety of crop we lose, we lose options for the future.”

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming –
                Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

LOS BANOS, Philippines — Flora De Guzman pops the seal on a vault door, and a blast of dry, frigid air hisses through the gap. Behind the airlock is a room kept at minus 20C, packed with shelf upon shelf of sealed aluminum cans holding one of the world’s most undervalued resources — preserved samples of more than 130,000 varieties of rice.

For the past 40 years, De Guzman has worked here at the gene bank at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos. Some of the samples have been here even longer. “We’ve learned the value of time,” she said.

The IRRI, a couple of hours’ drive south of Manila, is a uniquely comprehensive library of the genetic diversity of a crop that sustains more than 3 billion people worldwide. Seeds from different strains of rice are collected from all over the world, sorted — in some cases by hand — to ensure their purity, and stored in vaults, where they can survive for 50 years or more.

Researchers from the public or private sectors can request samples for a nominal fee, allowing them to crossbreed the institute’s varieties with their own. But the vault’s mission has taken on a new urgency in the last few years as the changing climate generates more erratic and extreme weather, leaving farmers in dire need of rice varieties that can resist droughts, floods and pests. The genes that correspond to these vital traits are contained within the samples held in the vaults.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to food security. The main problem is that the climate change is faster than plants are able to adapt,” said Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a Germany-based nonprofit organization that works to preserve crop diversity. “In order for us to feed the world in the time ahead, we need to adapt the main plants that feed us to new circumstances,” Haga said. “The diversity of crops in gene banks is the raw material we need to breed plants that can deal with an extreme climate.”


Grains of rice are sorted and examined by hand before they go for storage. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The global scientific consensus is that Earth is now locked in to temperature rises of at least 1.5C above preindustrial levels, unless urgent action is taken. In 2016, governments agreed to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent further temperature rises above that level, but progress has been slow, and current projections suggest that without dramatic action the world is likely to overshoot the target.

Temperature rises on this scale could have severe implications for the world’s staple crops, whose vulnerability stems in part from their homogeneity. These monocultures, as they are known, are the legacy of a so-called “Green Revolution” in the 1960s and 1970s, which was underpinned by the development of varieties of cereal crops that produced high yields and responded well to the application of nitrogen fertilizers.


Flora De Guzman, who has worked at the facility for 40 years, oversees its day-to-day operations. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The green revolution varieties were extremely successful, rapidly displacing traditional strains of the same crops. A huge increase in crop production headed off an evolving food crisis across the developing world, and built the foundations of today’s agricultural economies in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. However, the success of the new varieties created new fragilities within the global food system. The crops were well tailored to the conditions they were planted in, but are not well adapted when those conditions change.

Monocultures are also vulnerable to the emergence of new pests, which can spread rapidly through populations that are genetically homogeneous. Nearly 50% of bananas grown worldwide are of the Cavendish variety — clones of a plant grown in the U.K. in the 19th century. This crop is now under imminent threat from an emergent strain of Panama disease, a fungus that practically wiped out another banana variety, the Gros Michel, in the 1950s.


Research plots at the International Rice Research Institute (Photo by Peter Guest)

The impact of climate change is already being felt in important rice-growing regions. In Laos, where much of the rice crop is rain-fed, severe droughts have reduced production in recent years. In Bangladesh, heavy flooding washed away huge areas of rice farms in 2017, while coastal regions have suffered from the encroachment of saltwater, which damages crops. In the Mekong Delta, which supports more than half of Vietnam’s rice production, yields have been hit by a combination of floods, droughts and saltwater intrusion at various points on the river’s length.

Rice breeders have for years tried to create varieties that are resistant to these “abiotic” stresses, such as extreme heat or high salinity. However, ensuring that farmers have the right stress-tolerant varieties at the right moment has become far more difficult because weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable.


Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head of the genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“While in earlier days we have tried to improve varieties to a single stress — so we had a drought-tolerant variety or a flood tolerant variety — now we’re trying to put several tolerances in one variety, because we realize that one stress doesn’t come alone,” said Bjoern Ole Sander, a Vietnam-based climate change specialist at the IRRI.

Contained within the samples cooling in the Los Banos rice vault are the traits that will be needed to adapt rice crops to these new conditions, and to make them resilient against future challenges. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, the evolutionary biologist in charge of the gene bank, said climate change is an immediate threat, but the gene bank has to think in terms of decades and even centuries. “It’s what economists call option value,” Hamilton said.

The worth of that option has become easier to measure in recent years. Gene sequencing techniques have become faster and cheaper, changing the economics of research. The first rice genome sequence cost around $1 billion to compile. Today, a “reasonably good sequence” can cost around $1,000, Hamilton said. “The [fall in the] cost of sequencing has been greater than Moore’s Law (the dictum in computer science that every two years, the power of computer processors doubles, while the cost halves).”

This means that researchers have a much greater ability to match genes with specific traits. The gene bank has already sequenced the genomes of 3,000 of its samples, which are referred to as “accessions.” If the cost of sequencing falls even more, it may do the same for the entire collection.


Short-term storage at the institute’s genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“Before, it was an almost random decision on what accessions to try and evaluate and see if they had any value, and that was a very difficult process. Now with the 3,000 sequenced genomes it’s very easy to collect the data on agronomic value and line that up with the sequence data,” Hamilton said

The advent of gene editing, which uses enzymes to modify or insert DNA into a genome, promises to make the process even more efficient, allowing researchers to “prototype” varieties more rapidly to prove that an individual gene corresponds with a particular trait.

“Rather than years and years of different approaches, we come down to a very short period of proving the function of the gene. That’s been an impossible thing in the past without huge investment,” Hamilton said.

With the harmful effects of climate change already becoming manifest around the world, and with several major economies unwilling to limit the carbon emissions that are driving global warming, the option value of the gene bank has become greater and more obvious. In October, the vault was granted $1.4 million a year funding in perpetuity from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, securing its samples for the foreseeable future and beyond.

“I think it’s fair to say that crop diversity is probably one of the most important natural resources, and [yet] it is the least recognized. We’ve got to do something about that,” said Haga.

“We have lost so much genetic material in the last 100 years, so now we cannot afford to lose more. Because for each variety of crop we lose, we lose options for the future.”

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming –
                Nikkei Asian Review

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

LOS BANOS, Philippines — Flora De Guzman pops the seal on a vault door, and a blast of dry, frigid air hisses through the gap. Behind the airlock is a room kept at minus 20C, packed with shelf upon shelf of sealed aluminum cans holding one of the world’s most undervalued resources — preserved samples of more than 130,000 varieties of rice.

For the past 40 years, De Guzman has worked here at the gene bank at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos. Some of the samples have been here even longer. “We’ve learned the value of time,” she said.

The IRRI, a couple of hours’ drive south of Manila, is a uniquely comprehensive library of the genetic diversity of a crop that sustains more than 3 billion people worldwide. Seeds from different strains of rice are collected from all over the world, sorted — in some cases by hand — to ensure their purity, and stored in vaults, where they can survive for 50 years or more.

Researchers from the public or private sectors can request samples for a nominal fee, allowing them to crossbreed the institute’s varieties with their own. But the vault’s mission has taken on a new urgency in the last few years as the changing climate generates more erratic and extreme weather, leaving farmers in dire need of rice varieties that can resist droughts, floods and pests. The genes that correspond to these vital traits are contained within the samples held in the vaults.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to food security. The main problem is that the climate change is faster than plants are able to adapt,” said Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a Germany-based nonprofit organization that works to preserve crop diversity. “In order for us to feed the world in the time ahead, we need to adapt the main plants that feed us to new circumstances,” Haga said. “The diversity of crops in gene banks is the raw material we need to breed plants that can deal with an extreme climate.”


Grains of rice are sorted and examined by hand before they go for storage. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The global scientific consensus is that Earth is now locked in to temperature rises of at least 1.5C above preindustrial levels, unless urgent action is taken. In 2016, governments agreed to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent further temperature rises above that level, but progress has been slow, and current projections suggest that without dramatic action the world is likely to overshoot the target.

Temperature rises on this scale could have severe implications for the world’s staple crops, whose vulnerability stems in part from their homogeneity. These monocultures, as they are known, are the legacy of a so-called “Green Revolution” in the 1960s and 1970s, which was underpinned by the development of varieties of cereal crops that produced high yields and responded well to the application of nitrogen fertilizers.


Flora De Guzman, who has worked at the facility for 40 years, oversees its day-to-day operations. (Photo by Peter Guest)

The green revolution varieties were extremely successful, rapidly displacing traditional strains of the same crops. A huge increase in crop production headed off an evolving food crisis across the developing world, and built the foundations of today’s agricultural economies in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. However, the success of the new varieties created new fragilities within the global food system. The crops were well tailored to the conditions they were planted in, but are not well adapted when those conditions change.

Monocultures are also vulnerable to the emergence of new pests, which can spread rapidly through populations that are genetically homogeneous. Nearly 50% of bananas grown worldwide are of the Cavendish variety — clones of a plant grown in the U.K. in the 19th century. This crop is now under imminent threat from an emergent strain of Panama disease, a fungus that practically wiped out another banana variety, the Gros Michel, in the 1950s.


Research plots at the International Rice Research Institute (Photo by Peter Guest)

The impact of climate change is already being felt in important rice-growing regions. In Laos, where much of the rice crop is rain-fed, severe droughts have reduced production in recent years. In Bangladesh, heavy flooding washed away huge areas of rice farms in 2017, while coastal regions have suffered from the encroachment of saltwater, which damages crops. In the Mekong Delta, which supports more than half of Vietnam’s rice production, yields have been hit by a combination of floods, droughts and saltwater intrusion at various points on the river’s length.

Rice breeders have for years tried to create varieties that are resistant to these “abiotic” stresses, such as extreme heat or high salinity. However, ensuring that farmers have the right stress-tolerant varieties at the right moment has become far more difficult because weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable.


Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head of the genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“While in earlier days we have tried to improve varieties to a single stress — so we had a drought-tolerant variety or a flood tolerant variety — now we’re trying to put several tolerances in one variety, because we realize that one stress doesn’t come alone,” said Bjoern Ole Sander, a Vietnam-based climate change specialist at the IRRI.

Contained within the samples cooling in the Los Banos rice vault are the traits that will be needed to adapt rice crops to these new conditions, and to make them resilient against future challenges. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, the evolutionary biologist in charge of the gene bank, said climate change is an immediate threat, but the gene bank has to think in terms of decades and even centuries. “It’s what economists call option value,” Hamilton said.

The worth of that option has become easier to measure in recent years. Gene sequencing techniques have become faster and cheaper, changing the economics of research. The first rice genome sequence cost around $1 billion to compile. Today, a “reasonably good sequence” can cost around $1,000, Hamilton said. “The [fall in the] cost of sequencing has been greater than Moore’s Law (the dictum in computer science that every two years, the power of computer processors doubles, while the cost halves).”

This means that researchers have a much greater ability to match genes with specific traits. The gene bank has already sequenced the genomes of 3,000 of its samples, which are referred to as “accessions.” If the cost of sequencing falls even more, it may do the same for the entire collection.


Short-term storage at the institute’s genebank (Photo by Peter Guest)

“Before, it was an almost random decision on what accessions to try and evaluate and see if they had any value, and that was a very difficult process. Now with the 3,000 sequenced genomes it’s very easy to collect the data on agronomic value and line that up with the sequence data,” Hamilton said

The advent of gene editing, which uses enzymes to modify or insert DNA into a genome, promises to make the process even more efficient, allowing researchers to “prototype” varieties more rapidly to prove that an individual gene corresponds with a particular trait.

“Rather than years and years of different approaches, we come down to a very short period of proving the function of the gene. That’s been an impossible thing in the past without huge investment,” Hamilton said.

With the harmful effects of climate change already becoming manifest around the world, and with several major economies unwilling to limit the carbon emissions that are driving global warming, the option value of the gene bank has become greater and more obvious. In October, the vault was granted $1.4 million a year funding in perpetuity from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, securing its samples for the foreseeable future and beyond.

“I think it’s fair to say that crop diversity is probably one of the most important natural resources, and [yet] it is the least recognized. We’ve got to do something about that,” said Haga.

“We have lost so much genetic material in the last 100 years, so now we cannot afford to lose more. Because for each variety of crop we lose, we lose options for the future.”

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

Source

Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

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Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

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Rice vault offers food security hope as world keeps warming – Nikkei Asian Review

ECOWAS to express Regional Solidarity to Ghana by availing part of the Cereals of the Regional Food Security Reserve for School Canteen Programs – Ghananewsonline

ECOWAS to express Regional Solidarity to Ghana by availing part of the Cereals of the Regional Food Security Reserve for School Canteen Programs – Ghananewsonline

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2,750 tons of cereals composed of 1000 tons of maize, 750 tons of white rice, 500 tons of millet, 500 tons of sorghum all stored in the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) warehouses in Tamale and Yendi. This is the quantity of the cereals of the Regional Food Security Reserve that ECOWAS will avail for Ghana to feed beneficiary
students under the Government’s flagship of “Free Secondary Education Program”.

The handover ceremony is scheduled to take place on Friday 28 December 2018 in Tamale, a city located at about 634 kms from Accra, the Capital city of Ghana. This ceremony is the concrete response of ECOWAS to the request submitted by Ghana to the ECOWAS Commission on 11 September 2018 seeking authorization to use the stocks of 2,750 tons of cereals of the Regional Food Security Reserve stored in Ghana.

The quality control of these food products has been monitored and taken care by NAFCO since the entry of the stocks into its warehouses in 2017. These cereals are therefore safe and suitable for consumption.
This expression of regional solidarity to Ghana is made possible thanks to the Support Project to Food Security Storage in West Africa that the European Union is funding with a budget amounting to 56 million Euros.

Like the cereals given to the Governments of the Republic of Niger and Burkina Faso last August, 6528 tons to Niger and 4303 tons to Burkina Faso, the 2750 tons of cereals to be availed for Ghana have been purchased from small producers of the West Africa region.

The Government of Ghana has already assured the ECOWAS Commission that the grains to be used will be refunded grain by grain with the same quality specifications and packaging by March 2019 to maintain the Regional Fund Security Reserve stock level in Ghana at the exact locations of Yendi and Tamale.

For the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Sékou Sangaré, who will represent the President of the ECOWAS Commission at the handover ceremony, the regional organization will always support its member States whenever possible in solving some of the difficult food situations.

According to him, the development of food security storage at the three complementary levels of community and village stocks, national security stocks and regional stocks, allows West Africa to strengthen its capacity for risks management and boost its food sovereignty. The Regional Food Security Reserve, as a regional instrument of
agricultural public policy, therefore, constitutes one of the main pillars of the construction of the ECOWAS of Peoples.

Created on 28 February 2013, in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, the Regional Food Security Reserve aims to (i) complement the efforts of the member States to provide rapid and diversified food and nutrition assistance, (ii) express regional solidarity to member States and affected populations through transparent, equitable and predictable mechanisms, (iii) contribute to food sovereignty and to the political, economic and trade integration of West Africa.

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ECOWAS to express Regional Solidarity to Ghana by availing part of the Cereals of the Regional Food Security Reserve for School Canteen Programs