Thursday, August 11, 2005

A new hope

Scientists have unscrambled the genetic code of rice, a development that could help end hunger around the world, Nature magazine reports this week.

The blueprint will speed up the hunt for genes that improve productivity and guard against disease and pests.

In order to avoid shortages, rice yields must increase by 30% over the next 20 years, researchers say.

Scientists from 10 countries cooperated to work out how the 400 million "letters" of rice DNA are arranged.

"Rice is a critically important crop, and this finished sequence represents a major milestone," said Robin Buell of The Institute for Genetic Research (TIGR). "We know the scientific community can use these data to develop new varieties of rice that deliver increased yields and grow in harsher conditions."

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