It’s so dry farmers need drought-resistant crops!

How dry is it?

It’s so dry, the fish have ticks.

It’s so dry, the swimming pool has closed two lanes.

It’s so dry, the fire hydrants are chasing the dogs around.

Those are some of the jokes zipping around the Internet, in response to the dreadful drought of 2012. More than half of the United States is now suffering through drought conditions, अमेरिका के अनुसार. Drought Monitor. Only the droughts of 1934, 1939, और 1954 spread across larger areas.

So here’s another line to remember: It’s so dry, farmers need drought-resistant crops.

Every plant requires water to grow, but some plants survive with less. The cactus flourishes in hot and dry climates because it has adapted to them, conserving water like a precious resource.

Genetic modification won’t ever allow us to turn desert into farmland, and the worst droughts will continue to inflict a terrible price on agriculture. Yet biotechnology gives us a tool for pushing back. Just as it has helped farmers fight weeds and pests, it can help them battle dry spells too.

The goal is to grow more food with less water. Here’s the rhyming slogan: We need more crop per drop! Biotechnology has helped us move in this direction. Drought resistant crops will help us move even further towards that goal.

For four decades, researchers have tried to breed plants that resist drought. Traditional methods are slow and difficult. सबसे अच्छे रूप में, they’ve shown mixed results. The bar is very high.

Biotechnology has changed all that. Just as Olympic pole vaulters soar over heights that high jumpers won’t ever reach, biotechnology lets 21st-century researchers leap over daunting challenges in ways that their predecessors barely could have imagined.

Now we’re on the verge of another breakthrough. अगले साल, farmers will have widespread access to a type of GM corn that’s built for dry weather. It should generate plenty of interest. एक अनुमान के अनुसार, 40 percent of crop losses are a direct result of drought. इसके अलावा, the Department of Agriculture says that this year’s drought affects 88 percent of America’s corn crop.

A new report from North Dakota State University points to the promise: “Early results indicated that drought-tolerant corn could potentially improve yields by 8 करने के लिए 22 प्रतिशत (15 प्रतिशत औसत) under drought stress,” write Sumadhur Shakya, William W. Wilson, and Bruce Dahl.

That wouldn’t be enough to save this year’s most devastated farmers in places like Kansas, मिसौरी, and Illinoisstates where the drought has dealt a brutal blowbut it’s enough to make a difference on the margins. A lot of farmers would have been better off this year if they had enjoyed access to drought-resistant corn.

The same goes for consumers: The drought will push up their food prices, which means that biotechnology is a tool for keeping bills in check.

एक निश्चित सीमा तक, it’s already helping. Because biotechnology beats back weeds, farmers are tilling their soil less. Tilled soil loses moisture; limited tillage conserves it. एक परिणाम के रूप में, biotechnology probably has mitigated the effects of this year’s drought, even if we don’t fully appreciate it.

After corn, the next big step for drought resistance is wheat. ऑस्ट्रेलिया में, research indicates that GM wheat could boost yields by 20 percent during drought conditions as compared to non-GM wheat. Commercial access is still years away, but it’s on the horizon.

दुर्भाग्य से, the enemies of biotechnology never sleep. एक दशक पहले, their scare tactics persuaded several seed companies to halt their research into GM wheat. Except for this work stoppage, we’d possibly have GM wheat right now, helping us withstand the drought of 2012.

Now these professional protestors have turned to new strategies. कैलिफोर्निया में, they’re trying to pass a ballot initiative that would require a special label for any food product that carries a biotech ingredient, as if it poses a health hazardwhich it absolutely does not. Their scheme is to create consumer pressure in opposition to a technique that will provide relief to farmers in severe conditions and also keep down food costs for consumers.

How dry is it?

It’s so dry, this is no laughing matter.

टेरी Wanzek एक गेहूं है, नॉर्थ डकोटा में मक्का और सोयाबीन किसान. वह एक एन डी राज्य के सीनेटर और स्वयंसेवकों के रूप में व्यापार के बारे में सच के लिए एक बोर्ड के सदस्य के रूप में कार्य करता है & प्रौद्योगिकी. www.truthabouttrade.org

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