Filipino rice consumers are close to benefiting from a provitamin A-infused rice with the approval of its commercial propagation permit.
The Healthy Crops team, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have used gene editing tools to develop new varieties of disease-resistant rice that regulators in the United States and Colombia have determined are equivalent to what could be accomplished with conventional breeding.
Many farmers struggle with an enemy that looks like a friend. Agricultural weeds that are close relatives of crops present a particular challenge to farmers because their physical similarities to the desirable species make them difficult to detect and eradicate. Along the way, the imitators compete with crops for water, nutrients and space — often depressing crop yields.
Domesticated rice has fatter seed grains with higher starch content than its wild rice relatives — the result of many generations of preferential seed sorting and sowing. But even though rice was the first crop to be fully sequenced, scientists have only documented a few of the genetic changes that made rice into a staple food for more than half the world’s population.