In 10 seconds? Soils becoming saline (salty) due to climate change are affecting crops feeding billions of people around the world. American scientists have identified a gene that could help rice withstand the unfavourable conditions.
Why are the results important? According to the FAO, the world needs to produce 70% more food for an additional 2.3 billion people by 2050. Rice is very crucial for this purpose as nearly 76% of the calorie intake of Southeast Asians comes from rice. The crop is essential for 21% of global per capita energy and 15% of per capita protein intake. However, high soil salinity means poor development of rice spikelets and a significantly reduced rice grain yield. At the same time, rice is providing jobs for more than 125,000 people in the USA alone and contributes more than $34 billion to its economy. So, the future potential of creating varieties resisting salinity could yield both economic benefits and improve food security.