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Space Pioneer
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To feed the world in 2050 we need to build the plants that evolution didn’t
Claudia Vickers, 20 November 2019, The Conversation

"We need to revolutionise agriculture in the next 30 years. In 2050 we may have almost 10 billion people to feed. Farmland is already degraded by existing agriculture, and climate change is putting new pressure on crops and livestock. With the tools we have now we can’t create new breeds and cultivars fast enough to cope with the rapidly changing conditions. How will we get strong yields in uncertain environments and make more food without using more land? Part of the answer is synthetic biology: using cutting-edge genetic technology to build organisms that evolution never did. Synthetic biology has already had some successes, such as turning yeasts into tiny chemical factories and giving cotton the qualities of synthetic fibres. At CSIRO, we have already used synthetic biology to produce energy-rich feed for livestock. Our scientists have “switched on” high oil production in the stems and leaves of plants, which could potentially triple the amount of oil they produce. But these examples are just the beginning."

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