KOREAN SCIENTISTS DEVELOP BIOTECH SWEET POTATOES THAT GROW IN DESERT
This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)
Scientists at the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology developed a new technology that aims to prevent desertification using biotech crops. According to research leader Dr. Kwak Sang-soo, about 90 percent of desertification is due to poverty. “Overgrazing, damage to forests, and the inappropriate management of water and soil, stemming from the poverty of the local people, are core reasons for desertification. So, the cultivation of crops can be the most effective preventative measure,” he explains.
The team successfully planted biotech sweet potatoes in China‘s Kubichi Desert and Kazakhstan, two of the largest semi-arid areas in Northeast Asia. They are also decoding thegenome of sweet potatoes in collaboration with Chinese and Japanese researchers. The genome of sweet potato is harder to decode than the human genome, but they project that it will be completed in 2016.
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Tech Developed to Prevent Desertification with Genetically- modified Sweet Potatoes
Researchers from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience & Biotechnology are showing that biotechnology could be used to prevent desertification and solve environmental problems, food shortages, and poverty. The team studies crops, and plants, such as sweet potatoes and alfalfa. According to Dr. Kwak Sang-soo,“About 90 percent of desertification is caused by poverty. Overgrazing, damage to forests, and the inappropriate management of water and soil, stemming from the poverty of the local people, are core reasons for desertification. So, the cultivation of crops can be the most effective preventative measure.”The team has successfully grown genetically modified (GM) sweet potatoes in China’s Kubuchi Desert and Kazakhstan, two of the largest semi-arid areas in Northeast Asia. The team has also begun work, in conjunction with Chinese and Japanese researchers, to decode the genome of the sweet potato. “Our ultimate goal,” added Kwak,
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