Massive wheat genetic code cracked at last.

Scientists: We’ve Cracked Wheat’s Genetic Code

– Raphael G. Satter, The Associated Press, August 27, 2010

AAP have annouced that British scientists have decoded the genetic sequence of wheat – one of the world’s oldest and most important crops – a development they hope could help the global staple meet the challenges of climate change, disease and population growth.

It mentions that wheat is grown across more of the world’s farmland than any other cereal, and researchers said Friday they’re posting its genetic code to the Internet in the hope that farmers can use it as a tool to improve their harvests. One academic in the field called the discovery “a landmark.” “The wheat genome is the holy grail of plant genomes,” said Nick Talbot, a professor of biosciences at the University of Exeter who wasn’t involved in the research. “It’s going to really revolutionize how we breed it.”…

It reports that Alexander Evans, an expert in resource scarcity issues at New York University, welcomed the announcement as something that would “very helpful” in getting farmers to grow “food that will meet those challenges.”

But, as one British paper hailed the announcement as the most significant breakthrough in wheat farming for 10,000 years, Evans warned against putting too much faith in genetics, saying that reforming the politics and economics of food distribution was easily as important. “We have to be very careful about saying that science will feed the world,” he said.

David Tribe

Written by David Tribe

David Tribe’s research career in academia and industry has covered molecular genetics, biochemistry, microbial evolution and biotechnology. He has over 60 publications and patents. Dr. Tribe's recent activities focus on agricultural policy and food risk management. He teaches graduate programs in food science and risk management as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, University of Melbourne.