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Plant Biotechnology Can Quickly Offer Solutions To Hunger In Africa

Biotech now offers solutions to hunger in Africa. The idea is to literally "weed out" hunger by eradicating the parasitic weeds that infest field crops. We are talking about at least doubling crop yields while preventing environmental devastation. Yet large-scale implementation efforts lack the support of the biotech and chemical industries, which ignore the potential benefits -- and profits -- that would come from applying these new weed-fighting strategies. At the same time, potential biot

Jonathan Gressel

Biotech now offers solutions to hunger in Africa. The idea is to literally "weed out" hunger by eradicating the parasitic weeds that infest field crops. We are talking about at least doubling crop yields while preventing environmental devastation.

Yet large-scale implementation efforts lack the support of the biotech and chemical industries, which ignore the potential benefits -- and profits -- that would come from applying these new weed-fighting strategies.

At the same time, potential biotech solutions are being ridiculed by extremists in the environmental movement who do not understand the positive impact self-sufficiency has on the environment.

Since colonial times, agricultural yields in Africa have dropped drastically -- typically more than fourfold -- for two major, interrelated reasons. One is pretty-looking plants called witchweeds (Striga spp.) and their Mediterranean cousins called broomrapes (Orobanche spp.); and the other is government policies of keeping local agricultural prices artificially low.

The witchweeds infest...

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