Courtesy of Monsanto

Rice, the most widely consumed staple food grain, is harvested on about 10 percent of the world's arable land.
Researchers are cranking out genomes faster than many scientists can digest them. Just 10 days after publication of Drosophila's sequence (see page 10), Monsanto Co. announced it will soon release a rough draft of the rice genome containing 400 million bases of DNA.

Rice is the world's most important food crop. The International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines estimates that by 2020, four billion people will depend on it. That's one of the reasons plant geneticists want to sequence its genome--finding unknown genes and gene combinations could be a passport to better rice quality, yield, and pest protection. According to Benjamin Burr of Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y., "This is the ultimate tool for conventional plant breeding. In the future, breeders can identify genes...

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