To ensure safe, sufficient farm produce supply for world’s growing population
Ian Jepson has worked for Syngenta for 29 years. As head of plant performance biology at Syngenta Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, he aims to develop crops that produce more yields in a sustainable way.
“The world’s population increases 100,000 people every single day. We need to be able to feed those people in a sustainable way,” he told Xinhua in an interview.
INCREASE CROP YIELD
Agricultural production in the world faces many challenges nowadays: insects, crop diseases and viruses. All these pose a big threat to the output of agricultural products.
“We have a number of projects using GMO (genetically modified organism) and non-GMO techniques to do that (increase crop yield),” Jepson said. By technology-rich aid technology, Jepson and his team are transferring insect resistance genes into the crops to stop the insects damaging the crop, then losing yield.
Jepson is also studying the impact of drought, heat and cold on crops.
Syngenta has an innovation center located in the Research Triangle Park in the U.S. state of North Carolina for Jepson and his team to do all these researches. The crop greenhouse facility here has many small chambers, with each chamber being controlled independently of the other in terms of temperature, humidity, and CO2, and underneath each room in the basement there are very advanced set of equipment for air conditioning, and humidity control, CO2 control.
“It’s like an arms race. Biology will always adapt,” Jepson said. When the first wave of technology was introduced, it protected the crops from certain insects and diseases. Then the insects and diseases evolve, and eat crops again after a number of years. Then new technology needs to be introduced.
“So we need to always bring in new technologies,” Jepson stressed. “You need a combination of technologies, including new technologies like genome editing, biologicals,” as a supplement to chemical control and traditional breeding.
“The evolution of modern farming technology and responsible, science-based environmental management is imperative if we are to sustainably produce affordable, safe and local food to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050 and take care of our planet,” Jepson reiterated.
Before becoming product safety head of Syngenta, Hope Hart has been involved in insect control research in the company for 10 years. “We use (GM) technology to help farmers produce more food, increase their yield. We also help farmers decrease their inputs, like water input and chemical input. So it gives farmers economic advantages as well.”
Statistics show that in early 1930s, 7,000 corn plants per acre were grown in the United States, yielding about 27 bushels per acre. Today, 35,000 plants and 150 bushels per acre are common, thanks to modern equipment and GM technologies.
Read more HERE.