More DW Blogs DW.COM


Thinking for a cooler world

Search Results for Tag: adaptation

Ranty Islam | Reporter's Log

Feeding the world in a changing climate

Here is the second dispatch from our reporter Carl Gierstorfer, presently filming on location in the Philippines:

"Second day shooting at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Anyone talking about world food security cannot ignore IRRI's contribution. Many popular strains of rice, grown on millions of hectares, have been bred here. IRRI was founded half a century ago. But maybe its real challenges lie ahead. Until 2050 another three to four billion people need to be fed. The majority of them on rice. With less resources, an unpredictable climate, and not much more land.

Yet still, scientists here are optimistic: they think they can meet the challenges. Meet Sigrid Heuer, a German molecular biologist. She worked on a team that bred Sub-1, a strain of rice that can survive flash floods, which are expected to become more common due to climate change. Mining IRRI's seed bank, with more than 125,000 varieties, never disappoints the scientists. In the cold archives, there are long forgotten strains; rejected because they were not tasty enough, or had too little yield. But these loners might just have that special trait required in the future – like surviving underwater for two weeks. Or tolerating salty conditions. Scientists like Heuer look for these varieties; they isolate useful traits and breed them into popular strains. Sub-1 is simply Asia's most favorite variety with a gene that allows it to survive heavy floods.

IRRI is a little world in itself. More than 800 people work here; buildings and fields are spread out over a wide area; a settlement with its own fire fighters and strange 1950s architecture. I had a stroll around at night – have a look at the pictures. And, yes, alcohol is forbidden here. Some of IRRI's founders apparently were Quakers…"

Front of a big building


January 18, 2011



Comments deactivated