YOGYAKARTA – Biotechnology research on genetic engineering of food crops is needed to increase world food production in order to combat world poverty and hunger by year 2050. Therefore, the development of biotech crops is expected to increase yield and global farm income, and reduce carbon emissions and the use of pesticides.
This was delivered by Dr. Julian Adams, Asia Coordinator of Biosafety Program in a public lecture ‘Genetic Engineering of Crops’ in Graduate School of Universitas Gadjah Mada, Tuesday (6/12). The Biological Sciences faculty member of University of Michigan, United States, said that in the future it needs genetic engineering of crops to increase food production amid the threat of drought due to climate change and global warming. "Due to the drought, the average of annual loss in crop yields in tropical regions is 17%," he said.
He added, crop varieties that have resistance to heat tolerance and transgenic variety with tolerance to changes in ozone (O3) and high CO2 levels are needed in the future. From the research it is known that global warming influences on rice yields. An increase in temperature at night by 1 Celsius degree causes a loss in yield by 10%.
He mentioned that it is urgent to do genetic engineering in crops variety which have a tolerant of drought and flood, including types of sugar cane, corn, wheat, rice, and cotton. He said these plants are needed by all countries in the world. "These varieties should also have a tolerance of drought, flooding, and salinity," he said.
However, the thing to worry about global warming, according to Julian, is the threat of polar ice melting that will cause sea level rise that could threaten the existence of 4000 islands in Indonesia. There is also an increase in salinity in coastal areas.