'superwheat' that boosts crops by 30%

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Strawman posed as a rhetorical question. Boring!
I think some of us have a right

Why do you say that organic gardeners are infringing patents?

Multiple strawmen.

When you bother to read the cite that was given perhaps you will understand that the 30% increase in wheat production was achieved without GMO. When you do understand that perhaps you might stop your reliance on strawmen.
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wrote:

When you bother to read the cite you will (perhaps) understand that a 30% increase was not reported in any significant manner. Then perhaps your replies will make better sense.
Wheat that generates an increased yield in a single trial under single set of conditions is of interest, but it is not a breakthrough worthy of the popular press this article received. As to whether selective breeding of hybrids is considered as generating a GMO. the argument is simply semantic. Why restrict oneself to a set of genetic properties availble in only highly related organisms, when the full genetic potential of the planet is available. Did you know, for example, that one of your DNA repair enzymes is most closely related to a polymerase in an iridiovirus of an insect that procured it from a plant before mammals arose? Is that GMO? God's will? Random selection? Evolution?
Biology is too wonderful to be left to chance.
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Rick wrote:

No it isn't just semantic. Calling two quite different processes by the same label does NOT make them equivalent. In the case of selective breeding the scope of possible outcomes is far more predictable than scatter gun gene insertion.
Why restrict oneself to a set of genetic properties

Because selective breeding has been shown to work for thousands of years. The proponents of GM don't seem too keen to have the consequences studied much at all. The precautionary principle applies.

The human genome contains fragments thought to be derived from other organisms. Are you suggesting this means any insertion of genetic material by any means must necessarily be just fine? If not I don't understand the relevance of this - do explain.

So why are you advocating that?
David
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Strawman. A 30% increase was achieved. It was not achieved by using GMO.

LOL. The trial did not receive coverage that by any stretch of the imagination could be considered to be noteworthy in the 'popular press'. A google search shows it's less noteworthy than even the silly search criteria of 'petrified hessian' which was the most obscure term I could think of using. 'Rat candy' even got far more hits than the trial on the superwheat.
As to whether selective

This whole discussion has centred on improved yields achieved from conventional breeding WITHOUT the use of GMO.
Why restrict oneself to a set of genetic properties

Do you not understand the subject heading? Did you read the article cited? GMO was not used. Whether you think it should be used or not is irrelevant to the achievement in the yieldd in the trial.

Indeed biology is wondeful. It can still manage to produce surprises by increases in yield of 30% but yet still manage to be ignored by the mainstream press and provide so few hits on google.
It's a pity that the same mainstream press don't show as little interest in Kim Kardashian and her handbags.
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Farm1 wrote: ...

much of the gain seemed to come from the short- stalk breeding efforts (reduce stem length allows the head/seeds to increase and the plant doesn't fall over).
it looks like most of those sorts of gains have been accomplished and there are unlikely few more aspects that will get another 30% increase.
now it is more likely increases will come via making plants more tolerant of drought, salt, etc., but i think the best approach would be to go back and look at perennial versions. if you no longer have to plow and turn the soil each season and can still get a crop, plus use the plants in a mixed field of legumes, grains and various berries then you've got the best of all worlds. just a little selective weeding and spacing of plants needed.

i see the name in the news all the time but i've yet to see why the name is newsworthy. which perhaps says more about me than anything. :)
the crickets still have it...
songbird
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Do you have a cite about stem length? I haven't seen any reference to stem length for the superwheat trial.
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Farm1 wrote:

I suspect that is a historical reference, a number of characteristics needed to be found and selected to breed modern wheat from its forebears. IIRC another was a mutation that allowed the heads to hold their seed when ripe instead of spraying it all over, you cannot harvest much if the heads are empty and the seed is on the ground.
D
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Apropos of nothing that I wrote if that is the case......
a number of characteristics needed

Indeed. But none of that relates to the trial results for the superwheat.
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Farm1 wrote:

true, i was conflating the gain from earlier wheat cross-breeding efforts with this.

it may, because the researchers in the original article say they still have to cross it with modern varieties. once they do that will they lose the gain? i dunno and i doubt they know either until it's attempted.
however, this doesn't get back to my other point which is how much nutrients this new grain will suck from the topsoil. if it becomes like corn, such a heavy feeder that it requires huge amounts of inputs then i don't think it's a gain for long-term sustainable agriculture.
songbird
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Hmmm. I've just reread the article (again - I'm begining to wonder how many times I've reread it) and it's a wee bit ambiguous on that score.
Right at the beginning it says "researchers have cross-bred modern wheat seed with ancient wild grass" whereas later in the article it says that the team "selected early wheat and grass varieties from seed banks across the globe and cross-bred them for maximum potential." Rather different info there innit?

Well given the plateauing of production that followed further down the years after the breeding of modern wheat, it'd seem to be more logical that the gains and plateauing would be follow along those lines TMWOT. But of course you are right - no-one will know until it's done and tested.

Corn is indeed a heavy feeder. Given the wheat growing lands here in Oz, I'd be very surprised if this new wheat came within a bull's roar of having the nutritional needs of corn. The new superwheat could end up being a greedy beast, but I think you are anticipating problems before there is any need to do so at this stage.
This trial seems to have slipped under the radar when it comes to any form of discussion other than in this group. I think that's a shame given the potential.
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wrote:

Farm1, the main thrust of this article is that we are running out of the plant diversity that we need to create new resistant plants. See <http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/news/070201_corn for an over view of the problem.
<http://www.worldbank.org/html/cgiar/press/wheat3.html Wheat has experienced a 96 percent yield increase in the developing world from 1970-1994. This yield increase was achieved with new wheats, called semi-dwarf varieties, which grow to just half the height of older wheats, but are far more productive. Rather than using up valuable energy producing the long stems of the older varieties, semi-dwarf wheats send more energy to the plant's spikes, resulting in more grain per plant and increased output per unit of cultivated land area. ======
<http://geography.about.com/od/globalproblemsandissues/a/greenrevolution . htm> The development of high yield varieties meant that only a few species of say, rice started being grown. In India for example there were about 30,000 rice varieties prior to the Green Revolution, today there are around ten - all the most productive types. By having this increased crop homogeneity though the types were more prone to disease and pests because there were not enough varieties to fight them off. In order to protect these few varieties then, pesticide use grew as well. ==== This is also the problem with wheat, because domestication has eroded wheat diversity and the possibilities for improvement from within the current wheat germplasm pool are reaching their limit.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Revolution> Biodiversity The spread of Green Revolution agriculture affected both agricultural biodiversity and wild biodiversity.[40] There is little disagreement that the Green Revolution acted to reduce agricultural biodiversity, as it relied on just a few high-yield varieties of each crop. This has led to concerns about the susceptibility of a food supply to pathogens that cannot be controlled by agrochemicals, as well as the permanent loss of many valuable genetic traits bred into traditional varieties over thousands of years.
<http://www.niab.com/news_and_events/article/282 The National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) in Cambridge has recreated the original rare cross between an ancient wheat and wild grass species that happened in the Middle East 10,000 years ago.
The resulting hybrid plants produce the 'synthetic' seed which is then used in crossing programmes with current varieties.
Senior plant breeder Dr Phil Howell says: "Based on early-stage trials, we're confident that the performance gains and level of potentially valuable variation observed, through this novel step of re-synthesising the original wheat plant, points to a major transformation in the wheat improvement process. Yield increases of up to 30% have been produced in early field trials, despite the past few years being cold, wet seasons where lack of sunlight depressed yield. === It seems to be all about getting a new bag of tricks to work with in creating new resistant cultivars.
As far as corn is concerned, my understanding is that corn is a C4 plant, like millet, and uses nutrients very efficiently. IIRC, typical mono-culture corn fields have poor soils that are ripped with ammonia as a fertilizer.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Revolution> While agricultural output increased as a result of the Green Revolution, the energy input to produce a crop has increased faster, so that the ratio of crops produced to energy input has decreased over time. Green Revolution techniques also heavily rely on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, some of which must be developed from fossil fuels, making agriculture increasingly reliant on petroleum products. Proponents of the Peak Oil theory fear that a future decline in oil and gas production would lead to a decline in food production or even a Malthusian catastrophe.
In the Philippines the introduction of heavy pesticides to rice production, in the early part of the Green Revolution, poisoned and killed off fish and weedy green vegetables that traditionally coexisted in rice paddies. These were nutritious food sources for many poor Filipino farmers prior to the introduction of pesticides, further impacting the diets of locals.
<http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/global/devsh_cgiar.html The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) [formerly the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research] is a strategic alliance that unites organizations involved in agricultural research for sustainable development with the donors that fund such work. Once the harbinger of green revolution that swept through parts of Asia and Latin America in the early 1970s and 1980s, is in an advanced stage of decay. In a desperate effort to survive against all odds, the 16 international agricultural research centers that operate under the aegis of CGIAR, have therefore donned a new role - to serve as an agricultural research outsource for the multinational corporations.
No wonder, after the initial thrust through the dwarf wheat and rice varieties, CGIAR's research has failed to meet its underlying objectives of reducing poverty, improving food security and nutrition, and alleviate pressures on fragile natural resources. It is not aimed anymore at addressing the founding principles and research obligations. If the newly constituted Science Council is an indication, the entire exercise is to see how the CGIAR research centers, with an outlay of US $ 400 million, can be transformed to serve the interests of the biotechnology industry. We will see more and more scientific collaborations in the days ahead that will unabashedly be headed (or is it deputation?) by ex-employees of the biotechnology giants.
Even within the World Bank there has been enough criticism of his style of functioning (one report brings it out loudly) but who cares. Ian Johnson is only implementing the Bank's agenda of pushing the farmers in developing countries out of agriculture so as to pave the way for agribusiness industry. As long as the Bank is happy, all criticism has to be ignored.
"Food security" and sustainable farming systems of the world's estimated three billion farmers has therefore been very conveniently sacrificed for ensuring 'profit security' of a handful of private companies. ===== Let's all wish National Institute of Agricultural Botany good luck.
I've found no comparisons between nutrient levels in old vs new "green revolution" cultivars. If you find any, I would be most interested in seeing them.
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In article

I should have also noted that, for at least the present, their is no lack of food, no lack at all. The problem is that the food is priced beyond the means of the poor in order to make a profit.
<
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj00vO48MTk

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That is one of the major points of the trial. However there is no point in pretending that the other, and more stressed in your original cite, is about that 30% achievement in yield. (snip)

It's also about yield.

I haven't found any but then I haven't looked for any and I won't be bothering to look for any. Songbird is the one who expressed some concerns centring on the chance of wheat becoming a heavy feeder like corn. I doubt that would happen and think that Songbird is worrying unnecessarily.
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wrote:

heel to the plant, yet. Yield is important, resistance to mold and mildew is important, cultivation parameters are important. Before you send a plant to market, it's important to know all of the above, and more.

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In article <wildbilly-A7A8AB.23214625062013@c-61-68-245-

This might be of interest and germane.
http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/features/black-harvest/
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A tad verbose, but yeah, that is exactly the problem. Even a 100% increase in yield would be insignificant, if the wheat was susceptible to pathogens.
The development of high yield varieties meant that only a few species of say, rice started being grown. In India for example there were about 30,000 rice varieties prior to the Green Revolution, today there are around ten - all the most productive types. By having this increased crop homogeneity though the types were more prone to disease and pests because there were not enough varieties to fight them off.
This is also the problem with wheat, because domestication has eroded wheat diversity and the possibilities for improvement from within the current wheat germplasm pool are reaching their limit.
The National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) in Cambridge has recreated the original rare cross between an ancient wheat and wild grass species that happened in the Middle East 10,000 years ago.
The resulting hybrid plants produce the 'synthetic' seed which is now used in crossing programmes with current varieties.
Senior plant breeder Dr Phil Howell says: "Based on early-stage trials, we're confident that the performance gains and level of potentially valuable variation observed, through this novel step of re-synthesising the original wheat plant, points to a major transformation in the wheat improvement process.
The winning wheat seeds will be the basis for the next dozen years of wheat production.
Like a poker player, Borlaug was aiming for a perfect set,
"a royal flush of resistance genes".
And like a poker player he was subject to the rules of chance. To increase those chances, he carried out a mind boggling 6,000 matings between different wheat varieties each year. That created tens of thousands of hopeful wheat progeny from which a few dozen were selected.
This is what National Institute of Agricultural Botany must also do so that the wheat is resistant to Septoria, Fusarium, and for the rust Ug99, among others.
A 50% increase in yield would be insufficient, if the wheat crop is vulnerable to a disease that will turn the yield to zero.
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wrote:

Give my condolences to the Mr. ;O)
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Farm1 wrote:

i'd agree that the second and third paragraphs appear contradictory (2nd says "have" 3rd says "could").

i see it as being a challenge in many regards. it would be great to have very productive crops that don't suck huge amounts of water, nutrients, and ruin the topsoil.

i try to think ahead of the curve as much as i can, if anything for the entertainment value to see later if i got anything right.
returning to the issue of limitations, a plant can only do so much, there are only so many photon-to- chloroplast-to-ATP molecule events that are going to happen in a unit area. and a cell can only switch on-and-off only so many genes. some gains might still be in the works for many years, but at some point in the future the limit will get hit.

perhaps it being non-GMO means it isn't a hot enough topic...
i'll be interested to see if anything comes of the research.
songbird
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Rick wrote:

I don't see those examples of my religious behaviour yet. I don't see any facts to contradict the article under discussion. You have no idea of the level of my understanding of genetics so you make up an insult or two. You really need to do better than introducing a diversion with some ad hominem attacks, even simple gardeners can see through that.
Here is part of what I was referring to.
<quote> Advanced Studies Confirm New Allergen and Dangers in GMOs
In 2007, independent scientists finally published a holistic protein analysis of one GM crop, Monsanto's Mon 810 Bt corn, which had been fed to consumers for the previous 10 years.
Sure enough, due to, "the insertion of a single gene into a [corn] genome," 43 proteins were significantly increased or decreased.
"Moreover, transgenic plants reacted differentially to the same environmental conditions... supporting the hypothesis that they had a strongly rearranged genome after particle bombardment" by a gene gun. The authors acknowledged that gene gun insertion can cause, "deletion and extensive scrambling of inserted and chromosomal DNA." One of the changed proteins in the GM corn was gamma zein, "a well-known allergenic protein." That allergen was not found in the natural corn, however. The gene that produces gamma zein is normally shut off in corn. But somehow it was switched on in Monsanto's variety.
<unquote> Please explain where this is wrong or where I misrepresented it. Since you are claiming expertise do explain why you introduced epigenetic inheritance and why my assumed ignorance of the concept would be relevant. If it is so important educate us poor igerant masses.
D
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wrote:

And I'm a more simple and out of date gardener than most. I'd like to know what type of engineer now works in genetically manipulating food. My familiarity of the old categories of electrical, mechanical, aeronautical, civil etc are decades out of date it seems. And what is a 'sselectibe breeder'?
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