Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

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GMO Technology’s Role in the Future of Food Is Not What You Might Expect

Publication: Organic Authority

Author: Emily Monaco

Lee DeHaan is a plant geneticist at The Land Institute, where he is developing perennial wheatgrass Kernza. Thus far in his work, he has always worked with traditional plant breeding to achieve the results he seeks.

“We grow thousands of plants in the field, select the best ones through data collection and complex analyses, and then intermate the individuals that have the best odds of producing outstanding offspring,” he explains. “By selective breeding generation after generation, it is possible to rather quickly change important traits, like seed size or yield.”

But just because he doesn’t use genetic modification techniques doesn’t mean these technologies aren’t exciting or useful to him.

“Instead of growing plants in the field for several years to find the best ones, we can test seedlings and identify those with promising genetics when they are only a month old,” he continues. “This way we can select the best plants and intermate them immediately, saving years of time.”


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