VIDEO: Plant breeding charts future

CALGARY — Biotech pioneer Rob Fraley feels the biggest benefits to agriculture from genetic tools haven’t come from inserting genes or building custom chemical compounds to support plants, but in plant breeding.

“And Canadian farmers have benefited greatly from this technology,” he said.

The head of Monsanto’s global research program said the current success and the big gains in productivity to come will be due to the advanced breeding tools that scientists like him now have to work with.

“We’re just at the beginning of a wave of innovations that are going to let us farm more efficiently, more productively and more profitably,” he said last month in Calgary at Grow Canada.

“These precise breeding tools let us change the genetics very quickly and create new combinations, but they also let us bring together breeding advances from all around the world. So, if a breeder in South American discovers a new disease resistance gene, we can map it and tag it and very quickly bring it into U.S. or Canadian germplasm.…

“The same with drought tolerance. To pack those wonderful genetics into that seed with these new tools, it’s very exciting: the biotechnology traits, the gene editing tools, the RNAi tools, the microbial tools.”

He said the ability of breeders to work collectively using the power of databases and rapidly make selections, narrowing up choices for development is still only beginning to be tapped.

Improvements to digital management of agronomy on the farm will allow producers to take advantage of the breeding technology.

“Typically a farmer makes 40 or 50 decisions to grow each crop. If we can make each one better, based on data, that’s exciting,” he said.

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  • Rob Bright

    Such blatant an shameless industry propaganda. How many advertising dollars does the Western Producer receive from the biotech/ agrochemical industry in exchange for this antiscience, pro-corporate gibberish?

    • RobertWager

      Thanks for you comment Rob. Always informative to those who read these columns.

    • Jason

      Tell us, Rob… what, in this video, was untrue?

  • RobertWager

    We will need the best of every agriculture system if we are to produce more food on the same or less land more sustainably.

    • Peaceful Warrior

      We only need the agriculture that makes clean healthy poison free food. We already grow enough food to feed many more people than the population of the planet. We don’t know how to balance the food we grow with where it is in short supply. Any organisms created using GE techniques need to be seriously safety tested before they are allowed to be released. We need to learn to grow foods without poison chemicals.

    • Oh bull crap. You need to change your “we need more food to feed the world” argument. We waste over 40% of the food alone in this country. We are growing crops to feed factory farm animals and for other things like fuel. It has NOTHING to do with feeding the world. You just want the masses to believe that. We have plenty of food. It’s a matter of logistics. Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer etc. have no desire to spend any time or resources on that, especially if it doesn’t increase their bottom line. And sustainability? Nothing the biotech industry is sustainable. Absolutely Nothing.


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