Chinese scientists develop rice that can grow in seawater, potentially creating enough food for 200 million people
Grains being grown in salty water produced almost treble the expected amount of rice
Scientists in China have developed several types of rice that can be grown in seawater, potentially creating enough food for 200 million people.
Researchers have been trying to grow the grain in salty water for decades but have only now developed varieties that could be commercially viable.
The rice was grown in a field near the Yellow Sea coastal city of Qingdao in China’s eastern Shandong province. 200 different types of the grain were planted to investigate which would grow best in salty conditions.
Sea water was pumped into the fields, diluted and then channelled into the rice paddies.
The scientists expected to produce 4.5 tonnes of rice per hectare but the crops exceeded expectations, in one case delivering up to 9.3 tonnes per hectare.
"The test results greatly exceeded our expectations," Liu Shiping, a professor of agriculture at Yangzhou University who is involved in the project, told Xinhua.
There are one million square kilometres of land in China where crops do not grow because of high salinity. Scientists hope the development of the new rice will allow some of these areas to be used for agriculture.
If even a tenth of these areas were planted with rice, they could produce 50 million tonnes of food – enough to feed 200 million people and boost China’s rice production by 20 per cent.
The new type of rice was developed by a team led by 87-year-old Yuan Longping, who has spent decades trying to breed rice to grow in different conditions. The Chinese government has been investigating how to grow rice in salty waters since the 1970s.
Mr Yuan said: "If a farmer tries to grow some types of saline-tolerant rice now, they most likely will get 1,500 kilogrammes per hectare. That is just not profitable and not even worth the effort.
"Farmers will have an incentive to grow the rice if we can double the yield.”
The saltwater rice is currently on sale for around 50 yuan (￡6) per kilogramme – around eight times more than ordinary rice. Despite the cost, six tons of the grain have already been sold, with consumers praising its flavour and texture.
The rice is also thought to have several health benefits, including being high in calcium.
Primary source, please? My searches reveal articles from other news agencies only.
Rice is a food that collects heavy metals and if grown in saline water is it likely to have more of these heavy metals?
Does it emit methane though? Rice paddies along with India's cattle area major sources and I do not think it appears in their carbon footprint even though it causes (per tonne) 23 times the warming that CO2 causes.
No mention whether it is genetically modified. If so it may prove to be more effective at population control than 'one child per family'.
Diluted seawater? How diluted?
8 times the price? Imagine a loaf of bread costs $16-20, that's a pretty wealthy lot of 200 million consumers.
With current production levels still low, costs will drop substantially. We need to look at the prospective of higher yield and more (previously unavailable) land available for planting rice. Plus if this is planted by developing countries, the costs will also be much lower and presumably improve malnutrition.
Is this article about a genetically modified crop?
Yes, genes from various sea creatures were tried but most resulted in plants which were too mobile and hard to catch for harvesting. Oysters worked out quite well and the resulting flavour is popular.
someone who used to be someone else
Brilliant, egg fried rice with the oyster sauce built in. ;-)
brilliant reply :D
What if it is? transgenesis is simply a very precise way of breeding the traits you want.
Before transgenics came along chemical mutagens and radiation were used on plant cells in culture which caused things like chromosome rearrangement.
You have almost certainly eaten a crop created in this way where tens of thousands of genetic changes have been made to get one useful one. These crops were assessed for useful things like yield. They were not assessed for safety or environmental suitability. No special permits were required to grow them outside.
Yet crop strains created using precise genetic tools which change only the intended target are made to jump through enormous hoops and people like you who don't understand the technology refuse to eat them while ignorantly scoffing conventionally bred crops created using mutagens and/or radiation.
You miss the point, probably deliberately. Crop strains using conventional breeding have a built in 'test at every step as to whether it works' process. Whereas splicing a fish gene into a tomato goes off the page in one hit. Plus, of course, in the GM world one becomes totally reliant on that nice Mr Monsanto.