2698 Norman Borlaug and the Future of the Green Revolution

Friday, February 18, 2011: 1:30 PM
140A (Washington Convention Center )
Ronald L. Phillips , University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, United States
The topic will be introduced by the viewing of an 11-minute DVD entitled "Norman Borlaug: A Celebration of Life" which shows why Norman Borlaug had a life-long intense interest in helping the starving and malnourished people of the world. Also included are his educational background and the basis for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal. The food crises and the need to provide food for an additional billion people every 14 years will be the focus along with how these challenges may be met in the future. Borlaug developed and used new technologies to achieve record-level wheat yields along with disease resistance; these technologies included semi-dwarfing genes that provided stronger stems that would not allow the plant to fall over with higher grain yields achieved through breeding and additional soil nutrients. He also developed shuttle breeding between two locations in Mexico that promoted the handling of at least two generations per year. This approach had the unexpected advantage of attaining photoperiod insensitivity that allowed the Borlaug wheat varieties to be grown in many different countries. The new technologies in plant genetics that have the potential to meet future food needs will be shown, including the DNA sequencing of crop genomes, technologies to detect hidden genetic variation, and the use of related plant species. We expect to know the complete genetic code of crop species, have the ability to measure gene expression for every gene in one experiment, to understand the function of every gene, and to appreciate the networking of genes to produce a particular trait. The role of international agricultural research centers will be reviewed along with some of the new and impressive traits such as flood-tolerant rice that results in grain production even after two-weeks of flooding and golden rice that can help alleviate the devastating effects of Vitamin A deficiency that causes 500,000 children to go blind every year. The adoption of biotech varieties and their uses will be reviewed along with some of the issues associated with these advances. The employment of science along with increasing science literacy will be important for meeting the food crisis that most people believe will occur in the future.
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