The world’s population is growing constantly. According to the UN, by 2050 the world will have to meet the nutritional needs of 9 billion people. Corn, soybeans, wheat and rice are important staples of their diet. Meeting this growing need will require increasing agricultural productivity from crop land already in production. One way to do this is to minimize the impact of environmental factors such as drought that can lead to poor crop growth or even failed harvests.
While plants can be selected to tolerate adverse environmental conditions through breeding, it could take decades to achieve this goal. Plant biotechnology offers better opportunities for speeding up this process and more importantly, making it more target focused. By introducing selected gene sequences, scientists are trying to improve crop traits. Researchers have successfully inserted such a gene, called cspB, originally from the Bacillus subtilis bacterium, into the genome of corn plants. This gene reduces the impact of drought stress on yields. In collaboration with Monsanto, BASF scientists are using proprietary technology to study the cspB-containing corn plants. When crops grow healthier with less water, it’s because at BASF, we create chemistry.
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