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No longer a tall story
In the 1940s, scientists started breeding high-yield, pests-resistant dwarf wheat that produced 2-3 times more grain than traditional varieties.
In the 1960s, these wheat varieties were cultivated in India and Pakistan and yields almost doubled in just 5 years.
This dramatic increase in wheat production became known as the Green Revolution.
Crop yields have continued to increase since then, but we will need another major increase in food production if we are going to be able to continue to feed the world’s growing population.
Bioscience is working towards a second Green Revolution
In 1999, the John Innes Centre identified the genes responsible for the dwarfing that prompted the Green Revolution. They are now using what they have learned about these genes to try to produce higher-yielding, dwarf varieties of other important cereals including rice.
New techniques now allow scientists to learn much more about which genes are responsible for different traits. This helps targeted breeding, not only in producing dwarf varieties, but to introduce other characteristics that lead to increased yield through larger grain size or better survival in stress environments. Because of climate concerns, we may also need new high yielding varieties that need less water and fertiliser.
Bioscience is helping ensure food security by breeding higher yielding, less wasteful crops.
External Relations Unit