Ten years ago, scientists at the University of Illinois thought of the idea to alleviate world hunger by tinkering with photosynthesis in crops. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they have made significant progress. Working with tobacco as the test crop, the scientists were able to increase productivity by 20 percent. This is an incredible number considering other agricultural methods only result in a 1 or 2 percent increase. When plants receive excessive sunlight, they activate a mechanism that sheds the extra energy off as heat. The genes that are introduced are to minimize the amount of time the mechanism takes so that the plants can get back to carbohydrate production more quickly.
The scientists and the foundation have no interest in increasing the productivity of tobacco, but it is a fast and easy plant to genetically alter, making it ideal. The plan is to begin doing the same alterations on food crops. They think that crop yields can be improved by certain genetic changes. The head scientist on the work claims that, if all goes well, productivity increases of 50 percent may eventually be achievable. This would completely change the face of the agricultural world. Global hunger would virtually vanish. If this experiment is a success, genetically modified organisms would undoubtedly be essential, squashing the debate over whether or not it is just. This research has not yet proved that the international food supply could increase. The scientists still have a long way to go towards proving their goal, but the work is very promising.
As the global population continues to grow, world hunger is becoming an increasingly troublesome issue. Scientists are testing all sorts of ideas to solve this problem. This study is one of the more intriguing experiments that I have come across. Genetically modified organisms have already proved to be useful in the agriculture industry. If the scientists of this work are able to deliver the same results in food crops, the solution to world hunger may be taking a massive step forward.