China wanted to increase the yield and quality of crops. So, the Chinese government researchers launched 8 recoverable satellites and 5 high-altitude balloons, that exposed seeds of vegetables and flowers to cosmic radiation and triggered mutations, in the space. Those seeds were then brought back on earth to be sown. These satellites also contained bacteria to see how high-energy radiation affected them. With hundreds of space-breeding experiments being done, many seeds were successfully selected because they were more resistant to drought and main diseases.
Even after exposure to a high dosage of radiation, it was concluded that the seeds contained no trace of any radioactive substance after extensive testing. Researchers are also combining biological techniques such as genetic sequencing, molecular labeling and gene editing to help improve the efficiency of new crop species.
“The question is, should we stick entirely to the pace of nature, or give it a little boost?” Dr. Li Jingzhao, a scientist involved in the program, asked.
I think this program is an important one because it improves the economy, scientific research, and biodiversity. We are exposed to radiation every day, with human activities, we are exposed to radiation even at more (and there are consequences) but as long as my food is safe, I say you scientists go for the ride!
Article publication: South China Morning Post on November 7, 2019.
Article URL: https://www.abacusnews.com/culture/china-wants-produce-mutant-crops-space/article/3036708
Related article: http://www.spacedaily.com/news/china-00zb.html