Meer oogsten per druppel water

STANFORD – De Verenigde Naties noemen droogte ‘’s werelds meest kostbare natuurramp’, zowel financieel, met jaarlijkse kosten van 6-8 miljard dollar, en in menselijke begrippen; sinds 1900 heeft droogte 2 miljard mensen geschaad en tot meer dan 11 miljoen doden geleid. Dit komt doordat zo een groot deel van de wereld er kwetsbaar voor is; de momenteel getroffen gebieden omvatten Australië, Sub-Sahara Afrika, Zuid-Azië, Noord- en Zuid-Amerika en het Midden-Oosten.

Gegeven het feit dat landbouw verantwoordelijk is voor gemiddeld 70% van de waterconsumptie wereldwijd lijkt het logisch dat deze sector de focus van beschermingsmaatregelen zou moeten zijn. En er bestaat zelfs al een technologie die veel invloed zou kunnen hebben in het verminderen van de impact van droogte: genetische technologie (GT).

Wat soms ‘genetische modificatie’ wordt genoemd stelt plantenkwekers in staat om bestaande gewassen nieuwe dingen te laten doen, zoals het sparen van water. Zelfs waar onderzoek en ontwikkeling worden belemmerd door activisten en buitensporige overheidsregulering komen er droogteresistente GT-gewassen variëteiten voort uit de ontwikkelingspijplijn in veel delen van de wereld.

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