How do we grow enough food to feed the world? That’s a question that many have been asking, and it seems that the answer could be human genes. This is according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago, Peking University, and Guizhou University, where they found that adding human genes to crops could boost yields by as much as 50%.
This means that instead of just planting more crops, existing crops will be more efficient and could produce more, which could help deal with issues like poverty and food insecurity, according to the researchers.
The use of human genes does not mean we are making crops more “human”, but rather the researchers are using the human gene that produces the FTO enzyme to help crops grow better. The enzyme in humans erases certain markers that regulate the production of proteins associated with cellular growth, and it was found that it could achieve the same effect in crops, thus helping them grow better.
The result are crops that grew by an additional 50% in mass which also yielded 50% more rice. The roots of the crops also grew longer, they photosynthesized more efficiently, and was also found to be more resilient to drought.
According to University of Chicago Economics Nobelist Michael Kremer, “This is a very exciting technology and could potentially help address problems of poverty and food insecurity at a global scale—and could also potentially be useful in responding to climate change.”