News / Science & Technology

Scientists Seek Super Soybean to Help Global Food Shortage

Scientists Search for Super Soybean to Help Global Food Shortagei
X
Elizabeth Lee
May 20, 2014 7:12 PM
According to the United Nations, the world’s population will increase by 34 percent by the middle of the century. Global food production needs to meet this increase. A recent study of soybeans, one of the major food crops and sources of protein, may be one step in helping solve the global food crisis though the power of computers. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Elizabeth Lee
According to the United Nations, the world’s population will increase by 34 percent by the middle of the century. Global food production needs to meet this increase. A recent study of soybeans, one of the major food crops and sources of protein, may be one step in helping solve the global food crisis though the power of computers.

The U.N. predicts food production must increase by 70 percent to meet the needs of a wealthier and more urban world population. The World Food Prize Foundation president and former U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, Kenneth Quinn, calls it the greatest challenge in history.

“There’s going to be another 2 billion people on our planet between now and 2050 and how are we going to produce enough food for them to eat?” asked Quinn.

One solution is science. The study led by Darren Drewry of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is looking for a super soybean. A computer model can create a plant that can be more productive and reflects more light back into space to reduce global warming's effects, while using less water.

One plant with all these traits may be hard to find, but, with data from real soybean plants, a computer can redesign a plant with the traits through the arrangement of the leaves, their density and angle to the sun.

“That’s the real critical thing that we found here that some of these goals that we might have intuitively thought were mutually exclusive that we can’t increase productivity without increasing water use," said Drewry. "We find that there are changes to the architecture of modern soybean cultivars that can be made to help us improve on many of these goals.”

The next step is to take the computer’s model plant and test it in the field by artificial manipulation, says University of Illinois professor Stephen Long, speaking via Skype.
“One of the things the modeling predicted is that there’s too much leaf area so we’re actually removing leaves as the plant's growing to get a lower leaf area," said Long. "We’re also artificially modifying the angle of the leaves as well to reflect what the model predicted.”

If the plants in the field behave as predicted, scientists will look for soybean lines with specific traits and crossbreed them into the computer’s super soybean. Long said it is important to find solutions to the predicted global food shortage before it happens, because even if the super soybean can become reality, it will be another 20 years before the crop can appear in a farmer's field.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: charlie from: bremerton, washington
May 21, 2014 1:38 AM
As a side note most of the Roman Empire Army ate barley as a basic nutrient source and meat when they could get it. How hard is it to grow barley?


by: vic from: asheville
May 21, 2014 12:46 AM
This is insanity. The more food we make the more humans we make. We continue to make more food each year to feed the starving and what we are doing is creating more humans that we have to feed . We must stop food production and safely level the population gently . Look up food production and a population chart you will see that creating more food has continued to raise population. Please read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid