Increasing crop yields is a great contribution to meeting the challenge of sustainably and equitably feeding 10 bn people in 2050. One technology for addressing this is RNAi technology, a non-GMO way of modifying the genetic expression of an organism. RNAi technology is also known as gene silencing as it involves “silencing” a gene by interfering with the production of the protein it codes for, but without altering the gene itself. RNA interference is a natural process for regulating protein synthesis and exploiting this has great potential in both food and medicine. RNAi products can be classed as biostimulants, substances which, when applied to a plant, increase desirable crop traits.
Recently a partnership between ICL Group and PlantArcBio successfully tested this biostimulant technology on canola. They demonstrated increased seed yields and will conduct larger scale trials later in 2022. Apparently it’s not limited to canola and “Greenhouse trials for soybeans and rice are already in progress, with early results showing good potential.” Trials using commercial sprayers under real life farming conditions are their next step.
Soy and rice are huge contributors to the global food supply and any yield increases here will have a major impact. With only 28 seasons to 2050 let’s hope the trials are successful and that we can add this tool to our arsenal of technologies to feed the growing world population.
As I’ve said before, the current global food system is rapidly becoming outdated and no longer fit for purpose. We need to use new technologies to reimagine the global food system. By combining new technologies can have an even greater impact. For instance, combining RNAi technology with soil microbiome nitrogen reduction technology from companies like Pivot Bio can contribute to significant increases in crop efficiencies and sustainability. Given the current disruptions to the global food system, increasing crop yields and using fertiliser alternatives are a welcome addition to boosting the resilience of the global food supply.