Of all the different grains grown around the world, do you know which one is the most grown? Most people will answer wheat or rice, but it’s neither. Corn is the number one grain grown around the world. However, a significant portion of the corn is grown for livestock feed and for the production of ethanol, which is added to gasoline in many areas.
The number one grain grown for human consumption is rice. Rice is grown on every continent except Antarctica. In some areas, rice is grown in soils that lack certain nutrients such as phosphorus. Where farmers can afford to buy commercial fertilizers, they add phosphorus to the ground to help the rice grow. But in many poor areas, farmers cannot afford to buy phosphorus laden fertilizers and their rice crop suffers and does not produce a quality or quantity crop.
Researchers at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines have been working ways to improve the rice harvest in the poorer areas of the world. In their research, they discovered a strain of wild rice growing in areas of India that have a low phosphorus content in the soil. This member of the Kasalath rice group had the ability to pull more phosphorus from the soil than most types of rice can.
Eventually, they identified the gene, Phosphorus-starvation tolerance 1 (PSTOL1), responsible for the phosphorus uptake. However, with all of the controversy surrounding genetically modified foods, they decided to use the old fashion way of modifying plants by selective crossbreeding. It takes longer this way, but after several years of intensive and careful breeding, they have managed to breed the PSTOL1 gene into several commercial strains of rice.
The new strains of rice containing the PSTOL1 gene have been grown in phosphorus poor areas in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. To date, these new strains have improved crop yields by up to 20%. This is a significant increase considering that nearly half of the arable land in the world has low concentrations of phosphorus.
Besides the obvious increase in crop yield, the benefits of the new strains of rice are the environmental impact. In areas where commercial fertilizers are used, there is often a problem with fertilizer contaminated water that runs off the fields and affects water tables downstream. Growing the new rice strain will mean that farmers will be able to use less commercial fertilizer than they have in the past, which will reduce the downstream pollution.
Many people today think that selective breeding is a modern day product, but it actually goes back to Genesis and Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham. Jacob was born about 3,906 years ago. In Genesis 30, we read that Jacob purposely bred speckled, spotted and striped sheep and goats.
Man has been selectively breeding animals since long before the time of Christ. Most likely, selective breeding is nearly as old as the domestication of animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats and even dogs. Chances are, farmers also used selective cross breeding back in early biblical times to help improve the crops they grew.
This was all made possible because of the vast amount of genetic variation that God built into the plants and animals He created. That is also how we have over 200 varieties of dogs in the world today. Old technology still being effectively used today to create more productive strains of rice and we owe it all to God’s infinite wisdom and design.
Black, Richard. Wild Rice Gene Gives Yield Boost, BBC News, Aug. 22, 2012.
Smith, Bret. Rice Gene Allows Crop To Thrive In Nutrient Deficient Soil, Aug. 23, 2012.
By Dr. Jonathan Sarfati
Today, the ID (intelligent design) movement is capturing headlines (and igniting controversy) around the world. But in the process, many are coming to think that a credible challenge to the dominant Darwinian naturalism of our time means backing away from a clear stand for the truth of the Bible.
Now creationist heavyweight Jonathan Sarfati, whose Refuting Evolution has the most copies in print of any creation book ever, challenges this mindset head on. In the process, By Design is set to become a classic of the creation movementin the same vein as Dr Sarfatis comprehensive Refuting Compromise, which is arguably the most powerful biblical and scientific defense of straightforward Genesis in existence.
Brilliant, deep and engaging the battle at the front linesclassic Sarfati!
Dr David Catchpoole, Ph.D., plant physiologist
When master logician/scientist Jonathan Sarfati takes on another front of the creation/evolution battle, his fans know theyre going to experience an intellectual feast of cut-and- thrust philosophical swordsmanship with the opponents of Genesis creation/ID. But readers are in for an additional treat, toohis passion (not revealed in his previous books) for digging into the details of lifes breathtaking designs.
Dr Carl Wieland, Managing Director,
Creation Ministries International (Australia)
Paperback, 150 pages