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3 Nov 2016

News: Josep Casacuberta and Pere Arús talk about the future of agriculture in RAC1

Josep Casacuberta (left) and Pere Arús (right).

Josep Casacuberta (left) and Pere Arús (right).

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) estimates that food production must increase by 70% in order to supply world's population in 2050, which means producing more food in the next years than we have ever produced. To understand how agriculture can find a solution to this demand, Josep Casacuberta and Pere Arús, researchers from CRAG, were interviewed on Sunday 23rd of October, in the program Via Lliure, from RAC1 Radio.


The challenge is to produce more and better under worse conditions” said Casacuberta. We have limited resources, limited land and we are in a situation of climate change, which causes changes in weather conditions. There is also the need to grow in a sustainable way, “we have to do more with less”, Arús said, in order to conserve our land in the best conditions, and this will be possible thanks to technology.


From the Neolithic, when agriculture was established, humans have changed the genome of the plants we grow, selecting what was interesting for us. Thereby, characters which probably would have disappeared spontaneously are kept today. Many of the plats which are grown today would probably not exist in the wild, for example, corn would not exist as we know it today and wild tomato is 100 times smaller than the tomatoes we grow, and it also has totally different characteristics. Nowadays our knowledge has increased a lot. “Our knowledge allows us to see and understand what we have done so far, for example, we now know that the characteristics of corn are different from its wild cousin. This knowledge allows us to do what has been done before in a much more targeted and efficient way; this can be done in many ways, and one of them is the transgenesis, a technique that allows us to seek in other variants or species the characters we want to introduce in our plants” explained Josep Casacuberta. These products will allow us to produce more, in a reduced space and in a more sustainable way. During the interview they talked about GMO security and the debate around it. The researchers explained the amount of analysis, precise and accurate, which GMO must pass before they are launched in the market, in order to verify their safety. “The transgenesis is a tool. A tool has no ethical classification by itself; it is good or bad according to its use”, clarified Arús.


Another example of very useful technology are the molecular markers, which allow to predict, from DNA analysis of a seed or seedling, if an adult plant or its fruit will have the desired characteristics. If we do not use all the available tools, it will be very difficult to face all the future challenges of agriculture.   


You can listen to the whole interview here (in catalan).