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back to article IAEA calls for mutated supercrops to feed world's hungry

The UN nuke agency has called for the world to make greater efforts to feed its starving millions, by increased efforts to produce enhanced, mutant super-crops developed using gamma rays. “The global nature of the food crisis is unprecedented. Families all around the world are struggling to feed themselves,” says Mohamed …

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Alert

eek.

"The idea is that one might discover mutated crops able to resist insects or disease better, or more able to tolerate salty or dry soils.",

or even talk, walk and - one day - eat with their razor-sharp teeth.

I needn't worry - I've seen little shop of horrors plenty of times so I know how to defend myself, simply make friends and sing with your plant (whilst occasionally satisfying its bloodlust).

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Go

Ahhh...

It's nice to see one agency out there who are trying to out-crazy DARPA.

I for one look forward to the super-powered veg-of-tomorrow. Teleportatoes, Quantum Stringbeans, DoomSprouts and finally Carrots that can actually help you see in the dark / through walls / the future.

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A toss up

going by GM, one bunch will say "feed the millions, we want Nuke food, the other will say "let them starve, we don't want Nuke food".

bit like the twats at EON yesterday.

"We don't want coal power stations we want green energy". Fine let stick 10,000 windmills on the moors and open countryside. Oh and a half dozen nuke plants just outside your town.

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mutated crops

"The IAEA nuke boffins are keen to emphasise that their "induced mutation" plans are not the same as genetically modified (GM) crops."

That is so awesome. They've managed to come up with a description that sounds EVEN SCARIER to the people who don't like the idea of GM, and purposefully distance themselves from the less worrying-sounding one.

Scientists! More inventions like this, please!

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Of course it will work

Radiation will induce lots of simultaneous mutations, and out of every 10 I'm sure 9 will be useful. This is similar to the way in which when people are exposed to fairly low quantities of radiation, most of their children become superheroes and the parents don't ever die of cancer.

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Agro-forestry is better

The highest land productivity in the world is not produced by mutating single crops, but by planting several crops in the same field. Agroforestry produces far more, but requires more labour. In the Third World there is plenty of labour to go around, so there is no need for the GM or radioactive mutations.

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Coat

Hmm

How would mutant super-crops help Zimbabwe? They wouldn't.

I'm not against the idea though.

Mine's the one with Mustard and Cress growing on it.

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Alien

Better long term solution?

If you feed people, you just get more people and then what do you mutate?

Obviously it would be better to mutate people so they eat and fornicate less.

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Anonymous Coward

Mutated supercops?

I misread the headline on the home page and got all excited about mutant law enforcement professionals. Imagine my disapointment when I clicked through.

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Stop

May sound idiotic but . . .

you can't solve starvation with more food (or at least not in a real world situation).

If we were suddenly able to produce enough food to prevent starvation now (and someone was willing to give it away), then the population we fed it to would simply grow [rapidly], soon the need for food would again far outstrip the new supply and then starvation would start again, only there would be more people starving (and arguably therefore more suffering).

Sounds harsh, and of course I'd want food if I was starving, but the reality is we make this problem worse by artificially tilting the balance. Let it return (i.e. in this instance allow affected populations to reduce) and the suffering will soon diminish rapidly.

Vitriolic responses please. . .

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Darwin Award for pie in the sky

Making mutants is easy - mother Nature knows how too. So what?

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Anonymous Coward

Department of the bleeding obvious

Awww.. The love of sensationalism... El reg is degenerating into a tabloid.

First things first, 99% of the population consumes genetically modified food on a daily basis.

ALL Potato varieties presently in use originate from 1930-es colchicine hybrids. Colchicine induced crossbreeding is a GM tech - you take two different species which cannot interbreed because they are so distant that they even have a different chromosome number, you hit them with colchicine, you bugger up their chcoromosome counts until they are ready to accept pollen from anywhere and you manage to breed them into a new crop. As a result you mix the treats from the wild spud which the potato beetle hates with the edible variety to get a bigger, better and more resistant spud. Just the kind which is sold in supermarkets nowdays. Same tech has been used to breed most of the other fruit and veg we use today.

So do we see people running scared from the spud boxes in Sainsbury? Hell no... Do we see any news source mentioning that? Hell no either.

As far as GAMMA, that has been used extensively for 40+ years as well. Most of maize and rice varieties currently in use were bred from radiation experiments results. Nothing really new here, let's move along.

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By any other name...

Isn't this just a fancy version of cross-breeding? You know, that thing we have been doing for over 10,000 years. The only difference is they are upping the environmental stress artificially to try and increase the rate of mutation. You don't even need radiation for this, just some specially designed hot houses to simulate the climate you want to adjust for.

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Anonymous Coward

IAEA

must be desperate to get rid of their cack. looks like a new take on food irradiation.

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Stop

Sweet Jesus...

The Atomic Energy agency pushing mutated crops to poor people? Regardless of the actual benefits, that's the single worse piece of marketing I've ever seen.

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Insert a title here if you can be arsed

<QUOTE>“We are not the only solution to the world’s food crisis but we offer a tool, a very efficient tool,” adds Pierre Lagoda.</QUOTE>

Yes, you are a tool. I'm not so sure about the efficient, but your really do sound like a tool.

Did I read that wrong.

Actually I see nothing wrong with this tech, as long as it is done correctly. Evolution naturally takes a long time, and that time is enough for nature to test each miniscule trait, and check all is in order. Induce it, and tyou gotta be carefull.

For example, you make a new type of corn that allows you to produce 10x as much food in the space. So you replace all the worlds corn crops with this new variety. Then along comes a new virus/bacteria/insect which this corn is defenceless to and BAM!, no more corn.

Anyway, I for one welcome our new monster mutant plant overlords.

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@Richard_C

Ahh, you just reminded me of the "Sprouts of Doom".

"Ohhhhhhhhhh Blimey!"

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IT Angle

No chance.

If I believed that this wasn't a thinly-disguised attempt by agro-businesses to sell more product I'd be happy. But there needs to be a will to actually feed the poor. I cant see that. I can childeren starving to death, see farms plowing crops under, fields lying fallow, other artificial means used to prop up prices, big business making money from selling modified seeds, but no-one giving away their excess crops to needy nations. When that starts I'll change my mind.

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Pirate

Wrong question

They'd be better off mutating arms dealers and manufacturers into human beings.

The world is perfectly capable of producing enought food to feed itself.

Most starvation comes about because of loss of access to food because of war.

Or, in the words of Brecht

What keeps mankind alive, the fact that millions

Are daily tortured, stifled, punished, silenced, oppressed

Mankind can keep alive, thanks to its brilliance

At keeping its humanity repressed

For once, you must not try to shirk the facts:

Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts.

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Pro Gamma Here

Never mind mutating the plants, let's irradiate humans and mutate them into solar-powered monkeys who build computers! Then we could convert all that stupid arable land into golf courses and arcologies. The savings on dental surgery alone would pay for the infrastructure needed to achieve food-independence in about five years (assuming bite-wings done once per two years and the Wisdom Tooth Extraction standard to be in place).

And I for one have taken my ketchup thoroughly gamma-rayed for fifty-odd years. Tasted great, with no hint of the vinegar taste that says "mildew" ruining my egg'n'chips tea.

Oh how I long for the day when a man can come home from work and bask in the glow of his family, whether they love him or not.

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Alert

Monkeys at typewriters

It strikes me to be similar to the infinite number of monkeys at typewriters trying to randomly create the works of Shakespeare. Will zapping them with some gamma rays speed up the process?

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not GM?

"The IAEA nuke boffins are keen to emphasise that their 'induced mutation' plans are not the same as genetically modified (GM) crops."

That's right. They apparently think that randomly changing an unknown number of thousands or millions of characteristics just to "see what happens" is going to be a much more efficient method of improving crops than intentionally varying one at a time, which they have a pretty good idea what it does, under tightly controlled conditions. And I can design a better computer circuit by randomly soldering a bunch of tranistors together! Or better yet, let's just dump a bucketful of them into a pail of molten solder a million times and see if one assembles itself into a computer.

Bzzz. Fail.

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@ not GM

So then you obviously must be of the same mind as Fred Hoyle when it comes to evolution - he believed that was as likely as a tornado ripping through a junkyard and constructing a Jumbo Jet.

Except that's a completely useless analogy because the two processes aren't analogous in any way. This is about accelerating a process that happens all around us, all the time.

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Joke

@collin millar

Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts.

No wonder the poor welsh sheep are scared.

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Boffin

Random mutations? Stupid idea

So, you radiate the stuff and see what happens? You get a potato that resists some pest better, so you grow a lot of the potatoes and years later you find out it has been producing a teratagenic posion that kills the pests but also causes genetic mutations and defects in the people who have been eating the taters.

Sounds like a really stupid plan - create a frankentater then spend years testing it to find out what makes it different from normal taters so you be sure it won't poison everyone.

GM sounds a lot more reasonable. You pick a trait in another plant that you like, determine the genes that cause that trait and transplant them into the DNA of your planned supertater. Once you've got true breeding supertaters, you can test and see if the change worked as planned and see if it did what you wanted and that nothing else was changed. Relatively safe, with less chance of unwanted changes.

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