site.btaGenetics Expert: New Genomic Techniques Applied to Plants Can Save Humanity from Hunger
In an interview for BTA, Antonia Georgieva, a PhD student in genetics and biotechnology, says that new genomic techniques (NGTs) may be perceived negatively by many people, but these are a necessity in the situation the world finds itself in. Their application to plants can save humanity from hunger by making plants more resilient to climate change, diseases, and pests and by improving their nutritional value, she argues.
NGTs or technologies for editing genes are methods for performing targeted and precise mutagenesis in living organisms’ genome.
Georgieva tells BTA that by 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion people, which will require an increase of the current food production by 70 to 100%. To meet that demand, agricultural producers have been using intensive farming practices that put huge pressure on the environment and drastically reduce the crop yield. Unless science offers new techniques to guarantee humanity’s food, the consequences will lead to unexpected negative changes on a world scale. It is here that NGTs and synthetic food come into play, offering a ray of hope to stabilize food production, the expert explains.
As a scientist, she believes that genetically modified organisms are a necessity in the current situation of humanity and unless used, the risks for humans would become even bigger and the consequences would lead to many losses. “I support technological advancement and the application of NGTs in people’s daily lives, but I also support the control over and correct use of some technologies,” Georgieva underscores.
She says that one of the areas on which the attention is focused at present, is cereals. Scientists are working on improving their nutritional value and resilience to pests and diseases. Another area of interest is industrial crops, such as cotton and flax; improving their yield and quality can reduce the dependence on nonrenewable resources. Vegetable crops are also subjected to extensive research because of them being an essential source of nutrients. Researchers are working on developing new varieties that are more resilient to stress from the environment and contain higher amounts of vitamins and minerals.
“To sum up, plant genetics has the potential to revolutionize the way we grow and consume food. By improving plants’ health and yield, we can guarantee that everyone has access to nutritious and affordable food. It is essential, however, that these achievements be balanced with responsible farming practices and environmental protection to ensure a sustainable future,” Georgieva tells BTA.
Georgieva is part of the teams of Agriffin EOOD and Bioagria EOOD. In Varna, she was a mentor of a team that competed in a three-day hackathon, organized by the Regional Agency for Entrepreneurship and Innovations in partnership with the University of Economics.