As the UK prepares to approve genome editing, a leading food scientist argues it should also ease up on GM crops
Empty shelves in supermarkets have reminded us that our food supply is rather more fragile than we thought. Indeed, who would have believed that in 2021 we need a cabinet minister responsible for the supply of food? Whatever the reasons for the situation, this might be a sign of the future. Ensuring food security in the long term could prove much more challenging than our short-term problems. Even amid the pandemic, it is hard to ignore the floods, wildfires and hurricanes occurring with ever-increasing ferocity. The climate emergency now feels very real and doing nothing is no longer an option.
I study plant diseases, many of which are serious threats to humankind. The rice blast fungus, my main obsession, destroys enough rice each year to feed 60 million people. We are already seeing the effects of climate change with new plant diseases moving rapidly around the world and need new disease-resistant crops to combat these threats.