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February 27th, 2017 / Scientific American

As farmers struggle with a shifting climate, a group of scientists are drilling down to the heart of the matter: crop genetics.

Climate change poses a variety of risks to agricultural produce, including starving crops of water and preventing them from growing in traditional regions. Recent research suggests America’s Corn Belt could soon shift north, and many farmers are already experiencing oddly timed flowering seasons, pest onslaughts and arid fields.

Some scientists say the solution could lie in crops’ DNA and are making “gene catalogs” to help farmers grow healthier produce that can withstand climate change.

“What we’re doing is giving the breeders the toolkits they need to be able to put together different genes and strains, to make a strain that’s suitable for their environment,” explained Mark Tester, a professor with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. See more