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November 21st, 2016 / The Guardian, UK

Genetically modified (GM) plants designed to use light more efficiently produced a 20% greater yield in a study that could have significant implications for global food supplies.

The field trial, which used tobacco plants, is the first to show that GM techniques can be used to boost the basic efficiency of photosynthesis, potentially offering substantial gains across almost all food crops in the future. Until now many scientists had doubted this would be possible.

The scientists believe the finding could help meet the global demand for food, which is projected by the UN to rise by 70% by 2050.

Professor Stephen Long, who led the work at the University of Illinois, said: “We don’t know for certain this approach will work in other crops, but because we’re targeting a universal process that is the same in all crops, we’re pretty sure it will.” See more