Plant breeding skills shortage dire threat to food security: study-Xinhua

Plant breeding skills shortage dire threat to food security: study

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-06-11 08:35:45

CANBERRA, June 11 (Xinhua) -- A shortage of scientists specialized in plant breeding could threaten global food security, an international research led by Australia's national science agency has warned.

According to a joint study published on Tuesday by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Canada's McGill University and Lincoln University in New Zealand, a lack of skilled plant breeders could have dire implications for food security around the world.

Plant breeding is the science of changing the traits of plants to improve their genetic potential. It is used to improve the quality of nutrition in produce and underpins the global production of food for animals and humans as well as fuel and fiber.

The new research found that skills shortages in plant breeding have been growing for some time and must urgently be addressed to maintain current levels of agricultural, fiber and feed production.

"What we're seeing is a whole generation of highly-skilled plant breeding specialists who are now reaching retirement age, with a gap left as university graduates opt to focus on other areas of plant science including molecular biology," Lucy Egan, lead author of the study from the CSIRO, said in a media release.

"The implications of this shortage could be dire, including affecting global food security and the economies of different countries around the world, including Australia."

The study calls for the establishment of dedicated plant breeding training facilities around the world to address the shortage and for increased private sector involvement in the sector.