Feeding the growing population without further destroying our environment is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Because most of the world’s farmland is already under cultivation and fresh water is scarce, increased food production must largely take place on the same land area using less water. The availability of seed varieties that are resistant to disease or tolerant of environmental stress helps farmers improve their productivity in an environmentally and economically effective manner. Access to such genetically improved seed is especially important for subsistence farmers, 15% of the world’s people, who live in extreme poverty and who barely produce enough food for themselves and their families. The Ronald Laboratory identifies and characterizes genes that controls useful traits, works with partners to deploy improved varieties and helps scientists better communicate their research results to the public.
Together with our partners at the International Rice Research Institute, we isolated a gene for flood tolerance and developed a flood-tolerant rice variety that was grown by 6 million farmers in Bangladesh and India in 2017, increasing yields 3-4 fold after floods.
— Pamela Ronald