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Researchers are hoping to develop new lines of corn that benefit from recent advances in crop genetics while also being grown according to organic farming requirements.
Scientists at the Iowa State University have received funding from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture in order to develop sweet corn and other specialty corn (such as those used for popcorn and tortillas) that adhere to organic standards.
As these standards require that farmers not use synthetic chemicals, growing organic corn is costlier for farmers. Most seeds for corn production are most suited for convention farming too. Developing new lines of corn that can grow in hardier soils or without fear of being especially delicious for pests — reasons why corns are fertilised and treated with compounds that make them ineligible for organic status — will make farming organic corn cheaper and easier.
The scientists will be using various techniques to develop the new corn lines, including DNA marker technologies and an organic-compatible version of double haploid technology. Organic farmers will be working with the researchers, providing feedback on which lines seem most promising.
Organic corn also serves as feed for organic animal farming too, so widespread development of it should prove beneficial in areas other than just providing humans with vegetables to munch on.
Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Engdao
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