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Sunday, 24 July 2016

New Way to Boost Crop Production Doesn’t Rely on GMOs or Pesticides

MIT Tech Review

A new treatment for cotton seeds draws on beneficial microbes that live inside plants—much like the good bacteria in our own guts—to help the crops thrive in dry conditions.

The microbe-enhanced cotton, the first product from startup Indigo Agriculture, is already growing on 50,000 acres spread across five different states in the southern United States. Indigo CEO David Perry says the treatment increases yield as much as irrigation can. The company also today announced a new $100 million investment round that brought its venture funding total to $156 million.

Many experts argue that global agricultural productivity is not growing fast enough to keep up with the increase in global demand for food. Intense competition for land and pressures to reduce chemical fertilizer and pesticide use have led technologists to search for new ways to increase yield. Adding beneficial microbes to crops could be an effective but less controversial alternative to genetic engineering.

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