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B.The Rice Genome and Genetic Engineering

Narrator: This is Science Today. The recent completion of two sequences of the rice genome give scientists a better understanding of a grain that feeds half the world's population. Pamela Ronald, a molecular biologist at the University of California, Davis, says this basic information is not directly related to the more controversial practice of genetic engineering.

Ronald: This genome sequence can be applied to traditional breeding, which we have been doing for a hundred years. Now, genetic engineering is different because we can take a gene from rice or from another organism and we can engineer it into that plant.

Narrator: Using knowledge about the rice genome for traditional breeding can help farmers grow rice that is more resistant to disease and drought. Ronald says genetic engineering can also be beneficial if the results are carefully monitored.

Ronald: So I think the idea behind both traditional breeding as well as genetic engineering of rice is to really develop improved rice lines that farmers can grow, that taste very good, that have improved nutritional qualities.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.