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D. Researchers Work to Improve the Agricultural System

Narrator: This is Science Today. When the rice genome was sequenced earlier this year, it provided researchers with more insight into how genes function in crop plants and a how to develop hardier, more productive varieties through traditional breeding or genetic engineering. Pamela Ronald, a molecular biologist at the University of California, Davis says the agricultural system can always be improved.

Ronald: We need to think about better ways to control pathogens, we need to grow more crops on less land and we want to do this in a sustainable manner. So I think biotechnology is just one tool out of many tools that can contribute to that.

Narrator: In 1995, Ronald isolated the first disease-resistance gene in rice.

Ronald: The resistance gene we work on primarily in my lab is very similar to a receptor that's involved in many different cancers. So if we can make these directed changes, perhaps we can make some big steps in improving agriculture.

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