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The importance of basic research in plants and agriculture

This is Science Today. Plant cell biologists at the University of California, Riverside have greatly accelerated scientists' knowledge of how plants and crops can survive tough environmental conditions, such as drought. Sean Cutler, an assistant plant cell biologist whose lab provided new insight into plants and crops on a molecular level, hopes their findings will also accelerate public funding.

Cutler:            If you look at where our public money goes for science, disproportionately it goes to curing cancer and human disease and as a human, I do think those are important things. But I think that plants and agriculture are so vitally important to the survival of our species.

Narrator:       In particular, Cutler says many of the diseases that we try and cure in humans are not even experienced in other parts of the world, due to malnourishment.

Cutler:            The public needs to realize that these goals - improving plant growth, plant stress tolerance, increasing yield, reducing the dependence on fertilizer and pesticides and things like that, the basic research underlying that is fundamentally important for humanity.

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