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Professor Mark Tester (email)
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GM food debate heats up with global warming

What role do GM crops play in a warming world?

What role do GM crops play in a warming world?
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Professor Mark Tester

Professor Mark Tester
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Monday, 7 May 2007

Pressure for consumer acceptance of genetically modified foods will intensify as global warming brings even harsher environments for our food crops. This will be one of the messages from University of Adelaide Federation Fellow Professor Mark Tester when he gives the second of the University's Research Tuesdays seminars on Tuesday 8 May.

Professor Tester, an internationally recognised plant genomics researcher, said: "Trying to grow plants in Australian conditions is challenging and it is likely to get harder under the effects of climate change.

"Genetic modification can help accelerate improvements in crop plants to enable them to better cope with the rapidly changing environment. There is no doubt that as farmers face reduced yields, they will need all the tools they can get to help them grow our food sustainably and economically. Genetic modification is one of those tools."

Professor Tester is based at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics at the University of Adelaide's Waite Campus. His research involves identifying genes responsible for making some plants more tolerant to hostile environmental conditions, such as drought, salinity and frost, and moving these genes into plants suitable for commercial production through conventional breeding and genetic modification techniques.

The latest technology is allowing these "toughness" genes to be turned on and off in specific cells within the plants.

"Our results in the laboratory suggest great promise for the rapid development of crops with increased salt tolerance," said Professor Tester.

The Research Tuesdays public seminar series is a new initiative of the University of Adelaide to provide an opportunity for the University's leading researchers to engage with business and community leaders and the general public on issues which impact on them.

Held on every second Tuesday of the month and open to the general public, the lectures are hosted by University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor James McWha.

WHAT: Research Tuesday: Tougher crops for a warming world by Federation Fellow Professor Mark Tester

WHERE: Lower Ground Napier Building, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide

WHEN: 5.30pm Tuesday 8 May

COST: Free. Please book by email: research.tuesdays@adelaide.edu.au or phone: 8303 3692

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