Today is #WorldWaterDay. The annual occasion raises awareness of the billions of people that live without safe water and serves as a call to action to tackle the water crisis.
Access to clean, safe water is obviously important to human health, but water also plays a critical role in ensuring billions of people have food on their table. Without water, the crops to produce food can’t grow.
And climate change only compounds the problem.
However, thanks to innovations in agriculture like genetic modification and gene editing, many crucial crops will be able to survive despite having little water. For many regions around the world, this genetic change will make all the difference and transform their food system.
Take rice for example. The popular cereal crop is essential to many economically disadvantaged regions, but farmers there must grow it without ample water and other resources.
Luckily, thanks to gene editing, a team of U.S. researchers are solving this problem by developing rice varieties that will thrive in marginal soil, such as lands impacted by drought.
This will not only make a huge difference in sustaining the food supply in these regions, but it will also benefit overall health and well-being by ensuring nutrient-rich crops can be grown and consumed. Crops enhanced to thrive without scarce resources like water will also enable some communities to establish and grow their agriculture economies – economies that most likely couldn’t exist previously.
And as researchers continue to study the use of gene editing in plants, more crop varieties will be developed with traits that help minimize the use of water and other resources.
For more information about World Water Day, visit WorldWaterDay.org. For more information on climate ready rice, click here.