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Plants of the Future - What Should They Be Like

Plants of the Future was a conference held earlier in the summer, put on by New York University and Nature.

As humanity constructs strategies to confront future challenges associated with population growth and climate change, we may need to rethink what the crop plants of the future will look like in the next century. New technologies in sequencing, imaging and genome editing have allowed for the dissection, and in some cases the harnessing, of the diversity and biology of plant systems, furthering our understanding of mechanisms of plant resilience and survival under stress.

The aim of this NYU-Nature Conference is to provide a forward-thinking forum for discussion of new ways to think about what plants of the future may look like, and ways that plant biotechnologies can develop to meet the increasing demand of plant-derived products, including food, energy, and medicine in the context global warming.

Fans of Science Fiction Grandmaster Robert Heinlein may recall the Genetically Modified Food of the Little People from his 1941 novel Methuselah's Children:

Several days after the last of them had been landed Lazarus was exploring alone some distance from the camp. He came across one of the Little People; the native greeted him with the same assumption of earlier acquaintance which all of them seemed to show and led Lazarus to a grove of low trees still farther from base. He indicated to Lazarus that he wanted him to eat.

Lazarus was not particularly hungry but he felt compelled to humor such friendliness, so he plucked and ate.

He almost choked in his astonishment. Mashed potatoes and brown gravy!

". . . didn't we get it right? - . ." came an anxious thought.

"Bub," Lazarus said solemnly, "I don't know what you planned to do, but this is just fine!"

A warm burst of pleasure invaded his mind. ". . . try the next tree . .

Lazarus did so, with cautious eagerness. Fresh brown bread and sweet butter seemed to be the combination, though a dash of ice cream seemed to have crept in from somewhere. He was hardly surprised when the third tree gave strong evidence of having both mushrooms and charcoal-broiled steak in its ancestry.

Consider also the butcher plant that grow steaks from Time is the Simplest Thing (1961) by Clifford Simak.

Via Plants of the Future.

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