Breeders Discover a Way to Increase Rice Yield

January 6, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. boost /bust/ (v.) – to increase or to heighten the amount of something
ExampleUsing fertilizers can boost the production of crops like rice and corn.

2. staple /ˈsteɪpəl/ (adj.) – used or consumed by majority of the people
Example: Rice is a staple food in many Asian countries.

3. variety /vəˈraɪɪti/ (n.) – a specific kind or type of thing
Example: Akebono and Asahi are varieties of Japanese rice.

4. infuse /ɪnˈfyuz/ (v.) – to introduce or add something
Example: The researchers infused chemicals into the plant to speed up its growth.

5. stable /ˈsteɪbəl/ (adj.) – not easily changed
Example: The price of rice is stable as it does not increase or decrease in the past weeks.


Read the text below.
Scientists from a research institute in the Philippines have recently discovered a gene that can boost the production of one of the world’s most popular staple food—the rice.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is a non-profit institute that researches mainly on different rice varieties. It has long been searching for genes that can multiply rice production. Finally, the institute’s breeders were able to find a wonder rice gene that improves rice yield.

Breeders from the institute discovered that rice yield increases when the SPIKE gene is infused into the “indica” rice varieties, which are the most used types of rice. SPIKE gene is from an Indonesian rice variety called “japonica.”

According to the findings of the preliminary tests, infusing “indica” rice varieties with SPIKE gene results in 13 to 36 percent increase in rice production. Increasing rice yield means more rice will be produced even with limited land resources. IRRI also stressed, however, that this method is not a form of genetic modification.

Rice is not only a staple food in many countries; it is also the most important crop in the world, especially in Asian countries. Thus, IRRI’s discovery may be very beneficial in ensuring food security and making the price of rice more stable.

However, IRRI is not yet sure when the SPIKE-infused rice can be distributed to farmers as further research may still be needed.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Would you be willing to try eating a SPIKE gene-infused rice? Why is that so?
·         What can be the possible disadvantage of producing this type of rice?

Discussion B

·         How do you feel about GMOs or genetically modified organisms?
·         Why do you think many people oppose GMOs?


January 6, 2014