(Summary and excerpts from Associated Press wire report on December 18, 2002)
A Japan-led group of international researchers has effectively decoded the rice genome, a development that could lead to higher-yielding varieties aimed at alleviating hunger. According to a Japanese government official, the finding by the consortium of scientists from 10 countries may also lead to new strains capable of curing illnesses or allergies. It was completed with 99.99 percent accuracy, he said.
Rice is a staple for half the world's population, and the decoding of its genes is expected to help alleviate world hunger by making it easier for scientists to come up with varieties that are more nutritious and have higher yields. It also provides a road map for other crops with more complex genomes, such as corn and wheat, researchers say.
Japan decoded 55 percent of the sequence, followed by the United States with 18 percent and China with 10 percent, said the agriculture ministry official. Taiwan, France, India, South Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Brazil also participated. Private sector companies also contributed to the efforts.
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