Researchers hope new crops, methods will help farmers fight climate effects

Agricultural researchers are joining the legions who are working to help the world respond to climate change. A coalition called the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (which goes by the just-shy-of-delicious acronym CGIAR) is launching an initiative today that will pour money into developing crops that can withstand floods, droughts, and other extreme events. The group is also looking at farming methods, like no-till or low-till, that can minimize the release of greenhouse gases. “We’re talking about a major challenge here,” says Louis Verchot of Kenya’s World Agroforestry Center, a CGIAR member group. “We’re talking about challenges that have to be dealt with at every level, from ideas about social justice to the technology of food production.” And we’re also talking about genetic engineering, a practice whose critics Verlot upbraids: “In developing countries we’re dealing with a crisis situation, and whatever tool is available, we need to apply it.”