Confronted with land degradation, chronic water shortages, and a growing population that already numbers 1.3 billion, China is looking to a transgenic green revolution to secure its food supply. Later this month, the government is expected to roll out a $3.5 billion research and development (R&D) initiative on genetically modified (GM) plants. "The new initiative will spur commercialization of GM varieties," says Xue Dayuan, chief scientist on biodiversity at the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Science of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is the staple food for about half of the world's population. Naturally, in view of the limited land resources to support the ever-rising human population, multipronged efforts are called for enhancing rice productivity aimed at aiding the world food security. As a result, enhancement
in rice production over the last few decades has come from new rice plant architecture with greater yield sink potential and better production management.

food Light too affects drinks Conventional methods to test the shelf life of products, say on retail displays, focus on heat and ignore the effect of light. Scientists exposed a soft drink containing saffron to different levels of light at rising temperatures. They found that the beverage grew lighter in colour as the intensity of the light increased, confirming that light can cause a

Potato are cheaper, more nutritious and easier to grow than grain. But turning to the spud does not come without risks.

Spraying plants with the hormone salicylic acid can help them withstand excess salt in the soil, report scientists in Pakistan. External application of the chemical improves the growth of salt-stressed sunflower plants and leads to higher yields.

Soybean is a native of China. The cultivated soybean (Glycine max) originated from its wild ancestor Glycine ussuriensis, which is presently known as Glycine soja. The crop is known for its high food value from centuries. Soybean was migrated from China to neighboring countries with the development of sea and land trades during 7th century.

The cultivation and use of brinjal (eggplant/aubergine) is of great antiquity. It is from India, as philological studies indicate, that brinjal moved to West Asia and Europe. The different regions of India offer a diversity of accounts, documented as part of history, of the availability of brinjal and ancient food preparations of brinjal during medieval times.

In your Editorial 'A research menu' (Nature 453, 1

On 5 June 2008, an authorized, small-scale field trial of transgenic potato plants for nematode control was destroyed by people seeking to coerce government and society. It was one of only two trials authorized in the United Kingdom this year. Our concern is that Directive 2001/18/EC, the European Union (EU) legislation that governs such trials, is confused. (Correspondence)

Safe and sufficient food production is an important issue in India. Development of improved varieties by modern plant breeding is crucial. Nowadays, GM (genetically modified) varieties are emerging as a strong tool and promise.