Sun, Aug 13, 2006 - Page 14 News List

China looks to space for the answer to food problem 中國寄望太空解決糧食問題

STAFF WRITER , WITH AFP

Scientist Yuan Longping shows special rice plants grown at the National Hybrid Rice Research Center in Changsha, China.
中國長沙國家水稻配種研究中心的科學家袁龍萍向人展示中心培育的特殊道作。

PHOTO: EPA

China is going to launch a satellite to help develop super space-enhanced fruit, vegetables and other crops, as it tries to find ways to increase the nation’s food production.

A satellite full of seeds will be launched on a rocket in early September for a two-week mission that will expose 2,000 seeds to radiation from space. The satellite will then fall back to earth and scientists will get the seeds back.

The “seed satellite” will let scientists try to grow high-yield and high-quality plants, said Sun Laiyan, head of the China National Space Administration.

“Exposed to (a) special environment, such as space radiation and micro-gravity, some seeds will change to such an extent that they may produce much higher yields and improved quality,” Sun said. Nine different kinds of seeds will be in the satellite.

China has been experimenting with exposing seeds to space for years. In the past, rice and wheat seeds that had been exposed to space grew more rice. Tomato and green pepper seeds that have been exposed to space have grown between 10 and 20 percent more vegetables than regular seeds. Vegetables grown from space-exposed seeds also have more vitamins.

However, the satellite to be launched in September will be the first used specifically for seeds. China’s space seed experiments come as industrialization eats up farming land and makes it harder and harder to find ways to feed China’s 1.3 billion people.

The nation has experimented with genetically modified crops before. Genetically modified tomatoes, soy beans and corn are already in production. China is also considering plans to start producing genetically modified rice. (AFP)

試圖增加糧食產量的中國準備發射一枚衛星,在太空中協助培育超優質品種的水果、蔬菜和其他作物。

OUT LOUD 對話練習

Walt: The more I think about the world’s problems, the more upset I get.

Gene: What’s on your mind?

Walt: Well, we have so much technology, but the world seems to be getting smaller. The population is too big, and there isn’t enough food for everyone!

Gene: What if the answer to all of those problems lies in outer space?

Walt: Well that’s certainly food for thought.

華特:有關世界的問題我是想愈多,愈心煩。

琴:你有什麼心事嗎?

華特:唉,我們擁有這麼多科技,但世界似乎愈來愈小。人口太多,糧食卻不足!

琴:如果解決那些問題的辦法都在外太空呢?

華特:嗯,那無疑是件值得深思的事。

food for thought 發人深省的事

Food for thought is a piece of information or an idea that is interesting and complicated. If you say something is food for thought, it means it is new and original, and needs to be thought about for a while.

「food for thought」是指某項有趣卻又複雜難懂的資訊或概念。如果一件事既新穎又原創,而且需要時間思考一下,就可以用「food for thought」來形容。


九月初一顆滿載種子的衛星將由火箭搭載升空,進行為期兩週的任務,讓兩千粒種子接觸太空輻射,之後這枚衛星便會重返地球,科學家們也將取回種子。

中國國家航天局局長孫來燕表示,這枚「種子衛星」將有助於科學家試育高產量、高品質的作物。

孫來燕說:「暴露在太空輻射和微重力這類特殊環境下,某些種子將產生變異,進而培育出產量更高、品質更好的物種。」這枚衛星將搭載九種不同的種子上太空。

中國的太空育種實驗行之有年。以往,曾上太空轉了一圈的稻、麥種子,作物產量都提高不少,而太空番茄及青椒種子的作物產量也比一般種子多一到兩成。太空育種的蔬菜作物也含有更多維生素。

然而,九月即將發射的這枚衛星是中國第一顆育種專用衛星。受工業化的影響,農地遭到佔用,要填飽中國十三億人口的肚子愈發困難,中國因而展開太空育種實驗。

中國過去也曾進行基因改造作物實驗,經過基因改造的番茄,大豆及玉米都已量產。中國正考慮開始生產基因改造米。(法新社/翻譯:林倩如)

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