Girl holding a peanut

The benefits of a more resilient peanut

In *All, Agricultural Systems, Food Security by AgIsAmerica

A growing global population has the potential to place a strain on resources: each person takes up space, and needs to eat. Unfortunately, space is also required to cultivate the extra food needed to feed the population. Thus, we find ourselves in an alarming catch-22.

Researchers from the University of Georgia are turning to the humble peanut for the answer.

Peanuts are among the most sustainable foods in every way. Containing high levels of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, they are dense with nutrition, but don’t require as much land per calorie as livestock or many other crops. With a little TLC and guided evolution, peanuts can become even better.

In order to introduce peanuts as a cornerstone for diets around the world, the UGA horticulture team must sort out a few problems.

  1. Peanuts are susceptible to mycotoxins—peanut-invading fungi. When consumed, mycotoxins can cause chronic or (occasionally) acute health problems.
  2. One solution to mycotoxin strains exists, in proper irrigation. Unfortunately, the developing regions in need of sustainable farming solutions often lack dependable access to water.

Georgia’s federally funded Peanut Innovation Lab is tackling both obstacles and finding an answer in genetics. By learning about the peanut genome, researchers hope to develop varieties which are naturally resistant to mycotoxins, enabling the plants can survive on even lower amounts of water.

As the number one producer of peanuts in the United States, Georgia’s economy stands to benefit greatly from this research. What’s more, the UGA team may have found a long-term solution to hunger in developing countries.

If you want to learn more about the “resilient peanut”, read the full original article here.

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