TEDxDaedeokValley - SangSoo Kwak - Reliever "sweet potato" in the 21st century

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on 17.11.2012

Do you know the rate of food self-sufficiency is for Korea ?
You are right.
I think that we will have to worry about our food in the near future.
Have you every worried about food before, even once?
The self-sufficiency rate in Korea for grain is now about 26%.
The food (calory) self-sufficiency rate in Korea is 45%.
This rate is the lowest level among OECD countries.
Food self-sufficiency is at a level that threatens food security.
The self-sufficiency rate for wheat and corn is below 1%.
Bean as a protein source is 7~8%.
Total grain self-sufficiency rate in economically challenged 1960s was about 90%.
Do you know the reason why the rate was so quickly dropped?
The 1st reason is surprisingly the increase of meat consumption with increase of income.
To produce 1 kg of cow meat requires more than 7 kg of the imported grain.
To produce 1 kg of pig and chicken meat requires 4 kg and 3 kg, respectively.
1.3 Billion Chinese people eat huge amounts of meat in proportion to the increase of income.
China have already been changed to the largest country to import the food.
The second reason is the decrease of the cultivation areas.
A cultivation area of more than 20,000 hectares is damaged by
construction of industrial zones, roads and houses every year.
construction of industrial zones, roads and houses every year.
Following this trends, our food security will be left in other hands.
We should not try to fix the barn after the cow has left: we cannot allow farmland to be destroyed !
Let me talk about the global food situations.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN estimate that the world population will be 9.1 billion in 2050.
The populations of Asia and Africa will be 5.1 and 1.9 billions, respectively.
These countries also will need lots of energy and food in proportion to the increase of income.
If we use energy and food at the present rate, we need more than three times more energy in 2050 and 1.7 times food.
Dr. Lester Brown of The Global Policy Institute argues that
desertification and biodiversity reduction are a threat to the earth.
There are three environment-related conventions of the UN covering Biodiversity, Climate Change and Combating Desertification.
When the academic journal "Nature" evaluated efforts to solve the problems of biodiversity, climate change and combating desertification over the last 20 years it gave an F grade.
Action, not words, is important.
If we do not focus on action, Nature predicts that the future of our earth will be miserable.
Already one-third of the earth's land has become desert.
The desert area of 36% in Asia is bigger than the 32% in Africa.
The speed of desertification is more rapid than we had expected.
In particular, the situation in Northeast Asia is very serious.
90% of Mongolian land is currently facing desertification.
Even though China has made many efforts to combat desertification,
new desert added every year is equivalent to 1.5 times the size of Jeju Island.
Every year.
Surprisingly 90% of causes of desertification in China derive from the poverty of local peoples.
About 900 million local people live in desertification areas of China.
Those people want to be rich. But they have no money. Their livestock can make them money. But they have no feed for them.
So they let livestock graze. Rare plants in desertification areas are disappearing because of overgrazing.
The winter in northwest China is very cold. These people have no money to buy coal.
So the local people just cut down trees for survival.
They do not know how to manage water and soil.
What can we do?
I think we have to pay attention to marginal lands such as dry or desertification land, high-salt land and abandoned mining areas.
The plant productivity on marginal lands is very low due to such high stress.
Plant biotechnology can maximize the plant productivity by introducing stress-tolerant genes and metabolic genes
responsible for increasing yield and improving functions.
There are many ways to approach the problem.
I would like to propose the sweetpotato as a solution.
Sweetpotato is the 7th largest food crop in the world.
The sweetpotato can be used for starch and for industrial materials as well as food and feed.
In addition to tuberous roots, leaves and stems in upper parts can be used for vegetables and for feed.
China produces about 80% of world sweetpotato production.
Sweetpotatos are mainly cultivated at Asia, including China, and Africa and middle and South America.
There is recently interest in cultivation of sweetpotato in so-called developed countries such as EU and North America.
Until recent times, sweetpotato was staple food for poor people in developing countries and was thus under-evaluated.
The advanced studies about sweetpotatoes are very behind compared to other major crops.
However, I am confident that we can produce new sweetpotato cultivars with good growth and high value on marginal lands by using biotechnology.
Recently, a scientific evaluation on sweetpotato was carried out.
The NGO, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) reported 10 super foods for better health in 2007.
Among them, sweetpotato was selected as the number one!
USDA cultivated typical starch crops such as sweetpotato, cassava and corn in the several regions of northern Maryland state
and southern Alabama state in terms of bioenergy research.
Interestingly, sweetpotato showed the highest yield.
Thus USDA selected sweetpotato as the best starch crop on marginal lands.
Why do you think that sweetpotato was selected as best crop for health food and starch crop on marginal lands ?
Reactive oxygen species in human and plant cells are overproduced under stressful conditions.
Reactive oxygen species is bad for aging and disease.
The antioxidants is useful chemicals to scavenge the toxic reactive oxygen species. Sweetpotato contains high levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C, anthocyanins and beta-carotene.
Anthocyanins are major components in blueberry, red wine and purple-fleshed sweetpotato.
Beta-carotene is major component in orange-fleshed sweetpotato and pumpkin.
Human and plant consists of cells.
Chromosome in cells make DNA, genes and proteins which regulate our life.
There is the same in human and plant in terms of life itself.
Do you think which one of human and plant have more genes in cells ?
According to recent genomic study, human cells have about 24,000 genes.
Rice and potato contain 38,000 genes much more than human.
Plant exposed to stress conditions can not move to safe places like human.
However, plant have been evolved to cope with harsh conditions for a long time.
Plants have to produce biological defence chemicals including antioxidants for survival.
Human can not make vitamin C, orange beta-carotene and purple anthocyanins.
There are about 4,000 different kinds of sweetpotato in the world.
Until recent time, white-fleshed sweetpotato was main cultivar for cultivation.
Recently, orange-fleshed or purple-fleshed sweetpotato with high levels of antioxidants are popular for cultivation.
We isolated an orange gene responsible for accumulation of carotennoids from orange-fleshed sweetpotato for the first time.
We introduced an orange gene into cells of white-fleshed sweetpotato.
Transgenic cells expressing an orange gene was changed colors from white to orange.
The orange cells contains 10 times higher beta-carotene content than the original cells.
If we can develop transgenic sweetpotato plants to produce both purple anthocyanins and orange beta-carotene in one tuber,
those transgenic sweetpotato plants can be good growth and will be better for human and livestock.
Thus we tried to introduce an orange gene into purple-fleshed sweetpotato or a gene involved in biosynthesis of anthocyanins into orange-fleshed sweetpotato. How about the results ?
The results are bingo !
We could generate transgenic sweetpotato to produce both purple anthocyanins and orange beta-carotene in one tuber by introducing of orange gene into purple-fleshed sweetpotato.
The MOU statements on the collaboration of science and technology in the field of combating desertification was signed during the summit meeting of both Korea and China on August 2008.
As a result, Korea-China Biotechnology Collaboration Research Center to Combat Desertification was established.
So far, sweetpotato in the qubuqi desert of Inner Mongolia, northern China have never been cultivated.
We tried to cultivate several cultivars of sweetpotato in this area in collaboration with China Sweetpotato Research Institute.
Showed well growth. Now we are developing transgenic sweetpotato
to produce both purple anthocyanins and orange beta-carotene in one tuber using the local cultivars with good growth in desertification areas.
If we could develop, we can produce food and
energy as well as greening desert.
Desert is not useless land.
If we could develop new cultivars with good growth,
we can obtain not only food, feed and energy but also carbon credit and useful bio-materials in the desert.
Desert, the land of chance, can be blue ocean.
Sweetpotato can be appeared as a relief pitcher to save the global food, energy, environment in 21st century.
Biotech sweetpotato can be good solution for food security of north Korea.
Sweetpotato production will be good in high latitude (at 100 frost-free regions).
It can be grown in desert area of northwest China.
In addition, our technology can spread to central Asia and Africa, and furthermore EU which was not grown so far.
It can be come true with your deep attention and participation.
Have you seen the real blue rose ?
Blue rose was not existed even several years ago.
Many scientists had tried to develop blue rose to earn big money due to scarcity value.
Everybody could not succeed in developing.
Recently, biotechnologists in developed countries could make blue rose.
Like blue rose story, I am confident that we can make blue ocean sweetpotato
with high value-added to be grown on marginal lands including desertification areas.
Do you know Jim Rogers ?
He is an genius in the invest with goods.
He could be a billionaire in his thirties.
He traveled all over the world by a motorcycle in his forties.
He traveled 116 countries for 3 years by a motor vehicle in his fifties.
He traveled on his life as security.
Many people asked him about how to be rich.
He said that you do your favorance work. Should do your preference.
If you do not decide what to do for your life, he strongly recommend to challenge the agriculture, the most important future industry.
Agriculture is no more past, backwardness business.
Agriculture is the main general trend in 21st century.
Future new industry.
Land is the origin of our life.
We had better keep the land to be live, no more damage.
We have to do our best to cope with future food security with more attentions to agriculture.
Thank you for your attention.