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This might eventually help end our barley shortages



As homebrewers, we've watched with some dismay as barley prices have jumped dramatically, along with most food prices.  Part of that has been attributed to acreage being diverted to corn for ethanol production, and is probably true in large measure.  Other factors include the increasing affluence and standard of living of people in China, India, and other nations with expanding economic clout, which enables them to incorporate more meat in their diets ... which requires more grain as feed; they are reportedly also drinking more beer.  There are other factors, too, but the main point to be made here is that barley prices are affected by the prices of other grains, regardless of what they are used for.  So, ... when I came upon this New York Times article -- http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/14/join-the-hunt-for-super-rice -- my immediate thought was that by improving rice crops, and eventually using the same technology to improve crops of corn, wheat, oats, and even barley, we should all have more barley to brew with in the future.

Along those lines, if anyone here would like to help with that research, we just happen to have our own 'Homebrewers' team already working for the World Community Grid (the very organization which is working on the 'super-rice' project).  Until now, the 'WCG' has been working strictly on non-profit medical research to help find cures for diseases such as cancer, but this is an important humanitarian project now that we are seeing a growing food shortage.  Any member can designate the particular projects that his/her computer will work on, so if you want ALL of your computer's spare power to be used for 'super-rice' research, you can certainly do that.  The main thing is to quit wasting your computer's power running a stupid screen saver when you're not even looking at it most of the time, and start using it for humanitarian research.  Our 'Homebrewers' team currently has only 88 members, but we have donated the equivalent of more than 133 YEARS of computer time for this non-profit research to benefit all of humanity.

Read about our team here - http://home.alltel.net/billvelek/team.html - and then click on the Home-Page link to see how safe and secure this is.

Thanks for your time.

Bill Velek
I joined your team Bill! I have heard of people donating computing power to finding alien life before but not this. Seems like a better idea so Im in. Doing something to help humanity while I sleep seems like a pretty noble idea. Being able to do it and represent the homebrewing community in the process is pretty sweet too! Thanks for the post. Better life, better beer...

Thanks, Joe.  I just noticed that the word "karma" appears near our name for our posts.  Yes, that's the ticket.  We'll get good karma for this.  ;D


Bill Velek
Some of us (me!) like to cook and brew with as many organic ingredients as possible. We (me again!) also like to understand as much as possible where our food comes from and how it's grown. GM barley?  :eek: BIG step in the wrong direction, IMHO.

- Hare

As stated in the comments to the NYTimes article, the head of the project indicates that this is NOT about GM, so it is not in the pursuit of GM barley or any other grains.

Bill Velek
My bad. I just skimmed it. I'll go back and read the whole thing. Maybe I could divert a few cycles from finding ET...

- Hare
Well, upon my re-reading of the original article, I can see how easy it is to get the impression that it is about GM, e.g.: "The purpose is to hasten the pace of modern rice genetics, ..."

But then toward the end, it says: "It speeds along the study of 30,000 to 60,000 protein structures and the selection of rice strains to breed."  So the program is merely for the purpose of identifying good strains with the desired characteristics, and then breeding them -- which is no different than what might happen naturally, and is a technique that has been used in agriculture for centuries, IIRC.  The developer of the program also gave that reassurance in the comments on the news blog.


Bill Velek