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Genes to Feed the World: The Weakest Link

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This article examines the web of connections between the development of agriculture in the third world and improving livelihoods, and enquires whether they could be strengthened in some way, perhaps by the addition of some vital missing link, so that the contribution from genomics can be maximised. Since the use of molecular markers to help develop improved crop varieties (marker-assisted selection) constitutes one of the main ways in which genomic knowledge could be used to improve rural livelihoods, the article reviews this technology and discusses the ways in which it could contribute to plant breeding.