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Thailand Bets on a New Rice Grain to Feed the World

A long—but soft—strain suits the globe’s changing appetite and might save the country’s declining export business. But experts miss the signature fragrance of traditional varieties.

RD79 might be the future of Thai rice.
Photographer: Nicholas Axelrod/Bloomberg

Every day, Chuanchom Deerusamee eats thousands of grains of rice.

Her relationship to the grain goes much deeper than her diet. Over the course of her 16-year career as researcher and rice expert at Chai Nat Rice Research Center in central Thailand, she has worked with and grown tons of the world’s most popular starch in an effort to create the ultimate version.