Get ready for the next wave of GMOs

October 2, 2020 by  
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Get ready for the next wave of GMOs Jim Giles Fri, 10/02/2020 – 02:00 One summer day almost 20 years ago, a group of protestors arrived at a plot of genetically modified corn growing near the town of Montelimar in southern France. They were led by José Bové , a left-wing activist famous for his skirmishes with the law and his tremendous moustache. Using machetes and shears, the protestors uprooted the crops and dumped the debris outside the offices of the regional government. I thought about Bové this week as I read a new report on the next generation of genetic food technology . The techniques in the report make the processes that Bové opposed look clunky. The GMOs he destroyed were created by inserting genes from other organisms — say a stretch of DNA that confers resistance to a particular herbicide — into a plant’s genome. This brute force approach is time-consuming and hard to control. Now scientists are using a new suite of gene-editing techniques, including a process known as CRISPR, to rapidly and precisely control the behavior of specific plant genes.  Gene-edited crops already exist. Scientists at the biotech firm Corteva, for example, have developed a high-yield strain of a variety of corn used in food additives and adhesives. Yet these initial advances belie the technology’s potential. Is there a way that civil society, government and businesses can come together to prioritize development of gene-edited crops that deliver social and environmental benefits as well as economic ones? The power of gene editing can be wielded to modify plants and, among other things, achieve significant sustainability wins. Here are a few potential outcomes explored in the new report, published by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation , a pro-technology think tank: Dramatic reductions in waste, made possible by engineering crops to produce food products that last longer on the shelf and are less susceptible to pests.  Lower greenhouse gas emissions from cattle, after CRISPR is used to alter the genetic activity of the methane-producing microbes that live in the animals’ stomachs. Reductions to the hundreds of millions of tons of methane emitted annually from rice production, thanks to new gene-edited rice strains. Increases in the carbon-sequestering power of crops, made possible by engineered arieties that put down deeper root systems. This potential is thrilling, and there are signs that it will arrive soon. In China, where the government has made a big bet on gene-editing technology , numerous labs are working on crop strains that require less pesticides, herbicides and water. In the United States, a small but growing group of gene-editing startups is bringing new varieties to market, including an oilseed plant that can be used as a carbon-sequestering cover crop during the winter .  Yet when I read the ITIF report, I thought of Bové. Not because I agree with everything he said. Twenty years and many studies later, we know that the anti-GMO activists were wrong to say that modified crops posed a threat to human health. (The demonization of GMOs had profound consequences nonetheless: Fears about the risks posed by the crops are one reason why the crops are highly restricted in Europe and viewed warily by some consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.) The reason I thought of Bové is that, at one level, he and other activists were pushing society to take a broader view of GMOs. They wanted people to ask who and what the crops were for, because they believed, rightly, that the crops were produced mainly with the profits of ag companies in mind. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing for ag companies to be profitable. But our food systems affect so many aspects of our lives — from the composition of the atmosphere to the prevalence of disease. When GMOs first began to be planted, there hadn’t been enough debate about how the technology might affect these things. No wonder people were angry. That’s a lesson I hope we can remember as gene editing shapes agriculture. Is there a way that civil society, government and businesses can come together to prioritize development of gene-edited crops that deliver social and environmental benefits as well as economic ones? If they can, we might end up with crops that everyone wants. This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote Is there a way that civil society, government and businesses can come together to prioritize development of gene-edited crops that deliver social and environmental benefits as well as economic ones? Topics Food & Agriculture GMO Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Andriano Close Authorship

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Get ready for the next wave of GMOs

Get ready for the next wave of GMOs

October 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

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Get ready for the next wave of GMOs Jim Giles Fri, 10/02/2020 – 02:00 One summer day almost 20 years ago, a group of protestors arrived at a plot of genetically modified corn growing near the town of Montelimar in southern France. They were led by José Bové , a left-wing activist famous for his skirmishes with the law and his tremendous moustache. Using machetes and shears, the protestors uprooted the crops and dumped the debris outside the offices of the regional government. I thought about Bové this week as I read a new report on the next generation of genetic food technology . The techniques in the report make the processes that Bové opposed look clunky. The GMOs he destroyed were created by inserting genes from other organisms — say a stretch of DNA that confers resistance to a particular herbicide — into a plant’s genome. This brute force approach is time-consuming and hard to control. Now scientists are using a new suite of gene-editing techniques, including a process known as CRISPR, to rapidly and precisely control the behavior of specific plant genes.  Gene-edited crops already exist. Scientists at the biotech firm Corteva, for example, have developed a high-yield strain of a variety of corn used in food additives and adhesives. Yet these initial advances belie the technology’s potential. Is there a way that civil society, government and businesses can come together to prioritize development of gene-edited crops that deliver social and environmental benefits as well as economic ones? The power of gene editing can be wielded to modify plants and, among other things, achieve significant sustainability wins. Here are a few potential outcomes explored in the new report, published by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation , a pro-technology think tank: Dramatic reductions in waste, made possible by engineering crops to produce food products that last longer on the shelf and are less susceptible to pests.  Lower greenhouse gas emissions from cattle, after CRISPR is used to alter the genetic activity of the methane-producing microbes that live in the animals’ stomachs. Reductions to the hundreds of millions of tons of methane emitted annually from rice production, thanks to new gene-edited rice strains. Increases in the carbon-sequestering power of crops, made possible by engineered arieties that put down deeper root systems. This potential is thrilling, and there are signs that it will arrive soon. In China, where the government has made a big bet on gene-editing technology , numerous labs are working on crop strains that require less pesticides, herbicides and water. In the United States, a small but growing group of gene-editing startups is bringing new varieties to market, including an oilseed plant that can be used as a carbon-sequestering cover crop during the winter .  Yet when I read the ITIF report, I thought of Bové. Not because I agree with everything he said. Twenty years and many studies later, we know that the anti-GMO activists were wrong to say that modified crops posed a threat to human health. (The demonization of GMOs had profound consequences nonetheless: Fears about the risks posed by the crops are one reason why the crops are highly restricted in Europe and viewed warily by some consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.) The reason I thought of Bové is that, at one level, he and other activists were pushing society to take a broader view of GMOs. They wanted people to ask who and what the crops were for, because they believed, rightly, that the crops were produced mainly with the profits of ag companies in mind. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing for ag companies to be profitable. But our food systems affect so many aspects of our lives — from the composition of the atmosphere to the prevalence of disease. When GMOs first began to be planted, there hadn’t been enough debate about how the technology might affect these things. No wonder people were angry. That’s a lesson I hope we can remember as gene editing shapes agriculture. Is there a way that civil society, government and businesses can come together to prioritize development of gene-edited crops that deliver social and environmental benefits as well as economic ones? If they can, we might end up with crops that everyone wants. This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote Is there a way that civil society, government and businesses can come together to prioritize development of gene-edited crops that deliver social and environmental benefits as well as economic ones? Topics Food & Agriculture GMO Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Andriano Close Authorship

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Get ready for the next wave of GMOs

Episode 239: Wildfires and resilience, California’s car ban

October 2, 2020 by  
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Episode 239: Wildfires and resilience, California’s car ban Heather Clancy Fri, 10/02/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (5:15). 5 things to know about California’s gas car sales ban Cities should track emissions from the goods they import Missing ingredients: How to accelerate the meat alternatives revolution Features Riffing on transportation trends (11:30)   What’s the buzz in the work of fleet management? HIghlights from last week’s transportation and mobility track at Climate Week, selected by GreenBiz analyst Katie Fehrenbacher, with insights from IKEA CSO Pia Heidenmark Cook and BT Group Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer Andy Wales.  The new world of wildfire management (17:15) In September, the Almeda Fire ripped through the Rogue Valley in Oregon, decimating two towns: Talent and Phoenix. This was not an ordinary wildfire, nor could it have been prevented by traditional forestry management. GreenBiz analyst Sarah Golden speaks with state senator Jeff Golden (her father) about the climate change influence and what’s next for improving resilience.  *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Curiosity,” “More on That Later,” “Night Caves,” “I’m Going for a Coffee” and “Here’s the Thing” *This episode was sponsored by Amazon and MCE Resources galore Partnerships for packaging . How working together advances low-cost, circular solutions. Register for the webcast at 1 p.m. Oct. 6.  Innovation in textiles. The global fashion industry is looking toward innovative materials and strategies. Learn more about what’s possible in this interactive discussion at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 13. Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Katie Fehrenbacher Sarah Golden Topics Energy & Climate Podcast Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Zero Emissions Resilience Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 31:23 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 239: Wildfires and resilience, California’s car ban

Demystifying climate scenario analysis for financial stakeholders

December 6, 2019 by  
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Measuring physical risk from climate change to facilities and operations requires some new approaches to measuring risk, says a new report.

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Demystifying climate scenario analysis for financial stakeholders

Improving air quality in Europe could reduce asthma cases for children

August 9, 2019 by  
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Asthma among children — close to 67,000 new cases — is hitting home in 18 European countries because of small particulates contaminating the air , according to a new report. But a number of those cases could be prevented yearly if the particulates were reduced to appropriate levels. This study is one of many about how air pollution affects human health. An important landmark study published in April revealed 4 million new asthma cases a year worldwide among ages 1 to 18 were because of levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air. Related: Air pollution may decrease eggs in women’s ovaries The new research examined asthma diagnoses among more than 63.4 million children ages 1 to 14 and looked at components of toxic air, like fine particulates or PM2.5. Researchers also took note of nitrogen dioxide released by vehicles and other sources. “A considerable proportion of childhood asthma is actually caused by air pollution, particularly PM2.5,” said co-author Mark Nieuwenhuijsen from the Barcelona Institute of Global Health. Overall, the study suggests 66,600 new cases of asthma could be prevented annually by following World Health Organization guidelines: levels of PM2.5 should not exceed an annual average of 10 ?g/m3, and levels of nitrogen dioxide should not exceed an annual average of 40 ?g/m3. But the report said even this might not be enough. The authors believe there is no starting point to the impact of air pollution on human health . “What is clear from our analysis is that current WHO standards are not strict enough to protect against many cases of childhood asthma,” Nieuwenhuijsen said. WHO guidelines are currently under review. Susan Anenberg, a co-author of the related study published in April, said the latest research showed how damaging air pollution can be on public health. “Almost no one on planet Earth breathes clean air,” Anenberg said. “The good news is that there are many ways to prevent children from getting asthma because of their air pollution exposure. Making it easier to cycle , walk or run to get places, for example, has many benefits for society — including improved air quality, increased physical activity and less climate-warming pollution.” + European Respiratory Journal Via The Guardian Image via David Holt

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Improving air quality in Europe could reduce asthma cases for children

United Nations report finds climate change is a major threat to global food supply

August 9, 2019 by  
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Humanity is having a hard time feeding itself, and it is only expected to get worse thanks to the climate crisis . This comes from a new United Nations report presented on Aug. 8 that states the globe’s land and water resources are being misused at “unprecedented rates.” Written by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary in Geneva, the report said the time to address the threat is now. Related: Biodiversity decline puts food supply at risk The report warned that climate change will make threats worse, as floods, drought, storms and other extreme weather patterns threaten to diminish the global food supply. More than 10 percent of the world’s population is currently undernourished, and some authors of the report said food shortages may result in increased cross-border migration. Other report writers said food shortages will hit poorer communities much harder than affluent areas. Food crises could form on a multiple continents at once, according to Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a lead author of the report. “The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” she said. “All of these things are happening at the same time.” The report mentioned higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will also reduce food’s nutritional quality, in addition to lowering crop yields and hurting livestock. These obstacles could become overwhelming for farmers, and the industry might fail at adjusting. However, among the negatives, the report offered some hope and presented ways to address the possible food crisis, though a reevaluation of land use and agriculture worldwide would be needed, as well as a change in consumer behavior. Solutions include increasing land productivity, reducing food waste and encouraging meatless diets. “One of the important findings of our work is that there are a lot of actions that we can take now. They’re available to us,” Rosenzweig said. “But what some of these solutions do require is attention, financial support, enabling environments.” There is still time to turn things around, but it will require major changes in food production, soil and forest management, food distribution and consumer behavior. + United Nations Via New York Times Image via Pixabay

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United Nations report finds climate change is a major threat to global food supply

It’s time to include developing nations more holistically in circular economy discussions

May 29, 2019 by  
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The practical applicability of many high-tech solutions in emerging economies, as well as a wealth of existing activity, have not been well explored, according to a new report from researcher Chatham House.

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It’s time to include developing nations more holistically in circular economy discussions

How carbon markets can boost biodiversity and slow climate change

May 29, 2019 by  
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Here’s where markets stand now — and how we move them forward quickly.

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How carbon markets can boost biodiversity and slow climate change

Ford’s CTO on robotaxis, delivery bots and automotive disruptions

May 29, 2019 by  
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Five takeaways from a chat with the automaker’s chief technology officer, Ken Washington.

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Ford’s CTO on robotaxis, delivery bots and automotive disruptions

Is your company’s pension plan aligned with its climate commitments?

February 18, 2019 by  
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Some of the U.K.’s biggest pension plans are at risk, according to a new report.

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Is your company’s pension plan aligned with its climate commitments?

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