Digging deeper for climate solutions: deep-root GMOs could feed world and store carbon

August 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Scientists are experimenting with new genetic modification technology that “supercharges” plants to enhance what they already excel at– sequestering carbon. As the world scrambles to find innovative mitigation solutions, plants have been doing what they quietly perfected over millions and millions of years ago– taking carbon from the atmosphere and converting it into carbohydrates, energy and oxygen. A recent study shows one research institute’s promising progress on the quest to create a patented plant that grows deeper, cork-like roots that store 20 times more carbon than the average plant . The researchers believe these findings can eventually be applied to cash crops at a scale that can truly impact climate change. Related: Scientists confirm tree planting is our best bet against climate change The California-based Salk Institute is leading the way in what they call the Harnessing Plants Initiative. Their goal is to create an enhanced plant that not only stores more carbon but also yields an agricultural product that profits farmers and feeds people. Historically, genetic plant modification has been used to target and enhance specific traits within a plant, such as the size or taste of the fruit or its resistance to pests and disease. Now, Salk’s plant biologists are targeting specific hormones and genes that indicate and increase root biomass. Deep dive: why deep roots matter For centuries, farmers have recognized that deeper roots stabilize the soil and make trees and crops more resilient to heavy winds, floods, hurricanes and erosion. Deep roots also encourage drought resistance because they allow the plant to search for hard to reach water reserves that haven’t been dried out by the sun. But recently, deep roots have become coveted for their ability to sequester , store and stabilize carbon dioxide . The carbon in roots is stored as a complex carbohydrate that is not easily broken down by soil microbes and therefore it is more stable storage than above ground plants, especially for plants that are frequently harvested. The idea behind deep roots is actually very logical– deeper roots store the carbon further from the place we are trying to keep it away from– the atmosphere. Although plants have always sequestered carbon, they can no longer keep up with the rate that humans are pumping it into the atmosphere– at least not naturally. Globally, people emit 37 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year and plants can only capture about half. The idea, according the Salk’s plant biologist, Wolfgang Busch, is to “store carbon in parts of the soil where the carbon is more stable. Change the biochemistry, increase the stability. We’re not trying to get plants to do something they don’t normally do,” says Busch . “We’re just trying to increase the efficiency. Then we can use that to mitigate climate change .” Joanne Chory, also a plant biologist at the Salk Institute echoed Busch’s explanation in an interview with Foreign Policy News. “All we have to do is make them about 2 percent more efficient at redistributing carbon than they are right now, and we can effect a global change,” said Chory . The Salk Ideal Plant Wolfgang Busch, Chory and their team of plant biologists at the Salk Institute recently published their preliminary findings in Cell. Their research focused on a test plant – the thale cress – where they experimented with root hormones and a specific gene found to control the shape of roots. The science behind it: hormones and genes The hormone auxin is the most important hormone that dictates root growth. The biologists at Salk, however, also identified a gene – EXOCYST70A3 – that controls the shape and extent of roots by monitoring how much of the auxin hormone is released. By identifying and isolating these findings, the researchers can now control the size and direction of the roots in their test plants. The EXOCYST70A3 gene is present in all plants, so their research is profoundly scalable if applied to the world’s top grown crops. Indeed, Salk intends to apply their findings to corn , soy, rice, wheat, cotton and rapeseed (canola). Salk’s secret sauce: suberin But the researchers didn’t stop at isolating the hormone and gene, they also identified a specific substance to modify and replicate based on its benefits. According to their website, their ‘secret sauce’ is a substance called suberin . Suberin is a cork material that is carbon-rich, found naturally in plants and resistant to decomposition. It enhances soil, but is also one of the best (meaning most stable) storage vessels for carbon dioxide. Salk’s patented plant, The Ideal Plant, will maximize suberin within its roots. Ultimately, their plants will increase root biomass that is both deeper and higher in suberin. But aren’t GMOs bad for the environment? There is a lot of controversy surrounding genetically modified organisms , including their potentially harmful impacts on human health , ecosystems and farmers’ livelihoods. However, GMO proponents believe they are the answer to feeding the world’s growing population and increasing resilience against a rapidly changing environment. For the Salk Institute, GMO nay-sayers, like the European Union and India, aren’t their biggest concern. Their research continues (and receives millions of dollars of investment) for expected implementation in places where GMOs are not banned. In order to reach their goal of using the Salk Ideal Plant to store half of the carbon that humans emit every year, the researchers claim they would need their patented product in six percent of the world’s agriculturally productive land. While there are natural ways of cross breeding to reach similar results, it would take considerably longer and there simply isn’t enough time. The climate clock is ticking The Salk Institute’s recently published study holds promising breakthroughs, but they are still not ready with a usable product and time is running out. Environmental experts agree that drastic action needs to be taken to mitigate greenhouse gases , so the best time to start planting the yet-to-be-designed Ideal Plant was years ago. Via Vice Images via Salk Institute

Read more: 
Digging deeper for climate solutions: deep-root GMOs could feed world and store carbon

Episode 160: Dialogue on drawdown, why a Microsoft exec took a job at National Geographic

February 22, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on Episode 160: Dialogue on drawdown, why a Microsoft exec took a job at National Geographic

Plus, an excerpt from our interview with former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.

Excerpt from:
Episode 160: Dialogue on drawdown, why a Microsoft exec took a job at National Geographic

8 types of ag-tech startups with the right ingredients for sustainability

January 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on 8 types of ag-tech startups with the right ingredients for sustainability

Here are some of the promising ventures being backed by the likes of Tyson, Campbell Soups and Danone.

View original post here:
8 types of ag-tech startups with the right ingredients for sustainability

Earth911 Podcast, August 13, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear

August 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco

Comments Off on Earth911 Podcast, August 13, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear

Join the Earth911 team to hear about the rapidly changing … The post Earth911 Podcast, August 13, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear appeared first on Earth911.com.

Excerpt from:
Earth911 Podcast, August 13, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear

USDA releases controversial GMO food label prototypes

May 21, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on USDA releases controversial GMO food label prototypes

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently unveiled label prototypes for food with genetically modified ingredients . The fight for labels was controversial, but in 2016, Congress passed a bill in favor of required labeling. Now, the proposed label designs are also facing controversy. “I mean, they look like a little smiley face,” said George Kimbrell , legal director of the  Center for Food Safety . “They’re very pro-biotech, cartoonishly so, and to that extent are, you know, not just imparting information but instead are essentially propaganda for the industry.” The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard will increase the transparency of our nation’s food system & give consumers uniform information about the bioengineered status of their foods – learn how you can provide input https://t.co/0wmR15Mkpr pic.twitter.com/qZ6hR0Jorc — USDA Ag Mktg Service (@USDA_AMS) May 9, 2018 The USDA has been working for a while to develop a mandatory national system for cluing consumers in to the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food — and a request for feedback garnered 112,000 responses from farmers, manufacturers and consumers. Now, the department is  asking for comments on its  proposed rule for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard . Related: Genetically engineered apples that never brown are hitting store shelves next year Many of the proposed labels feature bright colors like yellow or green and include images like suns or plants. They all have the letters BE, which stands for bioengineered . Critics complain that term is unfamiliar to American shoppers, who tend to be more familiar with terms like GMO or genetically engineered . NPR pointed out that some products in supermarkets already have a non-GMO label; Kimbrell said it’s “misleading and confusing” to “now switch that up and use a totally different term, bioengineered, that has not been the standard commonplace nomenclature for all of this time.” In 2016 , the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine  analyzed more than 900 research papers and found that scientists have not uncovered hard evidence that genetically engineered crops are worse for people to eat than other crops. Still, many consumers want labels. People have until July 3, 2018 to provide comments on the proposed labels. To submit a comment, visit the Regulations.gov website . + USDA + BE Disclosure and Labeling Via NPR Image via Depositphotos

Read the original post:
USDA releases controversial GMO food label prototypes

How genetically engineered salmon swims onto our plates

March 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on How genetically engineered salmon swims onto our plates

The transgenic technology that produces fast-growing fish soon could come to the U.S. Will it live up to its claims of making seafood more sustainable?

Read the original here:
How genetically engineered salmon swims onto our plates

How genetically engineered salmon swims onto our plates

March 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on How genetically engineered salmon swims onto our plates

The transgenic technology that produces fast-growing fish soon could come to the U.S. Will it live up to its claims of making seafood more sustainable?

Read the rest here:
How genetically engineered salmon swims onto our plates

How genetically engineered salmon swims onto our plates

March 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on How genetically engineered salmon swims onto our plates

The transgenic technology that produces fast-growing fish soon could come to the U.S. Will it live up to its claims of making seafood more sustainable?

Go here to see the original:
How genetically engineered salmon swims onto our plates

This Arctic Apple has been genetically engineered to never brown

October 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on This Arctic Apple has been genetically engineered to never brown

The Arctic Apple, a variety of fruit that has been genetically engineered to never brown, even when cut into pieces, may be coming to a grocery store near you. The fruit was first envisioned as a means to increase apple consumption among picky consumers while decreasing food waste. “There’s an awful lot of apples that go to waste,” said Neal Carter, president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, which designed the Arctic Apple. “We were looking for ways to rebrand apples to make them more convenient.” Starting in November, the Arctic Apple will be sold in approximately 400 supermarkets throughout the United States . Carter estimates that this year’s harvest of 180 pounds of apples will be on the market for about 12 weeks; the first variety of Arctic Apple available will be Golden Delicious, followed by Granny Smith in 2018. Okanagan hopes that this novel approach will catch on among the fruit-consuming public “We’ve seen apple consumption decline on a per capita basis over the last few decades, because they’re not seen as convenient,” said Carter. “When they started selling cut baby carrots, it more than doubled consumption.” Just like baby carrots , the Arctic Apple will be sold pre-sliced. Related: 5 Mouthwatering plant-based fall recipes Apple flesh begins to turn brown when it’s cut or bruised because of enzymes that turn copper upon oxidation. Although the bite-sized, forever-unblemished Arctic Apple may appeal to those who can’t stand to see an apple “go bad,” its status as a GMO may turn off some concerned consumers. “There are certainly people against what we do,” said Carter. “But there are less people against it than two years ago or five years ago. Once people experience the apple, generally they say, ‘Hey this is just an apple.’” Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia and Okanagan Specialty Fruit

Read more:
This Arctic Apple has been genetically engineered to never brown

When genetic engineering is the environmentally friendly choice

August 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on When genetic engineering is the environmentally friendly choice

CRISPR gene editing can fight crop disease far more benignly than conventional practices.

View original post here:
When genetic engineering is the environmentally friendly choice

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 1374 access attempts in the last 7 days.