Simple genetic modification causes crops to need 25% less water

March 9, 2018 by  
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Scientists have discovered that a simple genetic modification may result in crops needing up to 25 percent less water than unaltered plants to produce the same yield. An international team led by scientists at the University of Illinois identified a specific protein called Photosystem II Subunit S (PsbS), which can be altered to encourage a plant to partially close its stomata, the small pores that facilitate gas exchange between plants and their environment. The scientists hypothesized that the closing of stomata would allow plants to retain more water without sacrificing its need for carbon dioxide, the atmospheric concentration of which has increased by 25 percent in less than a century. Stephen Long, study co-author and director of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE), the international research project behind the study, said in a statement: “Evolution has not kept pace with this rapid change, so scientists have given it a helping hand”. As the world adapts to climate change , less water-intensive crops could be a game changer. “This is a major breakthrough,” explained Long. “Crop yields have steadily improved over the past 60 years, but the amount of water required to produce one ton of grain remains unchanged—which led most to assume that this factor could not change. Proving that our theory works in practice should open the door to much more research and development to achieve this all-important goal for the future.” Related: How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study Approximately 90 percent of the world’s freshwater supply is used for agricultural purposes. As populations grow and resources become strained, more efficient plants could be a simple yet effective tool to sustain healthy communities. The research team published their positive results on the modification of a tobacco plant; their next step is to do the same for food crops. “Making crop plants more water-use efficient is arguably the greatest challenge for current and future plant scientists,” said study co-author Johannes Kromdijk in a statement . “Our results show that increased PsbS expression allows crop plants to be more conservative with water use, which we think will help to better distribute available water resources over the duration of the growing season and keep the crop more productive during dry spells .” Via New Atlas Images via University of Illinois

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Simple genetic modification causes crops to need 25% less water

Transgenic fish are ready for us — are we ready for them?

July 19, 2017 by  
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After decades of regulatory and legal challenges, AquaBounty aims to bring genetically engineered salmon to U.S. and Canadian markets next year.

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Transgenic fish are ready for us — are we ready for them?

93 percent of the worlds seed diversity has vanished the last century

November 9, 2016 by  
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Take a look at modern agriculture , and you’ll find very little of it represents how farms looked in the early 1900s. Not only has technology changed significantly, but today’s seeds are only a fraction as diverse as those we planted many years ago. In fact, when you compare today to 1983 you’ll find that 93 percent of seed varieties from the early 20th century have disappeared. Today’s patenting and sale of genetically modified seeds isn’t helping the cause much, either. If you were a farmer living in 1903, you had a choice between planting 500 different kinds of cabbage, 400 varieties of tomatoes and peas, and at least 285 types of cucumber. A survey conducted by the Rural Advancement Foundation International found how these numbers were slashed by 93 percent in almost as many years. For example, in 1983 you could only pick from 28 kinds of cabbage, 25 types of peas, 79 kinds of tomatoes, and a pitiful 16 variations of cucumber. A phenomenon known as “seed consolidation” has carried us into the modern era, with companies like Monsanto patenting genetically modified seeds and selling them to farmers. Because saving the seeds to plant later could be considered patent infringement, a system of routinely purchasing seeds each year was created – a long leap from how farmers would prepare their crops from year to year just a century ago. The Organic Consumers Association estimates that, as of late 2013, Monsanto owns patents for 1,676 different seeds and plants. And they, along with other large corporations, can be found at the top of the hierarchy for many companies selling seeds. The Worldwatch Institute says, “With the profitability of seed increasing over the last 15 years, largely because of patents and contracts, the money and incentive for public institutions to develop new varieties are declining. Farmers also are saving less seed.” A new documentary on this state of affairs, Seed: The Untold Story , is showing in theaters now. Via Health Impact News Images via Pixabay , Flickr

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93 percent of the worlds seed diversity has vanished the last century

BREAKING: Genetically engineered salmon approved for human consumption

November 19, 2015 by  
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Today, environmental activists across the US are cringing at the FDA’s announcement  that they have given a variety of genetically engineered salmon the green light, deeming the fish fit for human consumption. The AquAdvantage salmon has been genetically modified to grow twice as fast as regular salmon, so it reaches market weight sooner. While the announcement is disappointing for many, it doesn’t come as a major surprise — the FDA gave it preliminary approval more than five years ago. Read the rest of BREAKING: Genetically engineered salmon approved for human consumption

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BREAKING: Genetically engineered salmon approved for human consumption

2016 Chevy Volt wins ‘Green Car of the Year’ at the Los Angeles Auto Show

November 19, 2015 by  
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Each year at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Green Car Journal announces the winner of its coveted Green Car of the Year award – and this year the winner is… the all-new 2016 Chevy Volt ! This year’s finalists included the Audi A3 e-tron , the Chevy Volt , the Honda Civic , the Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Prius . Green Car Journal has been honoring the most important “green” vehicles each year since 2005, and according to the publication, the number of models to consider has been increasing each year. Read the rest of 2016 Chevy Volt wins ‘Green Car of the Year’ at the Los Angeles Auto Show

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2016 Chevy Volt wins ‘Green Car of the Year’ at the Los Angeles Auto Show

Massive Roman mosaic discovered under city streets after hundreds of years

November 19, 2015 by  
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In 1996, a group of construction workers in Israel were surprised to discover an almost undamaged Roman mosaic hiding beneath the street where they were working. Now, while building a visitor’s center dedicated to that discovery, construction workers have uncovered yet another impressive mosaic. Both mosaics were created almost 2,000 years ago to decorate a villa in an affluent Roman neighbourhood. Read the rest of Massive Roman mosaic discovered under city streets after hundreds of years

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Massive Roman mosaic discovered under city streets after hundreds of years

Episode 2: Van Jones talks green economics; corporates step up on climate

October 23, 2015 by  
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From American Express to AT&T, dozens of businesses this week committed to new climate action in partnership with the White House.

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Episode 2: Van Jones talks green economics; corporates step up on climate

Case study Chipotle: Defending your sustainability reputation

October 23, 2015 by  
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The restaurant chain that prides itself on using sustainably grown ingredients showed some grace under pressure when its sustainability credentials were questioned.

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Case study Chipotle: Defending your sustainability reputation

If science is good for climate change, why not for GMOs?

October 19, 2015 by  
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If we want potatoes and oranges on grocery shelves 10 years from now, we’re going to have to dig in to some inconvenient science.

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If science is good for climate change, why not for GMOs?

Shannon Matesky on innovation

October 19, 2015 by  
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A spoken word poet lights up passion for what’s possible.

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Shannon Matesky on innovation

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