Could GMO Rice Remove Most of the Methane From Our Atmosphere?

Posted by on Aug 5, 2015 in Events, News | 0 comments








Published On: Fri, Jul 31st, 2015


Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that is emitted from plants and animals and can contribute to ecological pollution if it is too abundant.

But while we know that livestock and the leaks from natural gas wells can send some of the gas into the atmosphere, studies show that a remarkable amount of the stuff actually breathes out of the rice plant as it grows; it seeps in from the ground through the roots and then outward through the plant.

And the studies indicate that rice—which is grown all over the world—is a major source of methane because of microbes that live in the wetlands where most of the world’s rice is grown.

But some new research suggest that it might be possible to genetically engineer rice to release far less methane. This new study, out of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, shows that using a barley gene could modify the rice plant to do just that.

“The need to increase starch content and lower methane emissions from rice production is widely recognized, but the ability to do both simultaneously has eluded researchers,” explains the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory director Christer Jansson. The Department of Energy’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory director goes on to say, “As the world’s population grows, so will rice production. And as the Earth warms, so will rice paddies, resulting in even more methane emissions. It’s an issue that must be addressed.”

Jansson also adds, “By controlling where the transcription factor is produced, we can then dictate where in a plant the carbon – and resulting sugars – accumulate.”

And the study shows that methane producing microbes living in the roots of these plants actually went down by at least 50 percent.