Rice to beat global warming?

Genetically modified food products are often viewed as ‘bad for health’ and an evil ‘contamination’ to what is natural. However, a new study has discovered a new GMO which can miraculously reduce greenhouse emission.

An international team of scientists from the US, China and Sweden created a new type of rice by transferring a barley gene into a rice plant. Unfortunately, because this is genetically-modified (GM) rice, the scientists are anticipating an uphill battle getting permission for commercial farming of this novel “greener” rice.

This new strain of rice offers many advantages. One of the most pivotal one is that it produces significantly less methane gas.

Methane gas is emitted in flooded rice paddies as methane-producing bacteria thrive on the numerous carbohydrates given off by rice roots in the oxygen-free earth. Numerous scientists have been trying to control these emissions in order to decrease its contribution to global warming.

While the lead author of this study is Chuanxin Sun, a plant biologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden, the field research of the rice was conducted in China. The research revealed that the gene transfer produced rice with starched grain and a smaller root system. The methane produced by this GMO was 90 percent less than the methane produced in the growing of today’s conventional rice.

Chuanxin Sun told Scientific American: “This type of rice may be particularly useful in a predicted climate with higher temperatures, which will accelerate methane emissions from paddies, as methane emissions are temperature dependent. The GMO (rice) may counteract the acceleration.”

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Lead researcher, Andrew Meharg, concluded that new appliances could be developed to cook the GMO to prepare the rice in the most effective manner as well. Until then, he suggested it could be prepared by using one of the different methods they describe in their study such as percolating the rice grains in a coffeemaker.

The study was published in the online journal Nature last week.

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