Climate change is a major challenge globally and like other sectors, agriculture too is hugely impacted. Incessant rains, drought and frequent pests and disease outbreak are all signs of the deteriorating effects of climate change.
There’s a lot of work to be done in agriculture that can sustain the overall health of the current farming system. It is high time to adopt new scientific solutions to reduce input resource requirements and the impact on the environment. The aim is to adopt climate-smart solutions supported by digital farming techniques and improved plant breeding technologies.
Amongst the new technologies, gene editing has shown enormous potential to address climate change in the most efficient manner. Here’s how gene-editing applications can bring a positive impact in the sector:
- Improve carbon capture by the crops and reduce the harmful carbon dioxide
- Reduce/minimize agricultural inputs so that GHG emissions are reduced.
- Developing climate-resilient crops.
How Gene Editing Can Reduce Greenhouse Gases in The Atmosphere
Through gene editing innovations by plant biotechnologists, they have been able to achieve desirable traits in plants. A few of the ways that validates how gene editing can be helpful are stated below.
Carbon trapped in roots
It is evident that bigger and deeper roots trap carbon, keeps it submerged into the ground for a longer duration, and limits its release into the atmosphere. Gene editing plant alone has the potential to curb 46% of the excess carbon emitted on an annual basis worldwide.
Carbon absorbing trees
Gene editing could enable replenishment of otherwise endangered American chestnut trees which absorb and store large amounts of carbon to supply fuel for their growth.
Through gene editing, it is possible to create varieties of pennycress which is high in oleic acid. It is a proven fact that oleic acid can be converted into biofuel for jets. Pennycress is also used as a cover crop by farmers during off-seasons. It helps them prevent tons of soil erosion.
Food waste management
Appropriate food waste management can help save the environment from harmful gases released as a result of emissions from the waste. Gene editing can diminish potato wastes to half and can reduce the waste of other food products too. Gene edited non-browning mushrooms are another example of food waste reduction. 8% of greenhouse gases are released from food waste alone. By developing innovative varieties which are gene edited, one can save the planet from harmful emissions.
Curbs emissions from fertilizer production
Gene-edited corn can access nitrogen from the air which diminishes the use of nitrogen-enriched fertilizer, thereby helping the environment.
Gene editing is undoubtedly an innovative technology to meet the challenges posed by climate change. Scientists and researchers worldwide are developing varieties that can be beneficial not only to humans but to the environment too. Through gene editing, one can quickly bring the desired traits in a plant which would otherwise take decades in case of conventional breeding.