GMO rice has high yield, cuts greenhouse gas emissions

A new genetically modified rice has been developed, and though only a single gene has been altered (in this case, borrowed from barley), it has a significantly increased yield while cutting methane emissions. The new GMO rice was tested three years in fields, and the results show it was overall effective, but particularly so when grown in the summer time, a time during which researchers saw methane emissions drop to 0.3-percent from the 10-percent that was produced by regular non-modified rice.

The decrease in emissions was lesser in the autumn though the researchers say the GMO rice still reduced the methane output by 50-percent. This was accomplished by using a barley gene, which when inserted into rice causes the rice to store a higher amount of carbon in the grains and stems versus the roots.

The thought process behind the success is that the rice paddies tend to produce the greenhouse gas when the crop's roots allow carbon to leak into the soil, which is then converted into methane by microbes. The reduction in carbon going into the soil, then, means there is less for microbes to convert into methane.

It could still be a decade before this particular strain of GMO is grown as a general crop, as larger testing and more trials must take place first. The longest part, though, will be breeding a new variety of rice that is the same as the GMO rice, but that can be sent to farmers to be planted and harvested.

VIA: MIT Technology Review