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  (Source: Take Pride in Utah)
Sending carbon to their roots to become soil carbon could sequester it for centuries

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers claim that global warming can be fought through the use of genetically altered trees and plants.

The leaders of the study – Christer Jansson, Stan D. Wullschleger, Udaya C. Kalluri, and Gerald A. Tuskan – believe that creating forests of genetically altered trees and plants will remove "several billion tons of carbon" annually from the atmosphere, ultimately helping in the battle against global warming.

Researchers plan to increase the efficiency of these trees and plants' natural processes that allow them to remove carbon dioxide from the air by transforming it into "long-lived" forms of carbon. They would like to do this first in vegetation, and eventually in soil. 

Genetically altering trees and plants' absorption of light isn't all these researchers are looking to do, though. In addition, they'd like to make it so that these plants send more carbon into their roots as well, which would transform some of it into soil carbon. This could stifle the carbon and keep it from the air for centuries. 

Researchers are also genetically altering plants to "better withstand" the complications of growing on marginal land in order to produce improved food crops and bioenergy. This could increase the amount of carbon plants take in from the air significantly. 

The combination of genetically altered trees and plants sending carbon to its roots to be put to rest for centuries along with improved bioenergy and food crop production could yield results that are beneficial to fighting global warming and its consequences. 

This study was published in Bioscience.



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RE: Why the genetic engineering?
By icrf on 10/1/2010 3:46:18 PM , Rating: 2
I thought the difference was most plants store the carbon in their bodies, and when they die and decompose, natural or otherwise, most is released into the atmosphere again. The genetic engineering here is a way for the trees to release more carbon from their roots into the soil instead of the atmosphere. The real question is how much difference is made engineered versus natural?


RE: Why the genetic engineering?
By MozeeToby on 10/1/2010 3:56:29 PM , Rating: 3
Eh, if we're talking active technological ideas (which genetically engineering and planting trees would definitely qualify as) regular trees would still give a 50 year or so buffer until we can come up with a more permanent plan. Think how much better our technology is now than it was 50 years ago, and if we can't solve it by then we can always plant more trees indefinitely. I don't really see the advantage to modifying trees just to make them hold onto the carbon a bit longer.


RE: Why the genetic engineering?
By AnnihilatorX on 10/3/2010 8:02:59 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, GM is very dangerous. If you artificially improve the tree's survivability in harsh area, speeding their growth by enabling more CO2 to be captured, this potentially may cause havoc in fragile ecology. The tree would begin to dominate and normal trees would not stand a chance.

The trees may cross-breed and produce offspring with unknown effects.

Unless of course you sterile the trees, but then this would make planting them costly business.


RE: Why the genetic engineering?
By dark matter on 10/3/2010 11:46:51 AM , Rating: 3
Of course they will sterile the trees. The whole point of GM crops and organisms is that you have to go to the company to purchase them again. They are not going to say hey, by one tree/plant from us and then have as many as you want.

This is why I am against GM crops. it takes the right of life away from common folk and puts into the hands of orgnaisations. If am a farmer and I grow Maize, I could use the seeds from crop to plant another crop. If I grow GM Maize, I need to go every year to buy another lot of seeds. Very, very scary shit.


RE: Why the genetic engineering?
By AnnihilatorX on 10/3/2010 7:38:11 PM , Rating: 2
Well of course the farmer do that when there is a profit to be made. If the company raise the price, you can always fallback to non-GM crop, and label them as GM free in supermarket, profit again.


RE: Why the genetic engineering?
By JediJeb on 10/4/2010 12:25:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Well of course the farmer do that when there is a profit to be made. If the company raise the price, you can always fallback to non-GM crop, and label them as GM free in supermarket, profit again.


Unfortunately it isn't that easy. GM crops like the Roundup Ready soybeans and corn greatly reduce the cost of keeping weeds in check while they grow. If you replace that seed with regular seeds then you spend more time and money trying to keep the weeds out, which if allowed to grow will reduce your yield. Also the price difference in the GM and non-GM crops at market is very little if any, which really cuts into your profits if your yield drops. Since most farmers have to sell to a vast array of middlemen it makes little difference if you stick a GM free tag on them. What is really sad is that the produce you pay a premium for in the store that says GM-free or Organically Grown, the farmer got nearly the same price for it as they would any other type of produce and probably had to work harder to grow the same amount.


RE: Why the genetic engineering?
By YashBudini on 10/4/2010 10:50:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
GM crops like the Roundup Ready soybeans and corn greatly reduce the cost of keeping weeds in check while they grow.


Until Roundup-resistant weeds show up. Then what?

But I suppose they won't stop until every plant on the planet is patented by some corporation.


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