“After three years of field trials in China, a group of international scientists have developed a new type of genetically modified rice that could boost food sustainability without adding to global warming. While some experts hail the findings as an important breakthough, it seems likely to add new fuel to the heated debate over genetically modified (GM) foods.
Today, rice paddies are one of the largest sources of atmospheric methane, the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. Methane is thought to be responsible for one-fifth of the global warming effect.
The new plant – equipped with DNA from barley – emits as little as 1% of the methane,according to Science Magazine. What’s more, the new rice may also boost food security as it produces significantly higher yield per plant.” said forbes.com
“The new rice was created by a group led by Chuanxin Sun, a plant biochemist at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in collaboration with Chinese and American scientists. The results came after a three-year field trial in China.
These new results represent “the first example, to our knowledge, of such a rice,” the team of scientists said in its report. “Approaches to increase rice productivity and reduce methane emissions as seen in SUSIBA2 rice may be particularly beneficial in a future climate with rising temperatures resulting in increased methane emissions from paddies.”
“The new rice sounds like a win-win for good yields and reduced climate impact,” Paul West, lead scientist for the Global Landscapes Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, told the Christian Science Monitor.
Still, many questions remain. Chuanxin Sun acknowledged that much work needs to be done to see if it holds up in realistic field trials. The findings also come with ethical issues to be addressed as people are concerned whether genetically modified crops are safe for human consumption.
“Right now, Chinese society is very sensitive” to concerns about GM food, Sun said. China, the world’s largest producer of rice, hasn’t allowed a single genetically modified rice variety into its fields, he added.” said forbes.com