On the heels of Greta Van Thunberg’s “speech heard ’round the world” at the 2019 Climate Action Summit in New York, climate change has been a hot topic.
While the world wrestles with how to tackle this and other grave environmental problems (and even debates whether action is needed, in the case of President Donald Trump), others are proposing solutions that range from the holistic and natural (regenerative organic farming) to curbing man-made emissions in a mandatory way (carbon taxes).
Still other proposed solutions are a little more on the “out there” side.
In the case of one scientist’s latest proposal, yet another controversial topic is being brought up in a surprising way: the potential use of genetically engineered (GMO) plants to combat climate change.
Scientist Proposes Plan to Huge Numbers of GMO Plants to Fight Climate Change
The president of the Clean Energy Research Foundation, Inc., Neil Farbstein, said he has figured out a way of reducing global methane that uses naturally occurring mono-oxygenase (MMO) enzymes.
Methane gas caused by cow flatulence and other causes has been said to be one of the main drivers of global climate change.
In this case, Farbstein’s plan is to reduce the amount of methane produced in the world by creating new genetically modifying plants and seeding large patches of land with them.
These GMO plants would theoretically be able to synthesize large amounts of MMO gases in the environment.
While large amounts of methane emissions come from ocean sources, Farbstein does not propose using GMOs in this area.
In an article for the science website NextBigFuture, Farbstein says that both seaweed and unicellular algae can also be genetically modified to make MMO, but their growth in oceans cannot be controlled.
Genetically modified land plants may be hard to control, but they are much easier to control than sea plants, he says.
Essentially, Farbstein’s plan is to turn Earth into a massive global-warming fighting GMO plantation, using lab-created plants with novel genes to control world methane levels.
He also proposes using suicide genes to
“The list of GMO genetically modified plants is long and includes, grasses such as corn, wheat (editor’s note: not commercially used or sold currently), alfalfa, creeping bentgrass and rice and also trees such as poplars and pines. Methane releases by cows, sheep and other ruminants can be dealt with by surrounding them with fields of GMO feed grasses and crops that metabolize and remove methane from their environment,” Farbstein wrote in the article, where more details about his plan can be read.
Are Scientists Outsmarting Themselves on Global Warming and GMOs?
While complicated solutions such as Farbstein’s are gaining headlines, one far more simple, potentially world changing idea is being shoved under the rug that doesn’t involve “playing God” plants in lab: regenerative farming.
Regenerative farming sets up a a “closed loop” organic and holistic-minded system that allows for synergistic cooperation between animal, plant, and soil alike, maximizing food yields without pesticides or GMOs and sequestering carbon in the soil to combat global warming and environmental damage, according to the Organic Consumers Association.
“The long-term answer (to soil degredation, pollution, rising carbon emissions and more) lies in the transition to sustainable, regenerative, chemical-free farming practices, not in the creation of food manufacturing techniques that replace farms with chemistry labs, which is the ‘environmentally friendly’ alternative envisioned by biotech startups and its chemists,” says OCA International Director Ronnie Cummins on the organization’s website.
“Regenerative food and farming, coupled with 100% renewable energy, holds the potential, through qualitatively enhanced soil health and supercharged plant photosynthesis, to mitigate global warming, by drawing down several hundred billion tons of excess carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil,” he added.
Despite this potential, which clearly makes sense considering it has worked in the past, regenerative farming is still mostly unknown in the mainstream.
In the Forbes report Craig Wichner, the founder and managing partner of Farmland LP, which invests in converting conventional farming to regenerative and organic, describes in simple terms how this way of farming can save biodiversity, provide healthy food, and combat climate change all in one fell swoop.
“The current agriculture system, the chemical-based agriculture system, is really geared around growing these commodity crops planting annual crops year after year after year that essentially degrades and burn down the carbon in the soil and the nutrients in the soil,” he says in the article.
In contrast, regenerative agriculture increases carbon sequestration in the soil.
“When you switch to a slightly more complex form of agriculture you… actually find that you can increase the carbon in the soil, increase the overall health of the soil, increase its biological activity. It’s not just dead soil anymore; it becomes nice and vital and you actually get increased crop production.”
Considering the alternative according to Mr. Farbstein is to genetically alter life as we know it and to set these dangerously untested, novel genes loose in the wild, the regenerative and organic model of farming is certainly one worth looking into for those looking for a movement to support.
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