October 1st, 2010
01:34 PM ET

Study: Genetically altered trees could help climate

Genetically altered trees could help reduce global warming, according to a study released Friday in the journal BioScience.

The study, led by a team from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, analyzed ways plants process carbon dioxide and convert it into forms of carbon.

The findings could one day lead to a forest of trees and other plants genetically engineered to pull in billions of tons of carbon from the air, counteracting the effects of global warming.

Scientists say the use of genetically engineered plants is just one of many initiatives that could help with carbon sequestration, the retrieval and longtime storage of carbon from the atmosphere.

Genetic alterations can improve the efficiency of plant processes, including increasing the carbon that vegetation naturally extracts from the air, according to the study's authors.

In addition, plants could be altered to absorb more sunlight, according to the study.

The research also offers innovative ideas for genetically engineered plants, such as creating better crop yields and vegetation that could withstand harsher growing conditions.

BioScience is published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

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Filed under: Earth • Environment
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. phil

    The vast majority of oxygen is produced by oceanic organisms. What we do and don't do with trees pales in significance to what we do with our oceans. example: though we view the gulf oil disaster as a major incident, to the oceans it was hardly an insult. how so? The oilflowing from the deepwater horizon well roughly accounted for about 3% of the total amount of oil leaking from the tens oif thousands of oilwells ea. year. We are very fortunate that the oceans are so huge. Otherwise we would have run out of fresh air long ago.

    October 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. andy

    I'd like to point out that this supposed "study" in Bioscience is actually a one-page editorial (not a study at all) espousing use of all possible approaches to solving humanities problems. The fleeting mention of genetically engineered organisms does not warrant the headline on this stub of an article, and serves only to stoke the flames of ignorance among the masses of the scientifically illiterate voting populace. Craig Johnson needs to realize this is irresponsible at best and if he wants to report on scientifically valid studies he has to skip past the one-page editorials and dig in to real articles which take time and understanding to extract any news-worthy details.

    October 3, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. andy

    Oops, my bad. In addition to the editorial there was one article in the current issue of Bioscience which did describe the sorts of things mentioned in this stub. Unfortunately for the author here, it still IS NOT A STUDY!!! It was a review article describing ways in which plants sequester carbon and then proposes various strategies to improve carbon sequestration using genetic engineering. I stand by my previous statement and point out again that the author here uses the term study in a wholly inappropriate way. Glancing through the comments section it is clear that there are many fools who have taken this author at his word.

    October 3, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Antipropaganda

    Rigel54 will you please volunteer to help increase the population "EXPLOSION"

    How would you recommend we reduce the population by 5 billion??? Who would decide? Do you know that population growth is currently stabilizing and soon a falling population will become the problem.

    October 3, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. phil

    ED, erectile dysfunction, will take care of population control. Soon, and now in many countries like the USA, men won't even be able to have an erection. Some men even take medications for this! I'm not kidding here. LMAO And it's not just humans either. example: Florida aligators are having the same problem, only it's advanced to the point where they not only can't "get it up", they are infertile when they do. The aligators have yet to experience any loss of sight like their human counterparts, so I'm thinking the blindness is related to the meds.

    October 3, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Nabuquduriuzhur

    After almost six years of cooling since it topped out in 2004 and four years of record ice at each pole, people still have the cheek to complain about "global warming"? It's unbelievable. GMOs represent the greatest danger to people and planet that has existed. BT soy now causes allergy in millions. Soy was once safe for most children. GMO plants are now interpollinating with non-GMO species, making pure strains difficult for crops in some areas. BT-corn and other GMO plants have killed cattle when fed to them. The integrated pest specialists proved absolutely right last year when the midwest took a bath with field after field eaten up of GMO crops due to using the same ones for several years straight- the pests became immune, nullifying the ostensible reason to use GMOs in the first place. We worry about things that are not happening like global warming, because it makes a few people very rich to worry about it and don't worry about our food supply, which is now tainted.

    October 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. La Piovra

    Never saw our gators having any problems. Florida has already gotten a lot hotter in 25 years, I am not the scion of a Mafia don, I worked in nuthouses in my youth, and I know your kind. Keep thinking like that, and I can guess where you'll wind up. Stay in a jurisdiction that has the Durham rule; you'll be toast anywhere with M'Naughton.

    October 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Todd

    "Genetically altered trees could help climate"( or mess things up even more.)
    Stuff like this makes me very nervous.

    October 3, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. phil

    La Piovra, nice to meet you as well? And it's true. Florida's aligators are becoming impotent, sterile. The Army Corp. of Engineers began taking out the bends in some of Florida's rivers. This interupts aligator breeding. Just another example of how we are too stupid to care for the earth.

    October 3, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. klem

    I love this. Genetically altered trees will grow like mad and become really cheap wood for furniture, homes, paper and make some people really rich. I mean it will help save the planet, that's right (The lefties are so gullible).

    October 5, 2010 at 9:56 am | Report abuse | Reply
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