Contribution of Biotech Crops in Reducing Intensity and Effects of Climate Change


Climate change is the great challenge to the Global leaders at the present time. Green biotechnology offers a solution to decrease green house gases and therefore reduces climate change as well as so called global warming. Biotech crops for the last 16 years of commercialization have been contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions that is the root of global warming. They allow farmers to use less and environmentally friendly energy and fertilizer, and practice soil carbon sequestration. Herbicide tolerant biotech crops such as soybean and canola facilitate zero or no-till, which significantly reduces the loss of soil carbon (carbon sequestration) and CO2 emissions, reduce fuel use, and significantly reduce soil erosion. On the other hand insect resistant biotech crops require fewer pesticide sprays which results in savings of tractor/fossil fuel and thus less CO2 emissions. It is a matter of wonder, according to ISAAA for 2011, there was a reduction of 37 million kg of active ingredients, decreased rate of herbicide and insecticide sprays and ploughing reduced CO2 emission by 23.1 billion kg of CO2 or removing 10.2 million cars off the road. Biotech research to mitigate global warming should also be initiated to sustain the utilization of new products. Among these are: the induction of nodular structures on the roots of non-leguminous cereal crops to fix nitrogen. This will reduce farmers’ reliance on inorganic fertilizers. Another is the utilization of excess CO2 in the air by staple crop rice by converting its CO2 harnessing capability from C3 to C4 pathway. C4 plants like maize can efficiently assimilate and convert CO2 to carbon products during photosynthesis. Crops can be modified faster through biotechnology than conventional crops, thus hastening implementation of strategies to meet rapid and severe climatic changes. Not only has fossil fuel, biotech crops put away the surface water by cultivating drought resistant crops. So it is clear how it is possible to reduce the intensity of climate change by cultivating only biotech crops. Next discussion is related to the reduction of effect due to climate change. We know that the level of saline water of sea are rising due o global warming, hence mixing with non saline water of rivers that’s why saline area of coastal region are increasing day by day. What will be the solution for that day when saline area will enlarge? Biotechnologists already developed several salt tolerant varieties of different staple crops including rice, wheat, maize etc. by genetic engineering. Biotech salt tolerant crops have been developed and some are in the final field trials before commercialization. In Australia, field trials are going on of genetically modified (GM) wheat and GM barley those are salt tolerance that will run till 2015. In Bangladesh salt tolerant rice have been developed by using marker assisted selection which is one kind of biotech crop. Biotechnologists of Bangladesh have been trying to develop salt tolerant variety of several crops like mug bean, potato, wheat, maize etc. Some of the genes are expected to enhance tolerance to a range of abiotic stresses including drought, cold, salt and low phosphorous. Due to climate change, which region will be like desert, drought resistant crops will fulfill the demand of crops of that area. Hence, food production during changed climate should be given another boost to sustain food supply for the doubling population. So we can say only biotech crops can play direct role to reduce intensity and effects of climate change.

Source: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAA). By Manas Kanti Saha, Bipul Bishwas & Saidin Sacline. MS student, Dept. of  Biotechnology, Bangladesh Agricultural University

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