Genetically modified ryegrass developed to reduce methane emissions and nitrate discharges by livestock is being tested in the United States.
Limits on GM experimentation in New Zealand have resulted in several ryegrass varieties developed by scientists from AgResearch being sent offshore for further testing.
Scientists hope the US trials will verify the results of lab work and modeling carried out here which found the grasses could reduce methane emissions, cut pasture costs and increase production on New Zealand dairy farms.
Genetically modified ryegrass could reduce methane emissions by up to 25 percent, scientists say.
AgResearch senior scientist Kim Richardson said the forages contained a GM technology that improved photosynthesis by as much as 20 percent, leading to 50 percent higher plant growth rates.
“GM crop trials in New Zealand are limited to the greenhouse and these results will have to be verified by animal field trials but that’s what we’re hoping to achieve though the US programme.”
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