President Biden and his administration need to take concerted actions to advance an area of research that could prove decisive in battling climate change: biotechnology.
In recent years, scientists have found a host of surprising and innovative ways that biotechnology can be used to reduce emissions, capture carbon from the atmosphere, and make the ecosystem more resilient to changing temperatures. These strategies could revolutionize how humans adapt to climate change.
Plants have been removing carbon dioxide from the air since long before humans walked the earth. Much of it is released back into the atmosphere once a plant dies. Now, though, researchers at the San Diego-based Salk Institute have identified a molecule, suberin, which enables plants to retain more carbon dioxide in their roots even as they decompose.
Through gene editing, the scientists could create plants that produce higher levels of suberin, and thus store more carbon for longer. Combined with efforts to promote more substantial root systems, this could lead to a huge reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.
[B]iotechnology is on the cusp of delivering climate innovations that were unthinkable just a few years ago. As we devise new strategies for preserving our planet, this burgeoning field of research deserves to play a central role.