Biotechnology

New Biotech Photosynthesis Hacks Would Boost Crop Yields by 50 Percent or More

Growing more food on less acreage means more land for nature.

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A team of biotechnologists at the University of Essex has been tweaking the process of photosynthesis—the system by which plants use sunlight to transform water and carbon dioxide into food. In a study for the journal Nature Plants, they describe how they've improved the energy efficiency of crop plants by inserting cellular machinery from algae. They've also boosted the production of an enzyme that makes it easier for carbon dioxide to be transformed into sugars. When combined, these two alterations have increased crop productivity by 52 percent in the greenhouse and by 27 percent in field trials.

This research is part of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE), an international research project. In 2016, RIPE researchers sped up plant adaptation to changes in sunlight in ways that could increase crop productivity by 20 percent. In a 2019 study, biotechnologists reported a way to increase the efficiency of the processes through which plants deal with some of the toxic byproducts of photosynthesis; in field trials, this increased yields by 20 to 40 percent.

"Our modeling suggests that stacking this [new] breakthrough with two previous discoveries from the RIPE project could result in additive yield gains totaling as much as 50 to 60 percent in food crops," said RIPE Director Stephen Long in a press release.

According to some estimates, the world's farmers will have to produce 60 percent more food to feed the world's projected population of 9 billion people by 2050. Innovations like this are bringing us steadily closer to that goal.

 

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  2. No thanks, to your Frankenfood. If it wasn’t grown the same way as the Mesopotamian did it; I don’t want it.

    1. Do you not eat then? Because none of our current crops are what the ancient mesopotamians used. Artificial selection, how does it work?

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  3. Growing more food on less acreage means more land for nature.

    B-b-but… GMOZ! Frankenfood!!!11!!111!!!!!!! /retards who claim to care about the environment but really are just in it for the virtue signaling.

    1. If there’s a statue of Gregor Mendel somewhere, it need to be pulled down!

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    2. retards who claim to care about the environment but really are just in it for the virtue signaling.

      The fact that it doesn’t read:

      Growing more food on less acreage means more land for whatever people want to do with it.

      Makes it sound pretty decidedly environmental virtue signalling to me.

      The fact that it comes from a (trans)humanist/libertarian makes it seem all the more so. If, instead of “giving the land to nature”, we use it to build gateways to other dimensions, perfect cloning and regeneration to bring about human immortality, or somehow usher in something like world peace would it be OK if we anger Gaia and her followers in such a situation? What if we just use the land to build more private space ports or let the people who already own it decide what to do with it.

  4. how does the process react with afghani?

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  7. Not if the GMO Nazis have anything to do with it! They’d rather starve people and rid Mother Earth of it’s uninvited guests – themselves excepted of course.

  8. It’s going to be pretty funny some day, when the rest of the world is using half the farm land necessary today, huge swaths of natural prairie and parks, and European farms are so backwards as to be literal museum pieces. Maybe some European farmers will dress in medieval costume to complete the picture. Other Europeans will use verboten seeds for their back yard gardens, with the appropriate food police SWAT raids.

    How long can they hold their noses when the rest of the world has cheaper better food and much more recreational nature? How long will their principled superstition hold sway over cheap tasty nutritious imported food? I predict their idiotic farm policies will end up secretly throwing away most of the food they subsidize, because it won’t be able to compete with foreign GMO food.

    1. It’s not funny because Africa goes along with Europe, letting their people starve because they are afraid Europe won’t buy their food imports if they use GMO stuff.

    2. How will they stand up to the environmental lobby when they learn that they could turn over 1/3 of the land used for farming to natural habitat?

  9. The world’s current population is 7.8 billion. The article says we have to plan for 9 billion by 2050. Someone check my math but that only comes out to a 15% increase.

    Hunger is a problem even at only 7.8 billion but the problem is overwhelmingly in distribution and waste, not in production. We already grow more than enough food for 7.8 or even 9 billion if we could figure out how to get it to the populations that need it without losing so much to kleptocratic governments.

    Still, these are encouraging developments. We do not need to grow “60 percent more food” but it would be nice to get 40% of our land back.

    1. You said it yourself that it’s primarily a logistics problem. It should be rather obvious that while you can, of course, just brute force the solution via production, it would/could be more productive to solve it directly.

      That said, who is the ‘we’ that would be ‘getting our land back’ and how/why?

      1. The “we” that would be “getting our land back” is society as a whole. We already see it happening in the US. As productivity increases and prices fall, farmers leave their least-profitable land fallow or allow it to return to woodland. Often, this move is enhanced by land conservancy organizations who either directly purchase unneeded land or pay comparatively small amounts for easements on the property.

        Until the implementation of ethanol mandates, the trend in acreage farmed was clear – a steady decline in near-lockstep with productivity improvements. Uneconomic biofuel policies created a distortion in the market but after adjusting for that step-up, you can still see a downward trend in acreage farmed.

    2. Distribution will get better as prices go down. Prices will go down as crops become cheaper to produce.

      1. The data does not support your hypothesis. Food prices have plummeted over the past century. Despite that, distribution is just as inefficient and ineffective in kleptocratic regimes.

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