Peak Oil is You

Donate Bitcoins ;-) or Paypal :-)

Page added on January 8, 2019

Bookmark and Share

Can Hacking Plants Feed the World?

Can Hacking Plants Feed the World? thumbnail

Plants are good at what they do — turning sunlight into food. However, some researchers have found the leaf world could improve, and that could have a major effect on the world’s growing population.

In an article published this month in the journal Science, a team of researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Illinois explained how parts of a plant accidentally grab oxygen instead of carbon dioxide, which leads to spending energy to fix that mistake instead of going straight to growth and development.

However, USDA Agricultural Research Service molecular biologist Paul South found, this could be circumvented by adding enzymes (or proteins) to plants and effectively shutting down some of the plant’s normal pathways.

“We get about a 40 percent increase in plant production,” he said, referring to the tobacco crop they’ve been field testing for the last few years.

South is part of an international research project called RIPE, or Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency. The project aims to make plants better at photosynthesis to ensure the world has enough food in the coming decades or centuries. But the published research only deals with tobacco plants so far.

The research could have implications for people who live in areas with increasing drought, said

Amanda Cavanagh, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois, who also took part in the research.

“Hopefully we can use these as the formation of a toolkit for plants that will allow us to be better able to cope with the climate scenarios that we’re going to encounter as we struggle to feed more people,” she said.

However, the hack is just the first step in creating crops that grow more efficiently. The researchers will next try the hack with food-producing plants like potatoes, a close relative of the tobacco plant. After that, it could still take more than a decade for more efficient seeds to get government approvals and find their way into farmers’ fields.

Still, some believe that estimates of future food necessity are overblown, like ActionAid, an international nonprofit aimed at fighting poverty and injustice.

The group acknowledges the world’s population will need some more food, but doesn’t think that research to help industrial agriculture is the way to do it. Instead, ActionAid promotes limiting food waste, researching impacts of climate change and encouraging small-scale agriculture in food-insecure areas.


13 Comments on "Can Hacking Plants Feed the World?"

  1. Alice Friedemann on Tue, 8th Jan 2019 5:37 pm 

    These plants will require a HUGE amount more fertilizer, which will often run off into waterways and increase toxic algae and dead zones, and natural gas is finite, so these fertilizers won’t be around forever.
    If 50% of the plant growth takes place in the stem, as it did in tobacco, then this isn’t going anywhere.
    If this grabbing oxygen is so inefficient, I don’t believe that over tens of millions of years plants wouldn’t have mutated around it.
    Does messing with this pathway reduce resistance to pests and disease?
    I can think of many other issues — more water use, etc., so I’ll believe it when I see it.

  2. makati1 on Tue, 8th Jan 2019 5:58 pm 

    Dreamers. But it is on the National Propaganda Network so most of the dumbed down, brainwashed serfs will suck it up as a miracle cure for our food problem.

    Stop growing stuff to feed our cars and grow food for our bellies.

    The last sentence does offer good suggestions, but they will be ignored.

  3. anon on Wed, 9th Jan 2019 2:02 am 

    yes, that’s just what we need to really put the icing on the cake of a mass extinction, fuck with the genes of anything you can get your hands on before your machine civilization runs out of gas and crashes. it’s not bad enough to have bulldozed damn near all the forests on earth, it’s not bad enough to have trawled and poisoned the oceans, it’s not bad enough to have plastics contaminating just about every last square inch of the planet, no, its not bad enough to have 500 more fukushimas waiting to happen as the budget and ability to maintain them evaporates, its not bad enough to have wiped out almost everything alive up to now- no, you have to fuck with the future of whatever might survive this civilization, too.
    a nuclear war would do less harm in the long run.

  4. Davy on Wed, 9th Jan 2019 5:01 am 

    “Before the Electric Car Takes Over, Someone Needs to Reinvent the Battery”

    “Scientists in Japan, China and the U.S. are among those struggling to crack the code of how to significantly boost the amount of energy a battery cell can store and bring an EV’s driving range into line with a full tank of gas. That quest has zeroed in on solid-state technology, an overhaul of a battery’s internal architecture to use solid materials instead of flammable liquids to enable charging and discharging. The technology promises major improvements on existing lithium-ion packs, which automakers say are hitting the limits of their storage capabilities and may never hold enough power for long-distance models.”

    “A solid-state battery, as the name suggests, replaces this liquid with a solid material such as ceramic, glass or a polymer. That should reduce the risks of batteries bursting into flames and allow for thinner cells and smaller packs that fit under a car seat.”

    “Prototypes currently have battery life that’s too short for a vehicle and suffer from poor conductivity, uncompetitive costs and a sometimes violent swelling and shrinking of materials when charged or discharged. When scientists solve one problem, that typically exacerbates another”

    “It’s a brutal battlefield actually making these batteries work, and nobody is anywhere close”

  5. Antius on Wed, 9th Jan 2019 7:09 am 

    “Before the Electric Car Takes Over, Someone Needs to Reinvent the Battery”

    Good find Davy. The lithium ion batteries of today appear to be hitting an energy density ceiling of 1MJ/kg. In principle, there are solutions. The problem is affordability in an economy where per capita prosperity is eroding.

    Autonomous vehicles could partially solve the problem by allowing short-range vehicles to meet a large share of the transport market. This gets around the problem of limited energy density, by reducing the need for high energy density. But they face technological challenges, development and implementation costs, safety issues and issues with public acceptance.

    Cloggie and I have discussed electrified road concepts, which allow long distance journeys to draw power directly from the grid. But this too faces technical challenges, asset inertia problems and implementation cost.

    Liquid hydrogen allows for good range and is compatible with existing car culture. But it is a very difficult fuel to handle and suffers from poor whole cycle energy efficiency. It is not likely to be affordable as a fuel for the masses.

    Given where we are with fossil fuel depletion and declining prosperity and given the nature and limitations of renewable energy sources; it would appear prudent to me to begin considering options for different ways of living. By this I mean a more local existence, based upon walkable urban environments and nodal transport systems, such as buses, trains, trucks and maybe even the pipeline system that I have alluded to previously. We need energy efficient solutions that do not require huge upfront investments to get off the ground.

  6. Davy on Wed, 9th Jan 2019 8:57 am 

    Lifestyles and behavior is the key to reducing the need for high energy density. We can’t only engineer our way out of this declining net energy problem. We must change behaviors and lifestyles along with engineering. One big issue with changing behavior and lifestyles is the economic costs. We now see how fragile our economics are with the littlest bumps from insignificant happening. All it takes is human fear for the stupidest reason and the markets drop dramatically. What will happen when people see the truth? We can’t handle the truth is what I see. We currently have serious issues with maintaining an affluent enough way of life to keep people producing and avoiding social unrest as is. Imagine dramatic change to lifestyles demanding more sacrifice and less affluence. Disturbing the economy by making rapid changes to a way of life with less economic activity and less material affluence may be more than we can take. Lowering our energy needs with localism and low energy footprint living may not work anymore but I see no other choice. We must agree this is the direction needed and try.

    Localism is the key but it will not produce what globalism does. We can’t just leave globalism abruptly yet we have to leave it soon or the alternatives are very severe. This then becomes an experiment with how quickly we can change. The costs for the new energy systems and vectors are huge. We can reduce these costs by changing expectations with different living arrangements. Efforts like living with intermittency and more seasonal behavior are needed. These absolutely require new lifestyles because the current way of doing things cannot adapt. Discretionary 24/7 living on credit will not work. We have to end discretionary transport, high energy leisure and consumerism as we currently enjoy it. Making these changes carry an economic cost.

    The biggest problem currently is we do not even have a consensus on what to do. Even within the green movement we have fake green cornucopians that think we can engineer our way out of this and grow prosperity. This is the classic cake and eat it trap. If we are going to make this dramatic human lifestyle paradigm shift it will surely mean less affluence with lifestyles and gadgets. To think otherwise is the same failed behavior that got us where we are now. So the first order of business is acceptance there is a problem. We then must come to the honest conclusions the solutions to adapt and mitigate mean sacrifice with less affluence, choices and comfort. Forget the stupid fake green Elon Musk style fantasy. Yet, this is likely not going to sell in our type of late stage capitalism supported by a political climate of false messages of satisfaction that are just the opposite of what is needed. Maybe a crisis will change these dynamics but it is also possible a crisis that changes behavior will be a crisis too far.

  7. Sissyfuss on Wed, 9th Jan 2019 9:02 am 

    The need is to produce crops that thrive in a world with a 3C increase of temperature. That need will grow greatly when we have to rely on the next renewable vehicle called a horse.

  8. Dredd on Wed, 9th Jan 2019 10:24 am 

    I can’t wait for Peak Hacking (In Pursuit of Plume Theory – 4).

  9. FuelShortageIsComingYouaAreDeathLoser on Wed, 9th Jan 2019 10:47 pm 

    Finally GOD is on Whites people side. Go GOD use your power and freeze sand-nigger, nigger and Indian to death. Don’t forget to freeze the jews to death. Thank you GOD for making a effort to protect Whites people, we are a minority and need help.

    Fuck nigger, sand nigger, indian and Asian. Die mother fucker, i need some room to breath

  10. makati1 on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 12:23 am 

    God? Which god? There are over 20 major religions in the world, and as many gods. “The precise number of religions in the world is not known, but available estimates show the number to be about 4,300…” 4,300 “gods”.

    About 33% of humanity claim to be ‘Christian’, but more than 50% are those Middle East, African and Asian people and 17% are scattered. Their gods outnumber the white gods 2 to 1. WIKI

    But, it gets complicated as the Christian god is also the Muslim god. Did you know that? LOL

    America has only one god … $$$$$$. No help there. Sorry! Whites will all be tans in a few generations, if we last that long.

  11. makati1 on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 12:31 am 

    BTW: That “freezing” area in Lebanon is a mountain area, and is the coldest spot for hundreds of miles. Any mountain area that far north will be cold in winter.,34.50,3000/loc=36.432,34.025

    “Iceagenow” is a bullshit site selling bullshit.

  12. Free Speech Forum on Sat, 12th Jan 2019 1:14 am 

    You know that you are in hell when you live in a police state and are not allowed to say it.

  13. makati1 on Sat, 12th Jan 2019 1:18 am 

    No, hell is when you live in a police state and don’t see it. Americans enjoy that ignorance. Or is it denial? LOl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *