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Five ways CRISPR plants can combat climate change

Genetic Literacy Project

Jenna Gallegos | Cornell Alliance for Science | 
Plants occupy a unique nexus when it comes to climate change. On the one hand, they can help prevent climate change by capturing carbon. On the other, the cultivation of plants – better known as agriculture – has a large carbon footprint. The changing climate is also going to drastically shift where we can and should grow food. Fortunately, a precise gene editing tool known as CRISPR has the potential to shrink agriculture’s climate emissions and prepare crops for climate change.Here are five ways CRISPR can be used to engineer hardier crops that fix more carbon and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to agriculture.

1. Engineering more robust crops to persist in unfavorable environments

Climate change will shift the landscape of what we now consider arable land. Some regions that previously had short growing seasons will likely become more amenable to farming. But other regions where crops are now grown successfully will become too hot, too dry, or too salty.

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