GENET archive


POLICY: GE crops and climate change (4): GE rice for carbon credits

Dear GENET-news readers,

it appeared to be rather difficult to receive solid information about
details how the Nitrogen Use Efficiency and the salt tolerance were
achieved. The NUE seems to be caused by a change in the nitrogen
assimilation pathway, the salt tolerance seems to be based on a change
in the ion pumping system in the plant's vacuole (NHX1 gene).

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  Arcadia Biosciences and Chinese province agree to establish
        methods for carbon credit trading based on nitrogen use efficient
SOURCE: Business Wire, USA
AUTHOR: Arcadia Biosciences, Press Release
DATE:   03.05.2007

Arcadia Biosciences and Chinese province agree to establish methods for
carbon credit trading based on nitrogen use efficient rice
U.S./China collaboration to develop new model for lowering greenhouse
gas emissions by reducing nitrogen fertilizer use

DAVIS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Arcadia Biosciences announced today that
it has agreed with the government of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region
(Ningxia) of China to establish the groundwork for a carbon credit
methodology applicable to rice crops. Such a system represents a novel
way to significantly reduce greenhouse gases through the adoption of
Nitrogen Use Efficient crops by growers. Arcadia will work with the
Ningxia Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences (NAAFS) to develop
the methodology.

Beginning in April 2007, the start of the region's rice planting season,
Arcadia and the NAAFS will conduct field experiments in Ningxia to
quantify baseline greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from rice cultivation,
as well as reductions in GHG emissions resulting from reduced
application of nitrogen fertilizer. These experiments will be designed
to be consistent with the procedures of the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change Clean Development Mechanism. The
Convention's primary goal is to reduce atmospheric GHG concentrations to
non-threatening levels.

The impact of agriculture on climate change through GHG emissions has
not been widely addressed. According to data from the World Resource
Institute Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT), agriculture is the
second-largest industrial source of global GHG emissions1. Agricultural
GHG emissions are less than energy/heat production, but greater than the
entire transportation sector. Agricultural GHG emissions are
predominantly in the form of nitrous oxide, which has a global warming
potential nearly 300 times greater than carbon dioxide. Agriculture is
responsible for 84 percent of global nitrous oxide emissions. The
widespread use of nitrogen fertilizer, less than one-half of which is
typically absorbed by crops, is estimated to directly account for
approximately one-third of agricultural GHG emissions. This is before
any consideration of emissions associated with the production and
transportation of nitrogen fertilizer, which uses natural gas as a
primary input. For more information on agriculture and GHG emissions,

Arcadia has developed and demonstrated Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE)
technology that enables plants to maintain high yields while requiring
50 percent to 60 percent less nitrogen fertilizer. Considering global
population growth trends and the need to increase food production
proportionately, NUE technology can be an important tool to help
minimize the impact of agriculture on global warming.

Rice is a compelling crop for NUE technology because of its importance
as a staple food crop for a large percentage of the global population.
It accounts for approximately 20 percent of global nitrogen fertilizer
use 2, and it is estimated that up to 66 percent of nitrogen fertilizer
applied to rice may be lost via nitrous oxide emissions to the air. With
approximately 80 percent of the world's rice production area,
agriculture in Asia accounts for 88 percent of regional nitrous oxide
emissions. The International Rice Research Institute estimates that
global rice production results in 100 million metric tons of CO2
equivalents per year. This is approximately the same level of annual GHG
emissions as from 18.2 million average US automobiles.

China is currently the largest consumer of nitrogen fertilizer in the
world, representing nearly 30 percent of total world consumption 3.
Irrigated rice in China accounts for approximately 30 percent of global
rice production.

"The Ningxia Region of China has the highest rate of nitrogen use in
rice and the highest rice yields in China," said Eric Rey, president and
CEO of Arcadia. "Government officials and researchers in Ningxia have
demonstrated very progressive thinking about how farm productivity can
be maintained or increased while addressing concerns about environmental
damage. The opportunity to maintain yield while reducing both production
costs and GHG emissions is a clear example of this type of thinking. The
development of a method that allows farmers to participate in carbon
credit markets will give agriculture a critical incentive to reduce GHG
emissions. With adequate incentives, NUE technology could be applied to
rice production globally, in which case it has the potential to be equal
to taking several million cars off the road."

The agreement also calls for collaboration on the development of NUE and
salt-tolerant rice varieties suitable for commercialization in Ningxia.
The objective for salt-tolerant rice is to enable Ningxia farmers to
reclaim salt-impacted fields for production and reduce total demand for
limited fresh water resources.

About Arcadia Biosciences, Inc.

Based in Davis, Calif., with additional facilities in Seattle, Wash. and
Phoenix, Ariz., Arcadia Biosciences is an agricultural biotechnology
company focused on the development of agricultural products that improve
the environment and enhance human health. For more information visit

1 Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) Version 4.0. Global CO2e
emissions by sector, not including land use change. World Resources
Institute, (2006).
2 Climate Change and Rice Cropping Systems: Potential adaptation and
mitigation strategies. Report by the International Rice Research
Institute (August 2006)
3 FAO, 2004

Arcadia Biosciences, Inc.
Jeff Bergau, 312-217-0419

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                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Modified rice called nice for environment
SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle, USA
AUTHOR: Bernadette Tansey
DATE:   04.05.2007

Modified rice called nice for environment

A Davis biotechnology company is collaborating with China's top rice-
growing region on a project designed to reduce the huge contribution of
agriculture to global warming.

Arcadia Biosciences has agreed to adapt its genetically engineered
strain of rice to grow in China, where it may lower the need for
nitrogen fertilizer because it absorbs the element nitrogen more
efficiently than naturally occurring varieties.

Nitrogen-based fertilizer contributes to climate change because soil
bacteria convert it into nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that has almost
300 times the power to induce global warming as carbon dioxide, Arcadia
chief executive Eric Rey said.

The company's collaboration with the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of
China may also help establish a new source of revenue for farmers if the
partners can demonstrate that the rice strain reduces greenhouse gas

If the benefit is recognized by governments that are signatories to the
Kyoto Protocol -- an international agreement among industrialized
nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- growers who use less
fertilizer would be able to sell "carbon credits" on world trading markets.

Buyers of the credits are companies that need to offset their own excess
gas emissions to avoid government penalties. A coal-fired power plant in
England, for example, could someday buy credits from Chinese rice
farmers, Rey said.

Emissions from agriculture contribute about 15 percent of the world's
greenhouse gases, according to a report published by the World Resources

Nitrous oxide represents about half of those agricultural releases. The
other half are carbon-based gases including methane and carbon dioxide.

Rice production consumes about 20 percent of global nitrogen fertilizer
use and China is the world's largest user of these fertilizers, Arcadia said.

Rey estimated that China could generate $330 million of carbon credits
per year if it converted to rice crops requiring less fertilizer.

The company declined to disclose revenue estimates for the use in China
of its Nitrogen Use Efficiency rice, which has not been commercialized
in any country. Rey said it could take six years or more to reach the
marketing stage, pending regulatory approvals.

Such projects often face scientific and financial hurdles, said Bill
Freese of the Center for Food Safety, a watchdog group that opposes the
rapid adoption of genetically modified crops.

No company has widely commercialized a genetically engineered crop
variety that increases nitrogen efficiency, Freese said. About 81
percent of agricultural varieties produced through gene splicing are
sold based on their ability to tolerate herbicides, he said.

Such engineered traits can produce unintended health risks or
environmental consequences, Freese said.

If China allows genetically modified strains in its rice supply, it
could face the rejection of its rice exports in countries such as Japan
because of consumer resistance, he said.

The Center for Food Safety advocates thorough evaluations by government
regulatory agencies of the impact of genetically engineered crops on
health and global ecology.

The organization supported a lawsuit against Monsanto's modified form of
alfalfa in federal court in San Francisco, where a judge ruled Thursday
that planting must halt until the U.S. Department of Agriculture
completes an environmental impact review.

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