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Salk Institute harnessing power of plants to reverse climate change

Salk Institute Harnessing Plants Initiative
Posted at 10:18 AM, Nov 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-26 20:55:48-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The Salk Institute's cutting-edge research to reverse climate change is getting noticed and supported in a big way.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos donated $30 million through the Bezos Earth Fund last week, a huge boost after Sempra Energy jump-started the project with $2 million Nov. 9.

Salk's Harnessing Plants Initiative adapts crops we eat, grown around the world, to extract more carbon dioxide out of the air and hold it in their roots.

"It’s really great waking up every day and knowing that you can work on a problem that is so urgent and is the most existential problem in this world and I’ve been worried about this since I was in middle school," co-director of HPI Wolfgang Busch said.

Busch said they came up with the project while brainstorming what positive impact on the world could they make with plants.

He said they're focused on six crops including, corn, soybean, canola, wheat and rice.

Busch said they are in the research phase and see two paths to achieving their goal, genetically modify seeds in the lab or specialized breeding between plants to get the traits they are looking for.

These crops are already being grown around the world.

"If you take together the area that they are planted, it’s larger than the subcontinent of India," Busch said, a huge untapped potential.

Busch said of the world's emissions each year, "it could be possible that 30% of this could be drawn down by these plants if it is widely adopted."

Busch said we could get the modified plants in the ground and start seeing the effects in the next 10-15 years.

"I think I am very fortunate to work on this problem, I am really thrilled to do the work, to make an impact," Busch said.