Carbon-absorbing Crops

Climate change can disrupt food availability and reduce food quality, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The Bezos Earth Fund is investing $1 billion by 2030 to help transform food systems to feed a growing population and create the next generation of crops to be nutrient-rich and climate resilient.

Green stalks of corn sprouting out of the soil.
A strip of soil between rows of corn stalks. (Photo credit: Steven Weeks / Unsplash)

Imagine if the food you eat every day could also fight climate change. Plants are nature's solution to carbon capture. It's estimated that there is more than three times more carbon in the soil than there is in the atmosphere, with the potential for much more. Through the magic of photosynthesis, plants pull carbon dioxide out of the air and build carbon into their leaves, stems and roots.

Why, then, is agriculture not a global carbon sink?

When crops are harvested, much of the carbon generated decomposes and is re-emitted into the atmosphere. The benefits last no longer than a single cropping cycle. But it doesn't have to be this way.

We can create the next generation of crops to produce nutrient-rich food and generate long-lasting climate benefits for the planet. How? By utilizing technology and science, crop varieties can become more nutritious, productive, and resistant to the harms caused by climate change.

Our initiative with the Salk Institute enables scientists to advance work in plant genetics, genomics, and biochemistry – and use the power of plant diversity – to develop global crops that will increase the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere and store it deep in the Earth's soil.

The Earth Fund's work with CIAT's Future Seeds, the world's largest genetic library for beans, cassava and tropical forages, supports the genebank and climate mitigation science, emphasizing carbon sequestration using the roots of plant systems.

The Bezos Earth Fund is investing $1 billion by 2030 to help transform food systems as a critical solution to feeding a growing population, helping solve the climate crisis and creating a nature-positive future.

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