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Genetically Enhanced Seeds to Get Carbon Credits

The United Nations-overseen emissions-market regulator has approved a system of rules that will allow farmers using genetically improved seeds to claim carbon offset credits, according to Arcadia Biosciences Inc.

Nitrogen-efficient seed allows farmers to maintain high crop yields while using less fertilizer, the Davis, California-based agricultural-technology company said today in a statement.

Nitrogen is a large source of agricultural emissions because less than half the volume applied to fields globally is used by plants, with most of the rest entering water systems or converting into nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas almost 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the company said.

“There are significant opportunities for agriculture to play a central role in the cost-effective mitigation of climate change,” Eric Rey, president of Arcadia Biosciences, said in the statement. “We are particularly pleased with the approval of this new methodology because it is the first to recognize the huge opportunity for genetic improvements to mitigate climate change and create value at multiple levels.”

The rules approved by the Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board in Bonn, known as a methodology, will potentially add to supply of credits in a market that’s plunged 92 percent in the past year because of a glut. Certified Emission Reduction credits for December next year fell as much as 7.5 percent yesterday to a record 37 euro cents ($0.49) a metric ton and hadn’t traded today on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

The CDM, formed as part of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, is the largest carbon offset market, having generated $215 billion in investment for greenhouse gas mitigation projects around the world, Arcadia said.

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