GERMANY – A study led by researchers at the Georg-August University of Göttingen comparing fresh potatoes to grains and processed potato products has revealed that growing fresh potatoes causes about 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

The potato industry has been under scrutiny for its impact on the environment, and the study shed light on the CO2 footprint of potato production and processing.

The German Potato Trade Association e.V. (DKHV) and the Union of the German Potato Industry e.V. (UNIKA) commissioned the study, including researchers, Prof. Dr. Elke Pawelzik and Dr. Marcel Naumann of the Georg-August University of Göttingen.

According to Dr. Naumann, the study reviewed numerous papers and evaluated their findings using life cycle analysis (LCA).

Comparing fresh potatoes to grains and processed potato products revealed that growing fresh potatoes causes about 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

However, each processing step in the production chain increases CO2 emissions, suggesting that growing and consuming fresh potatoes may be a more environmentally friendly option.

The study also identified potential ways to further reduce CO2 emissions in potato farming, such as careful use of nitrogen fertilizers.

Nevertheless, the researchers caution that there is no universal method for reducing emissions, as many factors, including growing conditions, play a role.

The research contributes to a better understanding of the complex relationship between potato production and environmental impact, providing valuable insights for the industry to work towards sustainability.

Liverpool study shows promise for improving photosynthesis

Separately, a team from the University of Liverpool has made significant advances in enhancing photosynthesis in plants.

With rising global CO2 levels and a growing population expected to surpass 10 billion by 2050, researchers are focusing on ways to boost plant growth and productivity.

Led by Professor Luning Liu, the Liverpool team improved Rubisco, an enzyme that converts CO2 into energy during photosynthesis. Traditionally, Rubisco has been seen as inefficient, hindering photosynthesis in crops.

The team used synthetic biology and plant engineering to design a faster Rubisco derived from bacteria, which they then introduced into tobacco plant cells.

This breakthrough increases the enzyme’s stability and ability to convert CO2 into energy, potentially enhancing plant growth.

The findings offer a route to improve crop development and production, allowing plants to adapt better to changing climates and meet the growing food needs of the world’s population.

Professor Liu expressed enthusiasm about the study’s implications, saying it could provide a proof-of-concept for improving crop development and food production.

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