How much more could these plants do to combat climate change, especially if we used the tools of genetic engineering to tackle the problem? ... Genetic modification could potentially improve rates of photosynthesis or the amount of biomass stored in roots, leading to more carbon stored for the long term, the team noted. ... Bioenergy crops could conceivably offset between five and eight billion metric tons per year by 2050, the team estimated, including improvements using conventional breeding. Genetic engineering to enhance photosynthesis, improve partitioning into root systems and create better stress tolerance, among other things, could increase that by around four billion metric tons, according to the authors.