Rice is a staple in many people’s diets. But you may not know that rice paddies are one of the biggest sources of global methane emissions — a potent greenhouse gas. Now, researchers have found a way to nearly eliminate methane emissions from rice paddies.

When it comes to greenhouse gases, methane is a major contributor to climate change. It is 20 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

Researchers estimate that up to 15 percent of global human-caused methane emissions comes from growing rice.

That’s why researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences decided to see if they could reduce the amount of methane that comes from growing rice.

PNNL’s Christer Jansson said researchers were able to splice a barley gene into a rice gene. The effect: The team’s rice paddies emit almost no methane. The hope is that could help reduce greenhouse gases worldwide.

“I think it could have an effect, certainly,” Jansson said. “There’s always a balance.”

There’s an added bonus to the gene splice: increased rice yields.

The team has tested the rice in greenhouses in Sweden and in rice paddies in China. Up next: testing how the rice tastes, looks and is harvested compared to what’s grown now — although Jansson said researchers so far haven’t noticed any differences.

Jansson said this new rice won’t be available commercially for another 20 years or so.