Building a world of
resilient communities.

MAIN LIST

 

Scientists Urge Shift to Non-Food Crops

Farmers of the world must shift quickly to growing plants for industrial uses such as oils and plastics to replace petrochemicals as the climate warms and crude supplies run out, British scientists said on Monday.

"In the next 20 to 50 years we have to reverse our dependency on fossil fuels," said Alison Smith of Britain's John Innes plant research center. "We must breed for sustainability."

At a news conference, she complained that in the past there had been a lack of coherent thinking, but that was now changing in the face of the looming crisis.

Ian Crute, director of the Rothamsted plant-breeding center in Hertfordshire, said it was not a matter of switching wholesale out of growing crops for food but of correcting the balance.

"We have an opportunity here...to substitute our dependency on fossil fuels," he added at the introduction of a report by private scientists on non-food crops entitled "Growing the Future."

Not only was oil running out, but the world's population was predicted to grow sharply over the next half century and had to be fed. This would put huge strains on the world's economy.

"We have to get more productivity out of less land," he said.

The report noted that plants could produce plastics, fuels, oils, medicinal drugs, insulators, fibres and fabrics, many of which are currently made from crude oil.

Smith said it was not just a matter of genetic manipulation of existing crops -- although that too had a place -- but of making better use of plants currently grown for food.

Plants could also be bred for specific uses such as special types of oils or fibers.

They could in effect be used as "green factories" to produce whatever mankind needed in the future, she said.

Farmer and businessman Clifford Spencer -- who grows crops for industrial uses -- said some research suggested that between one quarter and one third of the farmland in Britain could switch to such uses.

He said that while their arguments were not new, the science to make it happen was, and businesses around the world were waking up to the urgency and the possibilities.

Editorial Notes:
"We have to get more productivity out of less land," he said.
Unfortunately the trend since 1996 has been away from this. See... www.energybulletin.net/newswire.php?id=375

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Sign up for regular Resilience bulletins direct to your email.

Take action!  

Make connections via our GROUPS page.
Start your own projects. See our RESOURCES page.
Help build resilience. DONATE NOW.


Greening Philly’s vacant lots

Community access to vacant land has the potential to reduce crime rates in …

Redefining Local

What does “local” mean when you live on a remote farm or ranch?

Local Food is Not a Local Food System

Many people are now familiar with the phrase “farm-to-fork” but …

The Final Word on Food Banks?

Every week, in Britain and across the world, new food banks are opening …

Joy Carey explains Bristol's progressive food culture

Bristol is the first UK city to have its own Food Policy Council. Joy Carey …

IYFF:Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Initiative promotes community-based tribal food system development

The Muckleshoot Tribe, along with a number of other Puget Sound tribes in …

Paying for our cheap food choices

‘How can anyone say that food is too cheap when food prices are …