Oh brother. Where to start with this mess. First off, genetically engineering perennial grasses is a disaster waiting to happen. As with genetically engineering trees, there is no way to stop GE perennial grasses from genetically contaminating other grasses once they are released into the environment. In fact, contamination has been caused simply by conducting outdoor field trials of GE grasses. GE perennials are an even worse idea than GE annual crop plants because they cannot be contained.
Then there is the problem of trying to create fuel from plant material of any kind, which is leading to massive land grabs around the world, destroying biodiversity and displacing food crops, since there is simply not enough land on Planet Earth to come close to replacing the fossil fuels currently being devoured on a daily basis.
How about instead of these fake techno-fixes, we try reducing the amount of fuel we consume–especially in the U.S.–by, oh, around 90% or so. Now there’s a real solution.
USDA Funds Genetic Engineering Research for Switchgrass Biofuels
- July 24, 2014, Farmers’ Advance
Michigan State University (MSU) plant biologist C. Robin Buell has been awarded $1 million from a joint U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to accelerate genetic breeding programs to improve plant feedstock for the production of biofuels, bio-power and bio-based products.
Specifically, the MSU College of Natural Science researcher will work to identify the genetic factors that regulate cold hardiness in switchgrass, a plant native to North America that holds high potential as a biofuel source.
“This project will explore the genetic basis for cold tolerance that will permit the breeding of improved switchgrass cultivars that can yield higher biomass in northern climates,” said Buell, also an MSU AgBioResearch scientist. “It’s part of an ongoing collaboration with scientists in the USDA Agricultural Research Service to explore diversity in native switchgrass as a way to improve its yield and quality as a biofuel feedstock.”