Posts Tagged ‘carbon sinks’

Plants As Political Hot Potatoes

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

No, we’re not talking about marijuana, poppies, or hallucinogenic cacti. The world is waking up to the potential of plants—for biofuels, industrial feedstocks for plastics and other materials, “biofactories” for the production of chemicals and drugs, and carbon sinks to combat global warming, to mention just a few emerging technologies. In fact, there’s growing talk of plants replacing oil as the cornerstone of the global economy.

At first glance, this would seem to be a good thing, since plants are a renewable resource, not to mention the only creatures on the planet that have figured out how to convert sunlight into the food we all need to survive. But because the land and water required to grow plants are limited, a group of U.K.-based scientists write in the premier issue of the journal Food Security, there will inevitably be conflicts over competing priorities. The current debate over food vs. fuel is just the beginning.

The researchers call for Interdisciplinary research and collaboration among governments to ensure that we’ll be able to balance our social, environmental, and economic needs.