| Click for the Finfacts Ireland Portal Homepage |

Finfacts Business News Centre

Home 
 
 News
 Irish
 Irish Economy
 EU Economy
 US Economy
 UK Economy
 Global Economy
 International
 Property
 Innovation
 
 Analysis/Comment
 
 Asia Economy

RSS FEED


How to use our RSS feed

 
Web Finfacts

See Search Box lower down this column for searches of Finfacts news pages. Where there may be the odd special character missing from an older page, it's a problem that developed when Interactive Tools upgraded to a new content management system.

Welcome

Finfacts is Ireland's leading business information site and you are in its business news section.

We provide access to live business television and business related videos from: Bloomberg TV; The Wall Street Journal; CNBC and the Financial Times. Click image:

Links

Finfacts Homepage

Irish Share Prices

Euribor Daily Rates

Irish Economy

Global Income Per Capita

Global Cost of Living

Irish Tax 2008

Climate Change Reports

Global News

Bloomberg News

CNN Money

Cnet Tech News

Newspapers

Irish Independent

Irish Times

Irish Examiner

New York Times

Financial Times

Technology News

 

Feedback

 

Content Management by interactivetools.com.

News : International Last Updated: Apr 24, 2009 - 5:31:05 PM


Biofuels: Scientists warn use of wild grasses in biofuel production as alternative to food crops could create economic and ecological havoc
By Finfacts Team
May 21, 2008 - 4:57:38 AM

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

Biofuels: Scientists have warned that the use of wild grasses in biofuel production as an alternative to food crops could create economic and ecological havoc.

The use of corn and palm oil in biofuel production in recent years has contributed to the rise in food prices and investors and politicians have begun promoting newer, so-called second-generation biofuels as the next wave of green energy. However, biologists and botanists are warning that the alternative to food crops could have serious unintended consequences, leaving  economic and ecological havoc in their wake.

At a United Nations conference on biodiversity in Bonn, Germany on Tuesday, scientists from the Global Invasive Species Program, the Nature Conservancy and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the South African National Biodiversity Institute and CABI (Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux) presented a report with a warning about invasive species.

“Some of the most commonly recommended species for biofuels production are also major invasive alien species,”the report says.

The Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) has identified all the crops currently being used or considered for biofuel production and ranked them according to the risk they pose of becoming invasive species.  

The report, Biofuel Crops and Non Native Species: Mitigating the risks of Invasion, calls on countries to carry out risk assessments before they plant biofuel crops. It urges governments to use low-risk species of crops for biofuels and introduce new controls to manage invasive species. 

“The dangers that invasive species pose to the world couldn’t be more serious,”says Sarah Simons, Executive Director of GISP. “They are one of the top causes of global species loss, they can threaten livelihoods and human health, and they cost us billions in control and mitigation efforts. We simply cannot afford to stand by and do nothing in the face of this threat.” 

It is estimated that the damage from invasive species costs the world more than $1.4 trillion annually – five percent of the global economy. The US alone spends $120 billion annually on the control and impacts of more than 800 invasive species infestations. 

The giant reed (Arundo donax), for example, is a proposed biofuel crop from West Asia which is already invasive in parts of North and Central America. Naturally flammable, it increases the likelihood of wildfires – a threat to both humans and native species in places such as California. In South Africa, the giant reed is considered a national problem as it drinks 2,000 liters of water per standing meter of growth, threatening water security for the nation’s growing human population. 

Many of the plant species being considered for biofuels have the potential to become invasive if introduced to new areas, the report warns. Few governments have adequate systems in place to assess risks of invasion or contain them once they occur, and developing countries are the most vulnerable. 

Australia's Invasive Species Council says that more than one third of Australia's 2,700 weed species were imported deliberately, sometimes for the most foolish of reasons.

Artichoke thistle (Cynara cardunculus), although very prickly, was once a highly-regarded garden plant. Today it is a major weed of farmland in Victoria and South Australia.

“Prevention is better than the cure,” says Geoffrey Howard, IUCN’s Global Invasive Species Coordinator. “We need to stop invasions before they occur. The biofuel industry is a relatively new concept so we have a unique opportunity to act early and get ahead of the game – we mustn’t throw that away.” 

The African oil palm is another example of the havoc an invasive species can wreak. It is recommended for biodiesel and has already become invasive in parts of Brazil, turning areas of threatened forest from a rich mix of trees and plant life into a homogenous layer of palm leaves. 

THe GISP says that the meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity currently being held in Bonn, represents the best opportunity in a decade to take global action against invasive species. GISP is calling on delegates to recognize the dangers invasive species cause and recommend risk assessments before biofuel crops are planted. It also calls on the scientific community to conduct more desperately-needed research into this topic. 

Related Articles
Related Articles


© Copyright 2009 by Finfacts.com

Top of Page

International
Latest Headlines
Wednesday newspaper review: December 17, 2014
Tuesday newspaper review: December 16, 2014
Monday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - December 08, 2014
Friday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 28, 2014
Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 27, 2014
Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 25, 2014
Friday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 21, 2014
Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 20, 2014
Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 19, 2014
Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 18, 2014
Monday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 17, 2014
Friday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 14, 2014
Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 13, 2014
Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 12, 2014
Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 11, 2014
Monday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 10, 2014
Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 06, 2014
Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 04, 2014
Monday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 03, 2014
Friday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 31, 2014
Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 30, 2014
Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 29, 2014
Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 28, 2014
Friday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 24, 2014
Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 22, 2014
Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 21, 2014
Monday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 20, 2014
Friday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 17, 2014
Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 16, 2014
Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 15, 2014
Monday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 13, 2014
Friday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 10, 2014
Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 09, 2014
Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 08, 2014
Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 07, 2014
Monday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 06, 2014
Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 02, 2014
Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 01, 2014
Monday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - September 29, 2014
Friday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - September 26, 2014