Biofuels pose risk of invasion | Global Ideas | DW | 12.03.2013
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Global Ideas

Biofuels pose risk of invasion

Biofuel crops promise to change the face of the energy industry, but they come with a catch.

A farmer carries harvested rice on his shoulders

Critics say the biofuels boom has accelerated the food vs. fuel debate

Biofuel crops and weeds have much in common: they both grow fast, they can thrive in almost any type of soil and they need little to no fertilizer. Arundo donax, known as “giant reed,” is one of the fastest growing plants in the world – rising as much as 10 centimeters a day, and even in adverse conditions. Whether there are floods, storms or the threat of being run over by trucks, nothing seems to faze giant reed grass.

Pennisetum purpureum, known as elephant grass, is native to southern Africa but is now grown in various tropical and subtropical countries around the world. It was introduced to the US in 1913 as a forage plant, and it has taken off in the south of the country. Since the 1970s, elephant grass can be found across fields and green areas in the state of Florida.

Author: Ulrike Gebhardt/ss
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar