Bio-fules may be noxious weeds

The Queensland-based Invasive Species Council has assessed weed risks posed by 18 biofuel crops currently proposed as solutions to cutting greenhouse emissions, wrote science and environment reporter Rosslyn Beeby in The Canberra Times (4/10/2007, p.11).

Noxious weeds being considered: The Council warned cultivation of energy crops on a large scale would cause "grave environmental damage", deplete water resources and inflict high costs on agricultural productivity. The report, by best-selling Feral Future author Tim Low and conser­vationist Dr Carol Booth, said seven plants currently being considered as promising biofuel crops were already banned as noxious weeds in parts of Australia. Two biofuel species – giant reed and Spartina – being hailed as "miracle crops" were listed by the World Conservation Union among the world’s top 100 worst invasive weed species.

Solving one problem by creating another: "Australia should not try to solve one environmental problem by cre­ating another. These plants have no proven value as biofuel crops but bad reputations as weeds," Low said. One of the highest risk biofuels – the drought-tolerant tropical succu­lent Jatropha – had been promoted as a crop that could be grown without irrigation on 20 million hectares of "marginal land" in Australia, but was closely related to bellyache bush, one of the worst farm weeds in northern Australia.

The Canberra Times, 4/10/2007, p. 11

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