Saturday, 6 December 2008

Seawater crops could mean end to worlds food problems...

Scientists are now suggesting that growing crops in seawater could be an end to the worlds food shortage. Freshwater makes up only 1% of the Earths water coverage and shortages mean there is not enough to keep crops as moist as needed. It is thought that the world is becoming more saline and therefore, like in years gone by, we must adapt in order to change along with it. Scientists are suggesting that we make use of barren saltwater areas and start growing more crops. It is suggested that around the mouths of rivers would be best as this is where freshwater and saltwater mix, and brackish plants would be ideal. Plants like sea kale and asparagus-like samphire grow along the coastline and are fine for consumtion. Samphire itself is actually very complimentary of seafood.

The suggestions come almost 30 years after genetic modification began on wheat and rice to try and make it more tolerant of salt. So far these experiments have proved futile as scientists now believe that technology is not advanced enough yet to achieve such a complex modification.

Saltwater plants are also in the limelight this week as scientists suggest that those which row naturally may be useful as biofuels, it has been suggested that alone these plants could provide more than 35% of Americas biofuels. One species of samphire, a subtropical desert coast plant, especially is being looked into as its seeds produce more oil that sunflowers and soya beans put together.

The suggestion was made by biologist Robert Glenn, University of Arizona. Glenn believes that halophytes, slatwater plants, could be suitable for the production of biofuels, especially as they are unusable in the food industry. This would open up nearly half a millions square mils for cultivation of biofuels.

If it is possible to beign using these sorts of plants for biofuels, it is important that sustainibility is implemented from day one so that these sorts of materials are managed and not used in the same fashion as many amenities before.