Technology (like GMOs) and its Discontents
Apr30

Technology (like GMOs) and its Discontents

Thanks to the wonders of internet technology (specifically, online newspapers, e-mail, and Twitter), I have been immersed today in a veritable blizzard of communications about whether particular technologies are bad for us or for the planet, and what should be done about them. Truly, a wide range of people, opinions, and actions. GMOs I much enjoyed a radio interview/debate about legislation that would force food makers to label food...

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Fast Food Fight Over Biofuels
Nov30

Fast Food Fight Over Biofuels

Will the U.S. government’s biofuels mandate increase the cost of your favorite “dollar menu” item? A trade group of chain restaurants – which includes fast service joints – called the National Council of Chain Restaurants, has put out a report saying that the EPA’s Renewable Fuels Standard will increase restaurant food costs. According to NCCR, the RFS will cause the cost of corn to rise by 27%...

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Energy Crops: the sweet and the sour
Nov26

Energy Crops: the sweet and the sour

Switchgrass, miscanthus, hybrid poplar – these are just the first three plants I think of when I hear the term “energy crop.” But I heard of a new one a few weeks ago when I attended a conference (story fortcoming) about commercializing biobased chemicals and fuels. Let me introduce you to a very big “weed” called Arundo donax. While most energy crops produce a few tons of dry biomass per acre, Arundo...

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Giant Gobs of Algae Coming From Solazyme
Nov16

Giant Gobs of Algae Coming From Solazyme

Starting soon, oil-producing algae will be replicating at B-horror-movie quantities. Imagine a lab coat-wearing scientist running into the street shouting “300,000 metric tons!” while scores of screaming people run by, pursued by a giant wave of green slime. But be not worried, the algae in question will be safely confined to fermentation tanks thanks their overlords at Solazyme. And many of those tanks will be in Brazil...

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Soon You’ll be Thankful for #foodchem Microbes
Nov14

Soon You’ll be Thankful for #foodchem Microbes

Cleantech Chemistry dives into the #foodchem carnival this week! This is a good time to get your Thanksgiving menu planning started. This time of year I use a lot of spices. Have you ever noticed how expensive they are? I’ve paid $14 for two vanilla pods. The problem with vanilla is that it comes from the seed pod of a kind of orchid. Having tried to grow orchids, well, let’s just say I can imagine this is not an easy crop. Also,...

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DowAgro Satisfies Growers on 2,4 D Drift Dangers
Sep11

DowAgro Satisfies Growers on 2,4 D Drift Dangers

[With a note on some confusion about wheat, and if it has been genetically modified (see below)] The herbicide 2,4 D is pretty powerful stuff. It has recently been in the news because it kills weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate (brand name Roundup). In May, I wrote about efforts by Dow AgroSciences to bring a new genetically modified corn to market that has been engineered to be tolerant to 2,4 D. The idea is that the...

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