Rutabaga, which stores oil in its seeds could be a better source for biofuel than other crops, according to researchers at Michigan State University.
The researchers have inserted a gene into rutabagas to try to get them to accumulate oil instead of starch throughout the plant. The parts of genetically modified rutabagas that aren't harvested for oil could be used for animal feed, professor Christoph Benning.
The rutabaga hasn't had much presence on U.S. dinner tables, an advantage in using it for biofuel. The use of corn, soybeans and other food crops for fuel instead of food has raised the specter of shortages, and some blame the biofuel boom for pushing up food prices. Benning's research is one of many efforts nationally to get biofuel from sources other than major food crops.
Dan Gustafson, director of the Washington, D.C. liaison office of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, said it's important for researchers to look at different sources for biofuel — in part because of the trade-off, for example, between producing corn for food and corn for fuel.
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