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Food or fuel?


Brigid Veale
17 March 2009
The competition between the food needs of a growing human population and the emerging use of crops for energy production will be explored during the first of the 2009 Science Conversation Series seminars.

The seminar, hosted by Southern Cross University’s School of Environmental Science and Management, will be presented by Professor Robert Henry, director of the Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics at the Lismore campus on Thursday, March 26.

Agriculture and food production have a large footprint on the landscape globally and compete for space with land for nature conservation.

Professor Henry will explore the competition between the food needs of a growing human population and the conservation of biodiversity as intensified by the emerging use of crops for energy production.

“As concern about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate grows and oil prices increase, energy production from agricultural crops has become a significant industry,” Professor Henry said.

“At the same time, increases in food demand due to population growth have been accelerated by rising affluence associated with economic growth in major developing countries and increasing per capita consumption.

“Consumers are concerned that the price of food will continue to increase sharply as a result of this competition but a loss of biodiversity may be another major outcome.”

Professor Henry, a recognised world leader in plant genetics research, is leading a number of research projects investigating the use of non-food crops as biofuels and is head of a new BioEnergy Research Institute (BERI), established at Southern Cross University.

The seminar ‘Plant Resources for Food, Fuel or Conservation’ will be held on Thursday, March 26, 5.30pm to 7pm, in U231 at the Lismore campus. For information or to confirm attendance contact Dr Anja Scheffers on 66203392 or email [email protected]

Photo: Professor Robert Henry will be the guest speaker at the Science Conversation Series on March 26.