>One result of the subsidised "cheap food"in the U.S. is that
>non-food utilization of crops is becoming more and more economically viable.
>Back in the 30's, there was powerful contingent of ag.scientists/ business
>men/ farmers that I believe were called the "chemurgists". They pushed the
>development of non-food utilization of agricultural crops. They felt that
>this was the best way to handle over production of commodity crops...
>They wanted to emphasize ag. biomass derived chemicals as
>feed stocks for the rapidly expanding U.S. synthetics industries. They
>were also concerned about preserving domestic energy self-sufficiency...
> Any realistic vision of sustainable agriculture needs to
>include a planned role for non-food crop utilization with careful
>consideration of the social, economic and ecological resource rammifications
>of non-food utilization of crops.
>Please comment on what you feel are the rammifications of non-food
>utilization of crops?
There is currently a lot of interest in this area again.
The USDA-AARC Center (Alternative Agricultural Research &
Commercialization) was set up to commercialize nonfood use of agricultural
commodities. They provide cost sharing grants in exchange for a part
ownership in the process/license, so the program is to be self sustaining.
A few products they are supporting are:
Nontoxic ethanol based windshield washer solvent
Lubricants from vegetable oils
Petroleum oilspill soaks made from wool
Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) from corn
Newsprint from kenaf
Biodegradable concrete form release agentt from rapeseed oil
I believe that if we embrace sustainability as an ideal we have to move
toward renewable sources for as many of our industrial products as
possible. The key, of course, is to focus on producing the commodities
sustainably rather than converting petroleum to fuel and fertilizer and
then back to plastics and chemicals.
Agricultural Engineering Department
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-2117
(409) 845-7686 (firstname.lastname@example.org)