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Biofuel-producing plant comes under scrutiny

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Experts at an oils and fats conference in Guangzhou yesterday issued words of caution to China and other energy-thirsty developing countries about the viability of the woody oilseed plant jatropha as an ingredient in biofuels, according to a Reuters report.

As part of China's Green Poverty Reduction Program, jatropha farms in northeast Yunnan, southeast Sichuan and northwest Guizhou will be expanded from 27,000 hectares of trees to 270,000 hectares for the purpose of using jatropha oil in biofuel. This area shared by the three provinces is an arid mountainous region suitable to the plant, which is African in origin.

Jatropha was criticized at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil for producing toxic nuts and leaves which require special treatment by farmers. Special crushing facilities are also necessary to manage the toxic vapor produced in processing the plant's nuts. The plant's labor-intensive production, unstable harvesting schedule and varying yields also raised concern.

One unnamed participant in the conference said it was hoping to secure investment by year-end to build one of the planet's first large-scale jatropha-focused biodiesel plants in Yunnan.

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It is ridiculous that the palm oil lobby criticizes Jatropha Curcas : everybody involved in biofuels knows that it is toxic and not suitable for human consumption. Only children having eaten the nuts have become ill of it.
Jatropha Curcas biofuel offers the advantage of growing on degraded and dry soils not suitable for agriculture and is - unlike biofuel based on palm oil - not in competition with the food security of human beings.
It somebody has degraded land in an area without frost and wants to try a pilote Jatropha plantation please contact me and as representative of Terracottem soil conditioner I will inform you how you can stimulate the survival and the growth rate of the young Jatropha seedlings in difficult soils.
www.terracottem.com
[email protected]

amazing how even the biofuels movement is completely fragmented, pitting methods and crops against each other in an enormous lose-lose debate.

in honor of the total futility of fighting over how to address global warming, i'm going to hold my rant on this issue. the only person i know doing anything really profound at the moment is colin. any gokunming coverage of his fossil fuel boycott plannned?

The Jatropha plant is not of African origin. I haven't an opinion about the remainder of the note, but one should get basic facts right (and vapours??)

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