In the future we will expect a lot out of plants. That is, if we hope to balance our energy needs between fossil fuels and bio fuels. The problem is the plants that are made into bio fuels are also used as food.
When the use of corn as a bio fuel increased in recent years, for instance, food prices doubled in Mexico. So researchers are looking for a crop that won't compete with food. They may have found a promising candidate in common duckweed, says Professor Rob Martienssen of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.
While duckweed won't be able to solve all our energy needs, according to Martienssen this crop might provide enough oil "for a niche market like jet fuel." In other words, it promises to be one of many energy sources in a diversified energy portfolio that could reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
After all, as T. Boone Pickens and General Wesley Clark point out, the stakes are high for energy independence.