Most ethanol produced uses high temperature fermentation to chemically convert corn, sugar cane, palm oil or any suitable plant material into liquid fuel. A new technique has been developed at Stanford University and requires no fermentation – and little raw material from the plant world – see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/09/making-ethanol-without-the-need-to… … which must be a good thing in the long run. At the moment it is a lab based experiment – will it be efficient in practise?
Meanwhile, at http://phys.org/print316156759.html … scientists have been trying to combat a fungal pathogen, stem rot, that threatens wheat production in many parts of the world, a potentially life threatening plant problem that could theoretically cause mass starvation if crops fail to a major extent (particularly if it continues to spread to other parts of the world). Scientists are looking at older and wild varieties of wheat, such as einkom and emmer, which may possess a gene to halt the fungus in its tracks. It is a laborious process and involves experimental plots and trail and error cropping.
Over at http://phys.org/print316190735.html … Monsanto have had a very bad press for years because of their involvement in the exciting science of GM crops. The environmental spin machine has been in fast forward for yonks – but surprisingly the US general public are largely in support of the process. In Europe it is a different matter – with Green NGOs and activist groups having a direct say in legislation – and manufacturing all kinds of strange scare stories. It's all a bit like climate change – lies, endlessly repeated, over and over again – even many times after the lies have been laid to rest they still seem to manage to resurrect them from the grave. It is the method used by environmentalists that has proved successful – but one of these days it will hit an almighty buffer. Once something is invented – it stays. The nuclear bomb can't be disinvented and neither can GM crops. They have the ability to feed a growing world population. If they are banned there will eventually be a disaster – and the repercussions of this might not be nice to witness.