Is Biofuel Production Fueling A Weed Invasion?

Patty Glick, senior global warming specialist in the NWF Northwest regional office, says there are ways to prevent invasive species from taking over, so that biofuel producers won’t cause environmental harm or cost taxpayers money.

“State and federal governments need to implement rigorous monitoring, as well as early detection and rapid response protocols. And these should be paid for by the bioenergy feedstock producers themselves.”

Dr. Mack says monitoring efforts are hit-and-miss, depending on whether states have seen problems. He cautions that the rush to develop this new industry shouldn’t overshadow the rest of the picture.

“At the same time, we have to really ask ourselves, ‘Are there any downside risks to introducing these species?’ And that has to be evaluated pretty carefully, and often has to be done in an experimental setting – which means it takes time.”

The report also suggests native plants, that aren’t genetically engineered, be used for bioenergy production. And it explores the idea of harvesting invasive weeds where they’re already a problem, to reduce their impact while also providing biomass.

The report, “Growing Risk,” is online at www.nwf.org/growingrisk.