Locust plagues, feeding nine billion people and vegetable oil for your car, tractor and truck

  • Worst locust plague in 30 years this summer
  • Can we feed nine billion people by 2050?
  • Vegetable oil to lubricate your car, tractor and truck

  • Wednesday, 7 July 2010 at Chemistry for a Sustainable World, an international conference organised by RACI, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. Speakers in Melbourne and available for interview.

    Can we feed nine billion people by 2050?

    The world’s population has more than doubled in the past 50 years and the relative abundance of food has kept pace, with the poorest benefiting most. Yet one billion people are malnourished and live below the poverty line.

    The dramatic increase in crop yields was due to several innovations: genetics and plant breeding, nitrogen fertilisers, agrichemicals, irrigation and mechanisation.

    Oxford University researcher Chris Leaver asks if we can repeat the achievement and feed a predicted world population of nine billion by 2050. We will need to double agricultural productivity on the same area of land with less available water.

    He says we can, but only by using the best of modern biology, biochemistry and agrichemistry coupled with sensible regulatory regimes.

    Worst locust plague in 30 years this summer

    Victorian farmers are in a phony war right now – but in spring the invasion will come. We’re likely to see the worst locust plague for 30 years. David Hunter from Becker Underwood Australasia will tell the conference how plagues occur and what can be done to reduce their impact.

    “When locusts are at plague proportions, some damage is inevitable, but we can reduce the extent of damage with good integrated control,” says David. He will be talking about the cause of this plague and how it will be fought using chemicals and a fungus – a biological control agent called Green Guard.

    Vegetable oil to lubricate your car, tractor and truck

    Vegetable oil is the agricultural product that chemically most resembles fossil oils and has therefore great potential to replace it, says Sweden’s Sten Stymne.

    He’s part of an 11-million-Euro global project to engineer seed oils for bio-lubricant uses.

    They aim to produce value-added vegetable oils for lubrication purposes in dedicated industrial oil crops within five years.

    As the price of crude increases, vegetable oils will become more attractive. Soon the paddock you’re driving past could be growing the oil for your car.

    Other stories:

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    • A unique chick magnet – for female moths
    • Potato flakes for breakfast?
    • Fighting termites – with a natural chemical from an Aussie tree
    • And more stories at

    For interviews: Niall Byrne, 0417 131 977,
    AJ Epstein, +61 (433) 339-141,
    Further information online at