Field pennycress, a plant related to mustards and cabbages, is usually considered a weed. But after close to a decade of controlled breeding and gene-splicing, the onetime weed—now dubbed CoverCress—is being cultivated as a source for renewable diesel or sustainable aviation fuel.
Most biofuels in the U.S. come from corn or soybeans. But as demand for green fuels rises, global food shortages are also threatening. That’s bringing a push for low-carbon fuels that can be made without using edible grains. CoverCress is one of three nonfood cover crops that have received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where scientists have been hoping to find oilseed plants that could potentially produce renewable fuels without competing with food sources. Still, convincing farmers to grow these crops can be a hard sell.
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