Public Lecture - Food vs Fuel: Challenges and Opportunities in Biofuels
About the Speaker:
Dr. Chua was born in Singapore and earned his B.S. in botany and biochemistry from the University of Singapore in 1965 and his A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1967 and 1969, respectively. He was a lecturer in biochemistry at the University of Singapore Medical School from 1969 to 1971. Dr. Chua joined Rockefeller in 1971 as a research associate in cell biology, and was named assistant professor in 1973, associate professor in 1977 and professor in 1981.
Dr. Chua was awarded the International Prize in Biology in 2005, the Singapore Public Administration Gold Medal in 2002 and the Singapore National Science and Technology Gold Medal in 1998. Dr. Chua is an elected member of the Academia Sinica (Taiwan), a fellow of the Royal Society (UK) and a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is an honorary member of the Japan Biochemical Society and the Japan Society of Plant Physiology.
While the prediction of a Malthusian catastrophe some 200 years ago never came true, the new demand for renewable energy has rekindled the old debate about competition between food and fuel and has led The Economist to coin the term “agflation” and to declare the end of cheap food. In this lecture, I will trace factors that drive the sudden growth of corn-based biofuels in the last two years and its consequential impact on crop production and food prices world-wide. I will discuss the challenges associated with the use of different types of plants to produce bioethanol and biodiesel and the opportunities to enhance productivity of biofuel plants with minimal pressure on food production systems using modern plant biotechnology.
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