What if plants could be plastic factories?

The greenhouse at Metabolix’s lab is full of grass. That would be unexciting, except that the 300 or so pots of switchgrass growing here have been genetically engineered to produce a kind of polymer used to make plastics.

Metabolix, a bioplastics company founded in 1992, is one of a small group of companies and universities pushing at a new frontier in bioplastics: the genetic engineering of crops to produce plastics materials. The efforts – unique in making bioplastics not from, but in, crops – put forward a solution to the longstanding problem of bioplastics: how to make the production costs of bioplastics as cheap as, or cheaper than, oil-based plastics.

Read the full, original story here: “What if plants could be plastic factories?”

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1 thought on “What if plants could be plastic factories?”

  1. I like the idea of GMO’s, but this one seems a little dangerous. Grass is cattle feed, and although the article doesn’t go into the toxicity of the plastic components produced, I’m not sure I want my milk to come out of the cow ready bottled!
    All joking aside, the author starts off talking about switch grass which is I believe used for hay production, then confusingly “switches” to sugar cane, and that is explained later in the somewhat fractured article. Sugar cane also produces pulp used in livestock feed, and molasses also used in feeds, and it (used to be?) used in rum making.
    There would need to be a lot of testing done on the effects of polyhydroxybutyrate residue in byproducts used to feed animals, and that doesn’t take into consideration the efforts to keep the PHB out of my sweet-tooth and my Mojito!

    Chestnuts, Eucalyptus, Oil Palms and pheromones in tobacco – YES, YES, YES, and probably yes, but plastics in grasses – not so much.

    Just my opinion, and I’d like to hear other opinions before I switch to Old Fashions.

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