A Chinese rice expert suggested planting new "super rice" to suck heavy metals out of polluted soil. He recommended that the toxic rice be used to produce fuel ethanol.
The recommendation was made at a fuel ethanol conference held in Guangdong Province. An aid to China's octogenarian superstar rice-breeding Yuan Longping gave the speech--Yuan was unable to be present due to "an important meeting." The "super rice" varieties tend to absorb large amounts of heavy metals from the soil. Yuan's aid suggested that planting these super rice varieties could be a cost-saving measure to rehabilitate the soil by sucking cadmium and other toxins out of polluted soil.
It is estimated that one-fifth of China's cultivated land--including 25 districts of 11 provinces--and 12 million metric tons of grain produced in China are contaminated with heavy metals.
Since the rice would be toxic, it was recommended that biofuel companies make it into fuel ethanol, purportedly "turning waste into treasure."
It is estimated that "12 percent or so" of the soil in Guangdong Province is contaminated. However, scientists say there is still no accurate data on soil contamination in the province. A new soil survey was begun this year but testing is not complete and results won't be released until next year. "The evaluation is not good."
Guangdong reportedly obtains over 90 percent of its energy from outside the province--mostly coal. According to a speech by an official of the provincial development and reform commission, Guangdong's first fuel ethanol project is under construction. The Zhenjiang cassava ethanol plant is expected to begin producing 150,000 metric tons of ethanol annually in 2015. It will supply fuel ethanol to four prefectures in western Guangdong.