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Scientists to collaborate to find new biofuels


Montreal, QC – In the first scientific collaboration of its kind, Canada’s top plant researchers are joining forces with the federal government and industry partners to come up with new ways to use crops to reduce greenhouse gases, provide alternative energy sources and mitigate climate change.

The Green Crop Research Network, funded by a $6.6-million investment from the federal government and led by Dr Don Smith, Chair of McGill University’s plant science department, will be headquartered at McGill’s Macdonald Campus.

“We are thrilled to be involved in a venture of such magnitude – both in scope and impact,” said Denis Thrien, McGill vice-principal (research and international relations). “Collaborative research is vital, but it does not occur in a vacuum – it requires diligence, funding, and excellence.”

This network of leading scientists from across Canada will conduct innovative research to develop crops that reduce carbon dioxide (CO(2)) and nitrous oxide (N(2)O), look at the effects of growing CO(2) levels from fossil fuels on major crop species and create new plants whose conversion to biofuels requires less fossil fuel.

“We are at a point now where we have the knowledge to alter crop production systems to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and slow the advance of global climate change,” said Dr Smith. “The research activities of this network will allow us to implement that knowledge in a way that will have a direct impact.”

Green Crop will bring together 50 investigators at 14 universities across Canada. In addition to the almost $5.5 million of funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), support will also come from two federal government departments: $100,000 from Environment Canada and $500,000 from Natural Resources Canada and the BIOCAP Canada Foundation will contribute $100,000. Three industry partners (Agribiotics, Syngenta Biotechnology and the Reductase Consortium) will also contribute. Significant in-kind support is also coming from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ($1.33 million) and the National Research Council ($435,000) through the collaboration of their scientists and the provision of unique plant material.

The members of the Green Crop Network are: University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Guelph, University of Manitoba, University of Ottawa; McGill University, Queen’s University, Saint Mary’s University, University of Sherbrooke, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario, Universit du Qubec Montral and Nova Scotia Agricultural College.