The growth of a sustainable bioenergy sector can open up attractive new alternative markets to the agricultural sector, and also significantly boost food security to ensure a “win-win” economy in Africa.

So says Prof Lee Lynd, a bioenergy expert from the USA who is also an extraordinary professor in the SU Department of Microbiology. He will be sharing his thoughts on the matter during a midday public lecture at Stellenbosch University (SU) on Monday 13 June.

The lecture takes place from 13:00 to 13:55, in Lecture Hall A203 of the JC Smuts Building on the Stellenbosch University campus.

In his lecture, Prof Lynd will take cognizance on the current causes of hunger and poverty in Africa, and how the twining of the bioenergy and food sectors can create a “win-win” scenario in which energy is supplied, food sources are secured, poverty is alleviation, environmental sustainability is ensured and rural economic development is boosted.

“It is widely assumed that increased production of energy from plant mass necessarily entails sacrificing food security, particularly for the world’s poor,” says Prof Lynd, “yet closer scrutiny suggests that bioenergy – in the form of fuel, electricity, heat, and often a combination of these – could be developed in ways that enhance food security by opening up alternative markets to the agricultural sector”.

Prof Lynd is an expert on the use of plant materials to produce energy and has already made a number of key contributions in the USA to research on related fundamental, biotechnological and policy aspects.

He is the Paul and Joan Queneau Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Adjunct Professor of Biology at Dartmouth College, and is also the Director and Chief Scientific Officer of Mascoma Corporation, and the Focus Area Leader for Biomass Deconstruction and Conversion at the USA Department of Energy Bioenergy Science Centre. He has testified before the United States Senate three times, and has been featured by Wired, Forbes, Nova, and the Nobel Conference.

He is also one of the driving forces behind the Global Sustainable Bioenergy Project (GSB), a worldwide initiative of which South Africa is also part, that aims to provide clear-cut guidelines, strategy and policies on the feasibility of large scale sustainable bioenergy production.

For further information, contact Prof Emile van Zyl of the Department of Microbiology at Stellenbosch University at (021) 808 5847 or whvz@sun.ac.za.

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