Carbon trading our way out of hunger crisis

A seemingly magical chemical combined with a carbon trading network is one company's hope for ending world hunger and reducing global warming.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read

CORONADO, Calif.--Reducing greenhouse gases isn't enough for EcoVerdance and Accelegrow Technologies; why not tackle world hunger, too?

This year's Future in Review conference has chosen to spotlight a company called EcoVerdance, which is using a product developed by Accelegrow to promote carbon trading by using the proceeds from selling carbon offsets to purchase a chemical called Accele-Gro-M that dramatically improves the yields of existing farms and makes it possible to grow plants in places previously thought impossible.

I have to admit, the first time Future in Review organizer Mark Anderson described the scheme, two things popped into my head: the fable of Jack and the Beanstalk and the episode of The Simpsons in which Homer covered a barren farm with nuclear waste to produce a tobacco/tomato hybrid plant. But Dennis Knight, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Accelegrow, says his company's product is legit.

Accele-Gro-M is an all-natural chemical fertilizer that consists of hormones, proteins, nitrogen, urea and two proprietary ingredients for which Accelegrow is seeking patents. It overrides a plant's natural response to a stressful environment, which is to shrivel up in order to protect itself. Instead, Accele-Gro-M encourages the plant to open up and accept moisture from whatever sources are available, such as dew. And despite the stressful situation, it somehow encourages the plant to keep growing, Knight said.

The company has been studying the use of the fertilizer in drought areas, and has seen yields grow from 40 bushels an acre to 180 bushels to 190 bushels per acre, Knight said. Only 8 ounces of the product are required per acre of farmland, and the cost to the farmer is around $8 to $11 per acre, depending on the crop and the area of the world in which it will be used.

But EcoVerdance thinks it can use the promise of Accel-Gro-M to encourage carbon trading. The idea is to sell carbon credits to companies looking to reduce their carbon output, either voluntarily or as part of government regulation. Then, EcoVerdance will use that money to purchase Accele-Gro-M and donate the fertilizer to farmers in developing countries.

This will have several effects, according to David Morris, director, chairman, and president of EcoVerdance: crop yields will be enhanced on the same plots of land, and previously unusable plots can generate food. Additionally, the more plants that grow, the more carbon dioxide that can be taken out of the atmosphere.

EcoVerdance is still working out the kinks, and further testing of the product is required, but that's the idea. Knight claims that Accele-Gro-M has no side effects, either in the food that people eat grown with the product, or in any run-off into the groundwater.