The demand for rubber, globally, is estimated to fall short by 20 percent by 2020 and thus, will inevitably lead to higher prices. Fortunately, according to CNN, Dutch scientists from biotech firm KeyGene have found a way to create a natural rubber alternative using a common garden weed: Dandelion.
“Dandelion roots aren’t really sufficient for the quantities of rubber required to meet global demand, so KeyGene is putting it through a process of ‘plant phenotyping’,” writes Green Tech. “Using DNA profiling of types that exhibit favorable characteristics, the team is crossing different breeds of dandelion to grow a breed with a fatter root. This larger root is better suited to the quantities of latex required.”
Tire company Apollo Vredestein is collaborating with KeyGene on the project, and reveals that production for prototype tires have begun. If production continues and is deemed successful, the dandelion-sourced rubber could meet the global demand just in time for when rubber is expected to see a shortage.
Green Tech shares: “KeyGene’s techniques could also result in improvements in crop yields. While there is resistance to genetic modification, the company says its technique is more “genetic improvement”–speeding up the evolution process to develop crops with a higher yield and resistance to pests.”