Tobacco Road Takes on New Meaning

Plant may find a place at the gas pump

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Peggy Tutor
    Last time it was a golf course. This time, a farm field.

    Scientists may have discovered a new use for an old cash crop -- tobacco.

    They say the leaf could be turned into a biofuel and end up at the gas pump. It's one of several sources, including switchgrass and algae, being considered as alternate energy sources.

    Tobacco is an attractive choice because it would not affect the U.S. food source, unlike biofuel sources like corn and soybeans. It's also an attractive energy plant because it can generate a large amount of oil and sugar more efficiently than other crops, said Vyacheslav Andrianov, a researcher at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

    Tobacco farmers look forward to the possibility of using fields which aren't being used right now. Production has been dropping for the past 10 years.

    Commercial use of tobacco as a biofuel is likely more than five years away.

    And drivers need not worry about being stuck in traffic behind a vehicle burning the tobacco biofuel. There's no danger from second-hand smoke.