Protein From Gorse Bushes Could Feed Millions of People, Says Expert

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The gorse bushes that have invaded many Scottish landscapes could produce enough protein to feed millions of people, according to the leader of a Scottish government research program. The surprising suggestion by Prof Wendy Russell, at the University of Aberdeen, comes from research on the protein content of invasive plants that have to be doused with herbicides or burned back to keep them under control. Gorse contains 17% protein and broom has 21% protein, she said, adding: "Gorse and broom were fed to cattle at times when crops failed in the past, so we think protein from these types of plants could be used as animal food. If protein isolates are produced in the correct way, so to be safe, they could be considered as human food in the future." "The whole point about gorse is it is actively being removed from marginal lands -- it's something we can gain protein from at no extra cost," she said. "We have a huge amount of gorse all over Scotland and when we did the calculations, just by active removal from marginal land, there's enough gorse protein to easily feed [Scotland's] population." [...] Scotland has little arable land, which is why Russell examined invasive plants on marginal land. "When you make a protein isolate from gorse, 57% of the total leaf protein can be recovered at up to 95% purity," she said. "We're using about 4.5 to 6kg of CO2 to produce [a kilogram of] isolate, compared to an average for meat of 102kg of CO2."

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