The key to kicking what President Bush calls the nation’s oil
addiction could very well lie in termite guts, canvas-eating jungle
bugs and other microbes genetically engineered to spew enzymes that
turn waste into fuel.
It may seem hard to believe that microscopic bugs usually viewed as
destructive pests can be so productive. But scientists and several
companies are working with the creatures to convert wood, corn stalks
and other plant waste into sugars that are easily brewed into ethanol —
essentially 199-proof moonshine that can be used to power automobiles.
Thanks to biotechnology breakthroughs, supporters of alternative
energy sources say that after decades of unfulfilled promise and
billions in government corn subsidies, energy companies may be able to
produce ethanol easily and inexpensively.