Lemna is one of
the Andrew J. Young Foundation's
Ambassador Young's ambitious vision is nothing less than to eradicate hunger and malutrition around the world.
"And we now know that is possible."
Years ago after leaving the United Nations and before being elected Mayor of Atlanta, Andrew Young was working as a consultant for a large, international engineering company -- and found himself in one of the most unusual situations of his life.
A hydroelectric dam in Uganda had malfunctioned, and Ambassador Young was sent to inspect it.
Lowered deep inside, he discovered a "green slime" clogging the turbines and preventing them from generating power.
The fast-growing substance was the plant Lemnaceae -- commonly known as "duckweed" -- and he never forgot it.
Over the next two decades,
Ambassador Young learned not only that lemnae can be distilled to extract ethanol, a sustainable energy source -- but also that the byproduct of that process is a source of nutrition.
With a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the foundation completed a feasibility study for a commercial scale bio-refinery to be built in the United States, the first of its kind anywhere. A second USDA grant was used to train and empower small farmers to grow duckweed -- until now seen as a nuisance -- on ponds throughout the southern U.S.
The foundation intends to mix a refined lemna protein powder with such things as juices, bread, and cereal -- among others -- to fight nutrition.
A partner company, Ovisource, has acquired 330 acres in rural Georgia to take the idea to the next level with construction of a commercial scale bio-refinery.