More Ammo Against Biofuels

The BBC today reported that the increased use of biofuels has dragged more than 30 million worldwide into poverty. Certain types of biofuels are responsible for decreased fuel efficiency, increased carbon emissions, higher food prices, and increased poverty. Wow, that sounds like a great deal! Where do I fill up?

From the BBC NEWS Europe:

Biofuel Use ‘Increasing Poverty’

The replacement of traditional fuels with biofuels has dragged more than 30 million people worldwide into poverty, an aid agency report says.

Oxfam says so-called green policies in developed countries are contributing to the world’s soaring food prices, which hit the poor hardest.

The group also says biofuels will do nothing to combat climate change.

Its report urges the EU to scrap a target of making 10% of all transport run on renewable resources by 2020.

Oxfam estimates the EU’s target could multiply carbon emissions 70-fold by 2020 by changing the use of land.

The report’s author, Oxfam’s biofuel policy adviser Rob Bailey, criticised rich countries for using subsidies and tax breaks to encourage the use of food crops for alternative sources of energy like ethanol.

“If the fuel value for a crop exceeds its food value, then it will be used for fuel instead,” he said.

“Rich countries… are making climate change worse, not better, they are stealing crops and land away from food production, and they are destroying millions of livelihoods in the process.”

Opportunity – or crime?

Biofuels are a divisive issue with strong arguments on both sides.

Leaders such as Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have suggested the biofuel boom provides developing nations with a great opportunity.

He says it creates a profitable export for energy crop producers in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean that could enable them to claw their way out of poverty.

But several aid agencies and analysts have warned of the possible downside of biofuel crop cultivation.

One UN adviser went as far as describing biofuels as a “crime against humanity”.

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4 Responses

  1. Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

  2. I love my E85 Gas, it’s good for my car and helps out struggling farmers.
    As fat as feeding the poor, ask BBC if they had noticed that the worlds major food grain producers have had crop failures 2 years in a row due to mother natures rain and drought cycles??
    Biofuel producers has little or no effect on food grains supplies!

  3. The idea that biofuels don’t affect the cost of food is fundamentally against basic economics. Sure, there are other things that affect the price of food like weather, natural disasters, etc, but you can’t take a full 1/3 of the grain crop and convert it into fuel and not expect the price to go up when shortages do occur.

    Grain farmers like to claim that it doesn’t affect the price, but it does.

    Besides, if it was so profitable, why do we need government subsidies to fund ethanol production?

  4. I might, being the devil’s advocate and all, point out that everyone is somewhat true here.

    Yes, biofuels has taken valuable grain out of production (so, too, I might add does our insatiable appetite for beef … and I loooooovvvveee me some steak and merely tolerate veggies).

    Yes, weather disasters has taken food out of the supply chain.

    Yes, agribusinesses are posting record profits while small farmers are left sopping up messes and barely meeting their own needs.

    And, it’s not just ethanol that needs subsidies. Our own food production needs subsidies to remain profitable (and affordable for us), but we don’t quibble about that much.

    And, some make the argument that even the oil industry is subsidized to a certain extent. And, more might argue that our gas costs are finally catching up to the costs for the rest of the world. Still others might argue that skyrocketing oil prices are an attempt to drive poorer countries (india and china) from first-world status. Others might say it’s speculation that’s the cause.

    I think what we might say is that it’s either a little of all of these and that there is no magic bullet or that we simply don’t know yet which of these it is.

    Just thoughts.

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