Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Tangled Web of Biofuels, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Food Prices

Despite goverment insistence that biofuels are not to blame for increased food prices and Sen. Grassley's claim that "the recent criticism of ethanol by foreign officials (is) “a big joke,” the evidence continues to mount against first-generation biofuels.

Research has already shown that Brazilian soy biodiesel, European rye ethanol, European rapeseed biodiesel, and US corn ethanol all have a worse life cycle impact on the environment than petrol. Now two reports have been released that connect biofuels to increased food prices.

Oxfam has released a report, Another Inconvenient Truth, stating that biofuels are responsible for 30 percent of the increase in world food prices. The report goes on to state that biofuels' contribution to increased world food prices have pushed 30 million people into poverty. According to the report,

Biofuels are presented in rich countries as a solution to two crises: the climate crisis and the oil crisis. But they may not be a solution to either, and instead are contributing to a third: the current food crisis....(T)he most serious costs of these policies – deepening poverty and hunger, environmental degradation, and accelerating climate change – are being ‘dumped’ on developing countries.

In a related report from the World Bank, Biofuels: The Promise and the Risks, they state that liquid biofuels from agriculture have pushed up feedstock prices, increased competition for land and water, and resulted in a 60% increase in the price of maize from 2005 to 2007. The report goes on to suggest that first-generation biofuels have not lived up to their promise of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and reduced reliance on oil, but second-generation biofuels (from waste) hold more potential.

No comments:

Copyright©2007-2010 Sustainable Business Design