Biofuel production may increase world hunger, claims study

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Corn Ethanol UK, April 2011: A recent study found that biofuel production diverts crops and crop land from food production and increases food prices for impoverished people in developing countries even though biofuels may not solely to blame for rising food prices.

Biofuels are touted as an energy source that can cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But could replacing fossil fuels with biofuels raise world food prices and cause hunger and poverty in developing countries?

According to some studies and findings this is exactly it and we must not forget other studies that also state that the emissions from biofuels, especially biociesel, are higher than those of petroleum-based fuels. So, are we jumping from the frying pan into the fire? We might.

As far as food and hunger is concerned the equation also exists in the way that as the U.S. government encourages the use of biofuels, more crops and crop land are diverted to biofuel production. Demand for crops as both food and biofuel drives up world food prices, making impoverished people in developing countries unable to afford food, she says.

When you’re putting ethanol into your gas tank, you’re making corn tortillas more expensive in Mexico. That is basically the equation that we can be considering if we are in the United States. Similar equations will hold true elsewhere. And let's not even talk about palm oil for biodiesel.

The U.S. expanded its Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007, boosting domestic biofuel production. The policy increased the required volume of biofuel to be blended with conventional fuel from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

When it comes to biodiesel a study of a year or so ago stated that particle emissions – the ones responsible for asthma in adults and children alike – will rise more than four times the current level per diesel engine. Not a very good comparison.

Studies also claim that the CO2 emissions for biofuels may be actually the same as with petroleum-based fuels, and some say that they may even be more than those of gasoline and diesel.

It definitely would appear to be a case from the frying pan into the fire and that without even considering the impact on food production.

We must think our way away from the infernal combustion engine and to other forms of transportation and, yes, they do include, predominately, human- and animal-powered ones. The time of the motorcar and -truck are finished once the oil has gone over a certain pricing level due to the fact that it is becoming more expensive to extract and there is less and less available.

Peak Oil has come and gone but we may still have oil for another 30 years or so but only if we don't burn it at the current rate and as far as the electric car is concerned the cheap affordable one is still a very long way off; more then likely it will never arrive.

Thus we need to rethink our approach to transportation and travel and to working closer to home (again).

© 2011