Thursday, April 10, 2008
Grain-Based biofuels Promote Hunger
The rush to reduce the western world's dependence on oil and reverse the most recent trend in global warming (the previous warming cycle took place between 110,000-125,000 years ago) by turning grain into fuel seems to be at least partially responsible for the big runup in grain prices on world markets.
As a result, food riots have broken out in countries that rely on grain imports and soon millions of people who are not already starving will join the many millions more who are.
On the American home front, many farmers are jumping at the opportunity to make some money by bringing marginal land under cultivation thereby increasing the potential for damage to river and lake systems due to increased runoff, while others are withdrawing fallow land from a federal conservation program designed to protect native population of plants and animals.
While I understand that the things that affect the price of grain are manifold and cannot be reduced to a single effect, I don't doubt for a nanosecond that grain-based biofuel production is probably at least as important as rising fossil fuel and fertilizer costs in driving up the cost of grain. I'm not fundamentally opposed to biofuels as an alternative to imported oil. But it seems crazy to be using food that could be used to feed people and livestock as transportation fuel.
My bottom line? I don't like grain-based biofuel.