Are bio-fuels the ‘new GMOs’?

borneo_baby_orang.jpg Photo Digital Vision.

Give us on this day our daily bread and
forgive us for destroying the planet we love.

Oh bugger. Here we go again. Drop a humble slice of bread into your toaster and you kill an orangutan without even knowing it. Why? …. palm oil. It’s in your bread to make it last longer. Most of the world’s palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia where the orangutan is desperately clinging on for its dear life as the forests around it are destroyed by slash & burn agriculture. A lot of this clearance is done for palm oil. It obviously has devastating effects;

Borneo forest clearance for palm oil.

There are many organisations fighting for the survival of the forests in Malaysia and Indonesia but they are up against a huge demand for this product. Governments, big business, corruption, ‘fat cats’, criminals are all there for the ‘party of destruction’. Sometimes there is better news but, there needs to be a lot more of this. Once again, the public awareness campaign needs to move up several gears. ‘Don’t toast an orangutan for your breakfast’ …. 😦 …. (buy local bread that goes stale in two days). OK, I’ll leave the campaign message to the professionals! But it does appear that bio-fuels are going the way of GMOs. Sounds good in principal but, the devil is in the detail.

The latest is that the Malaysian government has decided that biofuels is the next big thing and that palm oil can play its part. Yup, just when you thought you were doing the right thing by ‘thinking’ biofuels for a future top-up for your future car journeys, it suddenly gets a whole lot more complex!

I have to say I’ve never really understood the attraction of biofuels because of the whole crop thing. It’s one thing to cover the English countryside with even more of the god awful rapeseed. It’s a completely different matter when commercially driven developers start to mow down virgin forest in Brazil (sugercane into ethanol) and South-east Asia (palm oil).

As David Attenborough said yesterday on Radio 4, the planet really only has 50 years before we will see a whole stream of species extinctions and ecosystems collapsing into the dust. My kids will only be in their fifties by then.

So, this is the future we are giving them.

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3 Responses to Are bio-fuels the ‘new GMOs’?

  1. matt says:

    More on the biofuels debate;

    The advantages of switching to biofuels is not so cut & dried … 🙂

  2. It’s good to see more and more people raise awareness of the terrible cost of palm oil or soy biodiesel!

    I am a member of a UK-based group called Biofuelwatch (www.biofuelwatch). We campaign for legal safeguards to ensure that only those biofuels which are environmentally and socially sustainable can be sold in Europe, and we raise awareness of the serious envirionmental and human rights impacts linked to biofuel production – for example in Malaysia and Indonesia.

    We have a yahoo group with over 120 members from many different countries, including countries in the global south where a lot of our biofuels are produced. You might like to join our yahoo group via our website.


  3. matt says:

    Excellent. Will look into this.


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