Biofuels information – the latest news

******  Protest against mandatory introduction of biofuels into the UK, taking place outside Downing Street Tuesday 15th April, 6pm.  ******

If you are not up on the issues read any of the articles linked below;

Guardian : IMF meeting World Bank condemns dash to biofuels
FT :  Commission ploughs a lone furrow on biofuels
Information of Rice Exporting and Rice Importing Countries (from two
More EEA report     
Berkeley Daily Planet: Biofuelishness Tanks; Where Do We Go Now? 
German ministers clash over biofuel-hunger impact; new IMF warning
Darling calls for urgent review of biofuels; the food crisis bites
FoE opinion poll: nearly 9/10 of Britons don’t know about RTFO
Groups Condemn Biofuels as Brazil’s Lula Tours Netherlands, Czech Re
Dominic Lawson: The Independent.
This entry was posted in Climate change, Economics, Energy, Food & Agriculture, Nature & Conservation, Politics, Protest, Sustainablity and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Biofuels information – the latest news

  1. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    I’m with you on this one and, if I could afford the ticket and could get a plane that wasn’t past due for safety inspections I’d be there with a protest sign in one hand and an order of fish and chips in the other! Over here, the rush to biofuels has gotten so bad that it’s affecting the availability and price of barley. This affects the price of beer and its availability, which is an insufferable abomination! Fortunately, I suspect that this is a self correcting problem, as most Americans would rather walk to the nearest store to buy a six-pack than drive around aimlessly on the alcohol they could be drinking. While, mostly, these people don’t bother to vote, this is just the sort of thing to cause a major shift in our politics.

    the Grit

  2. matt says:

    Yup Grit, westerners worry about the price of beer and petrol while the people’s of other nations worry about getting food on the table. You Americans I understand are rushing to build that southern border fence to keep out the hungry and the poor. Don’t you just love the American dream, the dream of a nation of immigrants that ended up in the US of A looking for a better life.

  3. Baikong says:

    Matt, I am supporting your cause on this.. Shucks! this biofuel thing has displaced families from their lands, livelihood, and rights here in developing countries…

  4. matt says:

    The chickens appear to be coming home to roost on this biofuels madness. Lets see if they have the courage to admit the error of their ways. The price of oil and now the rising price and scarcity in some areas of food, has been the tipping point.

  5. mar says:


    Thanks for this blog.

    Whenever I try to click on any of the links in this post I am taken to a Windows Live Sign in screen… why?


    Ed: Some links needed resetting and others have decoupled (which I’ve deleted). The articles above are working as I type.

  6. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    Beer is food.

    Without petrel we wouldn’t be able to grow the incredible amounts of food we export, much of it in the form of Government aid to the poor and hungry.

    As to immigrants, there are only so many that we can handle at a time, and there are plenty of people waiting in line to come legally. Even if we followed the European example of letting as many people in as wanted to come, there would still need to be some orderly process so we could build enough slums and jails to house them. That’s why we’re in the middle of a decades long program, NAFTA and other free trade agreements, to build up the prosperity of countries to our south so they can stay home and not be poor and hungry. This, by the way, is already working in Mexico, as one who has given any thought to the old saying about it being better to teach a man to fish than just giving him one would expect.

    As to the American dream, the people the border fence is intended to keep out aren’t coming for that. A good many of them just want a better paying job and could care less about becoming part of our society and adopting our culture. Almost all the rest of them are criminals of one sort or another going where the money is.

    the Grit

  7. Pete Smith says:

    Are these protests against all types of biofuels, or just those that are derived from crops? I sometimes think people in general are very confused about the whole thing.

  8. matt says:

    Oh people are very confused and most people aren’t even aware of the issues, let alone understand them. My impression at the rally last night was that it was about biofuel crops. There was one random, uninvited speaker at the end who seemed to be deriding ‘second generation’ biofuel sources as well.

  9. the Grit says:

    Hi m & P,

    You are most correct in pointing out that the subject is confusing. This is mostly because of the “bio” prefix as attached both to the refining of alcohol and also to the use of dead plants for burning in electric generation plants.

    As to the problem with diversion of food crops to ethanol production, that stems from two problems. One, the technology is being pushed into mass production before it’s ready. Two, world crop production hasn’t been given time to adjust to the needs of mass alcohol production.

    The second of these reasons is most important, since it is the only one the agricultural industry can fix. The key factors here are the need for a careful shift toward producing high sugar crops, like sugar beets, in areas appropriate for their cultivation, rather than the use of grain crops in what is, basically, a most inefficient process.

    It’s not hard to understand why this has happened, considering that most of the distilled spirits we consume as adult beverages start off as grain, with the notable exceptions of vodka and rum, but one has to keep in mind that these were derived from what was available in excess rather than from what was the best value for a dollar of production cost. So, it’s quite reasonable to expect that, in the next few years, market forces will force a shift in ethanol production from the use of grains to cheaper and higher sugar content crops. You should note that that sort of crop is generally not suited for the lands currently used for grain production, so the amount of people food grown in that category should soon be restored to at least its current levels.

    Unfortunately, until our technology expands to make use of crops that can be grown on what we now consider waste land, this means that there may well be a shortage of non-grain vegetables, as land use shifts to production of high value fuel crops from squash and onions and such.

    This, of course, will make it profitable to irrigate more farm land to grow such crops. Once again unfortunately, this will be a reason to divert water from urban uses to agriculture, making life even harder on the over populated city dwellers who are the root cause of all our problems. What a magnificent circle!

    the Grit

  10. matt says:

    Thanks Grit. I don’t think we can ever get away from the fact that fossil fuels currently provide the best energy source for vehicles. One has to take up a hell of a lot of land to grow any crop for a biofuel.

    Electric cars are probably the way to go, especially as the technology there gets better and better. Of course the electricity has to come from some where and if they could only sort out the nuclear waste problem … just 50g of u236 provides equivalent energy to 3000 tonnes of coal.

    Yup, I’m getting dizzy with the circles ‘n’ all. 🙂

  11. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    We’ve had the technology to handle nuclear waste since the early seventies. Unfortunately, our radical environmental groups have managed to block its implementation. If we had a reprocessing plant for the spent fuel, all the useful stuff could be put back into power production and the rest, once evenly mixed with the slag from the uranium refining process, would be less radioactive than the original ore. Of course, if oil prices stay high enough, this might change.

    the Grit

  12. matt says:

    Well as you may know the UK has had a reprocessing plant for yonks but, it came with too many problems, particularly since the govt decided to privatise its operations.

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