Who REALLY Benefits from Biofuels?
As oil prices continue to rise and nations look for new fuel supplies, biofuels are becoming increasingly popular in the energy industry.
In the U.S., ethanol can be blended with gasoline at up to 10% volume. Recently, the European Union also devised a plan to increase fuel derived from biofuel to 10% by 2020.
As part of the EU plan, nations will focus mainly on first-generation biofuels, which consists of fuel from corn, soy, sugarcane, and palm oil. Less important will be the secondary biofuels, from woody crop biomass, waste, and by-products.
We've started to see a problem with this plan as demand has pushed soy and corn prices up, particularly this year after the U.S. drought yielded a smaller harvest.
But a recent study by Simone Vieri of the University “La Sapienza” of Rome, Italy, published this month in the International Journal of Environment and Health, shows that the use of biofuels may be beneficial only to certain industries and their billionaires rather than the environment and world at large.
From Science Daily:
Vieri suggests that, “In 2020 the EU won't be able to keep to its 10% biofuels goal using only European agriculture production, but will have to continue importing the greatest part of raw materials, or biofuels.” In this frame, Vieri explains that, “The EU's decision to focus on the first-generation biofuels, raises many doubts.”
Of these doubts, the first Vieri points out is one we've already started to see. The use of agricultural products for biofuel pits crops for biofuel against crops for other industries – like food and animal feed. The purpose for these resources begin to compete, and therein lies the problem of where the resource will go.
There's also the question of resource production. More often than not, Vieri says, these types of crops come from poorer nations, and the workers and resources are exploited by the industry.
Excessive production of resources, Vieri points out, can also change the land. By the time the crops are harvested and the fuel produced, the benefit of emissions reduction is negligible.
And it can also weigh on the economy. As demand increases, so do prices, and in particular this can directly affect the food security of poorer nations. And the connection between oil prices and agriculture prices will continue to strengthen.
From Science Daily:
In this context “the choice to promote first generation biofuels is an example of how politics places the protection of the interests and profit strategies of a restricted number of subjects before the costs and benefits to be had on a wider scale,” adds Vieri.
Essentially, it's all about profit. And the billionaires and businesses that are profiting are taking this profit from the land and nations they'll exploit.
This sort of exploitation of a crop like corn, which is already in high demand, could strip the land, inflate prices, and harm the environment in the process.
And the benefit won't be for you – it will be for the billionaires behind the operations.+4
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