samedi 11 octobre 2008

"Food vs Fuel": biofuels responsible for food crisis?

A few years ago, biofuels appeared to public opinion as an ideal solution to the issue of oil getting scarce. Cheap to produce and less polluting than petroleum, people thought they could gradually replace oil.

In this period of food crisis, everyone doesn't approve of biofuels anymore. We blame them for leading farmers to use land for energy rather than food. Specialists fear disloyal competition; biofuels producers would like to reassure the public. Two points of view are face to face

Professor Bernardo Mançano, geographer at the Presidente Prudente University, São Paulo (Brazil):

Philippe Tillous-Borde, CEO of Sofiprotéol, processing industry of oil and vegetable proteins destined to produce, among others, biodiesel.

"Biofuels were presented as the ideal culprit, which is totally wrong and overshadows the real issue. In Africa, FAO figures show that, without deforestation, around 200 millions hectares of land in south Sahel could be farmed. But, of course, it would require facilities, building storage sites, enabling farmers of these countries to produce.

On the other hand, what happened lately is the result of several factors: drought, high demand in Asian countries and above all, we're realizing it today, enormous speculation on the raw materials market. The proof is that today we're facing a financial crisis, and markets completely collapsed. Biofuels consumption, on the contrary, is developping even more."

Mathilde Bellenger

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