Going Green

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Biofuel Impact in Third World

Bio-fuel production in less developed countries presents a problem not faced in the U.S.

Science Daily — The nations of Asia and the Pacific are being urged to study the issue of biofuels with greater care before deciding on how they will use their agricultural products to generate energy.

Scientists say there is an urgent need to support the current rush toward major decisions on biofuel policies in Asia and the Pacific with solid research and unbiased information about their potential benefits, impact, and risks.

This appeal was issued at the end of a recent Expert Consultation on Biofuels organized by the Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) together with the Philippine-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in India, the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute, and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico. The consultation was held at IRRI's headquarters in Los BaƱos, Philippines, on August 27-29.

"There's no doubt biofuels will have an impact on agriculture in Asia and the Pacific and present some very interesting new opportunities," APAARI's executive secretary, R.S. Paroda, said. "But we need to be absolutely sure this will not affect the region's food security and its continuing efforts to alleviate poverty."

In the Asian region, both China and India are...(complete story here).

Many less-developed economies are somewhat dependent on subsistance (or marginally better) farming to feed the mass of their people. What happens when the demand for land to grow crops destined for bio-fuels trumps the needs of the people to feed themselves? We aren't talking about democracies in most of these countries. We are frequently talking about dictatorships or planned economies. The farmers themselves likely will not benefit to a great extent. It may pump some dollars into the hands of the elite few, but trickle down in most of these economies doesn't work especially well.

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