BioFuel and Food

The topic of biofuels is not always my favorite to talk about. It is complex, it is a very grey area when it comes to benefits versus drawbacks.

Yet overall as someone who supports social justice, sustainability, human rights, and cleaning up the mess we have made of the world, I welcome the era of biofuels that we seem to be at the beginning of.

Among the great points of the big debate is the issue of world hunger and the price of food. As many of you will know by now, there is a great deal of speculation and already some evidence that food prices will go up because so much food is being turned into fuel. Many critics say, this is the problem if we make the global focus bio fuels.

The initial issue I have with this argument is the idea that world hunger will worsen and that food prices will increase. It is a fact that IF the leaders of the world wanted to, there is enough food in the world to feed everyone. But when you introduce the politics and economics of food production, that food never reaches the hungry. So this is already a problem no matter what we’re using to fuel vehicles.

Then comes the issue of rising food prices, a much tougher one for me get into since I’m neither a farmer nor can I see the future in terms of prices. I do however believe that governments could cooperate to make sure prices would not get out of control. Again it requires that they WANT TO solve the problem, and based on history it is clear that ending hunger is NOT the priority of world leaders.

Of course there’s alot more to it and I hope to build on this discussion through both writing and podcasts. For now I want to recommend the latest edition of The State We’re In; specifically a conversation they have with a Brazilian farmer that, for me, is very interesting and informative.


  1. November 26, 2007

    Buyer beware. The other problem with biofuel is that some of it is has murder, terror and dispossession as a byproduct.

    On Sept. 7, 2006, paramilitary gunmen invaded the home of Juan de Dios García, a community leader in the Colombian city of Buenaventura. García escaped, but the gunmen shot and killed seven members of his family.

    The paramilitaries, linked to the government of President Alvaro Uribe and to the country’s wealthy landholding elite, wanted to stop García and other activists from the Proceso de Comunidades Negras (Process of Black Communities, or PCN), who have been trying to recover land on which Afro-Colombians have lived for five centuries. The PCN is a network of over 140 organizations among Black Colombian communities.

    García later told Radio Bemba, “when the paras [paramilitary soldiers] came looking for me, I could see they were using police and army vehicles. They operate with the direct and indirect participation of high government functionaries. So denouncing their crimes to the authorities actually puts you at an even greater risk.”

    South of Buenaventura along the Pacific, in the coastal lowlands of the department of Nariño, oil palm plantations are spreading through historically Afro-Colombian lands. The plantation owners’ association, Fedepalma, plans to expand production to a million hectares (about 3,861 square miles), and the government has proposed that by 2020 seven million hectares will be used for export crops, including oil palms.

    Helping planters reach their goal is the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In what the agency describes as an effort to resettle rightwing paramilitary members who agree to be disarmed, USAID funds projects in which they are given land to cultivate. The land, however, is often located in historically Afro-Colombian areas.

    On paper these resettlement projects may appear to be effective components of a national peace process. On the ground, however, what typically happens is that the paramilitaries take on the task of protecting the plantation owners’ (and the government’s) investment. And Afro-Colombian activists who get in the way pay a price in blood.

  2. DRock
    November 26, 2007

    Gunna get me a big ass diesel F-150 and run it on veggie oil – just like the way Rudolf and intended.

    It’s going to smell like french fries – who doesn’t like french frys?

    • bicyclemark
      November 27, 2007

      F150. Wow. I always thought those ran on testosterone. 😛

  3. DRock
    November 27, 2007

    Gunna get me a diesel Ford F-150 and run it on used veggie oil – that would be awesome! My truck would smell like French fries – who doesn’t like French fries?

    Rudolf Diesel ran his first engine on veggie oil

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