Tuesday, July 3, 2007

More on the impact of "agrofuels"

The Transnational Institute sounds like the kind of "progressive" group that I personally tend to distrust. However, they make a few good points in a report on the impact of "agrofuels."

The rush for ‘biofuels’ is already causing serious damage. Far from being sustainable, the spread of what are more accurately called ‘agrofuels’ – liquid fuels produced from biomass grown in large-scale monocultures – is compromising biodiversity and fuelling human rights violations. As the industry expands, it is encouraging intensified, industrial agriculture, providing a new promotional vehicle for GM crops, and posing a serious threat to food sovereignty. The argument that these ‘biofuels’ will mitigate climate change is unproven – indeed, the destruction of rainforests, peatlands and other ecosystems to make way for agrofuel plantations may well accelerate global warming.

I happen to be less worried about genetic technology that TNI is. However, they're on the mark when they point out the folly of cutting down forests to grow sugarcane and maize for ethanol fuel production. As I've mentioned before, there are tree crops like peach palm that can over high yields of fuel value from sustainable harvests while maintaining much more of a forest ecology -- they are, after all, how humankind survived in the Amazon basin for many thousands of years before European diseases decimated the population.

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