Posted by: r.m. | April 8, 2011

feed cars or humans?

so cars want to be fed, and the industry that feeds those cars wants to continue with its profits, and the industry that builds roads and works against public transportation wants to continue with its profits..

so,what to do?

From The Grist:

After discovering the disastrous consequences of turning its own food crops into fuel, China has turned to cassava — mostly from southeast Asia — as a source for biofuels. Europe, meanwhile, is buying up tracts of “marginal land” in Africa in order to grow jatropha for biofuels. In the U.S., of course, it’s corn for ethanol.

The developed world’s modest proposal is this: Take calories that might otherwise have gone to feed humans or their livestock, and turn them into energy to fuel our motor vehicles instead. In theory, say advocates of biofuel, next-generation fuels will be made from crops that people and animals can’t eat. But that doesn’t mean farmers won’t grow them instead of food, if the incentive is strong enough, which it probably is. So: Fewer hungry cars, more hungry people.

The relationship between demand for biofuel and the price of food is complicated, but experts agree that the demand for fuel is one reason that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization index of food prices hit a twenty-year high this year.

Another reason for record food prices is extreme weather. Gee, wonder what could be causing that?


So, racism, post-colonialism, capitalism, and stupidity combine… once again.


  1. I think biofuel is excellent when its use complies to a well-studied policy. The first thing to do is to determine the most energy-efficient inedible plant, and to start processing it for biofuel. This however must not lead to another “Black Gold” episode. A quota that would suit the country’s energetic demands without threatening its people with hunger would maintain things under control. It would be critical to keep these policies in the category of self-sufficiency and not to transform the biofuel into a mega-business that would threaten the stability of countries with large agricultural lands, not to mention the will and life of local farmers.

  2. The dilemna caused by biofuels in this analysis is similar to that of cash crops grown for export. The effect is the same: native food becomes less affordable to the local population. It is not just about biofuels; similar stories could be found about cotton, flowers, or anything else that is planted on a massive level in a country’s limited fertile lands for the purpose of export as cash crops (in place of native foods for local sustenance).

    The problem (especially its impact on food prices) could even be repeated without any crop substition and with the best of intentions, as exemplified in this recent NY Times article: Similarly, the best Egyptian cotton is to be found outside of Egypt, because the best is destined for export with the inferior balance going to the local population.

    One solution is to eat local wherever possible, eating foods locally indigenous, to support your local farmers, and to plant crops with the same priority such that “cash crops” do not push over or substitute for the other crops (food or otherwise) that have been a staple for local consumption.


  4. As long as they implement a policy that benefits everyone involved, whether it’s the farmers or the industries, not at the expense of the local food crop of course which should be providing self-sufficiency, i’m with. Governments should set their priorities straight: #1 feed your people (not shit but good quality food),#2 Always pushing forward to achieve self-sufficiency then thinking of export. #3 Everyone involved in a project such as biofuel should recieve a fair share of the profit the project provides without affecting the environment negatively. #4 Encourage local production by providing incentives for citizens to open their own busnisses providing job opportuninties for your people instead of allowing foreign countries to profit off your lands.

  5. i think biofuel is a great alternative to non renewable energy sources we are using nowadays. But this project must be accompanied with a strict policy that sets priorities and organises the the whole process. the production of biofeuls must not affect local food crops nor the environment.

  6. Feeding cars or humans? A question that the answer on should be “Humans”. Humans were found on earth before cars. It is true that humans have designed at first cars that are based on non-renewable sources of energy like fossil fuels. But later, humans discovered that fossil fuels are not environmentally friendly and that they will vanish sooner or later since they belong to the non-renewable resources. Again, going back to the root causes of the problem, which are population growth and economic development, is the ultimate solution to the problem. Moreover, it is true that Jatropha is not edible, but it is demanding lots of spaces just to feed the cars. This opened up a new business in the green market, and it is not the ultimate solution. So, what about feeding humans while feeding cars? This can be accomplished. In fact, “Cargill, Shell and Honda — giants in the worlds of agriculture, petroleum and automotive manufacturing — have teamed up to fund a company called Virent that has developed an inexpensive process to turn woody plant waste into gasoline. The process can start with anything from corn stalks to pine waste — think pine cones and needles — and turn it into what they call Bioformate, a type of oil that can be used in current vehicle gas tanks. It is a non-food crop option for turning plants into biofuel, and will be a major cornerstone for three powerhouse companies.”

  7. It is really weird how people are still thinking about increasing the production of fuel instead of developing cars that work on solar energy. This would definitely be much more beneficial for it saves a lot of lands, prevents hunger and the misuse of the agricultural spaces that are decreasing by the minute. I believe that the solar energy is very promising because sun is a renewable source, does not lead to further pollution and would not lead to increasing the price of food. So why not use a permanent renewable cheap source instead of using those expensive toxins threatening our lives?!!!

  8. Another major hurdle for widespread adoption of biofuels is the challenge of growing enough crops to meet demand, something skeptics say might well require converting just about all of the world’s remaining forests and open spaces over to agricultural land.
    Another dark cloud looming over biofuels is whether producing them actually requires more energy than they can generate

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