Category Archives: Biofuels

The UN Food Summit – Fiddling in Rome

Terry D. Etherton

The United Nations (UN) Food Summit (High-Level Conference on World Food Security), held in Rome in early June, 2008, was designed to address food security issues in the face of soaring food prices (see Figure below), and the growing challenges associated with rising energy costs, and how this has impacted food prices and food security.

The increase in food prices is astounding! For example, during the early part of 2008, nominal prices of all major food commodities reached their highest levels in the past 50 years. For the first time, the annual global food import bill will surpass $1trillion (FAO, Food Outlook, June 2008)! Continue reading The UN Food Summit – Fiddling in Rome

How Green Are Biofuels?

Jörn P. W. Scharlemann and William F. Laurance
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Balbao, Ancon, Panama

(Published in Science 319:43-44, 2008)

Global warming and escalating petroleum costs are creating an urgent need to find ecologically friendly fuels. Biofuels–such as ethanol from corn (maize) and sugarcane–have been increasingly heralded as a possible savior (1, 2). But others have argued that biofuels will consume vast swaths of farmland and native habitats, drive up food prices, and result in little reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions (3-5). An innovative study by Zah et al. (6), commissioned by the Swiss government, could help to resolve this debate by providing a detailed assessment of the environmental costs and benefits of different transport biofuels. Continue reading How Green Are Biofuels?