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“All indications are that subsidies are being piled on top of one another without policy makers having a clear idea of their potential impact on the environment and the economy.
Yet the potential for waste on a grand scale and some spectacularly perverse environmental outcomes is large.” To highlight Upton’s point – under existing policies, the biofuels industry will, in aggregate, receive support worth over billion within the 2006-2012 time frame. A literature review from the Congressional Resource Service concluded that using corn ethanol cuts net greenhouse gas emissions by only about 20 percent because it requires heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides, which are energy-intensive and cause water pollution.
While well intended, these across-the-board policies have had major implications on the world’s food supply as our food needs become increasingly tied to our energy needs. Biofuels come from various sources – ethanol from corn, sugar beets or sugarcane, oils from seeds and grains such as the oil palm, rapeseed or soybean.
These feedstocks can be burned to yield energy in our cars and factories.
Fuel-friendly Policies over Food Security A Goldman Sachs report says that forty-one countries are currently pursuing policies to promote the use of biofuels over the next decade.
If implemented in full, these policies would increase global biofuel demand from 10 billion gallons per year in 2005 to 25 billion gallons per year by 2010, a 20 percent annualized growth rate.
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Most of the countries with biofuel production and usage policies are in the northern hemisphere while the most efficient crops for production are in the southern hemisphere.
However, rather than promote the use of the most efficient food crops as biofuels, the primary motivation for these blanket policies in the western world is typically to secure the supply of energy and increase self-sufficiency.