Food as fuel

Back in November and a few times since, I mentioned on this blog my growing concerns about the ethanol industry – including the possibility of what is traditionally food being diverted for fuel use and the impact that would have on food prices. Like many, I originally thought ethanol to be a real solution to our energy woes until somebody pointed out to me how much grain it takes to generate the ethanol for a single tank of fuel.

And so it begins:

“A dozen eggs is likely to cost shoppers an extra 20-30 cents, as the price of chook feed continues to rise…The decision to produce ethanol from grains has driven up grain prices worldwide…probably added $50 a tonne to the price of grain” Source:

The ethanol industry here in Australia is still in it’s infancy. A 20 cent price rise on eggs is substantial – how much higher will it go as ethanol, still touted by many as an environmental savior, becomes even more in demand? What about grain products staples such as bread?

On the environmental side; How much more land will we destroy in this drought prone country in order to grow more grain to feed our transport addiction? What about water usage? I’ve read it takes around 1,700 gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol.

At the very least, there needs to be some solid caps in place as to the percentage of food crops that can be diverted to fuel production. Even if that were to happen, would farmers simply switch crops in order to make more money from other plants that can be converted to ethanol?

We just don’t get it.. it’s all about levels of consumption. We are now playing a dangerous game of robbing Peter to pay Paul instead of just facing the fact that we all need to lead much simpler lives.