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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I keep reading things that elude to the fact that bio fuels are not all they are cracked up to be in the sustainability department. I drive a car fueled by bio-diesel so this hits close to home.<br><br>
First there was a news story about Virgin Airlines flying the first ever transatlantic flight on bio-diesel and then some group piped up that there were higher CO2 output and other green house gasses etc using bio fuels.<br><br>
Next I was reading the Natural Products Merchandiser, a health food industry trade magazine, and organic meat producers are blaming biofuels for the rise in soy and corn prices and saying it makes them not able to purchase organic for their animals and thus no longer produce organic meat.<br><br>
Is this just sour grapes, or is there a real downside to bio fuels?
 

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wow, I've never heard that before. I hope that's a bunch of bull because dh is looking into making bio diesel and we were really excited about it. Do you make your own?
 

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The information about corn and soy is not sour grapes. Speaking from the daughter-in-law of organic producers.<br><br>
The rest I do not know about.
 

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Nope. Is it really a coincidence that food prices are rocketing at the same time as biodiesel got fashionable? I'm not convinced <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> What I do know is that over here, arable land is being used for biodiesel production and so the UK is actually getting less self-sufficient again- thus food miles, etc, etc.
 

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Biofuels are tricky because the conversion of the oilseed plants to liquid fuel is not that efficient. This is especially true for palm oil, because it has to be kept at a certain temperature to not become solid. why use palm oil? because it's way cheaper than oilseed rape, and that is because it's being planted in Southern regions. To satisfy the demand on agrofuels, there will be more palm tree plantations. these are established in tropical rainforest regions, thus cutting down rainforests and converting peatland which then equals MORE CO2 as the carbon is released from the area. Even if that is not the case, as the big players say, they will use land that is currently used either for food or as a natural biodiversity habitat. Though corn for ethanol is produced in the US, the energy and food crop market are closely tied, so yes, higher demand for one leads to higher prices in the other. and that leads to hunger, especially since small farmers in Latin America/Africa and Asia often work on plantations or have planted cash crops. The US cannot plant enough corn for all the cars. Neither can Europe plant oilseed rape for all cars and still eat.<br>
It's like saving CO2 in the US/Europe and having more of it in the South.<br>
it's of course good to think of alternatives, but it will have to mean: smaller cars, fewer cars, less driving, and maybe some agrofuels from agricultural waste. but it's really not all that. there's no one easy solution right now.<br><br>
ok, and I'll provide links. while they are mostly about palm oil and not necessarily corn, they do have a point. and most are by environmental organisations or NGOs. they're pdfs.<br><br><a href="http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/docs/agrofuels_reality_check.pdf" target="_blank">biofuelwatch</a><br><a href="http://www.ifpri.org/2020/focus/focus14/focus14_03.pdf" target="_blank">biofuels and the global food balance</a><br><a href="http://www.grain.org/seedling/?type=68" target="_blank">GRAIN on agrofuels</a><br><br>
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food mentions biofuels in his <a href="http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G08/100/98/PDF/G0810098.pdf?OpenElement" target="_blank">final report</a>
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/privateeyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="private eyes">
 

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My husband and I have talked about this a lot. I used to be all for bio-diesel. Would you believe I heard Rush Limbaugh last year say that biofuels were just going to make food more expensive?!? (It was just by chance, I don't tune in daily.) I didn't see the other side of the equation until I heard him point it out. And now I realize that we are taking food from people to feed our machines. I still think using recycled vegetable oil would be great for powering a vehicle but I wouldn't support using fresh, "virgin" oils. It is a shame that people are not getting the food they need because it is being used to power machines for people who can afford it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This is the statement made on the site where I buy my biodiesel from.<br><i><br>
LC Biofuels<br>
Quality Pledge<br><br>
Our premium quality biodiesel is made from a blend of 80% American grown soy bean oil and 20% recycled feedstock.<br>
This blend yields the highest quality biodiesel available with recycled feedstock without sacrificing low cold flow properties.<br><br>
We pledge to never source foreign grown feedstock's such as<br>
palm oil and South American soy that is unsustainable and environmentally destructive.<br><br>
We also pledge to use the most sustainable and locally produced biodiesel as it becomes available. The biodiesel industry is still in its infancy, however there are many alternative feedstock's that will come available to us in the future.<br><br>
Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions about how we source our fuel</i><br><br>
Do you think this is still driving up the price of food? Is soy even used to feed animals etc? I always thought that soy was mainly grown when rotating crops to nitrogen fix the soil.... and wasn't much used until the soy boom in the health food industry.
 

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Soy has been heavily grown for animal feed for the last 100 years - North America led the way in this.<br><br>
In the UK there is a growing movement that only seeks to use biodiesel made from waste veg oil - this is veg oil that has already been used, usually in food production. A lot of cars run well on this alone, once filtered, but you get a more efficient fuel by brewing it.<br><br>
The cost of food has, in the main, rocketed due to the cost of transporting it. That is down to the price of a barrel of Crude Oil. With this there is the rise in the cost of wheat for food and animal feed, due to there being a higher demand for it as diets change and become more wheat reliant; and because there are farmers choosing to sell their wheat crop for fuel production (ethanol, as a petrol replacement) as it is worth more in that marketplace. Ditto corn being sold into the same ethanol market (for the same reason) making the price of it as an animal feed, or to human consumpsion, a lot more expensive as well.<br><br>
Add in a pretty nasty set of diseases that are causing crop failures around the equator line (wheat and corn) *and* the water issues in various regions as well....
 

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There is a lot of press about this, but you will note that usually they are talking about bio<b>fuels</b> and not bio<b>diesel</b>. Biofuels includes ethanol, of course, and the little bit that I have read has indicated that it may not be very efficient to convert corn, etc, into fuel. The biodiesel that I put in my personal car is made from chicken fat! Yup, it's leftover from the chicken processing plant. There's also some other waste food oil in there, too, I think, but it is primarily derived from the waste stream. I don't make it myself, but buy from <a href="http://www.biofuels.coop" target="_blank">our local co-op</a>. There are a lot of people working on this though and trying to create fuel from algae and switch grass and other non-edibles. If you're really interested I recommend going to the link above and signing up for the BIG list (Biofuels Information Group).<br><br>
hth
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>beanma</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10780698"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">There is a lot of press about this, but you will note that usually they are talking about bio<b>fuels</b> and not bio<b>diesel</b>. Biofuels includes ethanol, of course, and the little bit that I have read has indicated that it may not be very efficient to convert corn, etc, into fuel. The biodiesel that I put in my personal car is made from chicken fat! Yup, it's leftover from the chicken processing plant. There's also some other waste food oil in there, too, I think, but it is primarily derived from the waste stream. I don't make it myself, but buy from <a href="http://www.biofuels.coop" target="_blank">our local co-op</a>. There are a lot of people working on this though and trying to create fuel from algae and switch grass and other non-edibles. If you're really interested I recommend going to the link above and signing up for the BIG list (Biofuels Information Group).<br><br>
hth</div>
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yeah, it's good to look for the use of waste products <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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I've read that biofuel isn't really that ecological several times now, but of course I can't remember any links (mostly newspaper articles). I think deforestation is a big problem, especially in places like Brazil and Indonesia. THat said, I gather that there are also a number of local biofuels that seem to be more promising, so that might be something to look into. I think so far "the" solution has not been found yet, and since I'm fortunate enough to live in a place with a great public transport system (and also b/c I don't have a driver's licence) I rely mostly on that.
 

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...not to mention that corn is one of the "Big 3" GMO crops...
 

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I have a BS in mechanical engineering and have studied fuels in school. Without going into all the details (and retrieving my IC engines book from wherever it is to do it), I will say that there is no fuel that can sustain our current consumption. Ethanol has its issues, one of which is that it is literally impossible to produce the amount needed to fuel America. Also, different types of fuels have DIFFERENT (not necessarily better or worse) types of emissions. It's a tough issue. I believe that step one is to reduce consumption, which is hard for most of us b/c of the way our society is set up. I think step 2 is to look for alternatives to dependence on foreign resources primarily to reduce military conflict.
 

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<a href="http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/newsarch/2007/Jan07/biofuels.html" target="_blank">http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/news.../biofuels.html</a><br><br><a href="http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/SuperModels/CouldWeReallyRunOutOfFood.aspx" target="_blank">http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com...OutOfFood.aspx</a>
 

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Thank you for bringing this up, we've been wondering about this-- where I live it's popular to take the biodiesel buses which run off of old frying oil and other things (it smells like french fries).<br><br>
Plus, sometimes I think people are so eager when alternatives become available that we can forget what the root problem is. MichelleAnnette said, "I will say that there is no fuel that can sustain our current consumption."<br><br>
So is lifestyle a bigger problem than the problems associated with biofuels? Of course we live in a free society, and I wouldn't want someone dictating how much fuel I could have. Yet back in WW2 the government rationed all kinds of things and from what I have learned about it... people felt it was their patriotic duty, they were proud to conserve.<br><br>
But I digress because I know the OP was asking about biofuel.
 

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I think REDUCING (conservation) is certainly a major component of any successful fuel policy.<br><br>
Y'all might be interested in an analysis of the "energy balance" of waste oil produced biodiesel. It's here <a href="http://biofuels.coop/education/energy-balance/" target="_blank">http://biofuels.coop/education/energy-balance/</a> . It's obvious that using virgin vegetable oil or growing a food crop (although to be clear the corn that makes ethanol is feed corn, not corn that people would eat, but corn that livestock would eat) to produce fuel is not as efficient as REUSING waste products.<br><br>
There's a whole lot on our local coop site here under the "education" section — <a href="http://biofuels.coop/education/" target="_blank">http://biofuels.coop/education/</a> . There's a biofuels curriculum and feasibility studies as well as the energy balance analysis. I am not super-involved with the co-op, but I do buy my fuel from them. I think they do great work and they are very involved in the international grassroots biodiesel movement as opposed to the big corporate biodiesel movement.<br><br>
I think riding the french fry buses would be great and a great way to REDUCE fuel consumption, too.<br><br>
Just wanted to note that the oregon state link above is not about waste products...<br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">The economists examined three biofuel options for Oregon: ethanol made from corn, ethanol made from wood cellulose, and biodiesel made from canola.</td>
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The byproduct left from producing the biodiesel I buy (or any biodiesel, for that matter) is glycerin. Recently I bought some "biodiesel soap" made from it. I got peppermint and sage and orange something or other.<br><br>
hth
 

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Everything I have read about biodeisels points to them being sucky.<br><br><a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/10/biofuels/biofuels-interactive" target="_blank">http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/20...ls-interactive</a>
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>delphiniumpansy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10836085"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Everything I have read about biodeisels points to them being sucky.<br><br><a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/10/biofuels/biofuels-interactive" target="_blank">http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/20...ls-interactive</a></div>
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Not sure where you get that from the link you posted. It shows bio diesel producing 68% less CO2 than fossil fuels and the cost not being much more than standard diesel.
 

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I'm not following that either. That's an interesting flash presentation on National Geo, but again, it's lumping bioDIESEL in with bioFUELs. BioDIESEL is a BioFUEL, but it does not have to be produced from virgin crops (i.e. field corn), but can be produced from the waste stream. That flash presentation is also only talking about one kind of production model in Germany. The algae research is very promising. The article also talks about Brazil and sugarcane, but overall I was not very impressed with the article when it came out. (We have a subscription and I didn't go back to reread this time around.) Here are some links for those of y'all who are really interested...<br><br><a href="http://www.25x25.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=379&Itemid=57" target="_blank">http://www.25x25.org/index.php?optio...=379&Itemid=57</a><br><a href="http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/3/3/125745/7746" target="_blank">http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/3/3/125745/7746</a><br><a href="http://arstechnica.com/journals/science.ars/2008/03/11/chesapeake-bay-bacteria-leads-to-bioethanol-from-waste" target="_blank">http://arstechnica.com/journals/scie...nol-from-waste</a><br><a href="http://www.coloradoan.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080218/" target="_blank">http://www.coloradoan.com/apps/pbcs....AID=/20080218/</a><br><a href="http://blogs.edmunds.com/GreenCarAdvisor/251" target="_blank">http://blogs.edmunds.com/GreenCarAdvisor/251</a><br><a href="http://www.centredaily.com/business/technology/story/418886.html" target="_blank">http://www.centredaily.com/business/...ry/418886.html</a><br><a href="http://agron.scijournals.org/cgi/content/full/100/1/178" target="_blank">http://agron.scijournals.org/cgi/content/full/100/1/178</a><br><br>
I could easily get a lot more. If you're interested in this topic, again, you might consider signing up for the BIG (Biofuels Interest Group) email list at <a href="http://www.biofuels.coop" target="_blank">www.biofuels.coop</a>.<br><br>
Basically, all biofuels are not created equally and all biodiesel is not created equally. Biodiesel gives us common folk the opportunity right here, right now to go no-Big-Oil and off-grid with a motorized vehicle. A Prius does not do that. You still have to get gas in the thing in order to charge the batteries. An all-electric car doesn't do that unless your house is off-grid and powered by solar or wind, etc, so when you plug in to recharge you're not plugging into the grid. I can run my biodiesel VW Golf on biodiesel produced from chicken fat and waste veggie oil that is picked up and delivered in a tanker fueled by the same biodiesel.<br><br>
The other point I want to bring up is small-scale local production vs giant corporate producers. Rudolf Diesel designed the Diesel engine to run off peanut oil that farmers could produce themselves. You, too, can learn to make biodiesel! Or you can do like I do and buy from a local co-op. Just like most other things, when the big corporations get involved the movement suffers. Look at organic foods. Look at large-scale agriculure vs local farms. Any largescale monoculture farming is detrimental to the environment.<br><br>
Now, to be sure, I am not saying that there aren't problems with biodiesel and more broadly biofuels, but I am saying that there are a lot of people working on the problems right now and it's one solution that we've got right now if we want to drive or ride in motorized vehicles. Obviously, walking or biking are better alternatives!
 
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