Do biofuels make food more expensive? My dealer says: no!

There has been a lot of dicussion in the media recently about biofuels.  Many people, even U.N. officials, claim that producing biofuels is pushing up the cost of producing food and thus making it more difficult to fund projects in third-world countries.

The issue is so important, that my car dealer has sent out a newsletter to inform his bio-ethanol customers how he sees the situation.

He agrees that the price of basic foodstuffs has risen, but points out that the price of grain on the world markets is at the same level as it was in 1980.

The reason for this is apparently that during the 1990s the EU and the USA there was an overproduction of grain which, coupled with subsidies, led to the price dropping so much that it often cost more to transport a sack of grain that the contents of the sack itself were worth.

I remember at the end of the 1990s being involved in projects campaigning for the “fair pricing” of goods from third-world countries.  Farmers in those countries should have a fair chance to sell their produce on the world markets, but were being forced to sell at artificially low prices due to the subsidies of the wealthier countries.

The rising food prices are down to these policies, and not due to biofuel production, he claims.  Indeed, he continues by writing that less than 1% of the world biomass production goes towards making biofuels.  It is unlikely that such a small percentage could have such a large effect on food prices.

It is also worth noting, that European biofuels are made from sources such as sugar-beet – and mainly from extra-production or as a secondary product.

So I shall carry on filling up my car with bio-ethanol with a clear conscience.

 

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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

Comments

  1. Somehow Im not surprised that your “car dealer”- who’s primary interest is to sell new cars-such as flex vehicles, is downplaying ethanol’s negative effects. Surprising that the dealer knows more about the world’s economies, international food sales and supplies, and apparently is more trustworthy than the many dozens of expert international economists, agronomists, NGOs, world statesman etc etc. All these have said that diverting substantial amounts of food into fuel is a cause of food supply and price problems.

    The US is one of the biggest maize exporters and now diverts 20 -25% of its maize into fuel. Taking this amount out of the food chain has no effect on food prices? Really?

    Also diverting so many other crops from sugar beets, to palm oil into biofuels and cutting down more forests to create more crops for fuel is also extremely damaging to the environment.

    Instead of massive taxpayer money to provide subsidies to the ethanol industry in the US and elsewhere, that tax money should be spent on more efficient methods of travel to get people away from cars and planes..This would be high speed trains, better freight train systems, and better public transit. Ethanol- especially food-based- is NOT the answer.

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  1. […] out that the price of grain on the world markets is at the same level as it was in 1980…. View post Add your […]

  2. […] Farmers in those countries should have a fair chance to sell their produce on the world markets, but were being forced to sell at artificially low prices due to the subsidies of the wealthier countries. The rising food prices are down … Read more […]

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