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Minister: ban biofuel, it boosts famine

The Local · 16 Aug 2012, 10:39

Published: 16 Aug 2012 10:39 GMT+02:00

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"Rising food prices mean that biofuel can contribute to increased world hunger. That's why we need to suspend E10," Development Minister Dirk Niebel told the ntv television station on Wednesday.

Niebel's demand for an immediate stop to the sale of E10 biofuel at German petrol stations has been welcomed by German aid organisations.

E10 - which was introduced last year and has in any case proved unpopular among German drivers - contains 10 percent bioethanol produced from corn crops which could otherwise be used to make foodstuffs.

It was promoted as contributing to reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, as well as the 10 percent being renewable rather than fossil fuel.

"It's unjust and irresponsible that people have to starve so that we can fill up our cars with an apparently clean conscience," Rainer Lang, spokesman for the "Brot für die Welt" protestant aid organisation told the Westdeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday.

The German World Hunger Association also welcomed Niebel's suggestion that food production should be the priority in times of drought and famine and agreed that growing corn for biofuel was inappropriate given the dramatic rise in food prices.

"We need to consider in the cabinet how we can solve the conflict between the pump and the plate," said Niebel.

The price of corn is currently rocketing as the worst drought for more than 50 years hits the USA. According to the UN, one in seven people on the planet - or 925 million - do not get enough to eat.

Meanwhile, the German biofuel industry has denied it exacerbates world hunger, wrote Die Zeit newspaper on Thursday.

Story continues below…

"Only 4 percent of the German corn harvest went on bioethanol production last year," managing director of the German Biofuel Industry Association (VDB) Elmar Baumann told the paper. A ban on E10 would do nothing to help the hungry in developing countries, he added.

DAPD/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:50 August 16, 2012 by indian_korbach
A classic case of Catch 22. It calls for a classic business case ;-)

They should calculate the cost of human life (as most insurance companies do, dastardly) and add in the life danger due to pollution if we stop using E10. Balance it out with the extra 4% corn we can have and the amount of lives it can save. Simple!
17:06 August 16, 2012 by zeddriver
I'd like to hear what the alternative is. When I was a member of the sierra club. It was always about what they were against. But they never discussed viable alternatives. We are told by one environmentalist group or another to not use nuke power, Or coal, Or oil, No Hydroelectric either. Not enough land for all the wind turbines we would need. Opps! Forgot. Environmentalists are against those too. Covering the earth with solar panels makes growing plants difficult due to all the shade created. Yep! They always let us know what they don't like. But. Have no viable answer as to what to do about it.
17:34 August 16, 2012 by Username2
Good work, nuke power is the best and cleanest way to go. To many unshaven green's in Germany bleating on, its about time the truth is spoken out from a politician. He has my 2 cars and family's vote.
19:36 August 16, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
I hope they don't say this about Bio-Beer.
21:25 August 16, 2012 by bhess
Using food crops for ethanol is morally bankrupt. It effects food prices around the world and the poor of the world can least afford it. Also there is absolutely no reason to do it at this time.
23:11 August 16, 2012 by zeddriver

Also something to consider is the fact that bio ethanol requires huge quantities of water to not only process the corn. But to grow it. To distill the corn into ethanol also requires a lot of heat during the refining process. With petro oil. The heat is provided by the oil itself. With corn. One must use oil or natural gas to power distillation. In the end. More energy is consumed growing plants and making the bio fuel than is produced by burning the bio fuel.
00:27 August 17, 2012 by pepsionice
If you take the numbers....the whole concept of biofuel is a joke. You will always burn up more power to bring biofuel to market, and drive up the cost of food worldwide. There is ZERO alternative solutions to fit into this concept. If you want to waste time....go for it....but this was all a joke to start with and is still a joke.

Yes, nuke power is the best overall solution.....as long as you don't do any stupid things like putting a plant at a fault lone or next to a volcano, or next to the ocean. Greenies hate to hear that but when you balance it against coal power or massive use of land for hydroelectric....it comes out ahead. And solar power? Go look at the massive amount of space you'd need to ever make solar panels work.
09:44 August 17, 2012 by DocEllis
It was always a stupid idea to use land to grow food to make fuel. doc
11:02 August 20, 2012 by grazhdanin
Stopping the production of meat does not seem an option. 10 kg of vegetables are used to produce 1 kg of meat.
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