Biofuels Report: Against the Grain
1st March, 2007
Plant fuels can never meet our current and growing energy needs and, as Robin Maynard reports, adopting a ‘carbohydrate economy’ may prove disastrous for our farmers, our food supply and our future
Addressing the Conservative Party Conference in October 2006, the President of the National Farmers Union (NFU), Peter Kendall, was keen to impress upon delegates ‘the key role’ his members could play in tackling climate change. Referring to how the country’s farmers kept Britain fed when imports were blocked by German U-Boats, Kendall declared: ‘Not since the Second World War has our land, our farming and our farmers been so important as a resource.’
In particular, he banged the drum for the large-scale planting of biofuel crops – these being the familiar crops of oilseed rape, sugar-beet and wheat, but which, rather than being used as human or animal foodstuffs, would be processed into fuel, namely biodiesel or bioethanol.
In seeking to ally his members’ interests to those of the newly carbon-conscious Conservatives, Kendall clearly sees an opportunity to revive the reputation and fortunes of UK farmers. For decades, UK farming has stood accused of all manner of ills – of producing surpluses that swallowed up vast subsidies from UK taxpayers; of then dumping these surpluses on world markets, undercutting prices and destroying the livelihoods of poor farmers in...
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