14 July 2006

Biofuels: Concern Over Ethanol Production's Impact on Poor

NEW YORK - The race to boost ethanol production could one day hurt food supply for many of the world's poor, an environmental expert said on Thursday, according to a report in Reuters/Planet Ark.

"This is shaping up as competition between the 800 million people in the world that own automobiles and the 2 billion low- income people in the world, many of whom are already spending over half their income on food," Lester Brown, president of Washington D.C.-based environmental research group Earth Policy Institute, told reporters on a teleconference.
Ethanol production is booming in Brazil and the United States amid record oil prices, a shortage in refinery capacity for production of conventional motor fuels, and increasing fuel demand.

Brazil, the world's leading ethanol producer, uses sugarcane to make the fuel. Prices for sugar futures in February hit a 25-year high of nearly 20 cents per pound, on ethanol demand and as big money funds came into the market.

In the United States, the world's largest corn exporter, high subsidies for making ethanol are also encouraging a rush to corn, as everyone from Bill Gates to investment banks invest in ethanol plants.

Read the full story: Ethanol Boom

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