Tremendous efforts are being made to promote biodiesel, amid concerns about the escalating cost of oil and our reliance on the Middle East for supplies; however, the rush to convert food crops (i.e., sugar cane, corn) into transport fuel may drive up food costs and, ultimately, create supply shortages.
Now, I’m a fan of biofuel. And I do what I can to help the environment (i.e., recycle, donate time & money to conservancies, temper electric use whenever possible, support sustainability and otherwise think and buy green). That said, while initial measures to produce bio fuel might help us save at the pump, they might force us to pay dearly at the grocery store.
The price of rapeseed, for example, an important ingredient in margarine, has increased 30% this year alone. What’s more of a concern is the impact this might have on public health. Research shows for every 1% rise in the price of margarine, there’s a 1% fall in consumption, meaning, people switch to butter and animal fat, thus increasing risk of cardiovascular disease.
From my perspective, I’d love to see researchers explore next generation bio fuel sources including wood chips and straw, since these products would have a lesser affect on food prices and public health.