April 2006


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Carmelo Ruiz <[log in to unmask]>
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Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 21 Apr 2006 07:31:48 -0700
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--- Carmelo Ruiz <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2006
> Subject: Biodiesel and GMO's
> Activists involved in GMO issues should read this
> Alternet article:
> As we saw in last week's BIO convention in Chicago,
> the biotech industry sees biodiesel as the next big
> thing and is investing substantial effort to
> convince
> decisionmakers and the people that biodiesel GMO's
> will be enviro-friendly and unproblematic.
> Here is an excerpt from the article:
> "Feedstocks" are the raw material required for an
> industrial process, and biofuels use plants and
> biomass as its feedstock and life-blood. Biodiesel
> Systems feedstock, as with most biofuel startups,
> will
> primarily be soy, grown by farmers in the Midwest.
> Soybeans are converted to soy oil that is sold on
> the
> commodities market. Although there's no sure way to
> say how much soy-based biodiesel comes from
> genetically modified stock, as of 2003, 81 percent
> of
> the U.S. soy harvest was genetically modified.
> "I understand the concerns with using GMOs in the
> biofuel supply," Atwood says, "but fundamentally, as
> a
> scientist, you have to weigh the benefits against
> the
> detriments. Do I have a problem with GMO-only fuel
> crops? I feel the benefits far outweigh the
> negatives,
> and nobody really knows the full negatives yet."
> At present, feedstocks are the bottleneck for
> biodiesel production. The Department of Energy
> estimates U.S. biomass crop potential at around 160
> million tons a year, which the say will save us 1
> million barrels of oil a day. Unfortunately, right
> now, our oil consumption is around 21 million per
> day.
> So we're going to have to do much better than that.
> This means we cannot simply grow our way to diesel
> independence. To reach our national consumption in
> diesel we would need twice the arable land we have
> now, all growing soy. And planting that much soy
> means
> planting genetically modified soy.
> There are alternatives to soy-based biofuels,
> including corn (which raises many of the same GMO
> concerns) and jatropha, a nonedible oil seed, which
> is
> a dual-use crop that produces both oil for biodiesel
> and biomass for ethanol.
> Jatropha can produce 200 gallons of oil per acre
> planted, compared with 75 gallons of oil per acre of
> soy planted, and 150 gallons per acre of canola.
> Moreover, jatropha is grown in arid climes, where
> the
> agricultural footprint is small to negligible.
> Additionally, coconut produces 300 gallons of oil,
> and
> palm oil can produce a yield as high as 650 gallons.
> But controversy ensues even with a purported miracle
> product like palm oil. In June 2005 British
> journalist
> George Monbiot published a column titled "Worse than
> Fossil Fuel: Biodiesel enthusiasts have accidentally
> invented the most carbon-intensive fuel on earth."
> In
> the column, Monbiot cited a September 2004 Friends
> of
> the Earth report about the impacts of palm oil
> production, which stated that "In terms of its
> impact
> on both the local and global environments, palm
> biodiesel is more destructive than crude oil from
> Nigeria," mostly due to massive deforestation
> efforts
> in Southeast Asia in order to create palm
> plantations.
> Atwood believes Monbiot is overstating the case and
> insists that the technology is sound. He points to a
> five-year incentive program of the National
> Biodiesel
> Board, which estimates it will add $1 billion to
> U.S.
> farm income and create 50,000 new jobs.
> But certain people simply aren't convinced. In an
> op-ed printed last month, John Peck of the National
> Family Farm Coalition responded to BIO CEO Jim
> Greenwood's statement that biotechnology will end
> our
> national addiction to oil by stating, "nothing could
> be further from the truth":
> "Thanks to Monsanto, farmers are now stuck producing
> vast quantities of low quality Bt corn that has
> hardly
> any market. This unwanted biotech corn must then be
> dumped -- at taxpayer expense -- into domestic
> ethanol
> production or factory livestock farms, or abroad in
> places like Mexico. There it contaminates indigenous
> varieties, undercuts peasant farmers and creates
> desperate people who have no choice but to cross the
> border. And in the wake of the Starlink disaster, in
> which genetically modified corn not intended for
> human
> consumption found its way into fast-food tacos and
> elsewhere, one can only imagine the consumer safety
> threat posed by fields of high-starch, low-fiber
> biotech corn, engineered with an ethanol enzyme,
> growing adjacent to sweet corn across the Midwest."
> Peck also points out that the conventional ethanol
> industry is dominated by factory-farm giant Archer
> Daniels Midland (ADM), a company with as high a
> contempt factor as Monsanto, and that many family
> farmers "have lost their shirts investing in co-op
> ethanol projects that get gobbled up by ADM when
> times
> get tough." Peck and his colleagues are concerned
> that
> the millions of dollars Jim Greenwood is asking
> Congress to approve will end up going right into the
> pockets of Monsanto and ADM.
> The solution, according to Peck, is simple: "Rather
> than going to war or trusting in biotech," he
> writes,
> "the United States would do much better by investing
> in comprehensive energy conservation, decentralized
> energy production, and genuine renewable
> alternatives
> such as wind, solar and biodiesel."


PRESENTACIONES DEL LIBRO "BALADA TRANSGENICA: Biotecnología, Globalización y el Choque de Paradigmas", por Carmelo Ruiz Marrero (251 páginas, $17.00)

martes 25 de abril, 7 pm en LIBRERIA NORBERTO GONZALEZ. Av. Ponce de León, Río Piedras. (787) 281-7166

jueves 27 de abril, 7 pm en BORDERS DE MAYAGüEZ. Mayagüez Mall. (787) 833-4333

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