- 6-15 April 2011, Asuncion, Paraguay: Land Use Change Analysis and Food Security Training Institute. (Themes: climate, ecosystem values, food security, GIS technology, land use changes)
- 11-14 April 2011, San Diego, California, USA: Biocycle Global 2011 Themes: (biomass, jobs, soil, waste)
- 14-15 April 2011, Manchester, New Hampshire, USA: Heating the Northeast With Renewable Biomass. (Themes: biomass, pellets, wood chips, grasses)
- 15 April 2011, Espoo, Finland: EUBIONET III workshop - Bioenergy and forest industry. (Themes: biomass, forests, solid biofuels, transportation, wood pellets)
- 17-19 April 2011, Dubai, UAE: Dubai Global Energy Forum. (Themes: carbon emissions, energy security, fuels)
- 19-21 April 2011, Washington, D.C., USA: Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference. (Themes: advanced biofuels, aviation, finance, markets, microorganisms)
- 25-29 April 2011, Dalian, China: World Congress of Bioenergy. (Themes: advanced biofuels, biogas, biotechnology, China, low-carbon strategies, markets, technologies)
- 26-27 April 2011, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA: The 8th Annual Sustainable Energy Conference. (Themes: biofuels, biomass, ethanol, policy)
- 27 April 2011, Washington, D.C., USA: Developing Sustainable Biomass Supplies: A Step toward Energy, Economic, and Environmental Security (Themes: biomass, Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Renewable Fuel Standard, sustainability)
- World's largest beef company signs Amazon rainforest pact, 29 April 2011 by Mongabay.com: "The world's largest meat processor has agreed to stop buying beef from ranches associated with slave labor and illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, according to the public prosecutor's office in the state of Acre. The deal absolves JBS-Friboi from 2 billion reals ($1.3 billion) in potential fines and paves the way for the firm to continue selling meat to companies concerned about their environmental reputation."
- "Under the terms of the deal, JBS agreed to stop buying cattle from areas embargoed by environmental inspection agencies and lands classified as conservation units or indigenous territories, unless the management plans of those areas allow for livestock. Cattle production often occurs illegally in forests zoned for conservation or indigenous use and squatters are used as proxies to grab the land. JBS will also not buy cattle from ranches that have been convicted of labor abuses, including slave labor."
- "The deal could help curtail deforestation for cattle production — which accounts for the bulk of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon — but its effectiveness still hinges on local governance, where corruption remains a problem."
- On-Farm Anaerobic Digester Trends In The United States, April 2011 by BioCycle: "AgSTAR National Program Manager Chris Voell offered some perspective behind the statistics regarding what is driving the growth of anerobic digestion (AD) in America. In a nutshell, he says, if we want to realize the environmental and economic benefits that digester systems can bring, business models must be developed to make the projects viable (e.g., revenue, financing), a more conducive environment to attract investors must be created and energy policy has to be altered to be more supportive of smaller, distributed generation projects like AD. While government incentives and private investment are helping to drive growth, a handful of states are demonstrating how visionary policy is perhaps what is needed most."
- "Voell points to volunteer programs such as 'Cow Power,' a Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) voluntary program that allows customers to purchase electricity generated from dairy digesters at a premium (the generating farms receive 4 cents per kilowatt hour if they participate in the program)."
- "Programs such as these, Voell says, allow citizens the opportunity to encourage development of smaller renewable energy projects in their communities and realize the improved quality of life that they bring (odor control, enhanced revenue generation, air and water quality improvements)."
- Wanted by EPA: Scientists for controversial climate mission, 26 April 2011 by The Hill: "The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking experts to help unwrap a wonky but politically charged question: How to measure the carbon footprint of using biomass for energy."
- "EPA in January backed off applying greenhouse gas permitting rules to power plants and other facilities that use plant matter to make energy."
- "EPA said it would use the three-year delay to improve methods for accounting for the carbon footprint of using various types of forest and other plant materials. On Wednesday, the agency is slated to publish a request for nominations to serve on a panel of EPA’s Science Advisory Board that will weigh the matter."
- "A key question is how to track carbon released from land-use changes related to harvesting plant matter."
- "EPA has come under heavy pressure from the forest industry and some Capitol Hill lawmakers fearful that applying emissions rules to biomass would stymie the market for the energy source."
- U.S. Ethanol Boom Fuels Farmland Price Spike, and Some Fear a Bubble, 24 April 2011 by Midwest Energy News (via Solve Climate News): "Midwest farmers — and the land on which they rely — have prospered in recent years, even as the U.S. endured a financial crisis and economic recession."
- "While rising global demand for food — particularly from densely populated and growing countries such as India — gets a chunk of the credit, this newfound prosperity is closely linked to the U.S. government's backing of corn-based ethanol. Farm incomes and farmland values have surged as the ethanol industry emerged and then swelled in the past decade, creating a new form of steady demand for corn and hastening the rise in value of the soil in which it grows."
- "But the conditions also may be inflating a bubble, which if bursts could drag farm country into a recession, regulators and policy analysts have begun to warn."
- "Analysts and others now say that the ethanol industry could either advance to other, less costly sources than corn or — perhaps sooner — key government subsidies for ethanol will get crimped as lawmakers in Washington look to curtail spending. This could affect demand for grain — and the cash markets."
- National Wildlife Federation Launches Lawsuit to Protect America’s Vanishing Grasslands, 22 April 2011 by National Wildlife Federation: "The National Wildlife Federation is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a bid to protect America’s vanishing grasslands. The EPA is ignoring laws designed to protect the fragile ecosystem from harmful and unnecessary agricultural production. The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) created by Congress and implemented by the EPA requires a certain amount of transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain renewable fuel, such as corn ethanol. In crafting the RFS, Congress clearly recognizes the need to protect America’s grasslands by limiting biofuel feedstock production and harvesting to agricultural lands. In other words, natural ecosystems, like grasslands, are not supposed to be converted for agricultural uses. However, the EPA is flaunting this important provision by adopting an 'aggregate compliance approach', which allows protected ecosystems to be destroyed for biofuels production."
- "'Plowing up our nation’s last remnants of native grasslands to grow more corn for ethanol is like burning the Mona Lisa for firewood,' said Julie Sibbing, Director of Agriculture programs for the National Wildlife Federation."
- "The National Wildlife Federation’s goal in this lawsuit is to ensure that the federal renewable fuel requirements are met in a way that protects natural ecosystems from environmentally damaging conversion to agricultural land."
- IEA: Biofuels could supply 27 per cent of transport fuel by 2050, 21 April 2011 by Business Green: "Up to $13tn (£8tr) of investment is required to ensure that sustainable biofuels make up more than a quarter of all transport fuel by 2050, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) which argues that emerging biofuel technologies could deliver deep cuts in carbon emissions and improvements in energy security."
- "The Biofuels for Transport report says that most biofuel technologies could cost the same, or even less, than fossil fuels."
- "Around three billion tonnes of biomass, along with a further billion tonnes of biomass residues and wastes, and supplementary production from around 100 million hectares of land, would be needed each year to meet the 2050 targets set out in the report."
- "The IEA expects the majority of new biofuels to come from second-generation technologies, such as cellulosic ethanol, which is derived from wood, straw and other waste materials, and can be be produced without eating into agricultural land."
- Read the full IEA Technology Roadmap: Biofuels for Transport Report (PDF).
- Relax biofuel laws says World Bank as millions face food poverty, 20 April 2011 by TheGreenCarWebsite.co.uk: "The World Bank is calling on Governments around the world to relax laws requiring biofuels to be mixed with conventional fuels for road transport use as global food prices remain volatile."
- "Driven in part by higher fuel costs connected to events in the Middle East and North Africa, global food prices are 36 per cent above their levels a year ago new World Bank Group numbers released this week reveal."
- "The bank is calling on governments to divert more crop production away from biofuel use and ease export controls to prevent even more people falling below the extreme poverty line."
- "While not suggesting that biofuel laws should be abolished altogether, the organisation is concerned that many of the greatest food price increases link to plants commonly used as biofuel sources. Crops such as maize show a 74 per cent increase in price, while other biofuel crops such as wheat show a 69 per cent increase and soybeans show a 36 per cent increase, although rice prices have been stable."
- Palm Oil Lobby Fights World Bank's Environmental Initiatives in Indonesia, Malaysia, 20 April 2011 by Treehugger: "We know how destructive the palm oil industry in Indonesia and Malaysia, so it was great news when the World Bank announced that social and environmental safeguards would serve as guiding principles in its lending to the palm oil sector."
- "The World Bank said it would try to 'support smallholders and foster benefit sharing with rural communities,' but that palm oil lobbying groups World Growth International and the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA) attacked the Bank for doing so."
- "The latter group issued a press release saying: 'The Bank's new framework for palm oil engagement elevates radical ideological opposition to agriculture development above the needs of the poor and hungry in Africa'—a position some are spinning as the Bank saying the environment is more important than African farmers."
- "What that fails to recognize is the precise link between climate change, degradation of the environment, and increased vulnerability for already impoverished people, specifically in Africa."
- Campaigners should support aviation industry biofuel trials, 20 April 2011 by Paul Steele of the Air Transport Action Group in The Ecologist: "Having seen the issues caused by road transport’s use of first generation sources, the aviation industry has been proactive in trying to ‘do it right,’ from the start. At the same time, the aviation industry does not have the luxury of a variety of renewable energy sources like other sectors (wind, solar, hydrogen etc) and is therefore focussed on developing second generation sustainable biofuels as a means of reducing GHG emissions."
- "We have been working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels to set in place a set of robust criteria to determine the sustainability of feedstock, including the impact that these crops will have on local populations and lifecycle CO2 emissions. Grown responsibly, jatropha can have a positive impact on the livelihoods of those growing it and also bring about impressive reductions in carbon emissions."
- "In fact, a recent Yale University study showed that jatropha plantations in Brazil are able to have as much as an 85 per cent decrease in lifecycle carbon emissions, when grown in a responsible way. But jatropha is just one potential source of biofuel for aviation – a range of non-food crops and advanced biomass sources such as algae promise to provide low-carbon fuel for air transport."
- International Land Coalition Launches Online Land Portal, 19 April 2011 by IISD Reporting Services: "The International Land Coalition (ILC) has launched "The Land Portal," an online platform for information on land."
- "The portal aims to improve transparency, land rights monitoring, and the identification of information gaps for better land governance."
- "It has emerged from the ILC, a partnership of more than 40 organizations that is is hosted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)."
- "The portal targets government institutions, civil society, mulitlateral organizations, social entrepreurs, academic and research organizations and the media."
- "Access the Land Portal Website."
- Advanced biofuels lag far behind mandates, 19 April 2011 by DesMoinesRegister.com: "Advanced biofuels are developing far slower than Congress imagined when it imposed mandates on refiners to use them, and there’s little sign the production is going to catch up with the targets."
- "The government expects just 170 million gallons of fuel to be made from crop residue and other sources of plant cellulose by 2014, which is far short of the 1.75 billion gallons that a 2007 law requires refiners to use that year, said Paul Bryan, who manages the Energy Department’s biomass program."
- "The Environmental Protection Agency already has slashed the mandates for biomass fuels last year and this year because very little is being produced."
- "He said the next generation of fuels can’t be just new forms of ethanol either because ethanol will displace so much gasoline that it will create economic problems for refineries that are needed to produce diesel, jet fuel and petrochemicals."
- ISU creates 'Nintendo for biofuel nerds.', 18 April 2011 by The Gazette: "I-BOS (the Interactive Biorefinery Operations Simulator) is no game. It’s based on real Iowa biorefineries that are producing ethanol and biodiesel."
- "It’s designed to help students in Iowa State’s biorenewable resources and technology program learn about biofuel production. And it could be used by the biofuel industry to help train employees to operate a biorefinery."
- "It’s based on differential calculations that describe the fundamental transport phenomena and incorporate the principles of mass and energy conservation. The simulations also take into account more than 20 specific production attributes including moisture, starch content, contaminants, temperature and particle size."
- "The virtual control room is now written to simulate the operation of ethanol and biodiesel plants. It keeps track of energy consumption, production efficiency and fuel quality."
- "The virtual control room can also offer training and experience with new feedstocks and technologies. Grewell said as new ideas are developed, and as researchers understand the processes and conversions, feedstocks such as cellulose from plants or oil from algae can be written into the simulations."
- Sen. Harkin: Biofuels Don’t Contribute to World Hunger, 18 April 2011 by Earth911.com: "Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) dismissed concerns Thursday that ethanol and other biofuels are contributing to rising food prices and world hunger."
- "The five-term Senator said the U.S. has not reduced the amount of corn it exports, and increased ethanol production in recent years has been matched by increased corn production."
- "Biofuels currently account for nearly 10 percent of U.S. gasoline supplies. The 13 billion gallons America produces each year fall well short of the 36 billion gallons 2007’s Renewable Fuel Standard requires the country to produce by 2022."
- "Harkin said that number is still attainable, but several of the committee’s members cited concerns that the U.S. has maxed out how much ethanol it can produce. This fear stems from the fact most fuel in America is 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol, creating a 'blend wall' that prevents ethanol from accounting for more than 10 percent of the nation’s fuel."
- "Harkin said the Biofuels Market Expansion Act, which he introduced in January, would help the country push past the blend wall. The bill would require car companies to make more flex-fuel vehicles – which can operate on more than one fuel at a time – and gas companies to equip more of their filling stations with blender pumps that provide fuel with higher concentrations of ethanol."
- Sugarcane Cools Climate, Study Finds, 17 April 2011 by Science Daily: "Brazilians are world leaders in using biofuels for gasoline. About a quarter of their automobile fuel consumption comes from sugarcane, which significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions that otherwise would be emitted from using gasoline. Now scientists from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology have found that sugarcane has a double benefit. Expansion of the crop in areas previously occupied by other Brazilian crops cools the local climate. It does so by reflecting sunlight back into space and by lowering the temperature of the surrounding air as the plants 'exhale' cooler water."
- "The scientists found that converting from natural vegetation to crop/pasture on average warmed the cerrado by 2.79 °F (1.55 °C), but that subsequent conversion to sugarcane, on average, cooled the surrounding air by 1.67 °F (0.93°C)."
- "The researchers emphasize that the beneficial effects are contingent on the fact sugarcane is grown on areas previously occupied by crops or pastureland, and not in areas converted from natural vegetation. It is also important that other crops and pastureland do not move to natural vegetation areas, which would contribute to deforestation."
- See the full study in the journal Nature Climate Change, "Direct impacts on local climate of sugar-cane expansion in Brazil"
- U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy Announce Funding for Biomass Research and Development Initiative, 15 April 2011 press release by U.S. Department of Energy: "To support President Obama's goal of reducing America's oil imports by one-third by 2025, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) today jointly announced up to $30 million over three to four years that will support research and development in advanced biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products. The projects funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) will help create a diverse group of economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products. Advanced biofuels produced from these projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50 percent compared to fossil fuels and will play an important role in diversifying America's energy portfolio."
- "Subject to annual appropriations, USDA plans to invest up to $25 million with DOE contributing up to $5 million for this year's Biomass Research and Development Initiative. This funding is expected to support five to ten projects over three to four years. A description of the solicitation, eligibility requirements, and application instructions can be found on the FedConnect website, Fedconnect.net and the Grants.gov website under Reference Number DE-FOA-0000510. Pre-applications are due on May 31, 2011 and must be submitted electronically. It is anticipated that applicants who are encouraged to submit full applications will be notified by August 3, 2011."
- Biofuels targets are 'unethical', says Nuffield report, 13 April 2011 by BBC News (U.K.): "EU biofuels targets are unethical, according to a report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics."
- "Its authors recommend the targets should be lifted temporarily until new safeguards are put in place for biofuels grown in Europe or imported."
- "The Council is an independent body that was set up 20 years ago to ponder ethical issues raised by developments in biology and medicine."
- "It has been studying biofuels for 18 months - specifically relating to the EU Renewable Energy Directive target that biofuels should account for 10% of transport fuel by 2020, a much-criticised mandate originally designed as part of Europe's strategy to combat climate change."
- "Based on what it says is a set of ethical values which will be widely shared, the report says biofuels should:
- "These principles would be backed by a mandatory - and strictly enforced - EU certification scheme, a little like the Fairtrade scheme."
- Jatropha biofuel success could drive air travel go green, 12 April 2011 by IBTraveler.com: "Media reports say that biofuel produced from seeds of Jatropha, a non-edible plant, can be sucessfully used for fueling aircrafts."
- "According to Business Matchmaking, Inc., many airlines, including Japan Airlines, Air New Zealand, Continental, Brazil's TAM Airlines and most recently the Mexican carrier Interjet, in cooperation with European manufacturer Airbus, successfully tested the oil produced from Jatropha seeds as a potential substitute for traditional jet fuel."
- "Mexico is one of the few countries pursuing the production of bio-fuel from Jatropha for a couple of years now. As the weed widely became known for producing oil that could be used to fuel jet planes, the Mexican government wanted farmers to grow entire fields of it to turn into biodiesel."
- "The United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organization has established the goal of reducing aviation-related carbon-dioxide emissions and the use of renewable fuels."
- Lack of input for EPA biofuels report could impact future policy, 12 April 2011 by Ethanol Producer Magazine: "The first triennial report on biofuels being drafted for Congress by the U.S. EPA lacks input from industry experts, which could result in negative information being falsely presented as fact to policymakers later this year, according to researchers familiar with the report."
- "The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires the EPA to assess the environmental impacts associated with biofuels every three years and report its findings to Congress. The EPA released its first draft report in February for reviewing purposes and conducted a peer review meeting in March to evaluate the report, which is to be presented in its final form to Congress mid-year....However, industry experts who offered oral testimony at the hearing were disappointed to see the panel did not include a single member of the biofuels industry or anyone with expertise in areas such as greenhouse gas emissions, which could provide valuable insight into some of the report’s conclusions."
- See the draft report, Biofuels and the Environment: the First Triennial Report to Congress (External Review Draft)
- High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion, 12 April 2011 by New York Times: "Long in decline, erosion is once again rearing as a threat because of an aggressive push to plant on more land, changing weather patterns and inadequate enforcement of protections, scientists and environmentalists say."
- "Erosion can do major damage to water quality, silting streams and lakes and dumping fertilizers and pesticides into the water supply. Fertilizer runoff is responsible for a vast 'dead zone,' an oxygen-depleted region where little or no sea life can exist, in the Gulf of Mexico. And because it washes away rich topsoil, erosion can threaten crop yields. Significant gains were made in combating erosion in the 1980s and early 1990s, as the federal government began to require that farmers receiving agricultural subsidies carry out individually tailored soil conservation plans."
- "...[G]overnment biofuels policies that have increased the demand for corn have encouraged farmers to plant more."
- "More than anything else this year, farmers are making decisions based on how they can best take advantage of corn and soybean prices, which have soared in recent months."
- Thune Reintroduces Legislation to Encourage Biofuel Production from National Forests, 11 April 2011 press release by South Dakota Senator John Thune: "Senator John Thune has reintroduced legislation (S.781) to fix the flawed definition of 'Renewable Biomass' included in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, which currently excludes any material removed from national forests and most private forestlands. Under the EISA definition, cellulosic ethanol derived from this feedstock does not count toward the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) when it is used to produce biofuels, which discourages blenders and refiners from purchasing biofuels produced from these readily available sources."
- "This proposed legislation would change the definition of 'Renewable Biomass' to more closely conform to renewable biomass definitions found in earlier versions of the RFS and the 2008 Farm Bill definition, which included waste material from national forests and private forestland."
- "According to a 2005 U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture study, about two billion tons of treatable biomass on federal forestland is available for bioenergy production."
- USDA aims to expand E85 market, 9 April 2011 by Des Moines Register: "In a bid to increase the market for ethanol, the Obama administration is offering aid to rural gas stations to install new tanks and pumps."
- "Under rules that the Agriculture Department will issue soon, stations could get grants and loan guarantees to cover up to 75 percent of the cost of installing equipment needed to dispense E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and gasoline, and other mixtures."
- "The goal is to get the ethanol pumps in 10,000 more stations in five years. About 2,300 stations nationwide are now equipped to sell E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol."
- "The ethanol industry is fast running out of room to increase its sales because most conventional gasoline now contains 10 percent ethanol, which has long been the legal limit for the additive. The Environmental Protection Agency recently agreed to raise the ethanol cap to 15 percent for 2001 and newer cars and trucks, but it's not clear how many stations will sell a blend that won't be legal for all of their customers to buy."
- Shell Shifts Biofuel Technology Focus to Brazil Sugar-Cane Waste, 8 April 2011 by Bloomberg.com: "Shell, Iogen Corp. and Codexis Inc. (CDXS) have been researching enzymes to produce cellulosic ethanol from wheat stalks and sugar-cane bagasse, a sugar industry waste product."
- "The Anglo- Dutch company has set up a $12 billion venture with Cosan SA Industria & Comercio to produce and market traditional sugar- cane ethanol in Brazil, where it’s used to fuel cars."
- "The Hague-based Shell, Europe’s largest oil company by market value, expects the share of renewable energy in transport fuels worldwide to double over the next 10 years."
- "Shell and Cosan, which controls the world’s largest sugar- cane processor, last year agreed to combine ethanol-making and fuel distribution assets in Brazil. Shell agreed to contribute about $1.6 billion of cash and assets including 2,740 service stations, while Cosan put up 23 cane-crushing mills, 1,730 gas stations and other assets."
- "The cellulosic ethanol technology will let Shell and Cosan further grow fuel output in Brazil. The partners need to scale the process to a pilot project from a demonstration plant to see if it works and that may take as long as five years. If successful, industrial-scale production may start by the end of the decade, according to Shell."
- Senate targets ethanol infrastructure, 7 April 2011 by Agriculture.com: "The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Thursday gave Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) a chance to promote a bill that would open larger markets for ethanol. It could be the first step toward passing legislation aimed at helping ethanol from both corn and cellulose get past the 10% blend wall that could limit growth of the industry."
- "The legislation would do three things: 1)require a large majority of cars sold in the U.S. to be 'flex-fuel' vehicles that can burn up to 85% ethanol, which would cost about $100 per car, 2)require major fuel distributors to install increasing numbers of blender pumps for ethanol over a six year period and authorize grants to help owners of smaller filling stations install the pumps, 3)authorize loan guarantees for pipelines that could move ethanol from production areas to major markets such as New York or New Jersey."
- "The House has been less friendly to ethanol, recently passing a budget that would block EPA from implementing 15% blends of ethanol into gasoline this year."
- Experts: Farmers not to blame for high food prices, 7 April 2011 by Sify Finance: "Corn prices rose even higher last week following an announcement that U.S. farmers are planting the second largest corn crop since 1944, but it won't be enough to meet growing worldwide demand. Corn has traded at more than $7 a bushel this month, more than double last summer's $3.50, and many traders say it could pass the record $7.65 set in 2008."
- "But experts say those prices have little to do with what shoppers pay at the grocery store, and farmers and ethanol producers aren't responsible for recent increases in the cost of groceries."
- "'Ethanol has increased demand for corn, but the lion's share of the responsibility for rising food prices has to do with volatile energy prices,' Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, said. "It is the price of energy, oil, gas, diesel, that makes what you buy at the store more expensive."
- "The U.S. Department of Agriculture report released last month that broke down where each dollar spent on groceries goes. Farmers received an average of 11.6 cents per dollar in 2008, the latest year data was available. The rest of the money goes to processing, packaging, transportation, retail trade and food service, which includes any place that prepares meals, snacks and beverages for immediate consumption including deli counters and in-store salad bars. The share going to each category has declined some, except for food service which now gets 33.7 cents of every dollar spent, the USDA reported."
- Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears, 7 April 2011 by the New York Times: "The starchy cassava root has long been an important ingredient in everything from tapioca pudding and ice cream to paper and animal feed."
- "But last year, 98 percent of cassava chips exported from Thailand, the world’s largest cassava exporter, went to just one place and almost all for one purpose: to China to make biofuel."
- "Each year, an ever larger portion of the world’s crops — cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil — is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels and as emerging powerhouses like China seek new sources of energy to keep their cars and industries running. Cassava is a relatively new entrant in the biofuel stream."
- "But with food prices rising sharply in recent months, many experts are calling on countries to scale back their headlong rush into green fuel development, arguing that the combination of ambitious biofuel targets and mediocre harvests of some crucial crops is contributing to high prices, hunger and political instability."
- "'The fact that cassava is being used for biofuel in China, rapeseed is being used in Europe, and sugar cane elsewhere is definitely creating a shift in demand curves,' said Timothy D. Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University who studies the topic. 'Biofuels are contributing to higher prices and tighter markets.'"
- Brazil wants greater regulation of sugar, ethanol, 6 April 2011 by Reuters: "Brazil wants to increase regulation of the domestic ethanol market to ensure output, a senior government official said on Wednesday, signaling a move that could have major implications for global sugar supplies."
- "President Dilma Rousseff has instructed Brazil's National Oil Agency, or ANP, to draft regulations that will treat ethanol as a 'strategic fuel' and no longer as an agricultural commodity, Haroldo Lima, the agency's director, told Reuters."
- "Brazil controls more than half of the world's sugar trade and is a pioneer in biofuels such as ethanol, which it makes from sugarcane. Ethanol shares about an equal amount of the local fuels market with gasoline."
- "World sugar prices are 25 percent off 30-year highs set in February and Brazilian cane mills have been pushing production of the sweetener close to capacity and at the expense of ethanol production."
- "For years, Brazilian officials have threatened to tax sugar exports as a way of ensuring greater output of ethanol in between cane harvests."
- "Brazil has imported more than 150 million liters of U.S. ethanol this year as producers struggle to supply the local market during cane interharvest, the director of a large ethanol group estimated last month."
- Impacts of Biofuel Targets on Land Use and Food Supply, 6 April 2011 by Journalist Resource: "The increased global production of biofuels such as ethanol has become a subject of controversy, as land formerly dedicated to the growing of food crops is repurposed to meet energy needs. Each year, more crops such as sugar, palm oil, corn and cassava are diverted for these purposes."
- "A paper by the World Bank, 'The Impacts of Biofuel Targets on Land-Use Change and Food Supply,' uses land-allocation information from the biofuels production sectors to determine the levels of competition between biofuels and food industries for agricultural commodities. The authors model the potential effects of increased biofuels production to meet current national targets."
- "The paper’s findings include:
- Expanding global biofuels production to meet current national biofuels targets would generally reduce global GDP between 0.02% and 0.06%, with the national GDP impacts varying across countries.
- Significant Expansion in biofuels production would necessitate substantial land re-allocation, resulting in as much a 5% decreases in forest and pasture lands.
- The expansion of biofuels would likely cause a 1% reduction in global food supply.
- The magnitude of the impact on food costs is not as large as perceived earlier — sugar, corn and oil seeds would experience 1% to 8% price increases by 2020 — but increases would be significant in developing countries such as India and those in Sub-Saharan Africa."
- Brazilian demand for U.S. ethanol expected to increase, 6 April 2011 by Ethanol Producer Magazine: "U.S. ethanol exports to Brazil are expected to increase during the month of April in order to fill supply gaps brought on by economic difficulties experienced within the country."
- "Raphael Hudson, Hart Energy’s director of research and consulting for Latin America, said high sugar prices have had some impact on Brazil’s ethanol industry, but have not played a significant role because the ability for mills to switch from sugar to ethanol production or vice versa is somewhat limited. He attributes the country’s ethanol supply shortage mostly to economic factors."
- "UNICA, Brazil’s sugarcane industry association, stated that ethanol exports from Brazil are anticipated to drop by nearly 20 percent this season compared to the previous period. Fewer exports will improve the tight supply situation, but not by much."
- "Last year, the country also experienced tightening supply between February and April, but chose to temporarily reduce its blend mandate from E25 to E20 in order to alleviate supply/demand issues. That wasn’t done this year, presumably as an attempt to encourage free trade with the U.S. with the hope of receiving some reciprocity in the future."
- Malaysian palm oil giant in fight with forest people gets rebuke from RSPO, 6 April 2011 by Mongabay.com: "RSPO said IOI Corp breached 'two core membership mandates and obligations' on land conflict and conversion of high conservation forest into oil palm plantations. IOI Corp will have 28 days to deliver a proposal to resolve the outstanding issues."
- "Should it fail to do so by May 2, 2011, RSPO told IOI it will consider 'further sanctions against your company, which may include the suspension of your license for new transactions involving Certified Sustainable Palm Oil materials including GreenPalm certificates.'"
- "Such a move could cost IOI dearly in the marketplace. In 2009 and 2010, PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (PT SMART), an Indonesian subsidiary of Golden Agri Resources, lost a number of major customers after it was found to be clearing carbon-dense peatlands and rainforests in Indonesian Borneo."
- "The rebuke from RSPO comes just days after the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) highlighted the struggle between the people of Long Teran Kenan and IOI over two plantations on native lands in Baram, Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo."
- Ethanol: How Much Can We Produce?, 5 April 2011 by RenewableEnergyWorld.com: "Innovations in America’s ethanol industry are constantly delivering new ways to reduce water and energy consumption at the plant, coax more energy out of the feedstock and cut greenhouse gas emissions through use of renewable energy."
- "But researchers from General Motors, Auburn University and Coskata Inc. have also identified ethanol as the most efficient and productive way to create renewable fuels from biomass – such as agricultural waste, trash and other cellulosic materials – that is often otherwise left unused in the United States."
- "As oil prices spike on unrest and instability in the Middle East, research demonstrates that we have more than enough cellulosic feedstock for conversion into ethanol in this country to cut our foreign oil consumption by as much as 30 percent."
- "Some of the paper’s findings echo other work – such as the finding that ethanol substantially reduces carbon emissions, compared to other transportation fuels. But other conclusions would surprise critics of ethanol. For example, the paper concludes that using higher blends of ethanol improves the performance of today’s high-compression engines, because of its superior qualities over gasoline as a fuel."
- Biofuel Takes Off With Jatropha Demonstration in Mexico, 4 April 2011 by Clean Techies: "The aviation industry has a significant impact (2%) on the global carbon footprint and it’s looking for ways to mitigate it with alternative fuels."
- "One of the latest news from this industry is that Honeywell successfully powered an Interjet Airbus A320-214 during a flight between Mexico City and Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas with its Honeywell Green Jet Fuel produced using the company’s UOP process technology."
- "The UOP process converted Mexican-sourced jatropha into fuel."
- "The process is based on hydroprocessing technology commonly used in today’s refineries to produce transportation fuels. In this process, hydrogen is added to remove oxygen from natural oils produced from sustainable feedstocks, including camelina, jatropha and algae."
- "When used within as much as a 50 percent blend with petroleum-derived jet fuel, the blended fuel is a drop-in replacement that meets all of the critical specifications for flight, including a freeze point at -47 degrees Celsius and a flash point at 38 degrees Celsius."
- Poplar trees useful in biofuel development, 4 April 2011 by Highlander News: " The Bourns College of Engineering's Center for Environmental Research and Technology at the University of California Riverside, a research team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and UC Riverside calls into question the assumption that high amounts of lignin in plants is the reason why it is so difficult to convert some plants into biofuels."
- "Researchers discovered that this was not always the case. High amounts of lignin only affected plants with low contents of syringyl and guaiacyl, which are two major building blocks of lignin. Researchers were also excited to discover some hidden secrets of poplar trees."
- "The research team also noticed that some poplar samples produced extraordinarily high amounts of sugar even without pretreatment."
- "Poplar trees are considered good candidates for future biofuels productions. Eventually, they could take the place of food crops such as corn as a biofuel product."
- World Bank lifts moratorium on palm oil investments, 1 April 2011 by Reuters: "The World Bank on Friday lifted an 18-month global moratorium on lending for new palm oil investments, endorsing a new strategy that focuses on supporting small farmers that dominate the sector."
- "After meeting with 3,000 stakeholders, including farmers, environmental and social groups, and businesses, the World Bank's private-sector lender, the International Finance Corp (IFC), said palm oil investments could contribute to economic growth and reduce poverty, while also being eco-friendly."
- "Palm oil employs over six million rural poor around the globe. Some 70 percent of palm oil production is used as staple cooking oil by the poor in Asia and Africa."
- "Palm oil companies have said the industry has been unfairly vilified for cutting down forests and draining peatlands -- contributing to huge amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide entering into the atmosphere."
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