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Stackyard News Jun 07

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Biofuels - a realistic assessment

NFU President Peter Kendall will be speaking today (Wednesday 13 June) at the National Cereals event in Cambridgeshire and inviting his audience to engage in a realistic assessment of the hotly debated subject of biofuels and putting it into context of agriculture’s wider renewable contribution.

NFU President Peter Kendall

peter kendall

In a speech entitled ‘Food versus Fuel – myths and misconceptions’ Mr Kendall will examine the arguments for and against the use of biofuels in the transport industry. Surrounded by potential growers of the grains, oils and sugar beet that could be used to fulfil the renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO) he will encourage his audience not to be taken in by the recent negative messages about the new technology.

Mr Kendall will also talk about the impact on third world agriculture, production capacity, and the environmental and ecological impacts abroad.

Speaking before the event, Mr Kendall said: “I simply cannot believe that something that so recently was only viewed as a good news story should suddenly be attracting so much negative publicity. Only a matter of months ago everyone was in agreement that this was an important element in bringing down the carbon emissions from transport fuels but suddenly the subject is attracting a cacophony of complaints from a number of different interest groups.

“Fortunately I am not alone in continuing to understand the reality of the situation. Richard Branson launched his biodiesel Virgin Voyager train last week with the news that if they convert their entire Voyager fleet it would cut carbon emissions by 14 per cent, the equivalent to taking 23,000 cars off the road (1). Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth Transport Campaigner, said with the introduction of RTFO that biofuels would have a vital role to play in cutting transport emissions (2) and, far from fearing for the future of their farmers, the farming organisation of Southern Africa has said that biofuels would provide a huge opportunity for farmers to augment their incomes (3).

“I am not blind to the international concerns about biofuels and biodiversity and I echo the sentiments of the EU Minister for Agriculture, Mariann Fischer Boel, who has given a commitment to a mechanism for any biofuels used in Europe not to have undesirable environmental consequences (4). That’s good news for English farmers who are already working to assurance schemes and can readily supply sufficient biofuels to meet EU targets.”

Apart from debunking the myths that are growing up around the biofuel debate Mr Kendall will also welcome the benefits that all energy based on agriculture, rather than fossil fuels, will bring.

“For the first time in half a century farming can be seen as providing solutions, not problems. My vision is that, with on farm energy production provided by biomass plants and biogas units, farmers will become net exporters of energy. Growing crops for biofuels will be part of that. These are developments that anyone with any knowledge of the science would welcome.”

Mr Kendall will also tackle the issue of food prices at the event. He said: “What I cannot tolerate is the hypocrisy of food manufacturers who are now bleating about food inflation when, for a long time, they have calmly watched farmers’ margins being squeezed while always hanging onto, or improving, their own."

link Kemira GrowHow Adds Perspective to Green Debate
link Demand for Biofuels Inflates Global Food Prices
link Crop Market Update

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