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    Food or Fuel?

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    In this blog post we report about biofuel production. Today it’s production is rapidly expanding because it is renewable, environment safe and because of increase in oil prices. Here are positive and negative effects of biofuel production.

    What is biofuel?
    A biofuel is any liquid fuel derived from biological material such as trees, agricultural wastes, crops, or grass. It can be produced from any carbon source that can be replenished rapidly, such as plants and they are substitutes for conventional fossil fuels, such as petroleum, propane, coal, and natural gas. Most using agricultural crops for biofuel production are corn, wheat, soybeans, rapeseed, sugar cane and switch grass. Some are produced by the extracting of sugar or starch from crops and then fermenting it to make alcohol. Other biofuels are made by the decaying of organic matter and the capturing of the resultant gases.

    Why biofuels?
    Biofuels are used globally and biofuel industries are greatly expanding in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. They contain no sulfur and produce low carbon monoxide and toxic emissions. Biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy security by providing an alternative to fossil fuels. By 2050, biofuels could reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 1.7 billion tons per year—equivalent to more than 80% of current transportation-related emissions.

    The most important biofuel is ethanol, primarily made from corn. It is produced annually and thereby renewable. On the other side, petroleum and natural gas were made over millions of years ago from decayed plants and animals. The amount present in the earth is limited, and it cannot be replenished.
    There are various social, economic, environmental and technical problems and issues in the production and use of biofuels. Some of them are: the impact on prices of oil and oil products, the potential to reduce poverty, the level of CO2 emissions, sustainable development in the production of biofuels, deforestation and soil erosion, reduction of biodiversity, impact on drinking water supplies.

    For example, land in poor countries, often with hunger and malnutrition problems, is being used to grow food crops to fuel cars, leaving local people unable to farm their own food to feed their families. Also burning food in cars instead of using it to feed hungry people is pushing up the price of food and making it harder for poor people to afford to eat.
    The question is, how many people could corn used for ethanol feed? Many argue that diverting such a huge percentage of the corn crop to make ethanol contributes to food price volatility and food shortages around the world.

    Europe is currently reforming its biofuels policy. The EU now wants to limit the amount of fuel produced from food crops and shift to biofuels that are produced from non–food sources, such as waste.
    If it wants to ensure that the benefits of biofuels are not at the expense of food production, the only way is to separate and secure food production. Although corn and sugar cane are ethanol traditional sources, it can be produced from plant stems, leaves or sawdust – materials that are usually discarded. Preference is given to perennial grasses with deep roots that bind carbon in the soil, provide habitat for wild animals, prevent soil erosion and provide plenty of biofuels.