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Agriculture vs. Forestry ... or the search of reasoning in subsidization of biofuels

The following article was published in todays' Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(Wissen). To sum it up: According to Paul Crutzen (Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry) agricultural fertilizers (especially nitrogen) used for corn and canola cultivation in order to produce biofuels (biodiesel and bioethanol) cause more damage to the climate than fossil fuels. Canola fuel has a 1.7, corn a 1.5 factor to climate damage (in comparison to the savings of CO2 from fossil fuels). According to David Reay of Edinburgh University the modelled outcome of the United States effort to increase their biofuel consumption by 7 times (2022) would raise the overall emission by 6 % if Crutzens' model is right.

Corn and canola are the main biofuel crops in middle Europe due to their optimal plant/biomass ratio. While more and more farmers react to the growing market of bioproducts and switch to the production of healthfood (wheat, vegetables etc.) receiving subsidization by state and European Union, an increasing amout of farmers keeps a backdoor open for the other part of subsidization: plants for biofuels.

Now how is this supposed to work? On one hand we reject to use pesticides and fertilizers, on the other hand we don't stop bringing them out in order to produce "green energy"? What about poplar and robinia for bioethanol? They don't even react to nitrogen!

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Comment by Johho on October 19, 2007 at 4:12pm
for sure bio-fuels are a very ambivalent topic: the dilemma is that sooner or later, the world economy will depend on it to replace fossile fuels. fuels from temperate plants seem to be as bad for the climate as fossile fuels, while the demand for fuels from tropical plantations will cause loss of biodiversity (see link and clip below). on top of it all, the demand for plant-based fuels yet causes food prices to rise (e.g. corn in Mexico for US markets) and thus might jeopardize global efforts for poverty alleviation.
"da fahr' ick doch lieba mit meena drahtesel-quietsche"

Orangutans and Palm Oil: Viral Internet Advert to raise awareness of one of the risks of adopting palm oil as a biofuel in Europe. This advert focuses on the impacts on biodiversity with the orangutan representing a flagship species that whose greatest threat today is the loss of forest for oil palm plantations.
Made in collaboration with Greenpeace, EnoughsEnough and Films4Conservation. Find out more at
Comment by Mika Huettner on October 4, 2007 at 10:46am
There are also other interesting biofuels, which might be partially an alternative: Look under for the interview from the Czech Republic.
Comment by Anna on September 27, 2007 at 12:28pm
Btw ... talking about healthfood:

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