Austria BDI chief slams biofuels critics, media

30 January 2008 18:36  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Biofuels cannot be blamed for the current increase in global food prices, the chairman of Austrian biodiesel engineering firm BDI BioDiesel International said on Wednesday, slamming media reports claiming the contrary as irresponsible “hot air.”


Austrian daily Tiroler Tageszeitung this week published an article headlined “Biofuels from grain are a sin,” prompting the response from BDI's Wilhelm Hammer


Biofuels consumption of agricultural raw materials was so small that it was irrelevant, Hammer said.


Only some 1.5% of the European Union’s entire grain harvest went into biofuels, he said.


At the same time palm oil was overwhelmingly used in the nutritional field and its use in the biofuels sector was insignificant, Hammer said, citing a 2007 report by the Word Wildlife Fund (WWF).


Critics charge that rainforests are being logged to produce more palm oil in response to rising demand for the product as a feedstock for biodiesel.


Rather, the price increases for food were driven by bad harvests in Australia and the Ukraine as well as underlying higher demand from growing populations in China and India, Hammer said.


Biofuels could play an important part in cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, but society also had to change its life style to cut pollution, he said.


“We will find ourselves spending even more money in the future, if we do not consistently attempt to harm the environment less by means of renewable energy, cut-backs, and new models for cooperation within society,” he said.


“Today, biofuels already enable us to take the first empirical steps towards creating less pollution … the hot air created by the so-called experts certainly does not help in conserving CO2.”


Canadian fertilizer major Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan said last week that global grain consumption had exceeded production in seven of the past eight years, meaning that the decline in grain stocks began before biofuels became an additional draw on global crop production.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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