Biofuels not the answer, conference told

16th August 2007
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Large-scale biofuel production will cause water and food shortages, delegates at the World Water conference will be told this week.

The conference, held in Stockholm and attended by 2,500 water experts from around the world, heard that the amount of water needed to produce enough biofuels to meet global energy needs by 2050 is equivalent to that required by agriculture to feed the world today.

Experts at the conference believe that increased biofuel production will conflict with the need to feed the growing world population. The US is investing heavily in biofuel production from maize, which now accounts for 5 per cent of the volume of fuel sold in the country. This forced up the price of the crop last year, causing hardship for poor Mexicans for whom it is a staple food.

The UN expects that world population will rise from 6 billion to 9.1 billion by 2050. At the same time, changing patterns of rainfall will increase the possibility of droughts in some of the world’s most productive food-producing areas, including southwest America.

Johan Kuylenstierna, director of the World Water Week conference, told AFP that: ‘When governments and companies are discussing biofuel solutions, I think water issues are not addressed enough.’

This article first appeared in the Ecologist August 2007

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