Biofuels are an example of what not to doPlagued by politics
“THIS is the craziest thing we’re doing,” says Peter Brabeck, the chairman of Nestlé. He is talking about government biofuels targets which require a certain proportion of national energy needs to be met from renewable fuels, most of them biofuels (ie, ethyl alcohol made from crops, usually maize or sugar).
The targets are ambitious. Brazil, Japan, Indonesia and the European Union all say biofuels must supply 10% of energy demand for transport by 2020. China’s target for that date is 5%. America aspires to meet 30% of such needs from biofuels by 2030.
Because the energy market is worth vastly more than the market for food, even relatively small targets translate into huge demand for crops. Ethanol currently accounts for just 8% of America’s fuel for vehicles, but it consumes almost 40% of America’s enormous maize crop. World ethanol production increased fivefold