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Let's take the 'Bio' out of Biofuels
Western economies are too dependent on oil, especially foreign oil. This is a statement we have heard may and many times lately - even Dubya talked about an "addiction" that's not healthy nor sustainable.
We then saw a big surge of the interest in the so called 'biofuels' - that is, any fuel that's created using organic material such as manure, algae, corn, etc.
And the top seller - in the media and at the gas station - has quickly become ethanol from corn: the "environmentalists" love it and the U.S. Administration backs it as the "green fuel of the future".
All is well and clean, then? Not really - as usual.
The biggest producer of ethanol (from corn) in the United States is Archer Daniels Midland, a corporation based in Illinois with over 25,000 employees and $36 billions of revenues in 2005 and $1 billion in profits.
Apart from the fact that, according the Cato Institute, "ADM has cost the American economy billions of dollars since 1980 and has indirectly cost Americans tens of billions of dollars in higher prices and higher taxes over that same period. At least 43 percent of ADM's annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government. Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM's corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30", it's quite interesting to discover, from this CorpWatch article, that:
A single ADM corn processing plant in Clinton, Iowa generated nearly 20,000 tons of pollutants including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds in 2004, according to federal records. The EPA considers an ethanol plant as a "major source" of pollution if it produces more than 100 tons of any one pollutant per year, although it has recently proposed increasing that cap to 250 tons.
ADM is ranked as the tenth worst corporate air polluter, on the "Toxic 100" list of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts
So, adding this to the fact that "At least 43 percent of ADM's annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the U.S. government" (source: Wikipedia) we get a clear idea of what our "green future" will look like: Big Agribusiness will sell themselves as our saviors supplanting Big Oil, strongly helped by the Government (again, and again with our money) - but our air will not change (it will actually get worse and worse) nor the destination of our money (the company recently hired Patricia A. Woertz, an executive vice president of Chevron Corporation, as its chief executive officer) - nor the destiny of our planet.
Do we still want to call them BIOfuels? When will we learn that the only solution is to drive less (for example) - rather than just changing the fuel and keep listening to our media and politicians from the radios of our SUVs?
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