It was reported by Timothy Gardner of Reuters that Jane Goodall, one of the world’s best-known scientists, has come out strongly against the planting of biofuel crops in tropical areas because this is typically accompanied by extensive destruction of rain forests.

So, whether it is “corn-to-ethanol” raising your food prices or fast-growing weeds for generation of fuel, one must question the true benefits of “bioenergy” or biofuels in many cases.

The situation is different in the case of waste oils being converted into biodiesel: waste is being put to good use here. Treating food and rain forests like waste is another matter, one that we can expect to be harmful to the planet in many ways. I’ll be discussing this at length over the next few weeks.

This quote from Jane Goodall, as reported in the Reuters article, sums things up perfectly: “Biofuel isn’t the answer to everything; it depends where it comes from.”

See here for another recent report on biofuels in India, and here for a summary of consumer waste.

© James K. Bashkin, 2007

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  1. Quality Information Thanks!

    I have bookmarked your site, if you get a chance please take a look at our site there is some more information you may find useful in our members area!

    Warm Regards,


    • Thanks so much, Dougie. I will certainly look at your site, and I encourage everyone else to do so as well. Best wishes! Jim

  1. 1 Environmental Defense report soft on ethanol problems « Chemistry for a sustainable world

    […] methods compete too much with food and cause too much environmental damage. Jane Goodall has stated that biofuels, while helpful in principle, damage the rain forests if made without proper foresight […]

  2. 2 Biodiesel | GreenEggsandPlanet

    […] by Jim Bashkin at Chemistry for a Sustainable World There are good and bad sides to biofuels, as Jane Goodall points out. I will explore this in detail in a series of articles that express my opinion and cite scientific […]

  3. 3 - The basics of ethanol « Chemistry for a sustainable world

    […] The comments to the Treehugger article offer valuable additional information- please read them also. Then you can see more detailed analysis here by searching for ethanol to find discussion and references to both scientific and popular articles on problems with corn ethanol, health problems from using any ethanol as fuel at HighlightHealth, problems with biofuels obtained from rain forests, and the effect of biofuel “mining” on local food supplies (the latter two points being extremely important according to many, including Jane Goodall). […]

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