Yet another prominent scientist has joined the chorus against crop-derived biofuels, as Lewis Page reports.
Dr Richard Pike, chief of the Royal Society of Chemistry, has said that biofuels are a "dead end" and "extremely inefficient", and that the government was wrong to impose a requirement for 5 per cent biofuel content in motor fuel by 2010.
Dr Pike points out that "the 80 tonnes of kerosene used for a one-way commercial flight to New York is equivalent to the annual biofuel yield from an area of approximately 30 football pitches." At this rate it would take the whole of Britain's farmland just to run Heathrow.
It really is time to stop this nonsense. To produce these crops people are farming intensively, using more fertilizers and pesticides. In poorer countries people are cutting down virgin rainforest to plant biofuel crops. Poor people are finding corn and wheat priced out of their market, and the tanks of 4x4s are taking the food from the plates of poor families.
This is very straightforward. Biofuels are bad for the environment and bad for poor people. Like much so-called environmentalism they are based on bad science and ill-thought out consequences. They are popular with legislators and agri-businesses for rent-seeking reasons. The case against biofuels has been made overwhelmingly, and they should now be stopped. If we can derive fuel from waste biomass or algae, or from genetically engineered organisms, we should revisit biofuels. But until and unless that happens we should immediately withdraw the commitment to biofuel targets. This is tokenism gone mad and should be stopped and replaced by more useful and less damaging activity.