The Harper government has a bill in the hopper mandating that we all have at least five per cent ethanol in our gas tanks. But is that the way to go?

Every day there are stories in the media about the current world food shortage. A major cause of this crisis is that governments are heavily subsidizing farmers not to grow food but to grow fuel from corn etc. And that makes all food crops more expensive. The result is that this year about 100 million tons of grain – enough to feed 450 million people for a year — will be converted from food into fuel. About 30 per cent of the U.S. corn crop now goes to fuel. Even so by 2030 ethanol production will only meet 6 per cent of the U.S. demand for transport fuel.

Even worse, the switch to biofuels such as ethanol could speed up global warming. Most experts contend that if the full environmental cost is factored in, almost all the biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels.

Britain’s chief scientific adviser, John Beddington, warns that the rush to biofuels {cf. Harper} is threatening world food production. Britain’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has called for a major re-evaluation. The head of the UnitedNations World Food Program cautions that the growing use of biofuels is driving up its operating costs and hurting its « capacity to respond to hunger. »

At the very least shouldn’t we consider getting out of the ethanol business? It would seem the heavily subsidized move to ethanol does a lot more harm than good.

Do you agree?



  1. 1
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    It pains me to do it, but I have to agree with Fidel Castro who pretty much says the same things as Neil on this subject. This ethanol business is tomfoolery that, yes, does more harm than good.

  2. 2
    dez Says:

    I’ll get on this bandwagon, too. Biofuel sounded like a good idea when it was first proposed as a solution to the oil crisis, but it really does not solve the problem and just makes it worse.

    We need to stop burning hydrocarbons for fuel. Period. The sooner we start implementing other ways to make energy, the better off we will be in the long run.

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Let me add a caveat to what I said earlier: according to that U.N global warming study of a few years back, more global warming is caused by the livestock industry than the transportation industry (that’s asssuming one believes in catastrophic man-made global warming in the first place, which I don’t). I think we’d all be better off if we just stopped eating meat altogether and that would free up alot of agricultural land to, first, feed everybody. Why? Because it takes about 8-10 lbs of edible vegetable product (e.g. soy beans, corn) to creat 1 lb. of edible meat.
    Cattle, chicken, turkey, etc. are the middlemen in the whole land to human process. Let’s cut out the middlemen, decrease global warming, get healthier, and feed the poor.

  4. 4
    jim Says:

    Man-made fuel should not be made out of any human edible. This fuel may be made out of straw. Question – The stage has been reached where there is only a 5 year reserve left in the world, and it’s in Alberta. If we turn off the tap on sales to other countries, Canada would then have a 100 year supply for itself. Who then will be the most powerful nation in the world? By-the-way, Cuba has found a large oil and gas reserve. Someone will be kissing Castro’s ass after the next US election. What goes around comes around.

  5. 5
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    Dear Neil,
    we know each other that is why I adress you like this. Thank you for bringing this up. i do not have a car and I feel that corn should be mainly used to feed the humans. I also think that they can look for other ways to get fuel. I still think so much of it gets wasted. I look at all these cars and there is one person in it, the driver. I do believe in carpooling, I am sure with some organisation it can work.
    There is in my opinion absolutely no excuse to let people go hungry because we have to « feed » the cars and trucks with fuel made of corn.
    Let us look for other solutions! Heidi Gulatee
    If there is too much corn we still can make fuel!!

  6. 6


    Great to hear from you. Interesting suggestion on carpooling.

  7. 7
    Sonny Says:

    I only agree about 100%.
    As an Environmental Engineering student who studies alternative energies I know what I am talking about. Thinking that Bioethanol or even worst Biodiesel is a good idea that should be implemented on large scale is in Canada nothing more than short sited greed that has no vision for longevity. Bioethanol is 90-85% gasoline and only 10-15% ethanol, this means we are still using a lot of fossil fuels, sure poluting less…..BUT STILL POLUTING A LOT. But even that small % of ethanol comes at a great cost, HUNGER is a growing problem and should we feed our cars or starving children,
    There are deserts on this earth where no food can grow and yet sun shines, we can generate electricity from solar, from wind, from tidal but we cant grow FOOD without land. There is to much narrow mindness in the eyes of politicians, sever lack of inginuity. Metro Van has a plan to utilize municipal waste water into energy, to extract methane from biomass. From which you can extract Hydrogen and store it into fuel cells for vehicles to use. Electric is the future, hydrogen is the future. Bioethanol and biodiesel in comparison to fossil fuels are like being punched in the face instead of being kicked….I much rather avoid it all together and use the green tech that is already out there.

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