Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Biodiesel - disagreement between champions

Wired carries a story on the rather prickly status of a relationship that one would assume is symbiotic - that between soyabean growers who want to promote soyabean for bio-diesel, and the environmentalists who have been promoting bio-diesel for years. Here is a synopsis.

The rather well-to-do Soybean growers face brutal competition and are looking to bio-diesel in the US as a big new market. Their concerns are purely commercial.

The environmentalists' lobby includes some celebrities and is generally far more capable in glorifying/promoting the product. They however have a larger environmental agenda and are concerned about GMO. For example Monsanto has a GM soybean variety that is resistant to a herbicide only it develops. Naturally such an arrangement would be considered harmful by the naturalist environmentalists, but the farmers love it.

The environment lobby wants to also promote cheaper sources like "waste cooking oils and fats from restaurant kitchens, and see the development of other sources of oils and fats, such as mustard seed and algae."

The growers however fear that such an approach could affect the quality of the end-product and kill the market.