Farming for Food or for Fuel


| 12/1/2008 11:53:15 AM


Tags: agriculture, biofuel, environment,

Yucatan Garden
   PHOTO BY BRYAN WELCH

We haven’t traditionally assigned much value to natural productivity except when it was producing something we could eat, wear or burn for fuel. Predictably, David Tilman’s research is inspired by the hunt for new biofuels — renewable resources that might replace petroleum products. He suggests that someday our cars might run on so-called “cellulosic” ethanol created from grass. Ethanol created from cellulose could be derived from nearly any plant, so why not the plants that naturally grow more profusely, the native plants of the prairie?

Cool idea, unless your children are among the millions currently starving for lack of corn, wheat, rice or some other staple foodstuff that might be grown on that property. We’ve clearly demonstrated that we can spike grain prices with burgeoning new demand from ethanol manufacturers. Poor people around the world are straining to pay for food made expensive this year by the demand for ethanol.

On top of everything else, there’s good evidence that while our population is expanding we’re also wrecking some of the natural machinery we use to create our food. Setting aside the excesses of industrial agriculture and the short-term damage they do to farmland, we’re still tearing down important environmental assets the old-fashioned way, by burning forests and overgrazing grasslands.

Criss Kraus
6/9/2009 7:19:52 PM

It's true not all food products grow just anywhere. Part of this is the soil, environment and part is just the hybrid seed to begin with. Try waffle and or dry farming which is a practice of the Native Americans for centries. To read more about it try: www.bioparksociety.org www.indianpueblo.org www.nhccnm.org My neighbor makes his own bio-fuel and doesn't rob his table food to do it! It's just all the scraps and trimmings from his veggies and his used cooking oil. So bio-fuels do not need to rob the hungry to produce. That's just the big OIL companies doing their thing to talk people out of it so they can continue to suck us dry with their prices. -Fossil Fuels are Finite -Fossil Fuels are being consumed faster than the earth can produce more. -We currently have NO, en mass, replacements for Fossil Fuels and all of fossil fuels by products (pharmacuiticals, plastics, fertalizer, anti-pest stuff, etc.). -The worlds economies and civilizations are based on Fossil Fuels. -When Fossil Fuels are gone - then what? Estimates of Fossil Fuel depletion range from 50-250 years.


ccm989
6/8/2009 2:04:46 PM

Farming should be mostly for food (preferably organic/preferably local). Better fuel efficiency in all vehicles and more available mass transit would instantly reduce our dependency on foreign oil. And the more self-sufficient we get at producing our own energy (wind/solar/geothermal, etc.) the safer our cities will be from terrorist attacks because we WON'T be giving them our money in exchange for their oil. Our economy would improve too! Better education on population control for the countries that need it (i.e. NOT the First World nations like USA or Europe but the Third World) would help many women choose how many children they could afford to raise to adulthood. But what stands in the way is that many religions abhore birth control and will not allow women to control their own fertility which is both sad and cruel. Use of birth control frees up women to become more independent and that apparently scares a lot of men in Third World places.


David Collier
5/19/2009 6:59:43 PM

Has anybody ever noticed all the open space even in our biggest cities on which gardens of various sizes could be planted? Just think about all the that space that we all see driving down our Interstates all over the country that could be used for food production or solar power generation? We as a nation need to turn the TV's off and just roll up our sleeves and get busy! There is no reason for anyone to go hungry and certainly no reason we can not break our dependency on foreign oil.





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