Monday, July 07, 2008

Food Sense at last.

Don't suppose many Welshmen have been harvesting palm oil in Malaysia - but I have. The technique involved using a very long handed hooked blade, and pulling sharply downwards, and then ensuring that the dislodged fruit didn't land on my head. For those who disbelieve me, I still have a video of the harvesting. But the abiding memory of my tour of Malaysia was of the massive clearances of tropical forest to make way for new plantations.

It was 17 years ago, and the experience made me sceptical about the drive to biocrops. Seemed to me that it would cause huge damage to the great forests of the world, with accompanying damage to biodiversity, and lead to both increased populations and decreased food supplies. I recall discussing the impact on the world's climate with Malaysian Government representatives at the time, and being told that Britain was in no position to talk to any developing nation about land clearance, bearing in mind our colonial past. It was a fair point, of course.

Well, the chickens that this blog has been warning about have come home to roost. Food riots have followed price rises. It seems that the Government is waking up to the consequences of the crazy rush to biofuels, and wants to stop the biofuels juggernaut. About time too. I hope George Bush is taking note. There's nothing wrong with promoting biofuels, but not by diverting the entire product of the US corn belt from the food mill to power station.

And what is our Prime Minister talking about at the G8 Meeting in Japan while all this is going on ? Zimbabwe, perhaps ? Or Iraq and Afghanistan ? Or the credit crunch ? No, he's telling us to leave a clean plate. Its not that I disagree with this advice. After all, its what my nain used to insist on when I was a lad. Tomorrow, he'll be telling us to clean our teeth and change our underwear every day.


Anonymous said...

There's a role for biotechnology in helping to solve world level problems but fermenting ethanol from food crops is not one of them.

Biofuels can be a huge success if they are derived from cellulose. Cows are very good at producing methane as a by-product to the anaerobic 'goings on' inside their rumen. Hence, cows obtain what they need from cellulose and produce methane as a by-product.

We need to develope cellulose based fermentation processes to generate foods for animal consumption and methane to drive steam turbines to drive generator sets linked to the grid.

There is also a huge scope for making BSE free animal feed to feed to e.g., beef cattle to export to e.g., South Korea ... BSE free cattle feed - can be done from ... yes, you guessed it, CH4 (methane). The technology to convert CH4 into single cell protein was developed decades ago.

So what r we waiting for?

Could it be sensible government policies in place of the crazy ethanol from food crops 'policies'?

Anonymous said...

"he's telling us to leave a clean plate."

........and just have a look at what HE's having for his tea.

Now THAT's trough-snouting at its best.

Llyr Jones said...

"change our underwear every day."
Once a week is quite enough, wether they need changing or not!
Can be a bit hot this time of year though.

Glyn Davies said...

llyr - and what sort of company are you on a hot summer's friday?