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Originally published October 11 2007

Biofuels worse for the environment than fossil fuels, study warns

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Far from being a solution to the global ecological crisis induced by fossil fuels, biofuels may "offer a cure that is worse than the disease they seek to cure," a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has concluded.

"When acidification, fertilizer use, biodiversity loss and toxicity of agricultural pesticides are taken into account, the overall environmental impacts of ethanol and biodiesel can very easily exceed those of petrol and mineral diesel," the report read.

A biofuel is any fuel made directly from a biological source (as opposed to fossil fuels, which are made from long-since-deceased organisms that have undergone radical chemical changes), including sugars, oilseeds or grains.

The OECD warned that beyond their ecological costs, biofuels force food production to compete with fuel production over the world's dwindling and limited supply of arable land. For all these reasons, the report said that "the current push to expand the use of biofuels is creating unsustainable tensions that will disrupt markets without generating significant environmental benefits."

The report speculated that the European Union and the United States may be offering market incentives for biofuel production less out of ecological concern and more as "an easy way to support domestic agriculture against the backdrop of international negotiations to liberalize agricultural trade" by eliminating subsidies.

Instead of supporting biofuels expansion, the OECD report urged governments to "cease to create new mandates for biofuels and investigate ways to phase them out." It encouraged a focus on decreasing use of fossil fuels rather than replacing them with "alternative" fuels.

"A liter of gasoline or diesel conserved because a person walks, rides a bicycles, carpools or tunes up his or her vehicle's engine more often is a full liter of gasoline or diesel saved at a much lower cost to the economy than subsidizing inefficient new sources of supply," the report said.

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